Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review: The Ology by Marty Machowski

 I have to admit that we struggle with having regular devotions as a family. We are actively involved in our church and all their youth ministries. We have Advent devotions each year. We answer questions as they arise, and we encourage our older children in their personal devotions. But we haven't had a regular, systematic study of the Bible or Christian doctrines at home.  Our age ranges, differing attention spans, and the noise levels of our home have made our efforts at family devotions difficult and discouraging. Steve and I have been talking about how to change that. This book is part of our solution.

The Ology is a beautiful, hardcover book from New Growth Press. Marty Machowski is a pastor, author, and father of six children. He does an excellent job breaking doctrine and theology down into bite-sized, easily understood lessons. Each of the 71 lessons is just 1 or 2 pages long. They build upon each other to fully explain the Christian doctrines about God, people, sin, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Bible, the End Times, and more.

The book is gently illustrated by Andy McGuire, with skillful, colored pencil artwork. Each illustration contains Bible verses that relate to the topic. Marty Machowski encourages parents to work through the book once as devotions, then return to it a second time and look up the Bible verses that go with each lesson the second time. Or if an older child is reading it alone, he can look up the Bible verses on the first time through the book. I personally prefer reading through the book once, giving two days to each lesson. Read the lesson on day one, and look up the Bible scriptures and discuss them on the second day. There are also questions (and an answer key) at the back to help your child really think about the doctrine and how it applies to his life - what does it really mean?

I highly recommend The Ology. It does seem to be coming from a Calvinist theological viewpoint, but I've read the chapters where our Wesleyan theology differs, and I won't have a problem using The Ology in our home. It may open some discussion about differences in denomination beliefs, but that isn't a bad thing. We've always tried to discuss those respectfully with our children as they grow.

I love this book! I'm enjoying reading it with my children and we will continue to work through it. The lessons are short enough to make it through before little ones lose interest and become a distraction. I do think The Ology is our answer for creating a solid foundation for our children's faith, along with the lessons they're receiving at church. As parents, we need to be teaching Scripture at home. We know that, we just have struggled to find something manageable for our family. Now we have a plan again!

April E.