writing a mass-market Bible study

so… I’ve been processing through the idea of writing a mass-market Bible study.  By that I mean a study that would be accessible to people across the U.S., whether via retail or via digital download and whether through a publisher or independently.

Before I can allow settle into the actual process, there’s a lot that I’m working through in my head about the venture in general.  I don’t know that I need to find answers to these questions, just that I have to give them due diligence.  And, as I go through this process, I’m sure that I’ll find more questions arise.

  •  Can my spirit handle it?

Twice a month Ashley and/or I prepare a lesson/session/space of time for our small group.  In the back of my mind I’m always working through what to say, how to say it, etc.  When I’m focused in on getting the time ready, it’s usually a pretty strong spiritual battle for me.  I try to refine things, making sure that we’re teaching what’s in the Word and not simply regurgitating stuff we’ve been told by other people in the past.

Preparing for the time with our small group is always spiritually exhausting.  Teaching others and sharing some of my spirit with them is a complex, supernatural thing.  And that’s just for our small group, people who I know love us and would heap grace upon us if we ever did mess up somehow.  How spiritually stressful would it be to prepare a lesson/space of time for people I’ll never meet who could use the plan however they’d like?

  • Why would I want to do it?

There are plenty of mass-market small group studies out there… let alone opportunities for groups to actually study the Bible, sans additional resources.  Would I be bringing any wisdom to the table, or just adding to the noise?

Working for a Bible materials publisher full time, this is a topic I’m continually digesting.  I think we will always need to produce new materials because time keeps moving forward.  While the Bible doesn’t change, the concepts and cultural issues it intersects with do.  Paul, the great theologian, never had to deal with cyber-sex or the potential for humanity living on the moon/Mars.  New materials allow us to shine the light in new places.  If I am to write any kind of study, it needs to be in conjunction with my life’s story and the things that I am an “expert” in.

  • Does it meet a need?

Here’s the need that I see:

For the past four years or so, I’ve been doing dinner with a group of guys.  The members of this group have been fairly fluid throughout the years, but it’s always been a time set aside for building relationships, discovering life, and eating good food.

A couple of times we’ve tried to focus the time a little bit more toward some kind of spiritual study… but it’s never really worked.  Amidst all the resources out there, we couldn’t find anything that fit our flow of conversation and styles of learning.  Member books are a bit too clunky.  Men’s studies are about being outdoorsy or sporty (which we aren’t).  Many studies now rely on multimedia elements.  Preparation can be confusing.

Those things I just listed are not bad things.  Member books and multimedia elements are perfect for many, many small groups.  But they just don’t work with my guys.

  • Who would lead a study written by me?

I don’t mean this as a belittlement to myself, but an actual concern: who would be the person leading it?  I know what I mean when I use certain phrases and I know I have a very stylized voice.  In many ways, I think that if I wrote a study I would want/need to give the leader the bulk of my efforts.  But how do you properly prepare a leader that you’ll never meet?  And is there a way to prepare quickly, but also offer the opportunity to prepare deeply?

  • Who am I to write a study?  Or is it pride?

And this is probably the biggest one for me.  I don’t know at what point it’s “ok” to say “Hey!  I’ve got a bit of wisdom to share.”  This is one of the issues that prompted me to write the “Career Christian” post.

I’ve been told time and time again as a Christian that we should be humble and meek.  How do I reconcile that with saying “Hey, I wrote something good enough that you should pay for it.”  If I do think I have something to say (and, to be honest, I do),  is it ok to be bold about it?

Is it ok to think that God and Sister Wisdom have blessed me in a way that maybe, just maybe, I have something worth listening to?  Is it ok to say that it’s worth it’s weight in paper, ink, design, legal, shipping and editorial costs?

So that’s where I am, on this journey to writing a mass-market Bible study.  Feel free to pray for me as I continue to process through the opportunities, the spiritual angst, and internal monologues of these questions.

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