First, let's get this part over with. Legal disclosure: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time; however, all my opinions are honest. I am not required to post a positive review. And if you subscribe to my reading blog, you know that I am often painfully honest about the books I receive to review. Sometimes I wonder why the publishers keep sending books to me!
Ignite Student Leadership, published by the Life Bible Study division of NavPress, is intended to be a six-week study with 35-40 minute sessions, but this is flexible. We actually did it over the course of a few weeks, doing two sessions each week.
The course includes three components: a leader's guide, student guide, and DVD. When I first received the kit, I thought it wouldn't work as a personal Bible study with just my own kids. It is designed to be used with "any size group" up to 100; however, I was able to easily adapt it to work with just Duncan. That said, I would love to use this in larger groups: youth group, American Heritage Girls, Boy Scouts, or just with a group of teens.
The purpose of the study is to encourage kids to lead like Jesus— to take a love-based approach to leadership rather than a power-driven one. The leader's guide is easy to navigate and includes in each session a variety of large group activities and discussions, small group or individual activities, and videos. It is completely scripted and all Bible verses are listed in the guide, so you don't have to scramble to look up verses while teaching. The student guide follows along appropriately with the leader's guide. (This worked out well with just Duncan, as he followed along and read the verses aloud in each section.)
The videos are a key component of the study. Honestly, I approach video clips cautiously and with a certain amount of skepticism. I've seen so many badly done videos targeted to teens that my expectations are low. Much to my relief, the folks at Life Bible Study did a fantastic job on the videos! The actors are totally believable. Jake, the main character, is particularly good. The narrators and speakers, who are interspersed in with the story of Jake and his friends, are hip and relevant: guys in t-shirts and Converse rather than golf shirts and awkward slacks. I know, I know: there is a lot floating around right now in church circles that adults try too hard to be relevant and hip, but seriously. This doesn't feel forced, like "hey, let's be cool," but rather that these are leaders who took time to know what appeals to teenagers. And, well, adults, too.
The storyline through the video sessions is compelling. Duncan wanted to watch the whole DVD all the way through on the first day, although of course we didn't. The story follows Jake, the new kid, and Carmen, the overconfident popular girl, in various situations. OK, summarizing that sounds trite, but it really isn't. Between video clips, the leader's guide provides discussion questions and activities, as well as personal assessments.
Duncan and I really learned a lot from the pride vs. fear assessment, which helps the students see barriers to allowing God to work in our lives.
Enough about the format: I really like what the study is teaching. The message here is to learn to lead like Jesus—to be a servant, to put aside ego and fear. After a few lessons that discuss the heart and head of a leader, the study goes on to provide concrete example of how to go about being a Christ-like leader— the "hands" and "habits" of a leader.
I have spent years as an American Heritage Girls leader and a Boy Scout mom, and I think our greatest goal is to develop strong leaders filled with integrity and confidence. Ignite Student Leadership provides exactly the kind of practical, relevant scripture-based information and insight that I look for in helping kids learn how to lead. You can easily download a sample lesson. Again, this might not appear to be a particularly homeschooling-friendly format, but we found it easily adaptable. If you are any kind of youth leader, I recommend this even more highly!
Would you like to have your own copy of Ignite? I have one digital version of Ignite Student Leadership to give away! All you'll need to do is enter your name in the comments and make sure I can easily contact you. You'll have until Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. EST to enter this giveaway. If you don't win, don't despair! You an purchase Ignite in a couple of different forms (digital or hard copy) on the website. You can also hear more about Life Bible Studies on Twitter or Facebook.
Again, leave a comment for a chance to receive your free digital version!