If you’re looking for a great resource to use this Fall, listen to the reviews of other borrowers in our conference. Read on to discover the resources in our online catalog that have only received 5-star reviews. The list includes many DVD studies but also some excellent books for reading and discussion. We have included quotes from the reviewers to help you understand why these resources were considered so valuable.
We collect reviews from anyone who borrows our resources through our online catalog and also through review submission forms that you receive when resources are mailed to you. These reviews are very useful in helping us to evaluate, recommend, and acquire resources.
To submit a review of any resource you have used (whether you borrowed it from us or not), search for the resource in our online catalog and then click on “Submit a comment & rating.”
To read all of the reviews in our online catalog, visit the Reader Review section.
Adam Hamilton’s Best-Reviewed Studies
These DVD studies by United Methodist Pastor Adam Hamilton received multiple 5-star reviews. Each one has never received a review that was less than 5 stars.
Simon Peter: Flawed but Faithful Disciple by Adam Hamilton. This study is by far our best-reviewed resource. It has received TEN 5-star reviews!
“My church loved this study by Adam Hamilton. Perhaps our favorite so far! We used it for a sermon series and Bible study. The Leader’s Guide and DVD included fabulous videos of the Holy Land and engaging discussion questions. Would highly recommend the book, DVD, and Leader’s Guide!“
“The entire class thoroughly enjoyed this series. The book was excellent, but the videos were detailed enough that those who didn’t read were still able to participate in the discussion. We highly recommend this book as it combined geography, history & theology to share the great story of Simon Peter and his relationship with Jesus to become the Rock.“
Creed: What Christians Believe and Why by Adam Hamilton. Coming in second place, this study has received five 5-star reviews.
“He takes us through a line by line approach of the words recited in the creed and why we believe the statements presented in the Creed. I found it easy to teach, informative and very good in generating class discussions once the DVD sections had been viewed. I would highly recommend this resource for age groups Teens and Older.“
“Our class learned that 5 rote sayings we have probably all said at one time or another can be hurtful and not true. Adam Hamilton does a great job explaining where some of these sayings originated, and he also examines scripture to go along with these ‘half truths.’ Our class is now making better choices in what we say to others.“
Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It by Adam Hamilton.
“This study offers a great history of John Wesley’s life and the early roots of Methodism. My church found the videos and book to be very insightful. ‘Revival’ gave context to what we believe as Methodists. The resources were easy to understand and the leader’s guide offered helpful questions for Bible study.”
Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today by Adam Hamilton.
“Adam Hamilton’s ‘Making Sense of the Bible’ was an excellent study . . . . I thought it was extremely well-done and he provided convincing arguments for his understanding of the scripture. Our only problem was that we needed to keep the video much longer since we spent a great deal of time going through the book chapter by chapter.“
Acts: Catching Up with the Spirit by Matthew L. Skinner.
“This was a different perspective on Acts from any previous study. It gave us new insight. The leader’s guide was very good. It included thought-provoking questions to relate scripture to our lives today. One of the best leader’s guides I have ever used. The video was helpful for those who did not read the book. It would have worked just as well if it were just audio.“
Fail: What to Do When Things Go Wrong by Matt Miofsky.
“This book and video series was enjoyed by all participants. It reminded us to take life in stride and to remember that failure is an important part of our spiritual growth.“
A New Reformation: From Luther’s World to Ours by Rob Fuquay.
“We are an older SS class, but few of us know much about the Reformation initiated by Luther. This DVD did an excellent job of relating the historical events. Rob Fuquay is a United Methodist minister from Indianapolis, Indiana. He tied the events of the Reformation to our present situation in the Methodist Church and helped us come to see that the church has gone through a number of reformations but comes out the other side stronger and able to reach people in our society that haven’t been reached before!! Highly recommend!!“
“‘He sets the wheels in motion.’ ‘He makes it look easy.’ ‘He really thinks outside the box.’ ‘He is amazing.’ ‘He does what he says he will do.’ These are just a few of the comments made by our class about Bob Goff and his book and study, ‘Everybody Always.’ We were glad we had done his study ‘Love Does‘ before this study because he mentions it many times in ‘Everybody Always.’ Bob is so engaging, humorous, and honest! He gives some very interesting and thought-provoking ideas to help us all love others.“
Curing Affluenza by Tony Campolo.
“The resource ‘stepped on our toes’ – because it made us aware that while we do a lot, there is so much more we can do. We skipped no parts. I would tell others to be open-minded and not on the defense because Tony Campolo ‘tells it like it is!‘”
“After the first study (‘What on earth are we here for‘), our ‘young adult’ class wanted more of Rick Warren. They enjoyed this one as much and kept going and passing the good news on to other classes! I believe it was this video that prompted one of the husbands to initiate a caring ministry for a neighbor of the church.“
Longer DVD Studies
These reviews relate to a series of studies or studies that require a longer time commitment than the standard six-session study.
“#1 all time favorite resource for deepening discipleship in the church. I use ‘Alpha‘ followed by ‘Disciple,’ and out of these two studies, God has launched multiple people into ministry in churches of all sizes and contexts.“
Living the Questions 2.0: An Introduction to Progressive Christianity by Jeff Procter-Murphy and David Felten. This study includes 21 sessions.
” ‘Living the Questions’ was an excellent study for our Sunday School class. It challenged us with new ways of understanding the message of Jesus and how to live out our faith in today’s world. At the start, some were skeptical, some dropped out of the class and others joined who were interested in a study that didn’t provide all the answers but encouraged us to find our own answers. The study stimulated a great deal of discussion and allowed each person to express his/her opinions and concerns without judgment.“
Questions of Faith by United Methodist Communications. This series includes DVDs and VHS tapes. Each of the five volumes in the series includes six questions for discussion.
“The ‘Questions of Faith’ series is a wonderful resource for a Sunday School class that likes a good discussion. Although the series was filmed years ago, the topics are still current and engaging.“
That the World May Know Series by Ray Vander Laan. This series of DVDs includes 16 studies. Each study includes five sessions or more. Two of these studies made our 5-star review list:
“Our Wednesday Evening Bible Study Group appreciated the quality and depth of Dr. Vander Laan’s insightful teaching. Seeing the geographical locations and contexts were quite helpful to our understanding of the meaning of each of the Scripture passages covered in this excellent study.“
“Ray brings the scripture alive in his teachings. He takes a few verses and makes them explode with meaning. His teaching inspires listeners to ‘be the message.‘”
Yes, Lord, I Have Sinned, But I Have Several Excellent Excuses by James W. Moore. This study has 12 sessions, one for each chapter in the book.
“Excellent – used it for Sunday School and it was enjoyed by all. This was our sixth time using James Moore’s material and all have been great.“
Use these DVD studies and books to study and discuss social issues such as racism, unconscious bias, and the inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in the life of the church.
Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love by William H. Willimon.
“This book’s content is so relevant to what our society is going through right now; every chapter resonated with us. I encourage all small groups to take on the challenge of reading this material, watching the videos, and having open-minded discussions about fear and how it negatively impacts our ability to love as God has taught us. Highly recommend this study.“
“Excellent study. Every church in the NC Conference should, at least, watch the videos. This is a subject that is vitally important to the future of the UMC. Every United Methodist needs a better understanding of it.“
I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist. edited by Rudy Rasmus.
“I am a white person who came to the Methodist Church about the time of the merger. The history of the Black Methodist Church was new to me. I found the book interesting, challenging, questioning, and, for the most part, hopeful. I closed the book wishing for a small group study that includes both Blacks and whites. For me, it was a very thought-provoking read.“
Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.
“I have had REI Groundwater and Phase I trainings and I found this good at reinforcing these facts and themes in a more personal and individual way. The writer is very open and vulnerable about her process and she uses it to teach important facts.“
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt.
“I highly recommend readers for HS ages and above, all genders, race, economical and educational status – read this book. It’s one thing to know and experience Racial Bias/Prejudice, but to realize how engrained and perpetuated it continues to be in almost every facet of our Society, makes me want to Holler – ‘WHY?’ Several stories really touched my soul and made me realize that I am not free from being bias and prejudice, Shocking! We could all benefit from this book by being truthful and realizing that Bias/Prejudice hurts both ways, the transgressor, and the person(s) transgressed against. I’m praying about starting a Bible Study Group.“
“The chapter written by Gregory Prince, Ph.D. on ‘Born That Way?’ gives compelling epigenetic evidence that people truly are ‘born that way.’ Many of us who were brought up to believe that homosexuality was a sin and a choice can relate to Tyson’s ‘conversion.‘”
“Amberly Neese is one of the liveliest speakers I have ever viewed. Her book and talks are full of personal experiences that make it easy to relate to our lives. There were plenty of questions to start discussion, and I especially liked her Call to Action sections.“
Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers by Margaret Feinberg.
“This is an excellent Biblically-based insight of several basic and often-mentioned foods in scripture. Margaret Feinberg, the author, has a delightful personality and refreshing new eyes to explore and give deeper understanding to Bible passages that connect spiritual teachings through reference to food or the use of food metaphors. Love the food cooking in the videos and recipes found in the study guide. Would happily recommend to individual, family, or Sunday School classes. Sure helped my family pass the time while ‘sheltering in place’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.“
“This was similar to ‘When God Doesn’t Fix It‘ but expanded into more detail and depth. If I had to pick between the two, I would choose Surrendered as it gets into more depth. Also, solid base of scripture by the author to back up her points. Our group enjoyed both studies, especially as we have navigated worship and studies with limitations due to COVID-19.“
Set Apart: Holy Habits of Prophets and Kings: A Bible Study on 1 and 2 Kings by Jessica LaGrone.
“My Sunday School class did this study and really enjoyed diving a bit deeper into scriptures as compared with other studies we’ve done. I essentially summarized the week’s daily sections when we gathered together on Sundays. Easy to read, understand, and follow.“
“I think it is mostly intended for women, but I was surprised that our mixed group of husbands and wives enjoyed it so well — and we are ‘elderly’! We would change nothing about this resource. We did not skip any parts. It is so applicable for today with the social media and what we post, but also face to face discussions are especially important.“
A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place by Beth Moore.
“The group of ladies (15) already knew of Beth Moore and participated because it was one of her studies. It provided opportunity for self-examination and personal growth and was a safe place for honest sharing. A wonderful bonding experience.“
These resources are intended for use during Advent or Lent.
All I Want for Christmas: Opening the Gifts of God’s Grace by James W. Moore.
“This study was loved by one of the hardest people to please. I can whole-heartedly endorse this study to any church group. Its use of real-life stories will be an inspiration to those who use it.“
Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem by Adam Hamilton.
“We really like Adam Hamilton. This series gave us a new perspective on the Christmas season and the fact that you have to think of Christmas and Easter as a package deal. Also, thinking about it from Mary’s perspective made it much more personal.“
The Case for Easter: Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus by Lee Strobel.
“One class member said he liked the way that Strobel broke information down into simple terms that we could understand. Another member pointed out that the information learned in this study is a great resource for us when talking with non-Christians and Christians about Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. We found it to be an interesting and encouraging study!“
In Remembrance: Their Last Supper Together by Grace Products.
“My wife and I have viewed this video many times on Emmaus events. But it is always a special blessing when we can play this story with commentary. Our congregation saw this video as a part of our Maundy Thursday service. When we shared communion that night, the change in their understanding was evident in their eyes, facial expressions, and body language.“
These books are great options for personal reading, a book club, or a book study in your small group.
Spoken Into Being: Divine Encounters Through Story by Michael E. Williams.
“As a retired educator and life-long learner, I believe in the value of human stories. Relationships are built upon our life stories. Michael helps us to realize the importance of Genesis as God’s way of speaking the world into being. Using God’s Word as a foundation, Michael recounts personal stories, retells sacred stories, and invites us, as readers, to tell our own stories. He even includes prompts to get us started. Michael believes that through storytelling we can meet God in new ways. I would recommend Michael’s book to beginners in learning to tell their own stories because Michael offers prompts, questions, thoughts to get us started. As we remember to tell the stories of ancestors, Bible stories, those of loved ones ‘memories will continue to grow in and enrich our lives.’“
Aging: Growing Old in Church by Will Willimon.
“I’m a lay person who is well into the aging process, and I requested the book for my own personal reading. It is filled with scripture, theology, practical suggestions, humor, the role of the church for all its members, and so much more. Most importantly, it offers hope to those of us who are reminded daily of the perspective our culture has on aging and older persons. Willimon is an excellent writer and preacher, and his book should be required for young and older pastors who are leading congregations.“
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle.
“We did a small group study of this book. It was very well received. For those who do not come into contact with the poor and those living amongst violence, this was a boundary-crossing book. Fr. Greg Boyle is able to portray the gang members as human beings who have hopes and dreams akin to ours. He helps us to see the dignity and humanity of each person, and even amidst tragedy, he sows seeds of hope. His love and commitment to this community reminds me of God’s. The stories he tells are unforgettable, inspiring and transformative. The free study guide available online thru Cokesbury was helpful.“
Reclaiming Rural: Building Thriving Rural Congregations by Allen T. Stanton.
“This book gave me language for thinking about what it means to be an authentic, thriving rural church rather than merely a rural church trying to be a scaled-down version of a large urban church.“
Grace Under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War by Andrew Carroll. The NC Conference Media Center holds a Certificate of License for this booklet so that you may make copies for everyone in your study group.
“I used this in a study group with older adults (ages 70-80). I supplemented the letters with some history of each of the wars covered in the letters. The study was very well received and invited much reflection on the presence of God amidst evil and suffering. Reflection on all the wars in one study also provoked discussion on the sad frequency of our wars.“
Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children into the Joy of Worship by Robbie Castleman.
“EXCELLENT resource to help parents understand how to lead their children into a life of worship, to move from children’s church and trying to keep children distracted and busy with toys in church, to really engaging and learning, understanding and worshipping. Teaches important practices and understanding key to discipling children in worship. An earlier edition of this book changed the way I parented my daughter nearly 20 years ago and has helped me to guide parents now.“
Request These Resources
These resources can be borrowed for free by anyone involved with a United Methodist Church in the North Carolina Conference. We will mail them to your home! All you need to do is fill out the Resource Request Form.