Friday, November 12, 2010


"Jesus practiced spiritual disciplines."

Jesus. God Incarnate. Practiced spiritual disciplines. It seems so simple and obvious yet so challenging. That one statement could launch a deep and engaging discussion in any small group. Convergence is a new DVD-driven small group curriculum hosted by author and communicator Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years). I recently watched one of the sessions with author, thinker, and all-around awesome person Lauren Winner (Girl Meets God) on the topic of spiritual disciplines.

In a very conversational style, Miller probes into Lauren's Jewish heritage and how those p
ractices have informed her practice of Christianity and given shape and deeper meaning to her relationship with Christ. Sabbath, daily prayer, and fasting are three of the disciplines targeted. For some of us, spiritual disciplines come naturally. For others, we find that we need to practice spiritual disciplines within the context of community. This particular Convergence series is perfect for that. Because Sabbath keeping has become such an important spiritual discipline for me, I was particularly excited to see it addressed in the curriculum.

Some of the individual questions raised include:
  • What is a spiritual practice?
  • Why should Christians do spiritual practices?
  • Can spiritual practices bring me closer to God?
  • How do I start practicing them in my daily life?
Here are some reasons why I love the Convergence series:
  • Price. It's only $14.99.
  • Low Risk. You can download individual segments for only $3.99 if you want to test drive the product.
  • Resources. You can download discussion guides for free here. I found both the participant's guide and the leader's guide to be very helpful.
  • Engaging. It's not the standard talking head version of video-based small group curriculum that we have grown to hate. Rather, it's a conversation. Kinda like having Donald Miller and his guests right in our living room participating in our own group.
  • Length. The videos are only about 15-20 minutes long, which leaves lots of margin for discussion and reflection within your group. And you get a total of about 3-4 weeks of content. Long enough to explore the topic. Short enough to keep attentions.
  • Easy to Use. There is no homework for participants and little preparation for leaders. You just pop the video in; let the conversation enlighten you, excite you, frustrate you, confuse you, or teach you; and then discuss with your group.
While each video is only 15-20 minutes long, there is a lot of information packed in there! You may find that you need to stop the video at strategic moments to unpack the principles and then restart the video.
Here's the last thing I'm going to say, and it's probably the most important. Definitely the most exciting. The first 25 readers to type in my last name at checkout get one free download. Go to and choose the video you want and at checkout type in Zempel to get the download for free.

Also. Check out the next blogger who will be reviewing the product, my good friend Ben Reed. You should read his blog regardless. He is brilliant.


At 11:14 AM, Blogger Stephen said...

Thanks for sharing this Heather, and thanks for setting up the free sample. That will be really helpful in evaluating the series. I'm always hopeful when I run into new video curricula like this, but past experience has also made me skeptical. Almost every time I have used video in a group it has made people more passive and less engaged. Discussion almost always suffers. I'm intrigued by the paradigm of eavesdropping on a conversation and even pausing the video to interact as a group as the conversation goes along. Thanks again!


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