"Until now, Explore the Bible has been a book-by-book study only for adults," Toby Jennings, managing editor of the study, said. "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. The material for kids will focus on 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.
Jennings explained that 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 teacher and author, is leading the winter study of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah. Other general editors include Union University's George Guthrie, and senior 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.
The study already has received favorable responses from churches including First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C., 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," Sam Davis, associate pastor and minister of education at First Baptist Spartanburg, said. "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 Baptist Spartanburg looking forward to the new curriculum. From his first look at Explore the Bible: Kids, Greg Springsteen, minister of preschool and children, said he 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."
LifeWay offers three distinct ongoing group Bible studies, each with a different starting point. 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 that people face every day, and brings the Scripture to bear on those issues. And, The Gospel Project begins with a systematic plan to show 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. Advance orders for the fall can be placed now.
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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