You’re reading this because you’d like to know more about online Bible study and how it works. At the Bible Cafe, we started blogging online Bible studies to connect with other women who share a common interest. We’ve met some wonderful women and shared stories of faith and personal growth during our study together. We’ll be celebrating our one year anniversary in June, after completing a total of seven online studies together. Since we’re still new, we’ve had some successes and failures in online Bible study and we learn as we go. We’re setting a model for other online studies, as many women have come to us asking how to start their own online small group.
One of the biggest advantages we’ve had in online Bible study has been the ability to connect with women all over the world. We’ve enjoyed chatting with women who are in different cultures, different climates and even different time zones. It’s been exciting to come together with a common interest: God, faith and the Bible. We’ve had as many as 65 people in study together, and as little as four women in study together, and through it all, we’ve enjoyed the common link of connecting through the Bible Cafe blog.
Another advantage we’d enjoyed is the convenience allowed by online Bible study. Since we are located around the world, the online study allows us to come to the Bible Cafe, read updates from the small group leaders, and post comments- anytime we like! This flexibility has worked well for women unable to attend regular church groups, that usually meet one night a week or in the morning. Some women are just too overloaded with family and work commitments- and miss the treasures associated with a womens Bible study. Our hope is that by participating in online study, these women will be encouraged to study in church small groups, where the discussions are face-to-face and lasting friendships are created.
You’ll also enjoy the audio/video sessions available for your online study. Many authors offer these on MP3 format, so you can download the lesson to your computer, iTunes or i Phone. You’ll love listening to the message over and over during the week, as you carpool your kids or commute to work. The passion of the author’s voice flows through the audio/video sessions and really contributes to the study. In online study, you’re responsible to purchase your own audio/video session for your private use, and the current cost is $3.99 to $4.99 per session. In a 6-week study, this will cost you about $24.00 plus the cost of your workbook, so online study is more expensive than church study, if you decide to buy the audio sessions. Beth Moore offers many of her studies on CD format, so you can purchase the entire series and listen to your Bible study at home or in your car. The CD series make great gifts…I’m always placing these on my birthday or Christmas wish list!
A disadvantage for any Bible study has been the lack commitment from those women participating. Many will purchase the workbooks, read the first two weeks, and then drop out of the study for lack of interest. While we’ve also seen this happen in church small groups, there is less accountability in online study so your commitment to participate needs to be higher. During one study we implemented a “Shepherd” for the group, with the purpose of “herding the sheep” and finding those who were not posting comments in the study. It’s a great concept and has worked at our church small group, so we’ll locate another Shepherd for the Bible Cafe and resume this valuable resource. Women need to be accountable to their own goals and online study needs to support them to reach their Bible study goal.
Sometimes blogs can provide too much information, just another email or RSS feed coming into your “to do” box. So we’ve decided to eliminate the daily blog posts and provide a weekly summary post for the current study. This ensures the posts are timely and content rich, and allows the flexibility to incorporate “live study” via media resources. Watch for updates during our new Summer Bible Study.
Overall, online Bible Study has been a tremendous resource and motivates others to read their Bible. It serves the purpose for which it was designed-leading women to a closer relationship with God.
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We encourage you to find a Bible study that works best for you, and once you make the commitment, continue the study until the end. Always remember that Satan’s goal is to derail your study and draw you away from intimacy with God, so be alert to the prowling lion. Be prepared to stand firm in faith and maintain your focus on God.