Randolph McMann of Whitecaps Media interviewed Kit Sublett recently about The 426 Series. The interview took place shortly after the series was officially launched in January 2017.
How did the 426 Series come about?
It started quite a while ago (which is another way of saying this took much longer than I ever thought it would!). I had long thought of providing Bible study materials through Whitecaps Media but it had been on the back burner. Back in 2014 Ned Erickson called me about a book he had written—
“Get This,” or “The Reason”?
—actually both. He had written a short book, I think it was called “Get This,” and he had led a Bible study using it. He thought it had great potential to be used as a group study and wanted Whitecaps Media to publish it.
As I read through it I could see that he was a gifted writer. He and I spoke and I suggested making it not one short book but two even shorter books and that I would write a few more and we could have a series.
How would a leader use this?
I’ve noticed there are a lot of online companies now that sell gourmet meals that you cook at home—I think one of them is called Blue Apron. They provide everything you need, all the ingredients, even salt and pepper, measured out to the exact amount, and the instructions, but you still have to prepare it and cook it. It’s still a homemade meal, it’s just better and easier than if you did it without their help.
These books are the spiritual equivalent of that. We provide you with everything you need, but you still need to prepare it and add your own touches to it.
I heard you say something the other day about how the ebook version would be helpful for volunteers.
Well, for the last six years or so we almost always publish ebook versions of our titles, so there was always going to be a digital component to this series. But a friend who was a volunteer Young Life leader pointed out to me that volunteers often have to plan their Campaigner lessons on lunch breaks or in other scenarios where they might have forgotten to bring their paper copy of the book with them. But, he pointed out, they’ll always have their phone, Kindle, or iPad with them. So we definitely wanted to make sure that there was an ebook version of these books.
Are the books in any particular order?
No, actually the first four books are totally independent of one another. The first one that went to print was my book “Through the Bible in Six Chapters.”
Ned re-worked his original book, splitting it in two as I had suggested. All of this took a lot of time (mostly on my part, not Ned’s). Then I finally got around to writing my second one, “The Incomparable Christ.”
Why are the studies only four to six weeks?
That’s a bias on my part. I think that the best Bible studies, certainly the best ones for Young Life Campaigner groups, are no more than six weeks long. Kids tend to lose interest in a topic.
You mentioned Young Life. Both you and Ned were on Young Life staff. But these books aren’t just for Young Life are they?
Definitely not. We designed them to be used by any age group. We would love them to be used by adult Sunday school classes, youth groups, independent Bible studies—in other words, everyone.
But I imagine our Young Life backgrounds shine through, and I hope in a good way, meaning that the books are accessible and even a little fun. They’re deep and thoroughly biblical, but they’re not intimidating.
You have study notes for each of the books.
Yes, each book has its own study guide, available as a free download from the downloads page at whitecapsmedia.com.
Why didn’t you just put them in the book?
I’m glad you asked that, as it was very intentional. We did that for three reasons. First, I want leaders to actually prepare their lesson. To really be effective, the leader has to make the study his or her own. They do that by reading the chapter, printing out the notes, and customizing them.
Second, and this was very important to me, I didn’t want leaders to come across as just reading from a book (I should point out that Ned’s two are a little different in that regard). I wanted leaders to be able to lead the study without having the book with them when they led their group. If the notes were in the book, it would just look like they were reading from some book, not that it was their own lesson.
What’s the third reason?
Oh, I almost forgot! In case we need to change the notes in any way, we can do so much more easily than if they were a part of the book.
Is the series limited to these four books, or will there be others?
As time permits we’ll add more books to the series, and almost I hope to add other authors as well.