Blogging daily is both a burden and a blessing. A burden because I am ever conscious of the gift of your time and I hope to write in ways that edify and challenge you. A blessing because the last eight years have given me the opportunity to grow spiritually and intellectually through interactions with blog readers and other authors — in the comments, through interviews, book reviews, and blog links.
However much I enjoy blogging, I don’t consider it my primary focus of work. My primary vocational calling at this stage in life is serving as managing editor of The Gospel Project. In the four years I’ve been at LifeWay, my role has shifted and expanded in many ways, but it’s The Gospel Project that I was commissioned to help launch and, that’s why my work with the contributors on this curriculum takes up most of my time.
A Brief History of The Gospel Project
We developed plans for The Gospel Project in 2010-11. In the beginning, the plan focused primarily on Bible studies for adults that would cover the grand narrative of Scripture and the basics of biblical and systematic theology. We developed various study plans and eventually settled on a three-year scope and sequence.
By the beginning of 2012, we had expanded the plan to include students and kids. In hindsight, I believe this was the decision that ushered in a wave of momentum and an unprecedented launch. For some perspective, our initial hopes were that 20 to 30,000 participants would help us kick off the curriculum. By summer of 2012 (just three months before the launch), we realized we had significantly underestimated the interest in this curriculum. When The Gospel Project debuted that fall, we were serving more than 400,000 participants across all ages. (Try to imagine the headache of figuring out additional print runs and inventory.)
Since its launch, the number of people using The Gospel Project has swelled to more than 750,000. Whenever someone asks me about the surprising success of the curriculum, I freely admit to being just as astonished as anyone else. The scope of the project leads me to gratitude for God blessing our efforts in ways that surpassed our initial projections, but also evokes a measure of fear and trepidation: you’re helping craft Bible study materials for a lot of people. How we guide people in their study of Scripture matters immensely. That’s a weighty responsibility.
What’s Next for The Gospel Project
So, what’s next for The Gospel Project? As we’ve listened to testimonials and invited feedback from users, we’ve discovered interest in seeing all ages journey through the Bible chronologically. The kids’ materials have always been chronological, but students and adults have shifted back and forth between tracing themes through the storyline of Scripture (atonement, kingdom, etc.) and studying systematic theology topics (doctrine of humanity, the Law of God, sin and salvation, etc.).
Beginning in Fall 2015, The Gospel Project will be chronological for all ages. We will spend 18 months in the Old Testament and 18 months in the New, with almost every study session aligned so that churches that want to make this journey together can unite all ages around study of one central story per week. (See the study plan here.)
Uniting all ages around a common story each week was a challenge for us. We needed to find a way to fulfill our promise to reinforce basic Bible doctrines while, at the same time, we didn’t want to skip over portions of Scripture that are less “storied” in their presentation (such as the wisdom literature, or the letters of the New Testament). So, for kids, we turned some of the New Testament letters into stories by explaining what prompted them. For example, our study of the Thessalonian literature is about “the church that lost its hope,” Galatians about “when Paul stood up and rebuked Peter,” and Philippians about Paul’s imprisonment. For adults and students, we developed 99 Essential Christian Doctrines that are featured throughout the material.
In the end, the study plan will guide all ages through the biblical narrative, showing how Old Testament stories point forward to their fulfillment in Christ, and showing how all the theological themes of the Bible impact our living on mission in the world in which God has placed us. We want every session to point participants to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the source of life transformation and the foundation for spiritual growth.
What You Can Do
If you read this blog regularly, would you commit to praying for me and our team as we continue our work on The Gospel Project?
If you pastor a church or lead a small group, would you consider downloading a free preview of The Gospel Project Chronological?
If you already use The Gospel Project or want to help us get the word out, would you share this brief video that shows how all the Bible points to Christ?