Although I don’t know very much about Francis Chan, I do know that he seems to be getting a lot of press lately. His recent gig as one of the keynote speakers at the National Youth Workers Convention has also thrust him into the forefront of many youth ministers.
His Crazy Love DVD is supposed to be a companion to his book, which bears the same title, although I did not know that at first. I thought that the DVD was a stand-alone product. He makes reference to the book almost every segment of the DVD.
The DVD is ten chapters long, each chapter averaging about 9 minutes a piece. The DVD is meant to be used as part of a small group study of the book. At the end of each segment Chan asks a question, usually referring back topics covered in the book. To watch this without having read the book made me feel a bit lost at times. The DVD also has a PDF of a discussion guide that you can print off from your computer.
If you are familiar with Rob Bell’s NOOMA videos, Crazy Love has a very similar production quality, which means top-notch. The video images, lighting, transitions, music, and sound are all as good as anyone could want. Of course, style isn’t everything, but it is nice to see a Christian video curriculum that is visually and audibly appealing.
The ten segments essentially follow Chan throughout his day, starting at the breakfast table and ending with him putting his kids to bed. Along the way, he talks about different stories and points that relate to the chapters in his book. Though the production style of Chan’s video is very similar to Rob Bells NOOMA videos, Crazy Love has less symbolism and thought-provoking material going on in the background of the video. The obvious thrust of the video is the words spoken by Chan. The settings to his monologues are almost extemporaneous.
As I stated above, I am quite unfamiliar with Chan, so all of my observations are based solely on this DVD. That being said, Chan appears to come from a more conservative end of the theological spectrum, which will be fitting for those churches who are a bit skeptical about using resources from Rob Bell (I’m not one of them, but I know they are out there). He talks a lot about personal devotions and growing one’s personal relationship with God in the first half or so of the videos.
Towards the end, Chan talks a good amount about what it means to be missional, which is an area where he leaves many of the traditional conservative ways of doing things. He talks about giving up your possessions for one another, opening your home for people to actually live with you, and dropping everything for the sake of the gospel. The end is a good balance of action to complement the prior emphasis on devotion.
Using it in Youth Ministry
As someone in youth ministry, I always try to think through how things would work in my youth ministry, so here are some thoughts:
- Read the book alongside the DVD. Watching the DVD by itself won’t have the impact of using it as a tool alongside the book.
- Use it with high school. I’m not sure what the target audience is of Crazy Love, but it seems to be geared for adults. Mature high school students would probably enjoy it, though. I have a girl in my youth group reading the book and she loves it.
- Don’t use this with small groups who are not already trusting of and familiar with one another. The material is designed to be used in small groups, but some of the material hits really close to home. Chan asks the groups to discuss times in their life when people have died (and what regrets they left behind) and when you have doubted your own salvation, among other things. Such questions are not meant for strangers to discuss among themselves, in my opinion, and especially with teenagers. Without a certain level of intimacy and boundaries in a youth small group, some of these questions could open one up to a high degree of pain if handled incorrectly by immature group members.
Should You Buy It?
In the final estimation, you should first buy Chan’s book Crazy Love. If after reading it you think it would be good material for guiding your small groups, then I would use the DVD to accompany the book. Each segment in the DVD is only about nine minutes long, so the bulk of your time is spent in small group discussion, not watching the screen. The DVD is just a helpful guide, but does not stand well on its own.