Note from the BCC Staff: Normally we’d place an interview like this in our book review section. However, The Gospel Project is much more than a stand-alone book. So, we invited Trevin Wax, the Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, to be part of a special BCC Grace & Truth blog interview. As the individual materials are produced, we plan to provide reviews and author interviews.
BCC: “Trevin, tell us about how The Gospel Project came about.”
TW: “One of the purposes of LifeWay is to listen to churches and determine ways we can better serve believers spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. The Gospel Project is a resource for the church that shows how Bible study, the gospel, and the church’s mission are all connected. We wanted to provide resources for churches whose ministry philosophy is centered on the gospel.”
BCC: “Why is it important for the church to view the Bible through the lens of the gospel?”
TW: “Often times, we are content to divide the Bible, looking at the Old Testament as the part about Israel and the New Testament as the part about the church. Of course, there’s truth to that, but it’s important to remember that God didn’t change plans or directions when Jesus was born. The apostles saw that the entire Old Testament was building up to Jesus. When we look at the entire Bible through the lens of the gospel, we see the foreshadowing of Jesus and God’s plan of redemption through the cross—all the way back to creation. It’s important for us to get the big picture of the Bible in order to understand where we fit into God’s plan today.
Another reason this is important is that we often look at the Bible and wonder what it has to say about us—I call this a “rush to application.” Applying the Scripture to our lives is wonderful, of course, but when it’s the driving force and starting point for our Bible interpretation, we unintentionally make the Bible about us, not Jesus. In contrast, when we look at the Bible through the lens of the gospel, we see every passage of Scripture in relation to God’s ultimate plan of redemption through Christ. Life change flows from the gospel, as we explore the implications of what God has done for us in Christ.”
BCC: “Why is there a need for a gospel-centered curriculum?”
TW: “Many churches want to get back to the basics of the gospel. They need reliable, gospel-centered curriculum to implement in their Bible studies, small groups, home groups, and Sunday School classes. However, Bible study alone is not what transforms your life. Jesus transforms your life. Of course, He does this through His written Word to us. So, we must affirm that life change doesn’t happen apart from God’s Word. But the reason God’s Word changes our life is not because of our personal study, but because in the Scriptures we are introduced to Jesus, the Author. That’s why every page ought to be written in red, as every section is breathed out by our King and points us to Him.”
BCC: “Tell us about some of the distinctive features of The Gospel Project.”
TW: “The Gospel Project is for the whole church—kids, students, and adults—uniting an entire church under a Christ-centered approach to the Scriptures. But if a church only wants to implement The Gospel Project in a single age group, they can easily do that as well. This resource is also very approachable and accessible, with both leader and participant versions, which we call a Personal Study Guide.
When it comes to kids, The Gospel Project includes parent resources which encourage continued education in the home every week. We know that there is often a wide range of ages and needs in kids ministries, and we’re developing The Gospel Project with versions for Preschool, Younger Kids, and Older Kids. This allows you to meet the specific needs and appropriate depth of all your children.
Unlike many other Bible study curriculums, The Gospel Project allows you to start at any time. We plan to keep every quarter of the resource available so that a church that joins The Gospel Project a year down the road can still start at the beginning.”
BCC: “Can you give us an overview of the study plan for this curriculum?”
TW: “We’re following a three-year course of study for every age group. The kids’ version takes a look at the great stories of the Bible and teaches children how they fit into the grand narrative of Scripture. It is a chronological study plan, and by the end of three years, kids will have journeyed through the entire Bible.
The adult and student versions go deeper, studying biblical theology, missions, and apologetics. These study plans are broken down into systematic theological topics that change with each quarter. Every session is deeply rooted in Scripture, and no matter the topic, each session points participants to the cross.”
BCC: “Ed Stetzer as General Editor and yourself as Managing Editor have brought together a distinguished Advisory Council. Who is on your Advisory Council and what role do they play?”
TW: “The Advisory Council includes: D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler, James MacDonald, Daniel Akin, J.D. Greear, Eric Mason, Kimberly Thornbury, Jay Noh, Joe Thorn, Juan Sanchez, and Collin Hansen. These leaders were instrumental at the outset of our curriculum development. They made suggestions related to the content we should focus on, the level of accessibility we should strive for, the approach to worldview issues, how to implement a Christ-centered philosophy in a hermeneutically responsible way, etc. The conversations with the Council sharpened our thought process as we developed the high-level core values for the curriculum.”
BCC: “Who are some of the writers who will be developing the materials for The Gospel Project and how were they selected?”
TW: “Our writing team (for the adult and student pieces) includes pastors like Juan Sanchez and Jared Wilson, and other authors like Christian George and Jonathan Leeman. We’ve partnered with pastors from churches like Austin Stone (Halim Suh) and The Village Church (Geoff Ashley). The list of writers continues to grow. Whenever we bring on new writers, we are looking for local church pastors and laypeople who understand the Christ-centered philosophy we are seeking to implement, have experience in communicating biblical truths in fresh, accessible ways, and are able to write well. I love getting to edit what these writers provide. Several times throughout the editing process, I’ve sensed God working on my heart through the writing provided from these gifted teachers.”
BCC: “How would a church get started using The Gospel Project curriculum?”
TW: “I encourage people to visit The Gospel Project website and sign up to receive more information as the project moves forward. The first quarter will be released in September 2012 (with pre-ordering available late Spring 2012). At the website, visitors can also enjoy an introductory video interview with Pastor Matt Chandler in which he explains a gospel-centered approach to studying the Scriptures.”
BCC: “Thank you, Trevin, not only for introducing our Biblical Counseling Coalition readers to The Gospel Project, but also for your leadership in shepherding this project to fruition.”
Join the Conversation
What impact do you think gospel-centered curriculum like this could have upon the spiritual health of the church?