The curriculum currently is used by more than 30,000 churches.
"We listened to churches using the study," said David Francis, LifeWay's director of Sunday School, "and learned of three foundational ways Bible Studies for Life could be an even more effective tool in church ministry.
The new curriculum will help churches connect the unconnected, strengthen families, and disciple people with wisdom, said Francis, who also serves as managing editor of Bible Studies for Life.
"The improvements in the series are designed to help the local church meet the spiritual needs of its members and community through life application of the Bible," he said.
Re-designing LifeWay's most popular curriculum was a daunting task, Francis said. "Bible Studies for Life has dozens of different products and each had to be examined from a new perspective," he said. "One of the first things we did was ask Ronnie Floyd, pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, to serve as general editor to help us design this material from a church perspective."
Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., said the foremost benefit of the new curriculum is it will be an experience "where the Bible meets your life. Bible Studies for Life focuses on real-life issues in order to engage the unreached and unchurched in our communities.
"We want to see the small group ministries of churches, however and whenever they meet, return to a commitment to evangelize people through the ministry of their groups," Floyd said. "So, whether a church operates a small groups ministry primarily on Sunday mornings at church, on weekdays away from the campus, or a hybrid of the two, there will be options that meet the needs of their groups."
The study will be available in multiple formats, both print and digital. Each quarterly edition of the materials will include two six-week studies, plus a special focus session. Francis said each session will be built around one main point, which will be printed repeatedly throughout the study session. "Participants should leave their group with a clear understanding of the key point," he said.
Floyd said parents "will also find support materials to help them have conversations with their kids about their group Bible study experience, primarily an exciting new tool called One Conversation. We want to help parents reinforce what their children are learning in their Bible study group and support them in their role as the primary disciple-makers of their children."
Twice a year churches can choose to address the same subject matter over a six-week period from the pulpit and in the small group ministry. A campaign kit will be available to assist pastors in this process.
New elements designed for Bible Studies for Life: Kids (formerly Bible Teaching for Kids) include weekly videos, new teaching pictures, activity pages and a family app.
To help develop the new study plan, Floyd and Francis enlisted an advisory team of scholars and church leaders from across the nation known for applying the Bible to life. The council, which met for two intense days of work last fall, also identified some of the most pressing real-life issues people face day to day. Members continued to review proposed drafts of plans, titles, sample lessons and resources throughout the winter.
The Bible Studies for Life advisory council included Freddy Cardoza, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, Calif.; Jordan Easley, Long Hollow Church, Hendersonville, Tenn.; Grant Ethridge, Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va.; Bruce Frank, Biltmore Baptist Church, Arden, N.C.; Chip Henderson, Pinelake Church, Brandon, Miss.; Alex Himaya, The Church at Battle Creek, Broken Arrow, Okla.; Mark Howell, Canyon Ridge Christian Church, Las Vegas; Rhonda Kelley, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Will Mancini, Auxano, Houston; Kelly Minter, Village Chapel, Nashville; Eddie Mosley, LifePoint Church, Smyrna, Tenn.; Kerry Shook, Woodlands Church, The Woodlands, Texas; Reid Smith, Christ Fellowship Church, Palm Beach, Fla.; Heath Thomas, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; K. Marshall Williams, Nazarene Baptist Church, Philadelphia; Pete Wilson, Cross Point Church, Nashville; and Jeff Young, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas.
"We pray individuals and families will experience life change as they interact with the biblical material in their groups each week," Floyd said. "We are optimistic that as Christ followers are discipled through the teaching of God's Word their lives will be transformed and in turn entire communities will be impacted by the Gospel."
The new Bible Studies for Life materials are slated for preorder in May for the fall quarter. Sample lessons and resources are available for preview at LifeWay.com/FallPreview.
Carol Pipes is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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