QUICK HIT: Based on Lee Strobel’s classic book of the same name, this six session series is the perfect introduction to the faith for new or young believers. The Case for Christ calls in expert testimony to work through this evidence for the faith.
Lee Strobel began his journey to faith when he set out to debunk it. It was 1979 when his wife, Leslie, became a Christian. Strobel was incredulous. Christianity had been proven a myth by modern science and history! Or so he thought. Because of his wife’s transformation, he began to look into the evidence for Christianity. And like a good journalist, he followed those facts all the way to their conclusion—right at the feet of Jesus.
The Case for Christ first appeared way back in 1998. I was nine years old then, but a bit precocious for my age. I remember getting it for Christmas and absolutely savoring every bit of it. Most books have a short shelf life. A couple years, max. But The Case for Christ only grew in popularity. In 2008, he teamed up with Zondervan to create a DVD small group study based on the bestselling book. And the result…well, let’s just say that I consider this required study.
Each lesson in six-week series is structured to last about 60 minutes and is comprised of three video segments. The first two video segments last about 6 minutes each and include the bulk of the teaching. The last video segment is a short wrap-up video that usually concludes with Strobel’s closing comments—and sometimes a challenge to viewers. This setup allows for two periods of discussion, each about 20 minutes, if you’re following the outlined schedule. While this seems like a lot of discussion time at first, you’ll soon find that, if you’ve a lively group, you can easily fill the time. In fact, I found myself often going overtime with the high school group I was teaching.
In the participant’s guide, each video segment is followed by an average of six or so discussion questions. I often found myself skipping around, answering other questions that were brought up or omitting some questions for time’s sake. A number of optional discussion questions are also included. I quickly found that those “optional” questions often provided some of the best discussion. By the end of this series, instead of handing out a copy of the participant’s guide to every student, I found myself creating my own question list using the participant’s guide as a general outline for what to discuss. There are also a number of “Between Sessions” questions that are primarily written for non-Christians who are entering the class as seekers. The intent of the questions is to get them thinking critically about Jesus while helping them voice their worldview.
- Session 1: The Investigation of a Lifetime
- Session 2: Eyewitness Evidence (chap. 1-3)
- Session 3: Evidence Outside the Bible (chap. 4, 6)
- Session 4: Analyzing Jesus (chap. 9-10)
- Session 5: Evidence for the Resurrection (chap. 11-13)
- Session 6: Reaching Your Verdict
Of the six sessions, I would have to say that it was the evidence for the Resurrection and the evidence outside the Bible that garnered the most interest. To me, the lesson on evidence outside the Bible was the most important lesson, because it taught the students how to connect the rest of history with biblical history. Too often, Christians subconsciously separate the two (because schools consciously separate the two) and there is a disconnect between what happened in the Bible and what happened in “history.” This lesson helped bring the two together and made for some lively discussion.
Based on the level of your students, you may want to supplement the material with extra resources. For instance, in session two, regarding eyewitness evidence, you could take four different news reports of the same story and have students compare them to see if they gain a wider perspective of the whole story. In the same way, having four gospels gives us a better and more historically verifiable picture of Jesus.
Each lesson is packed with excellent teaching that comes, not just from Strobel, but from the academic figures that he interviews in the book. This is probably the series’ greatest strength. Rather than having one person teach the whole thing, the series can point to someone and say “Look. They’re an actual expert in the field.”
My primary criticism is simple: it needed to be longer. Weeks 1 and 6 are basically fluff weeks—interesting ways to begin and end the series but not lessons in and of themselves. Week 1 was interesting because it told the story of Strobel’s journey to faith, but Week 6 was basically written to be a “come to Jesus” type of lesson that reiterated the lessons already taught and asked that listeners take the experiential test of the evidence. While this lesson would work great for a class of seekers, I was leading a group of Christian high school youth. While I agree that the evangelistic message should have been there, it didn’t need to comprise a whole week’s worth of lesson. It would best have been used as an add-on lesson to be used at the leader’s discretion. Expand this to an eight-week series, include video material from every chapter of the book, and I’ve got absolutely zero complaints with this one.
A note on the cinematography. The videos do a good job of not being boring. They place Strobel in some interesting locations and, when they cut to a video of one of their experts, do a great job with visuals to best relay the information and keep the attention of the viewer. This is one of the best video series I’ve ever taught and plan on making it a recurring part of my church’s curriculum.