Another Commentary?  (Part 3)

Gospelthread is a digital media platform for distributing a gospel-centered bible commentary that is concise, curated and crowdsourced.


This is the third post in a series about what makes gospelthread unique, and today we’re explaining perhaps the most exciting—and challenging—part of our model, which is how we plan to bring pastors and teachers together to write the content that we’ll distribute to readers around the globe.

A typical crowd in the world capital of crowds: Yosemite.

Let’s just get this out of the way: “Crowdsourcing” sounds like the last way you’d want to write a bible commentary. The internet is already chock full of heresy. Yet, here at gospelthread, we are indeed crowdsourcing our content. So today, we are explaining what we mean by the term, how it will work, and why we think it’s actually a good idea.

First of all, you should know that crowdsourcing is a powerful and widely employed method of generating and curating content online—and that you have already participated in some form. Every social media platform, from Facebook to Yelp, relies on user-generated content—a form of crowdsourcing in which your posts, pictures and reactions are broadcast to other users while the platform itself publishes very little, if at all.

The product reviews at Amazon are crowdsourced content. The entire virtual encyclopedia at Wikipedia is crowdsourced. The illustrations for a recent mainstream music video were crowdsourced.

Our model of crowdsourcing is similar to these examples—but different in some important ways.

First of all, the crowd. Who’s in the crowd in the first place determines what you’re going to get. We are carefully and strategically connecting with contributors who follow orthodox Christian theology, adhere to The Gospel Coalition’s statement of faith, and are gospel-centered in the way they read and teach the bible. These are men and women who you would be very comfortable learning from in a sanctuary or small group.

But here’s where it gets good. We want our crowd to be as diverse as possible within those parameters. We are pursuing writers of both genders and many ethnicities and backgrounds, and we are praying for writers from every continent. (If there’s someone preaching the gospel on Antarctica, we want to know about it.)

Speaking personally, from the beginning of this project, I have been especially keen to solicit writing from pastors in persecuted churches and deliver that biblical perspective to the church in more comfortable places.

This sets gospelthread apart in a couple of ways, the first of which is that writing bible commentary has historically been the endeavor of one or two highly trained, highly respected men per volume. Even in commentaries compiled from numerous authors, those authors have almost always been sourced from American and English seminaries.

Another differentiator is that gospelthread can make room for several contributors to weigh in on the same passage—if the text has multiple gospel themes running through it. This is especially unusual among printed commentaries; although I can’t definitively say it’s unique, I can say I haven’t encountered it before.

Finally, crowdsourcing from around the world gives us instant access to readers that other commentaries would never reach. When a Filipino pastor sends us a post, for example, we immediately have the beginnings of an audience in the Philippines. What’s more, that remote pastor immediately has a voice spreading across other writers’ platforms around the world, as well. That’s the power of crowdsourcing.

Every commentary post on gospelthread has only one job, and that’s to reveal how its biblical text reveals the gospel of Jesus. As the crowdsourced, three-dimensional shape of this commentary fills out in the years to come, what we’ll have to offer is an incredibly deep, beautiful and vivid picture of the way the gospel of Jesus is woven through every passage in the bible.

In other words, just as the authors of the bible found themselves doing, every gospelthread contributor will be working on the same story, and this story runs deeper than we’ll ever know.