Book Review: God Sightings

Imagine if your entire congregation was diving into the Bible on a daily basis. What kind of faith conversations would be sparked in the home? What questions would be brought to Bible study sessions? How much more would they be energized for missions, stewardship, and care for one another? What transformation would you see in people’s attitudes and actions? I think the results would be absolutely astonishing.

This is the premise for Group’s God Sightings curriculum. God Sightings is designed to be a congregation-wide adult education curriculum. I think it might be an extremely beneficial study for committed young adults who are biblically illiterate. In the hands of a creative, adaptive youth worker, it MIGHT work for mature high school seniors who know the Bible really well (though many of the questions are geared for those in the workplace or with families). Also, it would be a great opportunity for the youth leaders and parents of the youth to get into God’s Word (which is HUGE, considering parents are the number one factor in a child’s faith formation). Lastly, it might be beneficial for you as a ministry leader to participate in (not necessarily lead) a group to keep you accountable in your spiritual growth.

In an ideal God Sightings program, each person in the congregation would have a God Sightings/ The One Year Bible and companion guide (a weekly journal). Small groups (existing and newly formed for this program) would be in place for this year-long study, spearheaded by trained and equipped leaders. Ministry moments would be given at church to highlight testimonials on various God Sightings. The praise bands would be singing songs included in the curriculum and the pastors would be preaching on the same text the congregation members would reading each week.

With ample preparation time and buy-in from strong ministry leaders, this may be possible. I think it would work well in a small to medium size congregation with an established small group ministry (especially with groups that want to be challenged). Most congregations will end up adapting the structure to fit their needs. The concept behind the God Sightings curriculum is great; I love the idea of everyone diving into God’s Word. I also like that everything is centered around one year and that the writers of curriculum understand that people’s commit level will vary greatly.

However, I have a few concerns. The program could be very expensive, if each participant was required to purchase a God Sightings/The One Year Bible and companion guide and if the church poured a lot of money into promotional materials. The program could also require extensive volunteer training and management for small group leaders, especially if a church started new small groups solely for the program.

My biggest concern is on the content of the curriculum. Jesus Christ is only mentioned a handful of times in the companion guide. Also, the term “God” can sometimes be open for interpretation, depending on the reader’s perception of God and how the small group leader guides the discussion about God. Christ is the very core of our faith and yet there was hardly any mention about Christ, what happened on the cross, and what that means for us.

Is there a way to overcome this? Yes, but it would require more effort and dedication on the ministry leaders. Small group leaders would need to be trained on the difference between Law and Gospel. They need to be taught on how to incorporate the saving message of Jesus Christ and the precious message of forgiveness and baptism into a lesson that doesn’t necessarily have those things. I believe that every time a group comes together, Jesus Christ should be mentioned. I believe is absolutely VITAL to train youth and adult ministry leaders and teachers how to edit a lesson to make Christ the center of it. People should never leave a church activity without hearing about Jesus, because you never know where they are at in their relationship with Jesus.

God Sightings has potential. Imagine the faith conversations once people were diving into the Word and were refreshed by the message of forgiveness each week during the discussion! WOW! With the right leaders, I think you could have a slam dunk curriculum. However, ministry leaders should proceed with caution to ensure that Christ is at the heart of the discussions.

Published March 5, 2010

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