Please note that Glad you Asked has been significantly revised since this review was written.
This resource respects people's understandings and beliefs and then invites them to consider Christianity. It is an introductory (evangelistic) course and would need careful follow up.
What is it?
Glad You Asked is a ten-part DVD (or video) based course that creates a place to explore spiritual questions. The questions explored come from a survey of students who were invited to say what questions they would ask of God.
The premise behind the course is that it is good to ask questions. Glad You Asked uses questions to help people think through their opinions, weigh up the evidence for the claims of Christianity and form their beliefs.
The spiral questioning process is very much in tune with the post-modern/spiritual age. The DVD material is well produced and presented, giving the course a strong sense of credibility and relevance. The later versions of the DVD have English subtitles.
Each session of Glad You Asked is designed to last for at least one and a half hours. It is suggested that session one begins with a meal to help form relationships. Meals could be part of subsequent sessions. Each session begins with a creative and/or reflective group activity. These are well explained, relevant and varied.
The ten sessions are:
- Does God matter and does God exist?
- How can God allow pain?
- Don't all religions lead to God?
- Can the Bible be trusted?
- Why is religion full of hypocrites?
- What was Jesus really like?
- Questions Jesus asked: 'Why do you call me good?' – a claim that Jesus made about himself.
- Questions Jesus asked: 'Why have you abandoned me?' – the death of Jesus and its meaning.
- Questions Jesus asked: 'Why are you crying?' – the evidence for resurrection and its implications for us today.
- Questions Jesus asked: 'Who do you say that I am?' – the choice Jesus asks us to make.
Sessions 1 to 6 can be taken in any order. Groups are invited to start with the question in which they are most interested. Sessions 7 to 10 are designed to be taken sequentially, leading to an invitation to Christian commitment.
Glad You Asked includes input from a number of 'experts'. As well as gifted theologians and philosophers, there are contributions from eminent scientists, lawyers, pathologists and missionaries working with the most poor and needy.
The study of science and creation is very helpful. The exploration of suffering is very moving and the presentation of the views of the major world religions (by members of the different faiths) is very welcome. Rather than categorising these and other issues as 'awkward questions', each one is carefully and thoughtfully explored.
Session 6, 'What was Jesus really like?', is another highlight. It is based on the story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy (Mark 1.40-42) and paints a vivid picture of Jesus the compassionate healer, the one who brings wholeness (salvation).
Who is Glad You Asked for?
Glad You Asked was originally designed for students and it still great for them. However, the latest versions have been edited for wider use. The course would work well as an alternative to Alpha. It would also be excellent for Christians who wanted a refresher course on apologetics.
Does it do what it says on the cover?
Glad You Asked aims to bring people to a point of responding to the offer of restoration to relationship with God. In this the approach is very helpful. Those using the resource would need to think ahead to appropriate follow up resources/strategies (see below).
The follow up! In particular, a specific session on what is involved with being a disciple of Jesus. The evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus is very well presented, as is the evidence for the validity of the claims of Jesus. However, there is very little on what is involved with the following of Jesus in terms of personal devotion and holiness, being part of the body of Christ or engaging in mission and the care of creation. Some of this is explained implicitly in the testimonies of the experts, but it needs to be more explicit. It is one thing to believe in God the Creator, it is another to apply consciously that belief by caring for creation.
Those using Glad You Asked will need to think in advance what follow up course to use themselves (Emmaus, for example, could be helpful). Maybe one day Glad You Asked 2 will be produced, just as Christianity Explored has been followed by Discipleship Explored.
How simple is it to use?
The course is very simple to use. The leaders' handbook and the DVD are extremely clear. Even the Biblical texts used have been printed out.
Would it work in a fresh expression context?
Glad You Asked would work very well in a range of fresh expressions. It would be particularly suitable for youth congregations, student churches, cell churches and café churches. The course would work best in an articulate, well educated culture. Its origins with students does mean some of the language is quite sophisticated. Words like 'teleological' and 'epistemic' are not often heard in the aisles of Aldi.
Glad You Asked is a most welcome addition to the range of evangelistic small group resources. It is extremely well produced and very timely. It is a good course for those exploring the claims of Christianity in a post-modern/spiritual/multi-faith age and for those wanting to brush up on the foundations of their faith.
How to obtain the material
Glad You Asked is published by Innovista Resources and can be found on the glad you asked website.