December 12, 2017

Recommendation and Review: Vintage Jesus DVD Curriculum

vj-seriesA few months ago, friends of this web site contributed over $600 worth of curriculum resources so my students could study Jesus along with Mark Driscoll. I’ve been using the resources with three of my high school Bible survey classes, and I wanted to do a brief review for those who might be considering the resource.

The resource is produced by Song of Solomon resources, which appears to be the ministry of Tommy Nelson and apparently is known primarily for materials on The Song of Solomon. Information with the curriculum indicates that the ministry is expanding into other types of DVD materials on various subjects featuring many well known teachers and preachers such as Matt Chandler, as well as live events.

The Vintage Jesus series is 12 talks, 30 minutes each, from Driscoll’s book and sermon series “Vintage Jesus.” A sharp-looking study guide accompanies the entire series.

Let me say the good stuff, and then a few criticisms.

These are extremely well produced DVD presentations. First class all the way. Nothing cheesy or cheap. Nice graphics, set, camera work, etc. Your students won’t complain about quality. Song of Solomon does a fine job.

Driscoll is what you expect if you know anything about Driscoll and have some appreciation for him. He introduces the topic in a very general, pastoral way, without a lot of scholarship or trying to go to a seminary level. He looks at a large number of scripture passages and comments on each one. He generally ties everything together with good application. There are some very fine moments at the end of these presentations when my students were quite gripped.

Yes, he’s funny- at times- and a bit outrageous- at times. I’ll have more to say about that later. He’s not anywhere near as “edgy” as he is “Live.” Worse word I’ve heard so far is “shagged” (“Jesus told the Pharisees their mother shagged the devil.”) and he does say “urinate” at least once when describing the cross. He does a lot of funny riffs on the hippie Jesus and he hits all the usual notes about Jesus being a “dude’s dude.” He also hits all the theological points and uses excellent illustrations and good explanations. (“Chili con Carne to remember Jesus came in-carnate: “in meat.””)

The topical study is comprehensive. With 12 sessions, I’m surprised at how there’s almost no overlap at all. Each session is very “tight” in relation to other sessions.

The study guide material is easily usable and contains introductions to the session, scripture in complete form and in the ESV, and discussion/application questions.

I’ve used the material with three classes, about 50 students. Most are either not Christians or come from Korea and Ethiopia. The material does bridge cultural questions, but there’s no doubt that some of my students who aren’t in evangelical churches just feel Driscoll is preaching and they don’t listen for more than 10 minutes. 30 minutes is a pretty impossible lecture for my high schoolers. I never go more than 20 with them.

In the not so good department, my main complaint is that the scriptures are projected onto a flat screen in the studio, but are never projected onto the full viewing screen. It’s very hard to read the material on that screen. It will be impossible for anyone without the study guide to see most of the scripture used. All of the scripture is in the study guide, but some projected material is not. It would have been simple to project the scripture and other material so that it could be read on-screen. This seems to be a play to get everyone using a Bible or the study guide.

The study guide is made for small group interaction. It’s a mixed bag for me. Seems to have been developed by Christians for Christians. It hits some wrong notes in discussion questions when your class is not Christians. If it’s a church youth group, the study guide is fine. It’s also too pricey. You can buy one study guide and produce your own scripture slides.

My main complaint is that it takes half of the presentations for Driscoll to adjust to being in this kind of a “studio”setting. He has an audience of about 20 and they aren’t on microphones. You have no idea how his humor registers with the audience, and that leaves the viewers of the DVD wondering if they are supposed to laugh. Driscoll seems pretty “caged” and uncomfortable for parts of the first few presentations. Eventually he gets his stride and loosens up. I would like to have seen him be more at ease. He comes off very different in the first view presentations than he does at Mars Hill. He’s not a small audience speaker at this point in his life.

This is the best intense study of Jesus I’ve seen produced especially for high school students. It hits a lot of subjects students will find interesting. Several sacred cows are killed and eaten.

Other resources to compare this to? Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ video has some strong points, but it is a one hour presentation on an adult level. The Christ Files from the Center for Public Christianity isn’t available in a usable format yet, but when it arrives it will be excellent. This is non-scholarly and pastoral presentation, but it is a great intensive study of Jesus for high school students. Quite deep. Plenty of big words and basic theology. It’s not a shallow take, but there is real “meat” here. I show two presentations (one each day), add my own intros and additional material, then have a 10 question quiz after every other presentation. If I could, I would do one of these a week throughout a quarter, and I will do that next time.

It is an expensive resource, but very good and usable for anyone wanting to do a major study of Jesus for high school and young adult. If you like what Driscoll has done in his ministry, you will like this. If you get turned off by his humor and edge, then don’t use this.

Thanks to all those who made it possible for me to use these tools. You’ve made a great difference in what my students will think about Jesus. WIth a recent spending freeze, your gifts made the impossible possible.

Despite any complaints, it’s a good resource. I’m giving it a grade 3.5 out of 5.

The series and 25 study guides are $400.00 from Song of Solomon.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the review.

    I was wondering if there was any resource like this available. I’m a little bit shocked by the price though. I’d love to use something like this in my group but $400 would be hard to swing at the moment.

  2. Thats a well written fair review…true Bible study (VS. small group chars) is rare these days.

  3. sounds like it could benefit existing ministries to high school and college students. thanks for the review.

  4. dubbahdee says:

    If you want to see Mark presenting this material in his native habitat, you can go to the mars hill website.

    http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/vintagejesus

    I believe these are sermons from Sunday night services. They are long, often approaching an hour. I have not seen the DVD’s reviewed here, but I sensed none of the discomfort and awkwardness you referenced in the several sermons I have watched. He is very direct and natural. Again, pastoral in approach, trying to help his flock bridge the gap between themselves and Jesus through the scripture.

    Segments of this might be usable for those who can’t afford the DVD set, but the tradeoff is that you have to take the time to select your clips, and make arrangements to get the scripture references set up. Technically, I guess you should contact mars hill to see if this usage is okay with them.

    I am working my way through the series and am finding it very helpful. Good reminders to bring me back to center on Jesus.

  5. The DVD series Mark Driscoll is not the same Mark Driscoll that YouTube, Nightline, and CNN are devouring these days. I have been mildly disappointed by the series as we have used it with our high school group, but Mark is warming up late in the game and we are mitigating with our own take on the videos afterward.