Radically Different: A Student's Guide to Community (Student Guide)

Champ Thornton
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Radically Different by best-selling author Champ Thornton is an insightful guide for middle and high school students who want to live radically even though life and relationships are complicated. By examining life through the biblical lenses of Creation, Fall, and Redemption, readers can explore how God's Word untangles the twists of life.

There are so many areas of life to navigate when growing up, and this practical resource full of biblical wisdom helps middle and high school students find encouragement in the everyday challenges of life.

God made everything, including relationships, to be good. But because of the fall, everythingÑincluding relationships with parents, friends, and siblingsÑare also broken. Christ came to make all things new, and because of this biblical perspective, readers of Radically Different can know with clarity they are set apart as unique.

Thornton invites teenagers to consider how they are set apartÑespecially in a time when Christianity is more and more culturally marginalized. He guides them to embrace what it means to live Christianly in a morally murky and increasingly hostile world.

Radically Different helps teenagers live in and relate to the reality of good, bad, and new, which makes us radically human, radically biblical, and radically different.


Champ Thornton is an associate pastor at Ogletown Baptist Church in Newark, Delaware. He has pastored in South Carolina and served as director of SOMA, a ministry training school in Columbus, Ohio. He is host of "In the Word, On the Go," a ten-minute podcast for families and is the author of several books, including The Radical Book for Kids and Pass It On: A Proverbs Journal for the Next Generation. Champ and his wife, Robben, have been married since 1996 and have three children.

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"A few years ago, many of your children probably read Champ Thornton's The Radical Book for Kids (if they haven't yet, they should). Now, those children are young teenagersÑand Champ has provided another resource that's perfect for that age group. Radically Different challenges students to move beyond mere knowledge into deep community that's grounded in the metanarrative of Scripture. I highly recommend this work!"

Timothy Paul Jones, C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"It's not easy for Christian young people today who want to live in a way that's pleasing to God. However, Champ Thornton has provided an invaluable resource to help middle school students be distinctive. Radically Different is a practical, hands-on study offering solid insights and biblical guidance for relating to others."

Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family

"The middle school years can be difficult for kids. It can also be a struggle for many parents to find age-appropriate Christian resources to help young tweens and teens process faith, friendships, and family. Champ Thornton's new book, Radically Different: A Student's Guide to Community, is a wonderful way to help teens learn about God and the story of Scripture, as well as how the Bible relates to their daily lives. This book is the exact resource I've been hoping to find!"

Melissa Kruger, Director of Women's Content, The Gospel Coalition; author of 5 Things to Pray for Your Kids

"I look back at my middle school years as the years when I made some of the most important decisions of my life in terms of whether or not Christ was going to be at the center of my life. It required that I become radically different from my peers. Radically Different is a great resource for thinking through what it will mean to have Christ at the center rather than the fringes of your life now and for the rest of your life!"

Nancy Guthrie, Author of One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters

"Champ Thornton's small group study, Radically Different, for middle schoolers is excellent. He uses the grid of "Creation, Fall, and Redemption"Ñ"good, bad, and new"Ñthroughout the study, and everything is discussed through that lens, especially with respect to how one relates to God and to people. The study has good practical suggestions throughout that are always tied closely to the week's focal Scripture passage. For those who think a strong weekly dose of Scripture might be too much or too impractical for middle schoolers, this Bible study will help them think differently. This is a fine balance between scriptural exposition and application of it to the lives of young people. I heartily endorse this study and will recommend it those ministering to middle schoolers."

G. K. Beale, J. Gresham Machen and Research Professor of New Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA

"I love the fun and engaging format of Radically Different. The side comment explanations and the winsome illustrations are certain to draw the interest of students and invite them in to read. Once they start, the solid biblical truth, aptly spoken, is sure to hold their attention cover to cover. A great youth ministry resource!"

Marty Machowski, Family Pastor; author of The Ology, Long Story Short, Don't Blame the Mud,and other gospel-rich resources for church and home

"Champ is an incredible Bible teacher. In Radically Different, he's given the church an excellent tool for teaching young men and women about how biblical community is rooted in our relational God and shaped by the redemptive story. This looks to be an excellent resource for student ministry discipleship groups."

Jared Kennedy, Pastor of Operations and Families, Sojourn Church Midtown, Louisville, KY; author of The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible

"I loved this book because it speaks to the heart of youth since the lessons are practical and gripping. At the same time, the book is faithful biblically and theologically. Thornton explains how a passion for God and for his word can transform the lives of youth. Highly recommend!"

Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY; author of The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments

"In our day and age of instant and double speed everything, I encourage you to work through this study day by day, and week by week with a group. While God is the one who will ultimately change and grow you, in my experience, he often uses tools like this study to do so."

Daniel Im, Pastor; podcast host; author of several books, most recently You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love

"What a wonderful and needed book that Champ Thornton has given to God's people! It's for teenagersÑmiddle schoolersÑand this old guy found himself wishing he had had something like this when he was a teenager. It would have made a significant difference. This is a great, practical, and user-friendly book. Give it to every middle schooler you know and to those who love middle schoolers. They will be so glad you did."

Steve Brown, broadcaster with Key Life Network; seminary professor; author

"As parents we have the enormous opportunity to help shape our children's worldview. But without a gospel foundation to build upon in our ever-shifting culture, it's an uphill battle. That is why Radically Different is the book I wish my children had in middle school. In an engaging, easy-to-understand way, Champ Thornton gives young teenagers, through the lenses of good, bad, and new, a radically different way for viewing themselves and relationships with God and others."

Kristen Hatton, Author of The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students, Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World, and Get Your Story Straight

"This workbook for young people is a serious attempt to build into them the three biblical themes of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Thornton not only introduces these concepts, but week after week he reinforces their truth by discussing practical aspects of living in a fallen world. We need to be helping our young people learn how to think and relate as Christians in an increasingly hostile world. Radically Different is a great place to start."

Stephen Smallman, Author of The Walk and Understanding the Faith: A Workbook for Communicants Classes

"Research consistently suggests that Christian children need a constellation of godly mentors for authentic, lasting faith development. I urge you to invite Champ Thornton to be one of your kid's mentors by giving them Radically Different. With a pastor's heart and a father's love, Champ nails it again, giving us a great resource for a new generation of kids as they develop their faith."

Roger C. S. Erdvig, Headmaster, Wilmington Christian School; coauthor of Bring it to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning

"Champ Thornton has crafted a terrific new resource to help students make sense of relationships. Utilizing the "good, bad, and new" biblical worldview lenses, Radically Different: A Student's Guide to Community gives readers simple yet profound hooks on which to hang all the complicated relational aspects of their young lives. By investing a just little time in this creative Bible study, teens will gain great clarity in how to relate to their parents, friends, family, church, and God."

Matthew C. Mitchell, Father of four; pastor, Lanse Evangelical Free Church; author of Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue

"In Radically Different: A Student's Guide to Community, pastor and award-winning author Champ Thornton enables parents and teachers to guide middle school students on an amazing journey of deep discovery. Each lesson presents rich theology, engaging discussion questions, and a spectrum of creative activities that seek to reach the heart and develop community engagement and a love for Jesus."

Deborah Harrell, Overseas Educational Advisor, Serge; author of What's Up? Elementary; coauthor of What's Up? Discovering the Gospel, Jesus, and Who You Really Are and Gospel-Centered Parent

"Radically Different is an excellent new resource for parents, students, and ministry leaders. Each one of us wants to know our place in the world. This curriculum will help equip the next generation to live in the world by teaching them to see their relationships, both with God and others, through the lens of the gospel."

Russell Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

"If you're looking for a practical tool for teaching preteens to think biblically, look no further than Champ Thornton's Radically Different. Deeply rooted in Scripture, this resource is brimming with age-appropriate questions, illustrations, and applications!"

Drew Hill, Pastor; author of Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel

"Radically Different is just like its title suggestsÑa unique and distinctively valuable book from Champ Thornton that every teen and youth ministry will benefit from. Like a master builder, Champ lays a strong biblical foundation for adolescents in relevant topics such as theology, Scripture, prayer, relationships, and more. Radically Different is witty, practical, and power-packed with gospel truth. I highly recommend!"

Joshua Cooley, Children's Minister; New York Times bestselling author of The Biggest Win, Heroes of the Bible Devotional, and The One Year Devotions with Jesus

"Teenage Christian disciples need what we all needÑregular, clear teaching of God's Word, along with a warm, personal application of its truth to our lives. This punchy, well-written set of studies is an excellent framework for doing just that. It very cleverly manages to keep the big picture of the Bible's story always in mind (Creation, Fall, Redemption), while working through key topics and passages and relating them insightfully to the realities of life as a Christian teen."

Tony Payne, Author of Fatherhood: What It Is and What It's For and The Trellis and the Vine

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7 Reviews

  • 5
    Great resource for tweens and teens

    Posted by Matthew Hoskinson on 09 30 2019

    Champ Thornton has served the next generation extremely well with this thoughtful, engaging book. Radically Different is a thirteen-week Bible study centered on the idea of "Good, Bad, New." That is, God made all things to be good, but because of human sin things are bad. But Jesus came to redeem the world and make all things new. The devotional hits just the right target for this age-group. With just three studies per week, it respects the hectic pace of life today while also stimulating growth in faithfulness. The artwork supplements the content without being either busy or childish. Parents and youth leaders will want to purchase the companion Teachers Guide as they study the material with their tweens and teens. This is a great resource that's worth your attention as you "tell the next generation the glorious works of the Lord" (Ps 78.4).

  • 5
    A Helpful and Needed Resource

    Posted by Jason B. Alligood on 09 16 2019

    Champ Thornton has written a great resource for Middle and High School students with a focus on the overarching story of the Scripture: Creation, Fall, and Redemption. After giving this Biblical-Theological foundation, he infuses it into the areas of life which all students experience. I will be using this with our own teenage children, as well as recommending it for the students of our local church. *Review copy provided by the publisher.

  • 4
    Middle school guide for Christians in community

    Posted by Wendy on 09 15 2019

    This 13 week program, written by Champ Thornton, is a guide for middle schoolers and young teens as they consider what it means to live as Christians in community and in their relationships. Helpfully, Thornton starts with the big picture. Week one starts with considering God and who he is. The next three weeks further explain the structure of the rest of the book, looking at creation, the fall and redemption (which he terms, the good, the bad and the new). The following 9 weeks look at different topic areas, all applying the lens of good, bad, new to each. These include their relationship with God under the headings of listening to God (in his word), talking to God (prayer), and worshipping God. Then, it turns to earthly relationships with parents, friends, family, and church as well as difficult and broken relationships. It is intended to be discussed as a group with a leader, but to have the youth prepare in advance. There are three short studies provided for the student each week (probably each 10 mins maximum), and there are also leader’s notes for further discussion and how to use the time spent together. As such, it would be a great resource for a Sunday School program for about 10-13 year olds. The diagrams and illustrations are probably a bit young for kids older than 13, but the concepts could be extended to promote in depth discussion across that age range as appropriate.

  • 5
    Radically Different

    Posted by Barbara Reaoch on 08 30 2019

    Today’s youth want to know, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Champ Thornton’s compelling resource invites youth to discover the all satisfying and fulfilling truth of the gospel. Bite sized lessons offer a feast of wisdom and relevant application. Radically Different will help you, at home and church, lead youth to know God, to know why they believe in him and how to talk to others about him.

  • 5
    A wonderful companion for student discipleship!

    Posted by Dave on 08 15 2019

    You cannot overemphasize the importance of sight. Eve was tempted by what she saw; Job made a covenant to not set his eyes towards sinful things; the Psalmist begged God to open his eyes to see wondrous things from His law; and Paul says we are transformed by beholding God’s glory with unveiled face. What young people desperately need today is gospel-centered, spirit-empowered sight. This book will come alongside parents, youth groups, friends, and discipleship relationships to help young people do just that – see everything in their life through the lens of the gospel: good, bad, and new. If you are involved in any of the areas just mentioned, consider this book a beautiful and necessary companion.

  • 4
    Wish I'd had this when my kids were entering junior high. Recommended.

    Posted by Rosa Smith on 08 13 2019

    Got a pre-teen or teen who's struggling with their identity? Someone being challenged about who God is and if he matter to us? A group of students who wonder if God makes a difference in the world around us? This book comes with a fill-in leader guide and is recommended for small groups and their leaders. Organized by good, bad, and new categories, this will challenge students to think about and act on God-with-us in ourselves, our families, and our world. It's got colorable (and doodle-able) graphics and space to write your own thoughts, too. Wish I'd had this when my kids were entering junior high. Recommended.

  • 5
    Fresh Take on a Timeless Worldview

    Posted by Blake H. on 08 12 2019

    Radically Different is a welcome addition to Middle School biblical curriculum. This material is most helpful in framing a Creation, Fall, Redemption interpretive lens. Adjusted for students to the terms Good, Bad, and New, readers will develop some new muscles for understanding the world and how they are to live in it. Adults who guide this study will find themselves gaining a fresh understanding of God’s holiness, personal sinfulness, and Jesus’ work on their behalf. If you are seeking to develop a biblical worldview in others, Radically Different will be a good aide. Students who are able to thinking biblically about life and relationships will be like ship with a reinforced bow able to cut a straight course through the ice flows of life.

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