New Series: Starting Over

We are pleased to announce the release of a new message series that’s available for Life Lessons groups.



What do you do when it all falls apart?
Your career
Your marriage
Your dream

How do you pick up the pieces and begin again?

In the four-part series Starting Over, Andy Stanley looks at why we have a tendency to repeat our mistakes . . . and what we can do to ensure that next time won’t be like last time.


I think Starting Over is destined to become one of the most popular series for Life Lessons groups.

Why?

Because all of us have had to start over at some point. And regardless of whether we’re starting over because of mistakes we’ve made, or because life has thrown us a curveball . . . starting over is hard. It’s humbling. And it hurts.

So if someone has advice that will make starting over smoother and less painful—and give us a better result?

That would be worth our while.

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New series: The Comparison Trap

There’s a new 3-part message series available for Life Lessons groups: The Comparison Trap.

I’m excited to add The Comparison Tramp to the Life Lessons catalog because it’s such a natural fit for Life Lessons groups. We all deal with the problem of comparing ourselves to those around us, trying to figure out where we stand and if we make the cut. At least, I know I deal with it. When this series ran live at North Point, I missed part 1 with bronchitis. When I listened to the podcast of it a week later to catch up, I was on a treadmill at the gym. And at the very moment Andy talked about how we look to our right and to our left… I happened to be sneaking a glance at the treadmill to my left, comparing their speed to mine. I was caught in the trap!

If I deal with the comparison trap and you do too, chances are that we’re not alone. Those in your sphere of influence, regardless of where they stand spiritually, deal with the same issue—and your Life Lessons group may be their best opportunity to find out how to escape the comparison trap!

[Visit the series page for series description, MP3 downloads, video preview, and more.]

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There’s an app for that! (new DVD series)

We live in a culture that is crazy for “apps.”
Android or BlackBerry, iPhone or Palm—in the world of smartphones, apps are everything.

Interestingly, when it comes to biblical principles, the same holds true: application makes all the difference. That’s what the newest message series for Life Lessons groups is all about. The DVDs of Life Apps hit the shelves today. In this six-part series, Andy Stanley and Gwinnett Church campus pastor Jeff Henderson look at five specific concepts—forgiveness, confession, rest, trust, and encouragement—and how we can put these “life applications” into practice.

We just finished this series at North Point in April, and I’m really excited for what it could mean for Life Lessons groups. There are three reasons this series is particularly well-suited to Life Lessons groups:

  1. The principles are incredibly practical and helpful. Every listener will walk away with at least an idea of how they could live them out.
  2. They’re for everybody. Regardless of where your audience is spiritually, they would be hard-pressed to argue that applying these principles wouldn’t make a meaningful difference in their lives.
  3. There’s a disclaimer for non-Christians. Andy and Jeff explain that each “life app” represents a command… for Christians. While they make the case that everyone would benefit from applying the principles, the Bible only describes them as expectations for those who are pursuing God. This can ease the tension for those who are afraid they’re going to be “preached at.”

Visit the Life Apps series page for the MP3s, or go to the DVD Order Form to request your copy.

What did you think about “Life Apps”? Share your thoughts here.

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The Top-10, courtesy of the home office…

I’m not a huge late night talkshow guy, but I love the Top Ten lists that David Letterman has always done.  I used to set my VCR to tape just the first 2o minutes or so, just so I could catch the Top Ten.  Then I discovered this website and stopped wasting videotapes.  Remember videotapes? I recently tried to explain them to my 5- and 7-year-old kids, who literally have no concept of the term “rewind.”  But I digress….

In honor of the Top Ten lists, here, presented in countdown format, are the top ten most-requested DVDs for the first quarter of 2011.

10. Taking Care of Business – A Life Lessons classic.  Just be sure to check out the Notes For Leaders on the series page.

9. Three Shadows of the Passion – Makes sense, since this is the only Easter-specific message series we have.

8.  Playing God – This one also saw an uptick, due in part to the fact that part 4 was the Easter message in 2007.

7. God Is Great, God Is Good – Has been popular ever since the economy starting turning a couple of years ago, but it spiked recently after the tragedy in Japan.

6. White Flag – We can all learn something about surrender from the most famous of runners. Not Pheidippides, not Steve Prefontaine. Jonah—the man who ran from God.

5. Balanced – It’s a law of economics: the economy goes down, and the request for financial curriculum goes up.

4. Faith, Hope and Luck – They say it’s better to be lucky than good. They also say ya gotta have faith.  What do “they” know?

3. Game Plan – The newest series available for Life Lessons groups. Still popular, even though the football-themed graphics seem out of place in April.

2. Time of Your Life – Another new-ish series, this was the 5th-most-requested series of 2010.  It appears to be gaining on the #1 series of 2010:

And the #1 series of the first quarter of 2011 is…

1. Guardrails – When combined with its predecessor Take It to the Limit, these two margin-themed series are by far the most-requested series in Life Lessons history.

What about you?  Which have been your favorite series? Add your comments here.

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Choosing DVDs

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What should we do next?

Have any suggestions for our next DVD?
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These are among the most common questions I field from Life Lessons leaders. I love getting these questions, because it tells me you want to be intentional about what you show in your groups. I enjoy talking through the options and helping you make your selections. In choosing message series, there are 3 primary considerations that I think are key to your success:

What drives interest?
If we are to achieve our goal of reaching those who are disconnected from God and/or church, we need to consider what topics and series are going to pique the interest of our target audience.

What are the felt needs?
Outsiders might come the first time because of the offer of free food, or because a title piques their interest. But they’re only going to come back if they feel like Life Lessons is worth their time—and I think that comes down largely to usefulness. When a message hits someone right where they are—where they feel God was speaking directly to them—that’s when participating in Life Lessons becomes a priority rather than just another demand on their time.

What have we done recently?
If you look at the Series Descriptions spreadsheet, you’ll see that one of the columns of the Summary sheet lists the Category of messages. Most series fit into one of the following categories:

Once you hit a category, I would wait at least 6 months before choosing something else from the same category, even if the first choice from that category was well received. Last year, a group wanted to follow up iMarriage with Staying In Love because there had been such positive response to iMarriage. That may have been a short-term gain, but it would have been a long-term loss. Had they done 7 straight sessions (over 4 months) on the same topic, I think they would have seen a drop-off in attendance as the messages started to sound repetitive. They also would have lost the 4 weeks’ worth of opportunity to attract new people who weren’t particularly interested in a relationships series. Instead, they saw 30% growth for their next series, which was Taking Responsibility For Your Life.

I would also recommend trying to hit at least 7 different categories over the course of 2 years.  By varying the topics, you can avoid fatigue and increase the likelihood that each person in your audience will hear something that makes a difference in his or her life.

By taking these 3 considerations into account, I think you’ll set your group up well for drawing interest, keeping interest, and creating opportunities for God to get people’s attention.

What do you think? How do you select your DVDs? (Submit your comments here.)

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