Our Approach: What Makes Us Unique?
Faith Works provides discernment-centered and theme-based resources for small groups, Bible study and worship. We began by producing material for congregations following the Narrative Lectionary and now also provide resources for congregations following the Revised Common Lectionary and those off-lectionary as well.
All of our offerings share our five distinguishing characteristics. Here's more about them:
A focus on SPIRITUAL discernment
Our small group and Bible study curriculum focuses on deep listening and spiritual discernment. Our aim is not so much to instruct people how to think about God as it is to help people hear how God is inviting them to rethink their lives, to help people hear God’s call for them personally. It's about encouraging introspection rather than teaching information.
This comes out most clearly in the way we use questions. In traditional small groups and Bible studies, questions are an opportunity for the group to think together. They are structured as a list that the group goes through one by one. Faith Works' resources use questions differently. We see them as tools for individual exploration. Instead of asking groups to go through the questions and discuss them one by one, our process is to ask participants to read all the questions ahead of time and find the one question that “hooks them”—the single question that speaks to and challenges them personally. Once that question is identified, participants are asked to "live with"--or “walk with”--that single question for a number of days prior to the group meeting. Participants then come to their group, not with an answer to each of the questions on the list, but with a story about how this one particular question led them to a new and personal insight. This approach leads us away from abstraction and intellectualizing and instead invites us to connect the questions to personal stories and our daily living.
A theme-based framework
Faith Works resources are also theme-based. This means that we build our curriculum around one Christian virtue - or calling - each month. We all hunger for depth. The society we live in is one of information-overload, short-attention spans and shallow engagement. People come to our churches hoping to escape from this "thin-living." Offering curriculum that stays focused on one single theme for an entire month is our way of helping congregations offer the depth and sustained focus people seek.
This theme-based approach also brings a fresh perspective to the well-known, and sometimes well-worn, lectionary readings. Simply put, new and focused frames enable us to see and hear new things.
Experiential learning & spiritual exercises
We all long to experience faith not just learn about it. Too often, we fail people by providing them with small groups and Bible studies that are information-focused. This is why spiritual exercises are central to most of the curriculum we produce. We want small group participants to experience the monthly themes and lectionary texts, not just analyze them. So we regularly develop spiritual exercises for members to do prior to their group meeting. These exercises get participants out of their heads and into life. Group members then come to their groups ready to share encounters they've had not just ideas they've been thinking about.
Robust resources for personal reflection
Our small group and Bible study guides include numerous resources for participants to engage on their own apart from the group meetings. We think of these recommended resources as additional “companions” and discussion partners. They include quotes, poems, online videos, music selections and book and movie suggestions. These resources are are not intended for group discussion, but rather provide participants a way to go deeper on their own. Think of them as personal devotional material. Some congregations send these additional materials out to their entire congregation, whether they are in a small group and Bible study or not. For many it serves as a monthly spiritual journal.
Daily online inspiration
We maintain two Facebook pages that go along with our small group and Bible study material. The intent is to keep your members engaged with the monthly theme and lectionary reading on a daily basis. Think of them as online daily devotionals. One Facebook page offers general inspiration on the monthly theme (View it here). The other offers inspiration specific to the Storylines Bible Study (View it here).
Subscribing congregations are encouraged to repost any of our posts to their own church Facebook pages. We see this as our way of helping you enhance your social media presence.
Check out free samples of our material here .