Book and Curriculum Review: Greater by Steven Furtick
In our culture, everyone wants to be great.
Students do. Their parents do. And if we're honest, we do too.
For this reason alone, Steven Furtick's new book, Greater, will gain an audience. After all, how awesome would it be if our faith in Jesus could make us great?
According to Furtick, it does... Kind of.
Furtick argues that through Jesus, we need not accept spiritual mediocrity. Instead, we can be greater, a notion Furtick distinguishes from greatness. According to him, greatness is a vague, unrealistic aspiration of doing better that doesn't work in real life and instead leads to endless frustration. In contrast, being greater involves a life-altering understanding that God is ready to accomplish a greatness in our lives that is entirely beyond human reach.
Furtick bases this understanding on Jesus' words to his disciples in John 14:12, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to be with the Father.” He then further unpacks what it means to live this kind of greater life by exploring four images from the prophet Elisha's life in a detailed examination of Scripture.
The corresponding DVD curriculum does the same, though this is one instance where the movie is better than the book. Though designed to be used in connection with one another, my advice is skip the book and instead, just use the DVD curriculum. The curriculum suffers from neither of the book's two main weaknesses: It's wordiness and it's flirtation with a prosperity Gospel.
Due to its subject matter, the curriculum is ideal for use with upperclassmen high school students, college students, and even adults wrestling with their purpose and sense of vocation. The DVD curriculum features videos reminiscent of the Nooma series, with Furtick in a creative setting giving mini-sermons that each explain one of the four key ideas from Elisha's life that are crucial to pursuing the greater life. In addition to the DVD, the curriculum includes a series of thought-provoking questions ideal for small group settings and written in such a way that they can easily be used by volunteers, with very little preparation or training.