An Overview of Sunday School Publishers
Faith Baptist Theological Seminary
An Overview of Sunday School Publishers
Don Anderson, Th.M.
In this article I overview twelve of the major curriculum publishers, especially Baptist publishers, that Faith Pulpit readers might be aware of, have questions about, or consider choosing for their church ministries. The websites linked to each publishing house are the basis for this overview. Visit these websites to find the scope and sequence of each curriculum.
Answers Bible Curriculum
Answers Bible Curriculum (ABC) is produced by Answers in Genesis (AiG) of Petersburg, Kentucky. AiG introduced this curriculum to churches in the summer of 2012. It is an interdenominational, uniform curriculum on a three-year cycle of lessons. ABC has a special apologetic focus on equipping students to defend the truth of Scripture, especially the book of Genesis. The AiG doctrinal statement is strong on creation issues (including marriage) and holds to a Biblical position on God, the Scripture, Jesus Christ, and salvation. It does not deal with such matters as church polity or eschatology. The publisher leaves those areas up to the church using the materials. AiG also produces VBS materials and other creation-related resources for use in churches, schools, and homes.
Bogard Press is the publishing house of the American Baptist Association of Texarkana, Texas. Ben Bogard, the founder of the American Baptist Association, held a Landmark position of seeing unbroken continuity of Baptist churches from apostolic times. Bogard Press produces departmental, denominational curriculum for all age levels. Its doctrinal statement denies the existence of the universal church and does not include a statement about a pretribulational rapture. It uses only the KJV for its curriculum. The company also produces resources for VBS, children’s church, and other ministries.
Children Desiring God
Children Desiring God (CDG) is a children’s and youth curriculum developed for Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (Baptist General Conference; formerly pastored by John Piper) and now made available to other churches. The company has produced seven 40-week courses for children in addition to VBS materials and four courses for junior high students. Its curriculum sequence utilizes a closely graded departmental plan (a curriculum for each grade). It probably can be considered denominational curriculum since it is written for one local church. CDG uses the doctrinal statement of Bethlehem Baptist Church, which reflects a pastor/elder model of church government and a five-point Calvinist position. This publisher uses the ESV in its materials.
David C. Cook
David C. Cook (formerly Cook Communications) entered the curriculum business in 1875, making it one of the oldest publishers available today. It is a broadly evangelical publisher that carries several lines of Sunday School curriculum. Its Bible in Life curriculum was its original line. Its other lines range from conservative evangelical publishers Scripture Press and Accent to its Wesleyan, Reformed, and Anglican editions. Its curriculum lines are generally departmental and include both denominational and interdenominational materials. The organization does not have a single doctrinal statement since it carries so many different kinds of curriculum.
Generations of Grace
The Generations of Grace (GoG) curriculum was developed for the children’s Sunday School at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California (pastored by John MacArthur) and now available to other churches that want to purchase it. GoG is a uniform, three-year children’s curriculum covering all parts of the Bible. It probably can be considered denominational curriculum since it is written for one local church. Unlike other publishers, it is only accessible online. Its doctrinal statement is that of Grace Community Church, which reflects a pastor/elder model of church government.
Gospel Light was founded in 1933 by noted Christian educator Henrietta Mears. With offices located in Ventura, California, Gospel Light produces a full line of Sunday School curriculum in addition to VBS, books, and Bible studies. It is an evangelical publishing company that prepares departmental lessons for an interdenominational audience. Gospel Light has a general doctrinal statement that does not address issues of church government, church ordinances, or specific eschatological matters. Again this year, as it has for several years, Gospel Light makes its VBS program available for Ligouri Publications, a Roman Catholic publisher, which then adds its Catholic doctrine.
Group began in 1974 as a youth ministry resource when the founder, Thom Schultz, published GROUP magazine. The organization has expanded to Sunday School, children’s church, VBS, and other church ministry resources. It produces interdenominational resources that appeal to a wide range of churches. Group’s educational philosophy is summed up in their statement, “Teach as Jesus taught. Use captivating gizmos to bring kids closer to God.” It has a brief statement of faith that most churches today, even liberal churches, could agree to. Its statement on salvation simply reads, “We believe people receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus.”
Joyful Life began publishing Sunday School curriculum in 2003. It is published by Pensacola Christian College of Pensacola, Florida. Joyful Life produces departmental curriculum that is denominational in that it targets fundamental churches. Its doctrinal statement is fundamental and baptistic though it does not claim to be a Baptist publishing house. It offers its materials only in the King James Version.
LifeWay Christian Resources
LifeWay Christian Resources, formerly known as The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and is one of the entities of the SBC. It produces denominational, uniform Sunday School curriculum as well as VBS, Bible studies, books, magazines, and church supplies. It operates 160 LifeWay Christian stores across the country and includes B&H Publishing Group. The Southern Baptist Convention has a rather extensive doctrinal statement with Scripture references, but it makes only general statements about eschatology without any specific time frame or details.
Randall House Publications, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is the publishing arm of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. It produces uniform, denominational Sunday School curriculum. Its doctrinal statement reflects the Free Will Baptist position that “man has the power of choice” in regard to salvation and that “all believers in Christ, who through grace persevere in holiness to the end of life, have promise of eternal salvation.” Randall House has clear statements on baptism and communion, though it adds foot washing as an ordinance. It includes only a general statement on eschatology with no specific details.
Regular Baptist Press
Regular Baptist Press (RBP) is the publishing arm of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches located in Schaumburg, Illinois. RBP began publishing Sunday School materials in 1952 and has since added VBS, children’s church, youth materials, Bible studies, and other teaching resources. RBP Sunday School curriculum is departmental and denominational in the sense that it is written by fundamental Baptists for fundamental Baptist churches. Its doctrinal statement reflects a dispensational Baptist position. It offers Sunday School curriculum in KJV for all levels and NKJV for children. RBP is the only major publisher in this overview openly identified as Baptist.
Union Gospel Press
Union Gospel Press (UGP), located in Cleveland, Ohio, publishes “nondenominational, fundamental Christian literature.” UGP began as a home missionary ministry called the Gospel Worker Society and started publishing its own curriculum in 1902. Today it publishes a full range of uniform lessons for Sunday School as well as its well-known magazine, Gospel Herald and the Sunday School Times. Its doctrinal statement has a clear pre-tribulational position, but it does not deal with church polity or ordinances. It uses only the King James Version for it curriculum. UGP is probably the most fundamental of the publishers that use the International Sunday School Lesson cycle.