Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book/DVD Curriculum Review: Chase by Jennie Allen

I received a free copy of this study after being contacted by a publicist, for the purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Overall, I think many women will enjoy this study, Chase, by Jennie Allen.  Using the life of David as well as a variety of scripture from the New Testament, Allen leads people into exploring their identities by looking into their hearts.

The study is seven lessons that can be used in small or large groups, and there are different tools available (the video, the conversation cards) to allow the study be flexible.

Leader's Guide
The Leader's Guide is easy to understand and follow.  There is a repeated emphasis on the leader needing to be open, authentic, and vulnerable.  If this is difficult for a person, my recommendation would be for the leader(s) to do the study with each other ahead of time to feel more comfortable.  (One sidenote I must make is that on page 20, Allen contrasts "shyness" with being extroverted.  Being introverted and being shy are not the same thing).

Participant's Guide
The Participant's Guide is also easy to follow.  It is set up in sections:
  • short story/essay by the author
  • reading and questions of a portion of scripture from 1 & 2 Samuel
  • other verses and more personal questions
  • a "project" that could involve journaling or drawing
  • conclusion, with more questions
The video sessions are of an adequate length and Allen is engaging.  She comes across as passionate and--as she encourages people to be in the Leader's Guide--transparent and authentic.  For example, in the first, on identity, Allen uses the image of a small town in Texas that has its own distinct identity to introduce the topic; I thought that was well-done.

Conversation Cards
I didn't look too much at the conversation cards.  They seemed a little gimmicky and unnecessary to me as there are so many questions in the Participant's Guide.

Overall Impressions
I think that many people could benefit from this study.  There is enough of  a balance between learning about David's life with applying it to our own, and I love how the author used Psalms in each of the lessons.  Jennie Allen has a heart for God and for sharing this heart with others.

I'm torn about calling this a study about David, because really it is a study about our own hearts, using David as an example.  This is common in studies that are geared toward life application, though and that's what most Christian: "Bible Studies" are designed to do:  tell us how it applies to our own lives .

While I found places where I think Jennie Allen and I disagree theologically, I don't think they were anything that would make me advise anyone against doing the study, and are more likely to be points of conversation that people could have different opinions about.   There were a couple of places where it seemed as if the study guide wanted people to come up with specific/concrete answers but where I personally don't think that is necessarily feasible.

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