For anyone out there who aspires to write adult Bible study curriculum, here are some things you really, really ought to keep in mind:
1. Don’t give me super-Christians. Tell me about how the people in the Bible struggled with real problems, like the problems people face today. Life isn’t a sitcom and tough issues can’t be resolved in thirty minutes. Don’t submit lessons that imply that they can be.
2. Two words: Word count! By its nature, curriculum writing has to be very disciplined. There are a certain number of pages available and you have to fill all of them—no more, no less. Please at least pretend to have read the writer specs I send you.
3. Don’t try to impress me with your large vocabulary. I don’t impress that easily. And at any rate, I’m not your audience, Sam and Sally Christian are. Their eyes glaze over if you hit them with one too many eschatologicals, ramifications, or juxtapositions. Just write plain English.
4. Give me a full bibliographic citation of anything you quote. You know, page numbers? I’m sure you’ve heard of them. And while we’re on the subject, don’t try to tell me that the editor of your favorite Bible dictionary actually wrote the entry on “Mephibosheth” you’re citing. I know better.
5. Just tell the story. Don’t get bogged down in “matters of introduction.” I’m sure the comments on the authorship of Ephesians you dug out of your old seminary class notes are dead on, but be honest: you haven’t used them since you graduated, have you? You have precious little space to work with (see #2 above); save it for telling me something substantive about the assigned text.
6. Trim, trim, trim. Phrases like “Paul wanted his readers to understand that…” can almost always be deleted in their entirety. If you do it, I won’t have to.
7. Teach me something. May I be frank with you? I’ve read all these passages before. I read them in developing the scope and sequence and I gave them another cursory glance while preparing your writer specs. I know what the basic thrust of the texts are, but I want you to have looked at them more carefully than I have. Show me something I missed. You’ll get my attention—and probably another assignment down the road.
This message is a public service announcement. It has not been precipitated by any writer whose work I am currently editing. Honest!