Josh Hunt, Writer,

Good Questions
Have Groups Talking

Many of you know I ran a survey this summer related to the Gospel Project. I’d like to share the results along with an explanation as to why I will not be writing lessons that go along with the Gospel Project at this time.

The first question had to do with what literature people use now.


Then I asked how many planned to move to the Gospel Project..

My thought was this. If the percentage of people definitely planning to go to the Gospel Project exceeded the percentage of any one series, it made sense to go to the Gospel Project. Based on the data, what would make sense is to drop the International Standard Series (5% of my users) and add the Gospel Project (10%). So, why haven’t I done this?

I am not allowed. It is illegal. Seriously.

I got an education in intellectual copyright law years ago when I received a very firmly worded email from Lifeway’s lawyers regarding the lessons I write. They explained to me that the curriculum series is intellectual property and is protected under the law. No one has the right to write supplemental material without Lifeway’s blessing.

They ended up flying me to Nashville (on their nickel) and we had a very friendly conversation about the whole thing. That was the first time I met David Francis. I think he had just started to work at Lifeway at that time. I got to meet Jimmie Draper. They gave me a nice leather bound Holman Bible. It was great.

As a country boy coming to the city the whole experience was kind of surreal. Did you know that Lifeway has its own zip code?  I remember my dad telling me years ago that they were the U.S. Post Office’s #2 customer–behind the U.S. Government.  Being there was quite a ride.

The bottom line was there were a whole bunch of people writing supplemental material to Lifeway’s resources. They wanted to hammer out an agreement with me first. They wanted to get inside my head and inside the head of the people who use my lessons. This agreement would become the template on which they would base other agreements. I think they saw me as a friendly soul to work on the first agreement with.

At any rate, Lifeway has allowed me all these years to write supplemental material for their curriculum. I do so at their largess.

They have also decided not to do any supplemental agreements on the Gospel Project

How do I feel abut this? Well, I am disappointed because I like the Gospel Project and had worked out a way that I could carve out time to write for it. I don’t know if you have had a chance to look at it but I’d invite you to do so. The quality of the writing is world-class. I was looking forward to adding this series.

However, I have more sympathy for Lifeway around this than most people seem to: Lifeway has to pay their bills. I don’t know how many people I have heard complain over the years about Lifeway being in it for the money. I never get that complaint. I don’t think Lifeway is greedy. I do get that they have to pay their bills. In hard economic times, churches take a hard look at the cost of literature. Churches are far less loyal to Lifeway than they were a generation ago. It was almost a sacrilege to use anything other than Lifeway material in years past. Those days are gone. Lifeway doesn’t receive any cooperative program support. They have to pay their bills. I get that.

What I don’t fully get is how they are hurt by supplemental writers. In fact, I would think they would be helped. 92% of the people who use my material do so supplementally. They use my material in addition to Lifeway’s material. Anything I do to market my material ends up marketing their material. I would think supplemental material would make their intellectual property more valuable not less because users have more choices available.

In fact, if I were Lifeway, I would not only allow people to write supplemental material, I would sell it for them and split the proceeds. I’d have a place on Lifeway site where people could produce and sell PowerPoints, videos, audio commentary, and Good Questions Have Groups Talking. Lifeway doesn’t have to spend a dime producing it. I would gladly split what I make with them. Everyone wins

  • Lifeway wins because they sell stuff they don’t have to produce, in the same way that Amazon sells stuff they don’t produce. Every dollar they make goes straight to the bottom line.
  • The customer wins because he gets more choices. There are always going to people who want everything they can get their hands on to teach a better lesson.
  • The supplemental resource writers (me) win because they get to do what they love doing and let Lifeway do the marketing.
  • The individual Sunday School member wins because their teacher has more resources to draw from. The student gets a better classroom experience.

In short, if I were Lifeway I would see myself as the seller of everything a church needs, not just the producer of a few things a church needs. I would use my size and influence to become the one stop shopping place for everything a church needs to fulfill their mission.

As for me, I am loving writing lessons these days. I keep adding to my Logos and Kindle library with more and more great material tto put into the hands of teachers. If you have not tried Good Questions, I’d be happy to provide you with a free 7 day trial so you can check them out.