Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: STUCK- a keeper....definitely.

On a superficial level, I love this study. 
On a leadership level, I love this study. 
On a personal level, I love this study. 
On a spiritual level, I love this study. 
Jennie Allen nailed it when she wrote her 8 week group study entitled Stuck. The series comes with an 8 session DVD, a leaders guide, a participants guide, and a deck of cards. 
The deck of cards were my favorite. 
Allen gives group guidelines for her study. One of her rules for group discussion is to not counsel one another. If you’ve ever been in a group discussion with more than 2 women, you should know why she wants to limit playing counselor for the others. Everyone always has an idea to solve your problem, a solution to your worries and instructions on how to live the perfect life. But why the deck of cards?
As a task oriented person, the cards make my heart soar. Each week has 10 cards which correspond to the week’s topic. Each card is different and ranges in activities from reading a scripture to the group, asking a discussion question for the group, answering a thought provoking question or some other task. The cards give the group participants some authority as to how much she shares with others and the level of participation. Having a card in your hand is much like having a table in front of you....it’s a little piece of safety from the invasive feelings some experience when sharing personal information. Cards also give the quiet ones a chance to speak if they wish and prevents trampling from too-well-known Chatty Cathy. 
Allen’s DVD is enjoyable and she is easy to listen to. The settings are different each week and she positions herself as if she is talking directly to you- across the table, in the grocery isle, etc. Each clip is about 8 minutes long. While watching, I became so interested in what she was saying, I lost track of time and always wanted her to keep going. Her sweet spirit shines through and I wish I knew her personally- she would be a deep and valuable friend. 
As for the topics covered in the study, Allen writes/talks about places we get STUCK in our relationship with God- broken, mad, discontent, scared, overwhelmed, sad, unstuck. For some of these topics, I felt it didn’t apply to me BEFORE I listened and read.....but each time, I found that I saw myself in the discussions. Her questions, her personal stories, the scriptures she used.....they all pulled something out in me that resonated so clearly in my own heart. Ouch. 
Because of the way her study is organized, I feel this would fit any level of intimacy a group currently experiences- a newly established group would benefit from the use of the cards and the optional input exercises, while a group that deeply knows one another can press farther with the hard questions and personal stories. 
Thanks Thomas Nelson for a chance to read and review this study in exchange for a free copy! If you want to snag your own copy, click here
You can check out Jennie’s site @ http://jennieallen.com/projects/stuck or catch a glimpe of one her videos, right here:

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