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Tales of the Unexpected (Starter Pack)

Tales of the Unexpected (Starter Pack)

Stories told by Jesus from Luke's Gospel

from 17 reviews

In Tales of the Unexpected you’ll find four simple but startling stories that Jesus told.

Part of the Jesus and You series.

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This straightforward, four-session course is designed to bring the teaching of Jesus to a broad range of people, including those who normally have difficulty accessing the Christian message.

Use the Tales of the Unexpected DVD and booklet to unpack some truly unexpected words of Jesus, and introduce ordinary people to this most amazing man. Presented by Pete Woodcock and Lizzy Smallwood, two experienced Christian communicators.

The starter pack contains three study guides and one DVD.

Everyone likes a good story, especially when there’s a surprise at the end.

Jesus is famous for the stories he told. And many people still read and listen to his words today. Why? — because Jesus’ words seem to understand us and explain us. And they open up the way for us to know God.

In Tales of the Unexpected you’ll find four simple but startling stories that Jesus told. You’ll find some surprising things about yourself, about God and about life.

Using a modern, easy-to-understand translation of the Bible, and the accompanying DVD, this straightforward guide will help you understand who Jesus is, why he came, and the difference he can make for people today.

This starter pack contains:
3 x study guides
1 x DVD

We're happy to be able to provide two free resources to help you in running and using Tales of the Unexpected - see the links on the left-hand side.

BRAND NEW! To help with promoting your course, we now have posters and invitations available for you to download. See the 'Extras' section on the top left-hand side of the page.

Product details


  • 1 The rich fool (Luke 12 v 13-21)
    2 The runaway son (Luke 15 v 11-24)
    3 The stay-at-home son (Luke 15 v 11-32)
    4 The Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18 v 9-14)


Contributors Pete Woodcock, Lizzy Smallwood
ISBN 9781906334741
Format Bundle
First published March 2010
Dimensions 148mm x 210mm
Weight 0.31 kg
Language English
Publisher The Good Book Company
Customer reviews

16 Dec 2019

“Gospel-centred and appropriate!”

This course has been very helpful in an evangelistic toddlers group for parents as an alternative to other longer courses. All of our unchurched mums have really enjoyed 'Tales of the Unexpected'. It's very accessible for non-Christians and I thoroughly recommend it.

21 Oct 2019

“The profound but simple tellingly told.”

(Review written for 'Tales of the Unexpected Handbook')

A very down to earth exposition of four parables from Luke's Gospel. Relaxed telling but hard hitting just as it just have been when our Lord originally told them. Two 'tellers' for different audiences. Personal testimonies from individuals whose lives had been arrested by Jesus. Work booklets very helpful but sometimes became a little lost as to which page was next to be explored. Highly recommend for simply telling it sit is according to the Word of Life.

7 Dec 2015


This short course is awesome. Unmerited grace and forgiveness seem to be the major stumbling blocks to people really getting to grips with the heart of the gospel. 'Tales of the Unexpected' presents these so clearly though, and the testimonies at the end of each session helpfully drive home what the personal implications of the gospel are. The questions in each session also really help any participant examine their own standing with God.

I've only run the course in a 1-1 setting, but it works well with both the complete newcomer to the Christian faith or the person who has been sitting in the pew for years. My suggestion is to only use the booklets for the leader preparation and then write down your own questions - this will keep it more relational and make it feel less like a 'course'. But you need to follow the logic / structure of each session, otherwise the videos won't work - and they are the highlight.

Highly, highly recommended.

25 Jul 2015

“Excellent group study for short bites of scripture”

We used this this with a group of 20 which included 2 teenagers. The questions allowed everyone - regardless of their Biblical literacy - to work on the same playing field. The short videos were slick, to the point and opened the way for further discussion. The course helped everyone to grow in their understanding of the riches of God's grace.

Highly recommended.

28 Jun 2014

“Simple but powerful in explaining the truth about Jesus”

(Review written for 'Jesus and You Pack')

Bought this on spec to use in our summer bible study group. It worked really well with our men's group and also with one of our cross cultural ladies' groups.
The material is uncomplicated but very powerful. The study sheets are workable and lead the group into the detail of the story and the videos work really well to highlight the issues. Surprisingly found that the studies stayed with me and influenced my thinking. These studies are a great way of getting groups who have just started on their way with leaning about Jesus to get into important details. People who have been walking with Jesus for a long time will also be challenged to re-examine what Jesus says about a lot of our every day lifestyle choices.

27 Feb 2014

“Goldilocks porridge and Cinderella's slipper - it's just right”

(Review written for 'Jesus and You Pack')

This has proved really useful for us. Good clear presentation style; great to h ave a quiz to make sure we have read the passage; questions that really push to read what the verse says (and again, see what it says!); good points of strong personal challenge, but sensibly offered for personal reflection not open discussion. I would like everyone in our home groups to go through these to learn to read what the passage says. A good pitch for unbelievers; fringe believers; wobbly Christians. One of our group likes it - they get lost in sermons or think of a question that they then forget by the end. This has lots of pauses - don't get lost and can ask the questions. Final testimonies lend 'real-life application'. Four weeks is an easy sell - not high commitment.

To improve:
1. Sometimes the final section adds unnecessary complexity with new material.
2. Bible texts stuck at the back of the book meant confusing flipping back and forth. (This is remedied in the Close Encounters course with a pull out section.)

How we are using it:
Running one a term as a follow-on from an invitation event. Run concurrently with our Sunday morning church (we've kicked the youth group out of the room into the vicarage!). Then people come to church - they've not done a course on a Monday night and then get asked to switch to another day - they meet the church over coffee afterwards and also means we can use church creche provision. We are pushed for time, but get lots from it. Considering running a fifth week on next term to review; to cover left over questions and watch a couple of testimonies that we missed through lack of time.

4 Nov 2013

“Really useful resource”

(Review written for 'Jesus and You Pack')

Purchased to kick-start a new afternoon home-group, Close Encounters is proving really helpful: there's no dumbing-down here! Fresh perspectives for mature Christians, with good questions for discussion, as well as being user-friendly and helpful for new disciples and seekers, mean that the materials are flexible for mixed ages and stages. Just a few comments about the presentation: it's a great idea to be able to choose presenters, it helps to ring the changes during a session. One of our members has hearing problems and the zooming in and out on faces is distracting when lip-reading (subtitles would be helpful). The fixed-camera means that sometimes the presenter's face is to one side of the screen - or even cut in half! I appreciate that the minimalist background focusses attention on what is being said, but it is a bit bare - especially when the presenter's face is to one side. A change of setting might be helpful.
However, all-in-all, thumbs up to Close Encounters! I think we may need some extra handbooks and I'm sure we'll buy the other two courses. Many thanks to the Jesus and you production team. Any more planned?

3 Jun 2013


(Review written for 'Jesus and You Pack')

We are using "The King and I" with International students studying art at UCA Farnham , and they are really loving the material. We have had some of the best discussions on Christian truth as we have used the material. The explanations from Pete and Lizzie are first-class, clear and punchy. And the testimonies root the truth in personal experience.

30 Apr 2013

“Really helpful short course for new folk and those wanting to help them.”

(Review written for 'Jesus and You Pack')

Just started running my second course using the Jesus and you material and have found both the "Tales of the unexpected" and "The King and I" to be really good for the groups they are aimed at, folk with little or no previous Bible knowledge. The video's are engaging however don't expect the same high production values as the CE video but they work well with the material.

I'm so pleased that material like this is being produced and I hope that more are in the pipeline.

24 Oct 2012

“Relevant and real in 2012”

This is a very good resource to explain the Gospel to interested people.
We used it with a group of about 12 ladies as a follow up to Walk For Life.
It is very well presented, easy to follow and challenging. There is a good variety of discussion and listening, with the dvd providing good teaching in a very non threatening way.
Each programme builds upon the previous one and the whole series gels together.
I would certainly use it again and will possibly go on to look at Jesus and You; Close Encounters.
However we did have some problems with the dvd not working. But The Good Book Company were excellent in replacing the copy very quickly.

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