UPDATE: The website for The Gospel Project has been launched.
My first two months at LifeWay (November-December 2010) were primarily focused on helping develop the vision for the new curriculum. In conjunction with Ed Stetzer (general editor), I began mapping out what topics this curriculum might cover. We put together some different options – some focused more on systematic theology, others focused on a variety of approaches, etc.
We also began putting on paper the core values we wanted to keep at the forefront of this curriculum. “Theologically robust” (which we renamed “deep, but not dry”), “Christ-centered,” “Grand-narrative-focused,” and “Mission-driven” are the important elements we want to see in every quarter and (hopefully) every lesson. We took these buzz words and fleshed out how they might apply to a curriculum.
Then we brought together an advisory council to speak into the project, leaders like D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler, James MacDonald, J.D. Greear, Eric Mason, Juan Sanchez, Collin Hansen, Kimberly Thornbury, Joe Thorn, Danny Akin, and Jay Noh. We met with members of the council in Dallas and Chicago earlier this year and received helpful feedback and great insight into this curriculum.
The meetings with the advisory council were very helpful. The group helped us refine the vision, make needed adjustments, and craft a three-year cycle that brings together systematic theology within the framework of the Bible’s grand narrative. After both meetings, we went back to the drawing board – affirmed in our general direction yet helpfully challenged in some of the particulars.
The Writing Begins
We went back and forth on a few different names for this new curriculum, finally settling on TGM (Theology, Gospel, Mission), a name that helped us crystallize the three components we wanted to have present in every lesson. Earlier this year, we began gathering writers for the initial quarters. The writers’ meetings have been wonderful. I can’t believe I get to meet and work with such great people!
Some of our writers include: George Robinson (professor of missions and evangelism at Southeastern Seminary who has done extensive work on the evangelistic tool The Story), Jared Wilson (pastor in Vermont, author of LifeWay’s Threads study Abide, and Gospel Wakefulness), Juan Sanchez (pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, TX), Halim Suh (pastor at Austin Stone Community Church), Jonathan Leeman (editorial director of 9Marks), Geoff Ashley (discipleship pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, TX), etc.
The curriculum launches in Fall of 2012. The second and third installments of the material will take people on a journey through the Bible in 26 weeks. George Guthrie (Union University professor and author of Read the Bible for Life) has been instrumental in helping us think through how best to accomplish this task.
Major Development – “The Gospel Project”
At the same time I was working on editing the adult curriculum, a student team and a kids team were working on similar products for those age groups. A couple weeks ago, Eric Geiger, the new vice president over the Church Resources Division at LifeWay, recommended that we bring these three curriculum options under one umbrella. This change shifted me from being editor of the adult piece to being managing editor of all three lines. My task is now to oversee the gospel-centered content development across all age groups. Ed Stetzer is now general editor of all three lines as well.
These changes also meant we would need to (yet again) change the name, so as to accurately reflect the emphasis for all age groups. We’ve settled on the name “The Gospel Project.” The new name communicates the ongoing nature of this curriculum roll-out. It also communicates that this isn’t just about creating Bible studies. The curriculum itself isn’t the project that’s most important; we are. We are the gospel project. Our prayer is that as small groups of all ages work through these studies, the gospel will work on us. The church is God’s gospel project.
I’d appreciate your prayers for me and for the teams who are working on this new product. We believe “The Gospel Project” has the potential to serve the church in a good way, as it provides a gospel-centered resource for children, students, and adults.