4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Features the final four BASIC films on DVD:
· BASIC.Fellowship DVD
· BASIC.Teaching DVD
· BASIC.Prayer DVD
· BASIC.Communion DVD
· Six (6) We Are Church Follower's Guides, corresponding to the interactive DVD studies
· Resource DVD with video clips
This series is actually part of the 7 part series from Chan on BASICS. Very Good. See below for comments on that complete series.
But, you might consider showing (especially younger people) the first three videos in the series, since it is one continuous whole... and the excellent dramas that were produced don't stand alone very well. You need to know what is happening along the way. :) Still, an excellent series.
Review of complete 7 DVD series:
Frances Chan is an outstanding communicator. His casual style and fierce love of the Lord comes through in all he does. The Basics series is no different. His teaming up with Flannel Video Productions (Nooma producers) really create a first rate production value to the series. And yet, it is also decidedly aimed at a "boomer and younger" audience. The message is incredibly important.... What are the basics of the faith and how then should church look like?
As you might have guessed, Chan speculates that church is not being done all that very well. And that the church can do something about that. Namely, we are to Fear God, Follow Jesus, and believe that the Holy Spirit can control our lives for good. In addition, we are to then be dedicated to being in Fellowship, read and obey the Word, Pray to the Lord as He commanded, and be connected in communion. And each of these 7 areas are given their own teaching DVD along with an integrated drama. If we follow through on these 7 Basics, our church will be vibrant with worship and our living faithful.
These truths are often missed, says Chan, because so many of us simply "play" church. While we may practice or give lip service to these 7 areas, we often miss the very importance of each. This is easy to do because of our culture, even the culture within the church, says Chan. So, making this change is a matter of changing our hearts and minds, recommitting ourselves to the things of importance.
What makes the series dynamic and compelling is the focus in each of these areas. Frances Chan has made the focus so very clear that it is doubtful that anyone but a non-believer could be unmoved by it. Therefor, I highly recommend the series, with a few caveats below.
THE DRAMAS: Good & Not So:
The seven DVD set has some wonderful illustrative drama that is added through out the videos. In fact, those dramas are one continuous whole that leads us from commitment to the fear of God to fellowship and communion in Christ. This storyline adds greatly to the ability to use the videos with others, as you get the message from two different ways ... through Chan's teaching and through the dramas. The production value is very high, making this a very dynamic series.
As good as the drama is, some may complain that it is unclear what is being communicated. The extra materials (bonus material) at the end of each DVD helps remove some of the confusion. For instance, I was initially confused as to what the WHITE BLOCK "buildings" were. I thought, "Oh, that is the church...and our disciples have broken free of churchianity!" Hardly so. And that is good. :) The second time through, I realized that the blocks were rather an important idea in the film/drama: They represent individuals. More importantly, they represent trapped (or fallen?) individuals. (i'll continue some of the analogy below, just skip the next paragraph if you are not interested).
FURTHER DRAMA EXPLANATION:
[So the WHITE BLOCKS are individuals trapped or separated from God and His Spirit. They are the white rooms that we see from the INSIDE in the first two DVD's. The wind (papers flying around) represent the Holy Spirit (breath of God) and the effect of the wind/spirit on the individual. At the end of the fourth DVD, the three actors look out over the "city of white blocks" and see the SPIRIT (wind) setting another person free. With each new person being set free and then controlled by the Spirit, the young believers can reach out to others and also focus on their own growth in Christ.]In the first two DVD's (and part of the 3rd, the person is trapped in the room (white box) until the end of each video. From then on, the believers are free to learn of their faith and serve others.]
The dramas are all quite well done and excellent for discussion starters with a group.
THE BAD AND NOT SO GOOD
If this is to be a series on the basics of the faith, then two items are obvious in their lacking. I don't mean to say that that these items didn't get mentioned (or that this or that pet doctrine should have been included), but rather that there was a definate lack of clarity and lack of definition that could have added greatly to this series (avoiding a lot of confusion). The two items? The GOSPEL and the GREAT COMMISSION.
"Wait a minute," you protest, "JJ, I remember him mentioning the Great Commission in video two!" True enough. But it is not developed well and I believe it deserves its own DVD, if fellowship and communion get their own focus, why not disciple-making? And if you disagree, that still leaves us with a glaring absence of the GOSPEL. Let's face it, the Gospel is more important than prayer, than fellowship, than just about any other area. If it is not for GRACE and the GOSPEL MESSAGE, we would all be lost. So why is it missing?
Some may say that the first video in the series (fearing God) is the gospel. I don't see that as much of a option. Listen to the Fear God DVD and it is clearly not the Gospel. It is about obedience... over and over again. And, how, can a man/woman truly FEAR THE LORD if they are not already renewed in mind and heart? If you say that the second item (Following Christ) is the Gospel, again, this is about obedience... "follow every command of Jesus" Such as "Be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect," and that clearly isn't the Gospel. We can't be perfect, so we need God's grace...His Son's sacrifice on our behalf. Where is this in the series? It is a missing element that detracts from the series. Some will conclude that to be a "Christian" I need to fear God the Father, then follow whole-heartedly after all that Jesus tells us to do, then, when we do those things, God will reward us with his Spirit (which makes us special). Where is sin? Where is the message of his Saving Grace? If Fear of God and Following God's commands could save, then there would be no reason for Jesus to come and live as man, die, and establish His church. Christ wouldn't be needed since we already have the Law and the Prophets. My point is simply that clarity is lost in the process...I assume that Chan presupposes saving faith and His saving provision of Grace.
I found the Gospel in the Basic Series! :) Part of the problem is that Chan (and others) often explain the Gospel as "following Jesus." I suppose the assumption is that if you are doing that (following), then you are doing what you need and have already been saved (or, for some, that is the cost of being saved). But, even though this confusion exists in the DVD series, it is something that I know Chan has spoken about before (that he doesn't equate "Obedience in following Jesus" with the "Gospel") That is why I was confused. So where is the Gospel? At the end of "Following Jesus" the man in the video repents, and leaves the room. In the Pamphlet that accompanies these DVD, the questions that go along with these same visuals have the gospel clearly inserted right at this point. No, it is not seen on the video. I think it should be. I think Chan should do a voice over about the Gospel at this point (it is important to mention the cross!). He doesn't. But, in print... in the extra material that is given with the DVD's, it is clear as clear can be.... the Gospel is given, the cross explained, the resurrection to newness of life... it is all there in print. And that is great. The leader (if a church group goes through this series) should bring this out in their discussion. (see pages 28-30 of "Personal Reflection Guide").
MORE ON DISCIPLE-MAKING:
I really expected to see more on disciple-making (for our new believers) is the drama of the DVD's. In the Final Series DVD on Communion, one of our three actors (the original girl, Abbie) goes off on her own, away from the fellowship. Where is she going? I was certain I knew. I figured she was going to find some others and start teaching and discipling those new believers. It made perfect sense since Abbie is said to be the leader of the three, and the one that most would identify with. And yet, the series ends without any mutiplication, without any continuation of "disciple-making." It ends with the group merely "finding" each other again and being happy in each others company. WHAT!? Was this a Francis Chan drama!?! I don't know how many times Chan has told Christians that we are not here to just safely find comfort in this world, but to reach out, to serve, to speak His word, to disciple others... and yet, these dynamic dramas end with self-love as the main focus (yes, Christians do love each other... but that is the conclusion?!) I have to believe that if Chan had it to do over again, he would end the series with a call to be like Christ and to reach out.
So, when I say that I was taken back when there was no disciple-making...I am referring to how the series ends. Perhaps what we need is a BASICS.MULTIPY and bring back our three-some of actors to each start reaching out to others in meaningful ways... some Gospel clarity could be added when they start discipling others, each in their own way. Sure, they should still stay "brothers and sisters" and be supportive, and yet, they would reach out to the next group of disciples and teach the way that they were taught. Wouldn't that be a great way to end such a great series!? When you consider Chan's latest series ("MULTIPLY") is on discipleship, the loss of this topic is clearly an oversight.
Despite the short-comings, I think there is a lot of good in this series and should be considered with much positive praise. This series would certainly create discussion and renew faith commitments if used in a small group or SS class.
**** Four Stars
PS... I had turmoil over the ranking of this series. First, I thought it was inadequate in several important ways and yet that it was such an important message, that even glaring weaknesses couldn't get me to click "It's OK, 3 Stars" or lower. So, I join many others who have really liked this series. And yet, I have significant reservations for how such a series can be used, since the Gospel is never clearly presented.