I have gotten the privilege of reviewing Jennie Allen’s study, Stuck, which is about how we sometimes feel stuck in life, and how God wants to free us from those places. I have to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the materials.
As a person who has led a lot of small groups, I’ve seen a lot of curriculum, some good, some bad, and a lot inbetween. Jennie’s study is a womens DVD study, and it is a teacher’s dream. She offers a variety of ways to engage with the material (studying, journaling, imagining, conversation, watching a DVD), and it’s the real deal. This study seems to be written from her heart, and comes out of a journey that she has obviously been on.
One unique feature of this study is a box of conversation cards that are to be used to start meaningful conversation each week that allows for authentic sharing related to the study.
[As a sidenote, Asante and Aly have been asking to play the “stuck” game ever since I received the box in the mail. Asante and I take turns reading the questions on the cards to each other and to Aly. It’s pretty hilarious. Imagine me asking Asante, “What are the three places you feel most stuck?” He replies, “Well, I often get stuck behind the couch. … Do you mean that kind of stuck?” I then go on to explain to him that it’s a different kind of stuck- one where you feel like you’re having trouble moving forward in life, for a variety of reasons. “Huh. I see. Well, I think one of them would still have to be behind the couch for me.”]
While I haven’t started the study with a group of women yet, I think it has real potential to touch on the places of where many women struggle- anger, discontentment, fear, anxiety, sadness. She tries to focus the study not on circumstances, but on God’s character. This is helpful because it gets the focus off of the women’s issues, and trains her eye to look beyond herself.
The only thing I didn’t like about this study was how Jenny ended lesson 1- with a questioning of the reader’s faith. I’ve been to one too many “are you sure you’re really saved?” talks, and they just aren’t that helpful, in my opinion. Everyone has doubt at one point in their life or another, and by having doubts does not mean we’re not saved, and that we don’t have a relationship with God. While I want to say that “100 percent sure my hope is in Him alone”, I do have moments, and sometimes days, of doubt. Although I have heard from God, and have a relationship with Him, there are times when the darkness settles in and I begin second-guessing those experiences. For the woman who isn’t secure in the ability to doubt, but yet believe, they may question the realness of their faith at this point in the study. I’m not sure that this part of the lesson would be that productive in moving someone forward, unless, of course, they actually didn’t have a relationship with God.
But, I’d absolutely recommend this study. It’s short, it’s packaged well, it touches on relevant issues in a way that lends itself to deep personal exploration.
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