A new kind of Bible study…
After the success of her first two books, Heather Holleman received many requests to write a Bible study. And as a college English instructor, she wanted to make sure it really taught and didn’t simply inform. So she surveyed several women about what their dream study would look like, then got to work.
The result is Included in Christ, a narrative-driven study where you can bring your life before Scripture in the context of community. Together women will discern their personal shadow narratives—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth.
This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians willequip women with six “signature stories” of God’s work in their lives—helping them combat exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.
Designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth, Included in Christ will provide community and connectedness as well as spiritual nourishment. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.
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About the Author
HEATHER HOLLEMAN, PhD, is the author of Seated with Christ and Guarded by Christ. She teaches composition and advanced writing at Penn State and has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and mentorship during her career. She also serves alongside her husband, Ashley, in graduate student ministry with Cru's Faculty Commons. They live in Pennsylvania with their two daughters, and Heather writes daily at HeatherHolleman.com.
What People are Saying About This
I can’t think of a better combination than a Bible study on Ephesians written by an English professor. Heather’s writing style is warm and relatable while delivering the timeless truths of Scripture for which we’re so desperate. If you’re longing to be chosen, filled, strengthened, and renewed, look no further than this study on Ephesians.
founder and Bible teacher at Cultivate Women’s Events
Author of All Things New, a study on 2 Corinthians
Heather does a masterful job of bringing the book of Ephesians to life and practice. With authenticity and wisdom, she highlights seven powerful verbs that refocused me on my identity in Christ. As a ministry leader, wife, parent, and friend, I am finding that, by reflecting on those life-giving verbs, I am regaining a renewed sense of His smile and delight.
Cru, US Leadership Development and HR
We all yearn deeply for value and significance. Heather winsomely guides us through Ephesians to our true identity—being included in Christ.
Former Cru staff and current therapist/owner at Crossroads Counseling, Ann Arbor, MI
A soul-searching, challenging, but affirming look into the book of Ephesians. Heather’s tender heart and transparency leads women to embrace their unique Savior Story in a clear, personal way.
C&MA Women’s Ministries, and Alliance Peacemaking
This is the Bible study I’ve been waiting for! Heather leads us to love grace more, to rest in the power of God’s Word, and to more freely and passionately follow our deeply personal Savior in the story He is writing with our lives.
Area Director of Cru in Tidewater, VA
Heather Holleman’s deep knowledge and application of Scripture, along with her memorable illustrations and use of contrasts, will propel you to a deepening and fulfilling relationship with Christ. You cannot complete this study without your heart and life being captivated and transformed!
Director of Women’s Ministry, Hunt Valley Church
Included in Christ is a fresh, applicable study for women. We all need to understand the significance of our “Savior Stories” and the toxicity of our “Shadow Narratives.” Heather’s expertise in the written word helps us to learn and remember His work on our behalf so that we can live in His story with victory.
Victoria Evans Peasley
Director of Women’s Ministries, Calvary Church of Valparaiso
Get ready for a fresh look at Paul’s powerful letter to the Ephesians. Be prepared to walk intimately with God along the way as He helps you see your own story from His perspective. You will love this study.
National speaker, talk radio host, and author of Your Powerful Prayers
Before I was even finished reading the introduction, I wanted to stand up and cheer! God's Word is so full and alive, and seeing these familiar words from Ephesians unpacked this way excites me!
Cru at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
With refreshing openness, Heather takes us through the book of Ephesians and skillfully guides us to identify the narratives that prevent us from experiencing who we are in Christ and to exchange them with our story of redemption. Included in Christ is a life-changing study for all who long to live in the fullness God designed.
Freelance writer, and photographer of No Matter What, It’s a Good Day When
A well-written study, like a good verb, can change a life. Each time I opened this beautiful book, I envisioned myself seated at a farm table interacting with Heather and Jesus, unpacking vivid verbs and journaling about what God was teaching me. I have been changed.
Kourtney Goerges Street
Director of Operations, Cru17
My heart, soul, and mind so needed the truths in this study of Ephesians. Included in Christ is for every woman who desires to get to the root of her calling and purpose. It’s Scripture-saturated, honest, soul-searching, beauty!
By Design podcast and blogger
Belonging and acceptance hold sacred space within many of our deepest longings and most painful stories. In Heather Holleman’s masterful work, we are invited into a creative and grace-filled journey toward a much sought-after place of rest, safety, grounding, and security. She has woven the gift of our stories, the power of imagery, and the elements of inductive Bible Study into a deep encounter with the metamorphic message in Ephesians that we are always and forever “included.”
Pastor of women and small groups, Cornerstone Church, Boulder, CO
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am intrigued by the book of Ephesians. My husband and I chose a passage from Ephesians for our wedding, and I return to Ephesians numerous times when I need encouragement and challenge. Subsequently, I became excited when I saw Included in Christ, a Bible study of Ephesians, written by Heather Holleman. In Included in Christ, Holleman highlights the words included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, and proclaiming. The week-long studies of strengthened and renewed especially challenged me. The current season of my life probably contributed to my fascination with these particular studies. I believe I could read those pages several times and glean new thoughts each time. Throughout the study, Holleman guides readers to capture their Savior Story in contrast to their Shadow Narrative. This aspect is likely interesting to readers who enjoy writing or journaling. However, the emphasis on writing could exclude some readers who are not drawn to writing. Even so, Holleman writes in a relatable way and all readers – writers or not – will benefit from this 8-week study of Ephesians. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in order to write an honest, unbiased review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Going through this study book has taught me many things. One thing is certain though, I have completely underestimated the book of Ephesians! I recommend this book to anyone looking to grow closer in their walk with the Lord. Holleman does a splendid job in laying out the basics like you've never seen before. She makes it SO easy to understand and grow. This is definitely a book to add to your collection. You won't be disappointed!!
Heather Holleman's, Included in Christ - Living A New Story with Ephesians, was published by Moody Publishers. In exchange for my honest opinion, I was given a free copy of this book to review. When I received this bible study, my expectations were of digging into the book of Ephesians. Although this book is laid out over 8 weeks, 5 days each, I have found it hard to call a Bible study. To me it's more of a book journal catered towards those struggling with their identity in Christ. The author is a writing professor, who teaches in a university classroom, which you get the feel for when you start to read. The method of searching for verbs throughout the text wasn't one of my favorite ways to study a book of the Bible or group of verses. Within the first couple days you are also asked to read all the chapters in Ephesians, then go back to some and look for verbs. For me, it reminded me more of an English class. I wish that the author had slowed down a little more with each chapter reading and then dug deeper into each chapter instead of then giving you verses to read that contain the verb she focused in on. In regards to truth, I do believe the author makes validate points about our identity in Christ. She also calls you to write your Savior story instead of focusing on your own shadow narrative story. While I love the idea of focusing in our story of what Christ has done for us, I did feel like this book was more of a therapy journal then a book study.
Included in Christ by Heather Holleman is intended to be an 8-week study of Ephesians, working through the book five days each week. During the study, you will read through the book of Ephesians many times, which you would expect. What you might not expect in an 8-week long study of Ephesians is 8-weeks of mostly self-exploration, creating things dubbed a "Signature Story/Savior Story" and your "Shadow Narrative." This is why it is important to consider subtitles when scoping out a new book. This book's subtitle is "Living a New Story from Ephesians." Now not that this subtitle screams, "Whoa!," but it should at least mutter "Hmmmm…." when you see it. A quick read-through of the introduction will explain just how psychology- and therapy-rooted this "Bible study" is. Not that psychology or therapy is a bad thing! On the contrary! However, when I think of a Bible study, the first thing I think of is NOT psychotherapy. Holleman explains how she "collects" verbs that "transform her soul" and that she uses a method of study that is focused on both words and pictures. The student of this study will construct a Shadow Narrative about "the dominant stories that keep you wounded." Holleman is a writing professor and studied "the psychology of emotion for five years to earn her Ph.D., studying shame and guilt." She encourages the student of this study to learn about "the power of writing, sharing words in community, and revising our stories with a new lens." She explains about all the benefits of "positive psychology and cognitive restructuring." I am a Bible student, learning how to study the one, true meaning of a Scriptural passage by learning about the author's original intent with his original words, written in their original language. Holleman's type of "speak" doesn't do much for me. For a deeper dive into the book of Ephesians, in a similar format, minus the psychotherapy, check out Kay Arthur's Free From Bondage God's Way. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
The Book of Ephesians from the Bible is perhaps one of my favorite books. There is so much wisdom to be gleaned and it is a surprisingly short book at that. Yet don't be confused that just because it is short, doesn't mean that there isn't much to learn. In fact, Paul probably used so many concise specific topics that not only applied to the people living in Ephesus, but also is very relevant to us in our current modern day age. Ephesians is a letter from Paul that you can understand best by thinking about seven operative or most important words in this short study. These words happen to be vivid verbs. The seven words in the 8 week study of Ephesians surely change you. It represents deeply transformation material. The hope is that after you finish this study people will begin to wonder and ask if you are a different person. To complete this study you will need, a Bible ( one that you love the most will benefit you the best and everyone has their preferred choice), something to write on and with. Even though this study comprises eight weeks, five days each, keep your own pace and what works best for you. God may be calling you to spend time on something in this book that might be relevant to what He wants to teach you and what you are going through. I guess what anyone needs in completing any Bible Study is an open mind and a willing heart. This book can be used in an individual, couple or even a small group study through the book of Ephesians. Each chapter in this book will ask you to think carefully about the crucial verb in each section and to picture a scene in our mind about this verb, such as 'how does a person understanding this verb live?' You first begin to answer the question bu first identifying their opposites or contrasts to enhance how we make sense of our new identity in Christ. You will begin with a shadow narrative about the particular verb you are studying. How that applies to your life, what are you doing or should be doing and then using your five senses see if you can develop a short story about how He is currently writing about this verb in your life. These can be positive or negative and can be things you want to share or just keep to yourself. By the end of the study you will quickly identify ways your Shadow Narratives prevent you from fully embracing and fully inhabiting God's Word and you will have new stories to tell, your Savior story, to truly learn from the Scripture. I received Included in Christ by Heather Holleman compliments of Moody Publishers and Side Door Communications. Each of this daily and weekly studies are to help you understand how you can become a new creation in Christ and embrace that and learn to let go of the old you, the former person who is trying to keep you from all Christ has in store for you. Think of it like spring cleaning for your soul and its about time to learn to let go of that excess baggage we've been carrying and lighten our loads and embrace the joy that comes from having a Christ centered life. These are perfect for small group studies or even a couple's study that will enrich your relationships in ways you never dreamed possible. I would give this a 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion.