Update and Survey on Small Group Material

Education is a big deal in Messianic Jewish congregations and Judeo-Christian congregations. I spent a period of my life in a Christian paradigm in which education was abysmally lacking.

I remember that it was unusual for me, in that Christian environment, not only to learn Hebrew, but to maintain my translating skills and to actually know Hebrew (many in that arena would take Greek, occasionally Hebrew, in seminary and immediately let it lapse after meeting the requirement to graduate). I thought I was cream of the crop because I was proficient in one biblical language. When I made a paradigm change and joined the UMJC, I found I was more like bottom of the pile in educational terms. I had a lot of learning to do. Judaism in general, like some Christian denominations, places a high value on education and an educated rabbinate. Even so, we in Messianic Judaism, including most rabbis, are woefully behind.

If you are not Jewish and came into Messianic Judaism or Judeo-Christianity from a Christian background, likely education had a lot to do with it. You likely had some sort of watershed moment where the Passover-Exodus experience, the worship practices of ancient Israel and/or modern Judaism, the services of the Temple and songs of the Psalter, and similar “old” institutions captured your imagination. They lifted you from the flavorless and not-quite-even-vanilla teaching that characterized perhaps your evangelical background (study Pauline texts, rinse, repeat, every sermon is about “how to get saved”).

In what follows, I have a survey question for you about what you would like to see in small group materials (including whether you even feel a need to use any such material or wish something existed that fit your group’s needs). I’ll also update you on a few projects.

Survey: What topics and formats would you like to see in small group materials?

Do you use small group curriculum in your teaching?

Do you want material that has “homework” and then brings the group together to discuss?

Do you prefer the class to do homework before discussing a topic or after discussing it?

How important is it that student can have some books or material as well as the teacher having notes to teach from?

If you don’t use small group curriculum, could you share a reason?

Update and Coming Projects

  • December 2011 – Yeshua For Small Groups will create teaching sessions designed to help students experience together the meaning of Yeshua’s deeds and words with homework to reinforce the transforming lessons.
  • December 2011 – Mark: An Audio-Commentary in Judeo-Christian Perspective
  • Early 2012 – In the Days of Torah, a series of month-long studies (there will be four in all) with daily homework for students and a classroom session for each topic. Topics include: the Abrahamic covenant the Divine Glory, Purity Laws, Levites, Passover, Sinai Covenant, Wilderness, the Ark, burnt and grain offerings, pilgrim feasts, the Tabernacle, sin and guilt offerings, priests, the covenant code, Jubilee and Sabbatical years, surveys of the five books of Torah.
  • Yeshua in Context II: The Methods and Message of Messiah

You may be unaware of some resources that already could be of use to you:

  • Free: The Yeshua in Context Podcast, on iTunes and at DerekLeman.com
  • Free: The Yeshua in Context blog at YeshuaInContext.com
  • $8.99 The Kindle Version of Yeshua in Context (at amazon or MountOlivePress.com)
  • $30.00 The Audiobook Version of Yeshua in Context (at MountOlivePress.com)
  • $15.00 or $17.00 The Paperback Version of Yeshua in Context (at amazon or MountOlivePress.com)
  • $20 The Messiah Yeshua Children’s Series, Vol. 1 (at MountOlivePress.com)
  • Many more on topics such as the feasts, the world to come, the Hebrew Bible, Paul, etc., at MountOlivePress.com

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6 Responses to Update and Survey on Small Group Material

  1. Derek Leman says:

    Another question about small group materials:

    Could an eBook version be valuable to your group? Could you imagine all of your students with iPhones and Android phones and Kindles sitting around reading and discussing? Or are you guys not that high-tech?

    Similarly, what if the material came as a printable PDF file, as a cheaper option than a published book? Would you just rather have the book (at say $8 per student) or the PDF printable (at say $4 per student)?

    Derek

  2. Donna Levin says:

    Shalom. Your timing is great because we are gearing up to start our fall Chavurah sessions. Here are my opinions and preferences:

    Survey: What topics and formats would you like to see in small group materials? Videos could work but shouldn’t be too long. We don’t want to spend 60 minutes watching a video and then having little time for discussion/prayer/fellowship, etc. I would like something that teaches us more about Jewish life (includes liturgy, prayer, feasts, etc.) for Jews and non-Jewish followers of Yeshua. I’d love to see something on Romans (reflects my own personal struggle with much of Rav Shaul’s writings). I’d also like something to help us learn how to see and think Hebraically in order to gain richer insight into the Bible. Those are just a few that come to mind.

    Do you use small group curriculum in your teaching? I have been using the book “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus”. I adapted and “Messianized” a discussion guide the authors had on their website. We haven’t found small group curriculum that seems to work for Messianic congregations.

    Do you want material that has “homework” and then brings the group together to discuss? I prefer when people do some reading and preparation before we meet. However, I once took a Beth Moore class that had so much “homework” I was overwhelmed by it.

    How important is it that student can have some books or material as well as the teacher having notes to teach from? Extremely important for me. I might not use the notes in the exact format, but it can stimulate me to form other questions or help me if I feel stuck. I have been in classes in which the teacher read to me (please stop!) or asked questions that I really wish I could have thought about ahead of time.

    Do you prefer the class to do homework before discussing a topic or after discussing it? I am big on preparation ahead of time so I would prefer doing homework before the discussion. However, I realize not everyone will do that so it’s important to have a topic and questions that are accessible for people who do not do the homework.

    Todah

  3. Derek Leman says:

    Thanks, Donna.

    ROMANS: No small group material, but in my Paul Didn’t Eat Pork book, I suggest a Jewish-friendly reading of Romans based on the New Perspective on Paul. Also, I think FFOZ is going to do a Torah Club (I’m hoping this year) which follows Acts and delves into other apostolic writings. Daniel Lancaster would have some excellent observations on Romans.

    JEWISH LIFE: Tons of material from the synagogue publishers. Many times MJ groups don’t think to look to Jewish publishers for material (part of the Christian background of MJ and the continued orientation to look only to Christianity for resources). I’d hate to duplicate the great material that exists already. I do have a small group study called FEAST on six of the feasts (mainly oriented to Christians, but with some thematic observations that might give a Messianic group a new way to think about some things). It is available on MountOlivePress.com or at LifeWay.com.

    Thanks for your thoughts about homework. Yes, I keep my homework very reasonable for people with busy lives. Many Beth Moore ladies are hungry and devoted to putting in the time, but not all people can do that.

    Derek

    • Donna Levin says:

      Thanks Derek. I’ll look into the suggested resources. Also, discipleship manual is a great idea. My congregation is struggling with this area.

  4. Derek Leman says:

    I got a comment by email. I’m not sure the one who shared would want me to mention their name, so I’ll just give the gist.

    She said the biggest need, in her opinion, in MJ small group material is a manual for discipleship, something to instruct people in a way of life that is Jewish and Yeshua-honoring.

    Long ago, when I operated in a very different paradigm, I wrote such a book. I have thoughts of producing a “Discipleship in Yeshua” book in 2012. Existing books on discipleship in MJ are not particularly Jewish, but rather Christian with some Jewish sprinkles. In the world of synagogue education, the materials, of course, lack all that Yeshua adds.

    My mind is stirring. It is a big job. I’d hate to work on this project alone. It really sounds like a project the MJRC would excel at (ourrabbis.org). But it would be and could be a real key in the future development of Messianic Judaism. Perhaps the lack of such a manual is one of the things holding our movement back from progress.

    Derek

  5. Carl Kinbar says:

    Speaking of education, here’s “Betting on Jewish literacy” – http://bit.ly/dkpLtG

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