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"Easter Day is a glorious celebration of worship; yet mysteriously, the church goes right back to the normal routine just as things are about to get exciting!"

 

New Series for Adults: The Christian Life Trilogy

The Christian Life Trilogy, a small group curriculum for adults, first caught our attention for its design and emphasis on Easter. “In many churches,” notes the manual, “Easter Day is a glorious celebration of worship; yet mysteriously, the church goes right back to the normal routine just as things are about to get exciting! Easter is meant to be more than just one day—it is meant to be an entire season of hope and renewal.”

The Christian Life Trilogy (Bible Study Media, Inc., 2014) was created by the Rev. Charlie Holt at his former parish, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lake Mary, Florida. He is now associate rector for teaching and formation at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Houston. Read more at christianlifetrilogy.com.

Timing: Growing Through Lent, Easter, and Pentecost

This three-season curriculum is designed to take small groups through Lent and Easter and an exploration of the activating power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. “The Crucified Life,” the first series of the trilogy, begins the Sunday before Ash Wednesday with seven sessions that focus on the last words Jesus said from the cross.

The next set of seven sessions explores “The Resurrected Life” and how God makes all things new. (Revelations 21:5) Groups will grapple with the vision God has for their lives. This series can be offered immediately during Easter season following Lent.

The final six sessions, “The Spirit-Filled Life,” begins with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It can be a summer offering or scheduled during the fall.

Small Group Study

The use of small groups lies at the heart of this curriculum, which we feel adds a relational element that many adult formation programs lack. “Individuals bonded to a smaller community of believers within your congregation,” notes the manual, “will enjoy the benefits of sharing life, spiritual growth and accountability for that growth.”

The Campaign Manual overview offers a word of advice to begin planning early to get the maximum results. While the materials are designed to help a large congregation plan and develop a program, they could be easily adapted for use in small churches. Because the curriculum is centered on small group study, one group of 6 to 10 adults would be adequate. This study would therefore work for small churches, or a small study group.

Both large and small churches will find the campaign manual and training DVD helpful in identifying leaders and setting up study groups in homes or within a church building. Groups are encouraged to set norms and share responsibilities throughout their study. Group members are also encouraged to invite new members to join the study by leaving one chair empty at the early sessions as a reminder.

What Do You Need to Start?

At first, we found the resources in the Campaign Kit to be confusing. The Study Guides for each of the three topics in the trilogy are clearly marked, but these study guides have content for participants, group leaders, and facilitators. We realized after careful reading that the guides support the premise of shared leadership within each group. The guides, which are printed in full color, are attractive and well laid out. Each person doing the study should have a study guide.

A second “companion book” provides daily devotions for each participant – this is labeled the "Devotional Book." This companion resource will deepen the application of the topics to participants' lives.

The DVD provides short video presentations for each session, including a main presentation by Rev. Charlie Holt, plus personal presentations from parishioners. The video quality is quite good.

The cost of one segment of the trilogy curriculum, which includes a Campaign Manual, DVD, and study guides & companion books for 10 participants, is $200. Pricing for other combinations are available. Learn more here, or even sign up to get a free sample.

 


This review was created by Dorothy Linthicum and Matthew Kozlowski, staff members at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.

This review first appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Episcopal Teacher. Subscribe to the magazine for free here.

 

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