18 April, 2021

The Lookout’s New Scope and Sequence: A Systematic Plan for Studying Through the Bible


by | 13 August, 2018 | 3 comments

By Shawn McMullen

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Paul wrote these words to his protégé Timothy after warning him to be on guard against false teachers who had “departed from the truth” and who “destroy the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:18), who were infiltrating people’s homes and taking advantage of the gullible (see 3:6).

In light of this problem, Paul counseled Timothy to continue in what he learned as a child, faithfully holding up the inspired Word of God as the source of divine truth.

As you can see, even the early church faced danger from false teachers and false doctrine. That danger is no less real today. As long as truth is being taught, people will appear on the scene to oppose it and distort it for their own gain.

So how can local churches today protect their members from misguided teaching and encourage them to remain faithful to God’s truth revealed in Scripture? And beyond that, how can those same members be encouraged to pursue the mission of Christ as they emulate the character of Christ in their daily lives?

The answer lies in teaching and equipping individual members of the body of Christ to be faithful students of God’s Word. The teaching that comes from the church’s leaders is also vital to this purpose, but the real strength of any congregation is the capacity of its individual members to study, apply, and share biblical truth.

One way the local church can achieve this goal is to provide its members with a plan and a system of support—an orderly approach to studying the Word of God in its entirety.

This is what The Lookout has been redesigned to achieve. We want The Lookout to become a tool any congregation can use to help its members grow in their knowledge of God’s Word and apply its principles to life.

For these reasons and others, we have created our own scope and sequence for Bible study. The term scope and sequence is used in curriculum development to describe the depth and breadth of the content being taught and the order in which the content is presented.

In regard to The Lookout, scope and sequence refers to the Scripture passages we provide each week for Bible study, the order in which the passages are presented, and the process that allows students to study through the entire Bible over a period of years.

For many years The Lookout has built its weekly Bible study material on a scope and sequence created by the Committee on the Uniform Series, operating under the governance and stewardship of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. The committee has been selecting, organizing, and developing its Uniform International Sunday School Lessons since 1872.

While this material has served The Lookout and its readers well for generations, we believe the time has come for a change. Now that The Lookout and Christian Standard have come under the umbrella of Christian Standard Media, a not-for-profit ministry among independent Christian churches and churches of Christ, we have elected to create our own scope and sequence as we direct our readers into a careful and thorough study of the Bible.

Beginning Sunday, August 19, The Lookout’s weekly Bible study will be based on our own unique scope and sequence, reflecting our commitment to the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God as we guide students through a six-year plan that will allow them to study the whole of Scripture systematically.

This will be a smooth transition for those who have been following The Lookout’s weekly Bible study plan. Mark Scott will continue to provide his excellent and in-depth commentary on Scripture for class, small group, and individual study. David Faust will continue to provide his insightful application of the weekly Scripture text. Jim Eichenberger will continue to help students grow in their understanding of Scripture by providing questions for study and discussion.

In addition, we’ll continue to publish our daily devotions based on The Lookout’s Annual Bible Reading Plan and provide articles to challenge and encourage Bible students as they pursue Christ’s mission and emulate Christ’s character.

Jon Underwood leads The Lookout’s new scope and sequence team and comes to the task highly qualified. He served for 33 years as an editor at Standard Publishing. During his last 20 years with the company, Jon served as senior editor of adult curriculum, producing the Standard Lesson Commentary as well as an entire line of quarterly materials. He led the development of the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary and the subsequent line of NIV quarterly curriculum as well as the digital editions of the Standard Lesson Commentary. Jon also served 11 years with the Committee on the Uniform Series and chaired the Scope and Sequence Committee for two years.

Jon had this to say about The Lookout’s new scope and sequence:

I’m excited about this new scope and sequence for several reasons. First, it is wholly owned by The Lookout. It’s not a plan that has to be licensed from another group. This will provide maximum flexibility in the way The Lookout plans to use it.

The second reason I like this plan is that it lets the Bible speak for itself. This plan is Bible driven rather than theme driven. Instead of starting with a theme and then finding Scriptures to support the theme, this plan is being designed with the intention of providing students with large sections of the Scripture and allowing the “themes” that will be explored to come from that. Using large sections of Scripture helps keep each text in its literary context. Ancillary Scriptures are provided to give an even larger scriptural context.

There are other reasons to like this plan. They are not necessarily unique to it, but they are valuable. One of these is the consistent focus on the Gospels—the life of Christ. Every calendar year will find the student spending several weeks exploring Gospel texts. Another is the chronological arrangement of the historical sections of the Old Testament.

With the excellent textual exposition, life application, and study questions provided each week in The Lookout, this outline for studying the Bible will provide Sunday school classes, adult Bible fellowships, and small groups a great resource for discipling their members.

Our hope is that more and more churches will put copies of The Lookout, along with its new scope and sequence, into the hands of all their adult members to encourage them in their personal growth, group study, and disciple making.

We’re delighted to offer this new study plan to our readers and we pray that God will use it to help all of us correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) so that we might “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).


Shawn McMullen is editor of The Lookout and contributing editor of Christian Standard.


  1. Avatar

    Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

    I have enjoyed the readings from Dr. Mark Scott on the Sunday School Lessons for past 3 years and for a number of years before him, the lesson views came from Dr. Sam Stone.

    I am a bit disappointed that the lessons now have changed from last week to this week we are not on the same lessons cirriculum. Is there a reason why curriculum changed suddenly?

    The lesson overviews were very helpful to me to obtain a more confident understanding of the scripture lessons and allowed me to deliver from a running stream to inspire the adult students in my class to understanding.

    I wish I had known you was going to change curriculum study.

    Thank you,

    Randall Wordlaw

  2. Avatar

    Greetings Saints!

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments of brother Randall. (Every point made is a confirmation of the Holy Spirit!)

    Dr. Scott’s biblical knowledge, wisdom, combined with his gracious tone and manner, were a Godsend to me and my Adult Bible Study.

    I beseech you (Christian Standard Leaders) return to the previous format.

    In His Service,

    James L. Wade

  3. Avatar

    I really do not mind the change, but why at the end of a series? Only two lessons to go. AND with a new yearly book being sent out that does not go along with your new format. AT least you could have kept Mark Scott on to write the last two lessons with the old lesson series. Cost to a church large or small is a big thing.

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