Elsewhere on this blog I’ve reviewed the book by Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan. If you haven’t read that, you might want to start with a general understanding of the major outline of the book, so just click here, and we’ll wait for you to get back.
…This, on the other hand is a review strictly of the six-part DVD-based study package available from City on a Hill Productions, and from retail stores which can order product through STL Distribution.
Since I’ve already devoted a lot of space on this blog to the H20 course, I want to make some comparisons, but again, if you’re not up to speed about H20 — which I always refer to as “the Alpha Course meets NOOMA” — you can click here for my review, and we’ll wait for you to get back.
…Wow. Everybody back? So much to learn and we’re only four paragraphs in. But don’t let my meanderings cause you to miss my full endorsement: This is a very high quality DVD production that is going to generate serious discussion and bring about some equally serious life change in people willing to take the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23 seriously and put them into practice. In fact, I’d say that if you’re looking for some adult, college and career, or senior high curriculum to kick off the fall schedule, this is the the product to very seriously consider at the top of your list.
The similarities to H20 are many.
- Same high quality of cinematography
- The same mixing of storylines and teaching segments, some of which directly overlap
- Same length per segment, at least 23 minutes min. and 34 minutes max.
- Kyle Idleman, who has the ability to look at the camera like he’s looking at you, and you’re the only person in the world at that moment
The differences are worth nothing:
- While H20 is ten segments, Not a Fan is six mini-movie segments
- While H20 films present a variety of stories, Not a Fan is one continuous story
- While H20 segments can be shown in a variety of sequences, Not a Fan episodes should be used in the order they are presented
Time for some of the DVD creators summary:
Jesus is NOT looking for fans…
He’s looking for followers.
Followers who understand that…
There is no forgiveness without repentance.
There is no salvation without surrender.
There is no life without death.
There is no believing without following.
Twenty times in the New Testament, Jesus Christ issued a compelling and challenging invitation: “Follow Me.” Jesus is not interested in mere fans. He doesn’t want enthusiastic admirers. He wants completely committed followers. Built around the engaging approach of Kyle Idleman, Teaching Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, this one of a kind small group study examines what it means to deny one’s self and truly follow Jesus.
…Participants follow the journey of Eric Nelson, a man leading a compartmentalized triple life as a pleasure-seeking rebel, a cutthroat corporate executive, and a nominal Christian. But when confronted with a near death experience, Eric embarks on a spiritual journey that transforms his commitment to Jesus Christ and tests the faith of his friends and family.
The storyline mentioned above with Eric Nelson is unique to the curriculum and not found in the book. It’s safe to say here — it’s not a spoiler if it happens in the first five minutes — that this is a movie that is centered around a death, and as such it is a much more emotionally weighty production than H20. The subject matter, the use of background music, even the fact that Kyle Idleman wears black throughout most of the production; all these combine to create a number of extremely evocative moments, playing perhaps on our past memories or our greatest fears. Maybe for some the first episode will be an unexpected “downer;” but to do otherwise is to miss the whole point of the scripture verse on which the teaching is based.
Personally, I don’t think anyone can do this series and ever read Luke 9:23 the same again. (My youngest son and I had both read the book cover-to-cover before watching the DVD, so we’re twice as aware of all that is implied in denying yourself and taking up your cross on a daily basis…)
The series comes with a leader’s guide and a 42-day, 160-page participants (followers) guide, of which extras may be purchased individually for $9.99.
I want to end this on a different note, however.
Because the Not a Fan DVD is essentially one two-and-a-half hour movie, I want to suggest an alternative way that this could be used effectively. I’d like to suggest that, using the material in the leader’s guide as a discussion guide, Not a Fan would also make an excellent retreat program in lieu of a guest speaker. For example:
- Friday night: Session one
- Saturday morning: Session two
- Saturday after lunch: Session three
- Saturday after supper: Session four
- Saturday later evening: Session five
- Sunday morning: Session six
I know this isn’t what the creators had in mind, but I think there could be some serious impact by showing it all at once, while the storyline and segments are all fresh and memory, and everyone in the “group” is in attendance for all the various parts. Of course, the traditional and intended format — using the 42-day guide — will work well, too.
…I just finished re-watching some of the final episode before completing this, and was reminded of the multiple story lines I didn’t realize I’d been following. Again, I’d write more, but don’t want to spoil anything. Best just to say: This is a really well produced resource that shouldn’t be overlooked by churches, if for no other reason than that it has, at its heart, the core of the gospel.