By Carol Pipes
Beginning this fall, Lifeway’s Explore the Bible ongoing curriculum will expand to include young adults, students, and kids.
“Until now, Explore the Bible has been a book-by-book study only for adults,” said Toby Jennings, managing editor of the study. “With this expansion, it will become the only curriculum we know that provides book-by-book Bible study for groups of all ages.”
Adults and students will study the same passage of Scripture every week. Kids will study the same concept within the same book as adults and students. They may, however, cross-reference a connected story in Scripture that elaborates on the primary message to make challenging concepts more kid-friendly. All ages will study the same memory verse.
Each study session is developed to help groups understand the Bible passage within its larger biblical context. Sessions include engaging discussion questions, in-depth Bible commentary, and a comprehensive reading plan for each book of the Bible.
Explore the Bible is partnering with leading Bible teachers and scholars to develop the material and serve as general editors for specific studies. Well-known pastor, author, and radio teacher David Jeremiah will serve as general editor for this fall’s study of Hebrews.
Tony Evans, another renowned pastor, teacher, and author, is leading the winter study of Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Other general editors include Union University’s George Guthrie, and pastors Jim Shaddix, Afshin Ziafat, Gregg Matte, Vance Pitman, and Bryan Loritts.
In addition to the 13-session ongoing study, Explore the Bible will also be available in six-session studies for small groups.
“Explore the Bible will help people of all ages know God better and help them to know and love Christ more,” Jennings said. “We believe individuals, families, and communities will be transformed as Christians allow the word of Christ to dwell richly among them and obey the text in their context.”
The study already has received favorable responses from churches including First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, South Carolina, which will begin using Explore the Bible for all age groups this fall.
“When I heard Lifeway was revising Explore the Bible and heard their heart for where they were headed with the Bible study, I immediately knew it was the right study for our church,” said Sam Davis, associate pastor and minister of education at First Spartanburg. “Our pastor is an expository preacher and our church is drawn to book-by-book study.”
The first thing that convinced Davis it was the right study for their church was how it would unify their Bible study classes and groups from preschool through senior adults in their study of the Bible.
“When mom and dad go home from church, they can have dinner table conversations with their kids about what they learned in life group,” Davis said. “We’re hearing that from parents more and more.”
Davis isn’t the only one at First Spartanburg looking forward to the new curriculum. From his first look at Explore the Bible: Kids, Greg Springsteen, minister of preschool and children, was impressed with the material and excited at the opportunity to truly explore the Scriptures in a way that engages kids.
“The lessons take kids on a journey starting with the central passage of the day then traveling back through Scripture to find connections that show the Bible as one big continuous story,” Springsteen explained. “Making these connections helps tie everything together, and the family app allows parents to continue exploring anytime, anywhere.”
Each Explore the Bible: Kids session incorporates object-based learning similar to teaching methods used in museum exhibits. For example, kids will learn Jesus is all-powerful by looking at the story of Jesus calming the storm. They’ll examine a boat discovered by archaeologists at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee that dates to the same era as Jesus and His disciples.
“The kids can see this boat and imagine what it might have been like to be on the boat in the storm,” explains Jana Magruder director of Kids Ministry Publishing at Lifeway.
“We’ve incorporated lots of ways to engage children with the text,” Magruder says. “From historical maps, to infographics, to discovery learning, we want kids to think about the Bible in a deeper way than they have ever before.”
Lifeway’s ongoing Bible studies have three distinct starting points—text, life application, theology. Explore the Bible starts with the scriptural text and a plan to walk people through all the books of the Bible.
Bible Studies for Life starts with real-life issues people face every day, and brings the Scripture to bear on those issues. And The Gospel Project shows people how all Scripture points to Jesus.
Jennings explained how the curricula provide three different approaches, but each one helps people encounter the Living Word (Jesus) and the written Word.
Churches can register to preview Explore the Bible free for one month, which includes full access to four sessions of each adult, young adult, student, and kids resource at Lifeway.com/ExploretheBible. The expanded Explore the Bible can now be ordered for the fall.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes) is editor of Facts & Trends.