My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Have you ever been in the market, or the hunt, for a Bible study that works for the whole family? I have two sons, ages five and two. I can easily find materials for them, but it doesn’t challenge me, being in Seminary. While my need is simple, it’s actually quite hard to find a study that scales to the needs of my family. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to find something to scale to multiple ages…
There is, however, a new partner on the block: the Sword Studies. The Sword Study is designed to be synchronized to speak to many age ranges either at home or for the church. The Shelby Kennedy Foundation has created this study material to help, as they say it, “ages 4 to 104.” The Sword Study is organized into age levels, and each one focuses on the same material at a different ability to read and understand. There are five levels for each study, being ages 4-7, 7-10, 22-24, teens and adults, and parents/study leaders. I received a copy of their II Timothy set to review. Here’s what I found…
Level 1: Ages 4-7
This level is designed to be an activity book with coloring, drawing, matching, and other learning tools. The activity book opens with a fun child-themed font and simple message that, in my case, the parent can share with their child. There’s a place to write in their name, starting date, and ending date. Afterward, there is a letter to the parents on how to use the activity book. While rated ages four through seven, it could be easy to be more hands-on with younger ages or allow older ages to work more independently.
The workbook is broken into days for completion, starting with a Pray section, Color and Do, and Read and Learn. In the course of one day, children learn how to work on their habit of talking to G-d, get hands-on experience with reflecting the main lesson, and correlate biblical passages to practical application and memorization. These lessons are designed to be short in nature, but allow a deeper conversation to follow.
In the case of my two-yar-old, he quite enjoyed coloring along while his mother read the material to him. My five year old would pick it up much quicker, but still need to be read to. Each page reflects a separate day, and I could see this being used as scrapbooking materials down the road. Overall, this level of the workbook seems to be quite appropriate and excellent material to use.
Level 2: Ages 7-10
From the beginning, this workbook is definitely thicker and more academically-styled in an intro to elementary school fashion. This is more independent as well. Each week has an introductory story that will be investigated. Over the course of two weeks, one chapter will have been completed. Then, each day of the week involves studies to fully understand the material for the week. Each day begins with prayer, writing out verses, and reading through the book. At the end of the study, there is a review to apply the material learned for the day. At the end of the chapter, there is a chapter review and summary. This workbook will be completed in ten weeks. It looks a bit intense, but would work great in a Sunday School setting or homeschooling environment.
Level 3: Ages 11-14
This level is designed as an intermediary level between levels two and four. I did not have a copy of this level to review, so I can’t provide my personal experience reviewing the material. The one-sheet from the media company, however, indicates it is a more difficult version of Level 2.
Level 4: Teens & Adults
Reviewing this level, it brings me back to my youth group days. This workbook is a create selection for small groups of high school and college age students. This level involves dissecting the material a bit more, as well as learning some of the Greek and Hebrew in the text. This would be great in a Sunday School setting for Campus Missions or the like, but not necessarily for home study with adults.
Level 5: Parent or Study Leader
Reading through this level, I feel the content is more aptly-rated for Study Leaders, but the verbiage is directed toward parents. There are leadership instructions on how to cover the material and lead weekly services that culminate the material learned throughout the week in the first part. The second part is much like an adult study book, helping make this a learning experience for the coordinator as well. I was afraid it would be very programmed, but instead it is quite interactive.
The Sword Study, in my opinion, delivers on its promise: making a study series for the whole family. The way the material is written does not market it toward churches – there is far too much reference to reviewing it as a family. That said, I believe the best environment to use this material is one where a church leader would train a group of parents on how to use the study guides with their families. It’s not a cheap study, either, running anywhere ten to thirty bucks per level, depending on the level and market you’re shopping in.
Do I recommend it? Actually, I do. I think this study can help families, provided that the parents are extremely organized and focused with the lessons. It’s not an easy task, but definitely one worth pursuing.
Disclosure: I was contracted to write an honest review in exchange for a reviewer copy of the product. The opinions stated in this review are solely my own.
View all my reviewsDisclosure: I have received a reviewer copy and/or payment in exchange for an honest review of the product mentioned in this post.