Surprised by Hope: A New DVD-Driven Study featuring N.T. Wright

Have groups that are looking for something a little more challenging?  Had an opportunity recently to preview a new DVD-driven study featuring N.T. Wright, one of the world’s top biblical scholars.  Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, based on Wright’s book by the same title is both challenging and a great exposure to one of the most stimulating thinkers and teachers anywhere.

Wright’s teaching in Surprised by Hope centers on two main questions.  First, “What are we waiting for?” or, what lies ahead in the way of ultimate hope?  Second, “What are we going to do about it in the meantime?” or, can we have hope in the present world?

Each of the DVD segment are 15 to 20 minutes long and along with a collection of beautiful exterior footage of Auchland Castle at Durham in the U.K. and opening segments in the various parts of the castle, take on the form of a story told in what looks like Wright’s library or study.  While very engaging, it is a fairly straightforward presentation without the fancy footwork of cutaways to other locations or even on-screen references to the scriptures quoted.  It really does feel like you are in the room listening to Wright explain a set of important biblical truths.

The participant guide is well designed to allow note-taking during the DVD segment as well as a set of very thought-provoking discussion questions.  While it is a topical study, groups will definitely find plenty of scripture to with which to wrestle.  In addition to the study itself, each week presents a Between Sessions assignment.  Although not a daily devotional, there is definitely the kind of homework that will allow those who need greater challenge a way to find it.

For those groups that desire an extended study opportunity, each session has a related Bonus Study segment that provides an additional DVD selection designed to provide additional teaching.

Finally, an adequate Leader’s Guide accompanies the DVD providing direction and guidance for facilitators making this a very complete study.

This is a study I think you’re going to want to have in your arsenal.  Those who have a thirst for a deeper understanding of heaven, the resurrection, and salvation will find it very thirst-quenching.  Those along for the ride will be thirsty for more.  This is good stuff.  I definitely recommend adding to your approved list.

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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.

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