“Is God real?” and “What really happened on the cross?” are two questions asked in sparkhouse’s new course “animate. Faith.” This course takes individuals on a journey through their faith. Questions are asked, discussions ensue and knowledge is acquired. The “animate. Faith” course allows small groups and leaders to focus on their personal religious and spiritual journeys. The course is a basic theology lesson and addresses questions that may bring individuals out of their comfort zone, questions everyone secretly asks but fails to raise in everyday conversation.
For instance, “Can we be spiritual without being religious?” is a question that may make some people uncomfortable and spark some interesting conversation with others in the small group. It is important to understand this course will encourage reflection deep inside yourself and will bring you closer to your faith and to members of your small group.
The course includes seven video presentations and a journal that is not your typical devotional for small groups. There are empty pages, illustrations, charts, globes and quotes sporadically placed throughout. The layout of the book is a canvas for your own thoughts and your own journey.
Sparkhouse encourages you to use the journal as “A springboard for your images, your words, your phenomenal creations and thought-provoking ideas.”
Group leaders will lead the sessions with that idea in mind. Elements of the small group are meant for community discussion, but there also should be time set aside for individuals to reflect and use the journal as a “springboard.”
The videos are by inspiring and powerful Christian speakers: Brian McLaren, Lillian Daniel, Mark Scandrette, Shane Hipps, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lauren Winner and Bruce Reyes-Chow. They have created sessions for small groups, each addressing a different aspect of faith.
Each session includes a group activity, conversation, individual activities and a video. The small group leader is welcome to add music, activities, decorations or anything else they think will make the session more engaging.
Leaders also must understand it is all right if they do not know everything. It is important for them to be aware of the topic for the session and for resources used in each session, but sometimes there are questions without answers. This series is meant for questions and seeking the answers inside of yourself.
Small group leaders should encourage using social media or introducing social media to the group. Set up a Facebook group or a Google doc for discussion during the week. The materials discussed in the session may provoke thoughts for the rest of the week. Decide with the small group the best way to stay connected throughout the week and use the resource as a way to keep the group together.
Challenge yourself and others with “animate. Faith.” Use group time to challenge yourself, discuss with others and then take the lessons outside to your everyday life.
Sparkhouse’s “animate. Faith” can be used as group discussions, in Sunday school and in young adult forums. Use it to walk side-by-side with members of your congregation.
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