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The Prodigal God Discussion Guide: Finding Your Place at the Table Paperback – August 11, 2009
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“In The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller has given us a clear description of the power of the gospel for those inside and outside the church. With profound insight Keller shows us why the religious and irreligious alike need to be recreated into someone new. You will be surprised to see Jesus through a fresh lens that challenges many traditional assumptions of what God is like. This is a book that will shape lives for many years to come.” -- Dr. Rick McKinley
From the Back Cover
The Prodigal God discussion guide will help you uncover, personalize, and apply life-changing insights from The Prodigal God DVD and book.
In six captivating sessions, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller opens your eyes to the powerful message of Jesus' best-known--and least understood--parable. The Prodigal God is a revelation of the very heart of the gospel: God's radical love for sinners of every kind.
Taking you beyond the traditional focus on the wayward younger son, Keller helps you glean insights from each of the characters in Jesus' parable: the irreligious younger son, the moralistic elder son, and the Father who lavishes his love on both.
Inside this guide, you'll explore questions for group discussion and personal reflection, and exercises that will help you experience the truths of Jesus' parable in your own life.
The gospel is neither religion nor irreligion, but something else entirely. Whether you're a devout believer or a skeptic, The Prodigal God will challenge you to see Christianity in a whole new way.
Session titles include the following:
The People Around Jesus
The Two Lost Sons
The Elder Brother
The True Elder Brother
The Feast of the Father
Designed for use with The Prodigal God DVD and book.
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FIRST - There was NO leaders guide book with this particular bundle, just a DVD.... with no guidance about how to use this in a small group. I went and purchased an electronic version of the leaders guide. I have only skimmed it, but it does not really resolve any of the issues below.
SECOND - This is not primarily Tim or Kathy Keller teaching or covering organized material. It is a bunch of people sharing their random ideas on a topic with Tim and chiming in now an then along with another marriage councelor from his church. Often the topic feels disjointed and random. It is not that good things are not said, but it is hard to watch 15 - 20 minutes of random conversation and then try to tie it together.
THIRD - Overall I am disappointed because every session feels like such an incomplete covering of the material. All the richness of Tim and Kathy's Keller's teaching seems missing. This dvd and the leaders guide together leave you with just a skeleton of the content, and the DVD does not stand alone by itself at all.
It is not that I don’t think I might find a way to use these DVD if I was doing a small group study. But it definitely would not be EASY to use this DVD because if feels like such an incomplete covering of any of the topics. Here is a break down of session by session.
Session 1: Service - Marriage Is Not About You
This was one of the most disappointing segments. During the first 20 minutes you have more of a small group discussion forum, with people sharing contrasting ideas, some Christian and some non-Christian. So the end results is a very surface treatment of the content without much depth, and it is muddled by the debate going on about the Christian vs. non-christian way to get strength to serve in your marriage. Tim and Kathy talk for about 5 minutes of the end, but it too late. The discussion is already confused and muddled. I would skip this session if using the DVD series.
Session 2: Covenant - Created to Make Promises
First 3.5 minutes two couples share their random thoughts about what to look for in a mate. Then Tim steps in and gives three points: Common World View, Learn How to Solve Problems, Common Mythos - Foundation for Strong Friendship. He talks for about 2.5 minutes. Then he talks more about Covenant vs Contract for another 1.5 minutes. Then group discussion comes up that is very helpful and feels like it has more direction and continuity than session 1. At 17:33 Tim and Kathy come and summarize This session is far better than the first one.
Session 3: Roles - Loving Through Mutual Submission
Kathy joins this talk and she is always a joy to listen to, but don't use this DVD to introduce the topic. Group discussion goes in circle for about 5 minutes. They don't really introduce the topic if headship and submission, but refer to it. So it feels incomplete. Then at 8 minutes Tim start talking to it more directly. They also refer to mutual submission, and don't really address what it is. So the only way this session would work is with a lot of teaching before the video. There is an audio talk they have online where Tim and Kathy talk on this could be used to introduce this session. But I was so hoping for a DVD that could be used here easily in a small group setting, because Tim and Kathy do such a great job in their audio talks. At 21 minutes Tim and Kathy conclude the topic, and their conclusion is helpful. But I so wish they had introduced the topic with a 5 or 10 minute talk by Tim and Kathy, then gone to the discussion, then a follow up. The format really makes for a confusing tool.
Session 4: Meaning of Marriage 4 - Singleness - Strengthening the Spiritual Family
The first 10 minutes is more about how to do church with singles without making is seem like a 2nd class life. At about 11 minutes Tim gives principles that married and non-married can apply and the conversation continues that way. So this session could be used with married and non-married. It is not really a super strong session, again it is much better in their audio talks. Using this DVD session would be debatable.
Session 5: Sex - The Act of Covenant Renewal
This session, while interesting, did not really spend time talking about convenient renewal. It spends a whole lot of time just talking about saving sex for marriage or not. So it seemed to be focused more on singles than married people. It only briefly touches on small points about sex in marriage. At the end the idea of convenient renewal is brought up, but only fora bout 45 seconds. This session on its own is not strong at all. It might work well if combined with some their other audio content.
Meaning of Marriage 6 - Hope - Seeing the Great Horizon
Kathy is in this session and she is great when she speaks. I just wish she was talking more. I felt like I walked away wishing more had been said in a more organized way. But this would be a good follow up or discussion starter I guess.
Anyway, if you are looking for a DVD that encapsulates and summarizes the material form the book or the sermon series, skip this resource. If you are looking for a tool to make it easy to lead a study on this topic, skip this resource.
If you’re already doing a marriage series and want some interesting footage of people talking about the topic, and you might edit it down to show even less than a full session. This this DVD will be useful as raw material.
This DVD could have been incredible they had started OFF each topic with Tim and Kathy introducing and summarizing the topic, even referring to the book if people wanted more information. Then they could have gone into the reactions the group had to the material and their discussion. And then they could have still done a short summary at the end also. It would have made each segment about 5 minutes longer, but it would have been a much easier resource to use.
I just cam back from the last session of the six week study. This was the first small group study that I led and I loved my experience! I feel like I learned just as much if not more than anyone who attended the study. The Prodigal God book was amazing and really changed my view of the gospel. I recommend the book to anyone. I recommend the small group discussion guide and dvd to any small group. It was very eye-opening and challenging. The gospel is the most fundamental truth of Christianity, yet we should never stop appreciating or reminding ourselves of it. If we do not continually have a fresh understanding of the gospel, we will fall into either dead religion or immorality. This book and study really gives Christ followers a fresh understanding of the gospel and God's love for us. The only agenda in this book is to point us to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love it. I would consider Prodigal God one of my favorite books.
Review of the DVD:
If you're looking for 20 minute dvd sessions every week, this does not give you that. It is one 40 minute movie for the first session with 2 minute recap clips for the following sessions. At first i was a little nervous thinking that we will not fill up the hour and a half that we have with discussion...but we did! We could have almost done without the dvd clips we had so much discussion. Sometimes we went to 2 hours! It's more of a book based study than a dvd study. I would encourage everyone in the group to get the Prodigal God book. I think only the leader needs the discussion booklet to pose questions to the group. i also used an easel for some charts that were in the discussion booklet. It all worked out really well.
Top international reviews
Even the questions in the guide were too narrowly focussed for me.
Bible study in particular must open the mind to other interpretations.