There is too much of a "me" focus in evangelical Christianity today, said an editor of The Gospel Project and author of Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope (2011).
In a webcast on Wednesday explaining LifeWay Christian Resources' The Gospel Project, Trevin Wax, managing editor of the project, told listeners that "the Bible is not a self-help book," which is why The Gospel Project is more than just a curriculum or self-help guide.
The Gospel Project is a small group curriculum for all ages that tells the overarching story of the Scripture. The project examines the Bible from start to finish and is meant to reveal to participants how every story and theological concept points to Jesus, so that they don't miss the point.
"The church is God's Gospel project; we are His project," Wax said. "It's possible to scour and search the Scriptures and miss the point. It's easy to come to Scripture looking for just new information or immediate application. We can even have Bible knowledge and not be focused on Christ," he elaborated on Lifeways' website.
Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church and a member of the advisory council for the project, said in the webcast that in today's world you can't just assume that people have understood and been transformed by the Gospel, even if they have heard it.
He stressed that the Church and pastors should "make sure [they] are steadily keeping the Gospel in front of our people. The Bible is teaching the Gospel consistently, if not constantly."
He mentioned that it is also important for pastors to help their congregation become attached to the word of God so they read it correctly.
He said that at his church in Texas, he is constantly trying to give people "a 30,000 foot view of the Gospel" so they can see how God continually moves forward and is faithful. Chandler stressed that you have to look at the Bible with the whole picture in mind.
JD Greear, pastor of North Carolina-based Summit Church, said that by looking at the Bible with a big picture mentality you begin to see what God has done, and how he orchestrated our salvation.
"The Gospel is not just how we begin Christian life, it's how we grow in the Christian life. When our heart changes, our actions change as we grow deeper into the Gospel. Our hearts are captivated by the grace of God. This produces changes and application that lasts, [but it] has to be grounded in the gospel," Greear stressed.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, serves as general editor for The Gospel Project. He said that while the project is meant to ground people in the Gospel and stress the fact that God has taken those who were dead and made them new, there is also another factor to the initiative.
He said he also wants people who use their curriculum to realize that the power in living the Christian life comes from understanding the richness of the Gospel, and that leads to making people mission oriented.
Being mission-minded is something Stetzer says the church needs to focus on in general. "If we raise up theologically sound people who don't do anything we will have failed," he said. "In going deep, you also have to go out."
He said knowing the Gospel should lead people to action, as well as ground them in truth. For Stetzer and those at Lifeway, the real point of the Gospel Project is to give people resources to become "theologically rich, gospel centered, and mission-driven."
The Gospel Project is an in-depth and Gospel-centered Bible study designed to help participants examine the deeper theological and missional concepts in the text. It is slated for preorder in June and features a three-year study plan with 13-week units. Each unit uses an age-appropriate voice, depth and course of study.