27 March 2013

Bible Study for Busy Mamas: A Review

Dear Lissy,

Today I'm reviewing a book that is set to release in just a week, Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas: Colossians 3 by Mrs. Pam Forster.  I received the book from Doorposts publishing just this week, but I had the privilege of going through the study last fall on the Doorposts blog.  It will also be available as a PDF e-book at the time of release.

My criteria. . .

I approached this book from the standpoint of a busy homeschooling mom who loves inductive Bible study.  I've been studying the Bible inductively for nearly 20 years, both independently and using study guides.  I've never considered the possibility of being able to study the Bible with less than a 45 minutes per day commitment.  I also love and support a number of moms with preschoolers who desperately want to be in the Word, but don't regularly have an uninterrupted hour to devote to Bible study.  I knew Pam Forster to be a thorough student of the Word based on her prior publications, but could she manage the depth and breadth of an inductive Bible study in just minutes a day?

My impressions. . .

The product
  • Thirty Days of Bible Study shipped fast and clean, crossing the country from Oregon to New England in just 2 days without a scratch or bend.
  • This slim book is beautifully made, Bible-sized (5-1/2 x 8-1/2"), and lays open flat from day one.
  • This is not a write-in workbook, which I likedI get frustrated with study books that have random blank spaces for answers and prefer to use my own notebook or computer.
  • The PDF version is very well done and easy to use.
The layout
  •  I liked that each day is a separate chapter with a clear title, so it's easy to look back and locate information just by scanning the table of contents.
  • Each day has a mini assignment along with a clear, step-by-step explanation.  Mamas could feasibly break the five to ten minute assignment into one or two minute sessions throughout the day. 
  • I found it particularly valuable that any time the assignment is something new or potentially unfamiliar,  the new skill is taught as part of the assignment.  
  • This format has six days of study with one day of "catch up" or an optional assignment. I liked the option.  I used the catch up day twice during the study, and did the optional assignment the other two times.
 The content
  •  Mrs. Forster chose to limit the size of the study by limiting its scope to a single chapter, Colossians 3.   Initially I was concerned about that choice because a single chapter of an epistle can't stand alone.  One of the first assignments, however, is to read the entire book of Colossians to understand the context.  She also gives four optional assignments that cover the whole book rather than just the single chapter.
  • The reader/student is taken through a thorough inductive study of this chapter during the course of the first 28 days.  The last two days are devoted to well thought out personal application questions.
  • While Pam offers abundant hints and helps along the way, there is no "answer key" for this book. This is typical of inductive study guides, and appropriate for its intended audience, but I would love to see a Leader/Teacher guide published in the future.. 
  • I appreciated the four Appendices which offer additional help on tools for study, how to mark your Bible, what to do with your children while you study, and how to continue studying after finishing the book.
  • Like many of my readers, I have a conviction regarding the Greek TR manuscriptsMrs. Forster doesn't share those convictions, but only one day of the study is affected.  On "Day 24: Different Translations", I chose to compare the KJV with the Third Millennium Bible, which is also based solely on the TR.  Both Bible versions are available on the website recommended in the book for this assignment.  She also makes frequent references to and recommendations of modern translations that do not affect the study in any way for those using only translations based on the TR.
 My recommendation. . .

Like other Doorpost material I've used, this book is extremely well done in both form and content.  I found the print book slightly easier to use than the PDF version, but if cost is a factor, the PDF is well done and will not detract from the study in any way.  I had just completed an inductive study of Colossians when I began this study last fall, making an easy basis for comparison.  I believe I received nearly identical content on this chapter from both studies, but the assignment on Day 29 helped me make much better applications for my parenting than I had on my own.  This book accomplished its stated purpose as well as providing an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to learn inductive study on a small scale before undertaking a whole book.  Thank you, Mrs. Forster, for another excellent product!

I received a free advance copy of this book in paperback format from Doorposts in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

To order Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas:  Colossians 3, or to download a PDF preview,  click here.

I hope there are many more of these books to follow in the years to come.  We'll start through them once you're in your teens -- I can't wait!


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