Formations Summary

September–December 2017

Unit 1: Paul’s Jerusalem Collection

Leigh Powers
In this unit, we will explore Paul’s efforts in raising a collection for the Jerusalem church, which had been suffering under a famine. In lesson one, Paul encourages the Corinthians to complete their collection by raising the example of the Macedonians and of Christ himself. In lesson two, he advocates a simple procedure for collecting the Jerusalem offering. Next, Paul addresses the Corinthians’ motivations for giving. Finally, Paul ends his letter to the Romans by explaining his hope to travel to Rome and his obligation to deliver the offering to Jerusalem. Scripture calls us to give as a responsibility and privilege made possible by God’s gracious generosity.

Unit 2: Reclaiming Freedom

Mark Wingfield
Although we don’t know exactly what difficulties faced the churches in Galatia at the time Paul wrote to them, or even how Paul knew them, we do know that the gospel had been distorted. The resulting conflict threatened to destroy the church and to rob the people of Anatolia of a true witness to Christ. This unit details Paul’s five messages of freedom to the Galatians: freedom resisted, freedom through faith, freedom from the law, freedom in the Spirit, and the joining of freedom and responsibility.

Unit 3: The Herodian Dynasty

Michael D. McCullar
Name a memorable character from the New Testament who isn’t Jesus or Paul. Did you say Peter? Mary Magdalene? Now think of characters who only appear in a handful of verses. Our lessons for this month focus on a particular family of biblical villains: Herod the Great and his descendants. None of these figures appear more than once or twice in the narrative. And yet, in one way or another, these bit players on the New Testament stage serve as foils to the main characters. Their vices, on full display in Scripture and the historical documents of the time, provide negative examples that urge us toward virtue.

Unit 4: Awaiting Christ

Emily Hull McGee
Over five weeks, we will explore some of the earliest prophecies about the Messiah. By connecting these Old Testament texts with New Testament accounts of Jesus’ birth, these lessons invite participants to consider the difference Christ’s coming makes, how we might prepare for his coming, what comfort his coming brings, how we share such good news, and what actually happens when Jesus appears. For those who have celebrated Christ’s birth for years as well as new believers, this unit will equip participants for meaningful reflection and stirring conversations during these weeks of waiting for the Messiah.

January–April 2018

Unit 1: Evangelism in the Old Testament

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair
Growing up in mission-hearted and discipleship-minded churches, we often heard the call to “go and tell” the stories of Jesus and to share our testimonies of God’s faithfulness and Christ’s redemption. However, the New Testament was not the beginning of evangelism. Centuries before Jesus’ Great Commission, God’s people shared the good news of God’s love. In this unit, we will hear from prophets and kings whose faithfulness, service, and messages proclaim what they believed but had not yet seen: salvation and the ultimate reign of God.

Unit 2: Looking to Jesus

Taylor Sandlin
This four-lesson unit, drawn from the book of Hebrews, envisions the life of faith not merely as a set of beliefs but also—and more importantly—as a journey toward God. This journey, and ours, begins in Christ as we explore the importance of his humanity in his suffering and defeat of death. In the second lesson, we will look forward to the rest God has promised us and draw courage to persevere. Next, we will learn of others who persevered by examining the faithful heroes of Israel’s history, including Christ. Finally, as we stand publicly beside our Savior, we will remember that the life of faith is primarily made up of the struggles of everyday life,.

Unit 3: Jesus Teaches and Heals

Matt Sapp
As we approach Easter, we will follow Jesus toward Jerusalem and the end of his earthly ministry, pausing with him in the book of Matthew for the pressing work of teaching his followers and healing those who come to him. Aided by Matthew’s vivid descriptions, we will begin with two compassionate healings; move to lessons about rules, possessions, and priorities; and conclude on Easter Sunday with Christ’s final instructions to his disciples and his Great Commission. Together, we’ll discover that Jesus continues to prioritize people and their needs over outward appearances and the established ways of doing things.

Unit 4: The Life of Barnabas

Jason Loscuito
We know the name Barnabas, but we may only remember bare facts about him: he traveled with Paul, his name means “son of encouragement.” This unit explores four of the roles Barnabas filled in the book of Acts: the generous giver, the encourager, the preacher, the defender of Gentiles. Barnabas’s life, recorded in these distinct stages, helps us to better understand the struggles, joys, and growing pains of the early church. This early disciple’s roles are also ones we undertake as we mature in Christ and in fellowship with our fellow believers.