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LifeWay curriculum tour reveals options for all ages

Richard Nations/contributing writer

MACON – Missouri Baptists were introduced to new options for “Explore the Bible” study curriculum in an April statewide tour with LifeWay Christian Resources specialist Sergio Arce. 

Arce indicated there is a major facelift of the material being introduced in September, and this line of curriculum will have options for students, children and preschoolers which they do not currently offer. 

The tour had stops in almost all regions of the state. 

Mark Donnell, the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) Sunday School/discipleship/small group specialist, introduced the seminars and said, “Lifeway is trying to focus on a revitalization of its expository family of curriculum and give it an update. Currently there are three lines of Sunday school curriculum: “Explore the Bible,” “Bible Study for Life” and “The Gospel Project.” Beginning in September all three lines will have studies available for all ages.

Arce said the curriculum line, which was first introduced in 1978 has the distinctive of using an expository, verse-by-verse method of study. Their goal is for participants to “let the Word dwell in you.” As the students study the Bible book by book, they see the context of the Scriptures. 

Every three year cycle will engage participants with every genre within the Scriptures. For instance, genres would include study of the law, epistles, prophecy, poetry, Gospels and other types of Bible literature. In nine years the curriculum will cover a full cycle of study in all 66 Bible books. The study will scan through the Bible in three year segments and then repeat with different books in the next cycle.

Arce said the studies will not cover every single chapter and verse of every book. He laughed and said, “That would take 391/2 years, and we don’t know if people would be willing to stick with it that long!”

Instead, the studies will move through the Bible books, choosing major passages and genres in each of the books studied. 

There will be a supplemental Bible reading plan to go along with each book of the Bible being studied. Each week participants will be provided a new Bible skill – for example, interpretation (how Scripture interprets Scripture) or how to use a concordance, a Bible dictionary, or a character study. Arce said there are 27 different Bible skills identified that the curriculum will help to develop. The curriculum will be available using four Bible translations: KJV, HCSB, NIV and ESV.

“We know we are living in the most biblically illiterate generation in the U.S. In order to provide people the opportunity to discover what God’s Word says, we are providing Bible skills to help people study the Bible in context so they can live it out in their context,” Arce said. 

He quoted Ed Stetzer, vice-president of LifeWay Research, who says that research shows only 19 percent of church attenders read the Bible every day.

“It has to go beyond application,” he said. “The questions become, ‘How are you going to live it out, what are you going to do with this application? … We hope people will be more than just ‘hearers of the word,’ but also ‘doers of the word.

“Adults, young adults and students will study the same passages simultaneously. Kids will be studying the same biblical concept (in the same book) but not necessarily the same passage,” he added. 

Donnell explained this is due to learning styles for kids being different and the need to have developmentally appropriate lessons.

“I think it will be a big plus for people to have a reading plan to go along with their verse-by-verse study of major passages,” Donnell added.

Arce told the participants that there are three starting points for LifeWay’s ongoing Bible study curriculum lines:

• or those who like to start with the biblical text, they recommend “Explore the Bible.” 

• or those who want to begin with real life issues, “Bible Studies for Life” strives for relevance.

• or those who desire to teach theology, they recommend “The Gospel Project.” 

For more information about LifeWay’s “Explore the Bible” curriculum check the website at www.lifeway.com/explorethebible. There are four sessions of “Explore the Bible” available to download for free. For other help with Sunday school, visit www.mobaptist.org/sunday_school. ν