Julie Courtney has lost track of how many times she’s taught The Person of Jesus. Now she’s investing her extensive knowledge of and love for this material in a different direction: developmental editing. Julie is updating this study for release as five individual studies. The first unit, Compassion, is already in print, and the second unit, Honesty, releases mid-July. We sat down to talk with Julie and get a preview of her work on the Honesty study.
What is the goal of this update of The Person of Jesus?
The original study is 48 lessons, which felt overwhelming to many people. It was already divided into five units, so we’re just issuing each unit separately. As we update the units, we’re aiming for 8-12 lessons in each unit, with 45-50 minutes of content for each lesson. Our hope is that the units fit into more manageable chunks of time for small groups.
The original study didn’t have a participant manual, but we’ve found that those are helpful for people who like to take notes, so we’re creating one of those for each unit as well. In addition to room for notes, the participant manuals have all the charts from the lessons and key points from the teaching.
What's your process in rewriting?
I read through everything and made sure the questions and answers make sense and help move things forward. I don’t do a lot of changing, but I try to make sure things are clear and as broadly applicable as possible.
For example, there was a reference to 9/11 and the need to hear from then President George W. Bush and NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani. Someone might be leading this study who wasn’t alive then and/or with participants from a variety of countries, so I work to find examples that are more accessible.
We’ve changed some of the stories from Paul to more generic stories. Paul’s stories are wonderful if you know him personally, but we’ve found that they can be distracting or confusing when there’s no personal connection.
What has stood out to you as you’ve worked on the study?
The Spirit has really ministered to me through the process. What does it mean to give the gift of honesty, not just to get something off my chest? As I have watched Jesus in these lessons, there’s been a lot of transformation—not just in the manual, but in my own heart. I’ve taught this material for over 30 years but it never ceases to change me. It never becomes old because it takes you back to Scripture. To go through it this intensely and see it come to life again is amazing!