A new kind of Bible study…
After the success of her first two books, Heather Holleman received many requests to write a Bible study. And as a college English instructor, she wanted to make sure it really taught and didn't simply inform. So she surveyed several women about what their dream study would look like, then got to work.
The result is Included in Christ, a narrative-driven study where you can bring your life before Scripture in the context of community. Together women will discern their personal shadow narratives—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth.
This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians will equip women with six “signature stories” of God's work in their lives—helping them combat exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.
Designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth, Included in Christ will provide community and connectedness as well as spiritual nourishment. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn't yet know Him.
As a 25 year-old woman growing up in a Southern Baptist church, the Lord has used various women's' Bible studies to speak truth and life into my heart. Out of all of the various wonderful studies I have done over the years, Heather Holleman's study on Ephesians "Included in Christ" is by far one of my favorite studies. With honesty and transparency, Holleman asks women to consider the narrative of their own lives in light of Ephesians and to replace the lies we believe with the truth of the Gospel.
One of my favorite elements of this study was Holleman's emphasis on journaling to reflect and examine the lies we believe and replace them with truth. As an English teacher, she knows the power of a good story, and how when we allow God to rewrite our stores, the impact our testimony can have on an unbelieving world. This study helped me to practically apply the truth of Ephesians in a real and meaningful way.
Included In Christ by Heather Holleman is an 8-week study of Ephesians geared toward women, with a focus on individual verbs in the verses that influence our lives and our perception of ourselves. While this can be done individually, it is geared toward a group.
As I mentioned earlier, each chapter focuses on a verb for the week. This was a really cool and interesting concept, and was done very well. Focusing on individual words really brought the verses into a new light for me and gave me new things to consider.
What you need to do this Bible study is your Bible and a journal. There are a ton of journaling prompts each day in the study. Holleman asks the reader to do lots of journaling, reflection, and imagining. She includes space for journaling, but I would recommend having your own journal. I would also recommend leaving yourself plenty of time to journal and really think about your responses. This way, you're able to give it enough thought.
She also includes resources for writers and readers at the end. She shares writing tips and ideas for sharing your own Savior Story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this Bible study, and I feel like I got a lot out of it. I gave this 4/5 stars.
Included In Christ: Living A New Story From Ephesians is an 8-week Bible study of Ephesians by Heather Holleman. During the course of this study, Heather guides us through the book of Ephesians, one chapter at a time, while learning to write our own Savior Stories and use them to replace the Shadow Narratives that we so often tell about our lives.
What exactly are Savior Stories and Shadow Narratives? A Shadow Narrative is "a story that you tell yourself over and over again that keeps you in the darkness of exclusion and loneliness, weariness, and toxic patterns of jealousy, comparison, and despair." To contrast, a Savior Story (also called a Signature Story) is "a classic story that best represents who you are." Heather also describes Savior Stories as "healing stories, hopeful stories, and harmonizing stories about your life."
Now, you're probably reading this and trying to figure out what all of this has to do with the book of Ephesians. Here's the simple answer: verbs. Heather has broken down the book of Ephesians into seven main verbs that are studied one at a time and applied to our own stories as she helps us learn to tell "the right story" about our life.
This Bible study is so much more than just reviewing the book of Ephesians and it's various hidden implications. It's also a journey of personal discovery as you learn exactly what it means to be Included, Chosen, Seated, Strengthened, Renewed, Filled, and Proclaiming within your Savior Story - the story that no one but you can take hold of and claim.
Written by Heather Holleman, a teacher of composition and advanced writing at Penn State, this study is not just for those people who "like to write". As long as you're willing to follow her simple suggestions and seek out honest answers to her heart-felt questions, this book will help you discover the real you hidden beneath the Shadow Narrative of the everyday hustle. Now is the time to rewrite the story you tell others - and yourself - about your life and God's place in it. This is the tool to help you begin that journey. 5/5 stars.