Curriculum Review

Spiritual Growth Bible Studies


Twelve Ordinary Men
by John MacArthur

A review by Adam Schwenk

John MacArthur’s Twelve Ordinary Men explores the lives of the twelve disciples in fascinating detail. MacArthur combines Scripture with historical data to create a detailed biography of each disciple, but goes beyond information and discusses practical application for your life. For instance, while discussing Peter, MacArthur gives principles to being a strong leader in your Christian community. Overall, your small group will learn how God can do great things with normal people.

While the book contains a lot of information, we have a ten week study guide (download PDF here) for leaders to use in small group discussion. This guide synthesizes all the information for each chapter to ask four discussion questions and a reflective question for the group. We found the book fascinating, but would not use it in a small group without the study guide. The guide will help you focus so that the content in the book is not overwhelming. Twelve Ordinary Men is definitely worth checking out, especially if your group desires to do a study with heavier content.


Training vs Trying – Pursuing Spiritual Transformation
by John Ortberg, Laurie Pederson & Judson Poling

A review by Carol Tran

We all can use a refresher course once in awhile, even on those things we know well. When we’re forced back to the “basics” we have the opportunity to realign ourselves, recalibrate and get recharged. Training vs Trying is a refresher course in the Spiritual Disciplines. We can all fall prey to practicing those areas in our spiritual lives that we enjoy or come easily to us. Ortberg challenges the reader to not only “try”, as the word instructs, but to “train” just as an athlete trains for a marathon. Practice and repetition is the method that the authors suggest to make the disciplines come to life.

This study is seven sessions/weeks. In the study you’re given “Spiritual Exercises” to work on during the week. These exercises along with the discussion questions in the back of the book bring practical application to each lesson. Use Training vs Trying with your group to get back to the “basics” and get recharged for the Lord.

This book is one of a seven booklet series, Pursuing Spiritual Transformation, by Willow Creek Association.

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