By Aaron Earls
NASHVILLE — After three years and more than three quarters of a million weekly users, The Gospel Project is changing its approach. Starting this fall, Lifeway’s newest Bible study curriculum for all ages will go through the Bible chronologically.
The Gospel Project: Chronological will start from the beginning for a three-year cycle through the entire Bible. “This approach allows groups to understand biblical theology as it was progressively revealed in redemptive history,” says managing editor Trevin Wax.
“We will spend 18 months in the Old Testament and 18 months in the New,” says Wax, “with almost every study session aligned so that churches that want to make this journey together can unite all ages around the study of one central story per week.”
When Lifeway first launched The Gospel Project in 2012, it marked the first time in more than a decade the publisher had released ongoing studies for children, students and adults under one theme.
Wax says creators were hoping 30,000 participants would use the materials at the start. Instead, it was serving more than 400,000 by the time it debuted and Lifeway scrambled to increase print runs and inventory, according to Wax. Now, three years later, The Gospel Project continues to grow with more than 775,000 weekly users.
Many church leaders were eager and excited to start the curriculum, but some, like Mark Gouge, were a bit hesitant.
Gouge, director of children’s ministry at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, began using The Gospel Project with a plan to use something different in a few months. But after seeing “unreal” results, he continues to use it.
The impact of the material hit Gouge even closer to him than just working with the children at church. After completing a lesson on the Old Testament tabernacle and the sacrificial system, he tucked his four-year-old daughter into bed and was amazed at what she said. “Daddy, can I tell you a secret,” she asked. “Jesus died once as a sacrifice for me. He doesn’t have to die every year on the day of ‘Atoner.’” Gouge says he “wept like a baby.”
In what he describes as a biblically saturated town, the children’s ministry director says The Gospel Project is making a difference. “My kids are understanding the gospel,” he says.
To encourage more churches to try The Gospel Project, Lifeway is offering a free preview of the resources. Leaders can download one month of all the fall materials for free at GospelProject.com.
As part of the relaunch, on May 11, The Gospel Project will host a free online event titled “Gospel. Life. Ministry.” Wax says it will feature “some of the most trusted pastors and church leaders who will explore how the gospel relates to different areas of life and ministry.”
Over 3,000 participants have already preregistered to hear from David Platt, John Piper, Louie Giglio, Tony Evans and many others, including some of the contributors to The Gospel Project: Chronological.
Wax says their desire for the online event as well as every session in the material is “to point participants to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the source of life transformation and the foundation for spiritual growth.”
For church leaders like Gouge that makes all the difference, as the children in his ministry “are understanding the truths and how they connect to all of Scripture.” He said the gospel presentation made possible through the curriculum is “powerful.”
As far as eliciting a reaction from the students, Gouge says The Gospel Project is on par with the most popular video games and cartoon characters. “The kids sat there with mouths open,” he says. “I’ve only seen Minecraft or Anna and Elsa drop the jaws of my kids.”
Aaron Earls is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.
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