A New Kind of Bible StudyBy: Melissa Taylor
It’s changed my life time and time again. I’ve grown closer to God and made lifelong friends. I’ve learned to be content and free. I have hope when my relationships and circumstances are failing. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the benefits of being in a Bible study group. Not just any Bible study group, but a real-life, real-problems, no-mask-wearing-allowed group. One where you can be yourself and know you are loved and cared for NO MATTER WHAT.
Bible study has been a priority in my life for years. The women I’ve studied with have become like sisters. They’ve encouraged me, held me accountable, and spoken real truth to me when I needed it most. Through our studies we’ve grown in many ways, but especially in our individual relationships with Jesus. That’s why I was devastated when I found out I had to leave my Bible study group a few years ago.
Financially, our family was hurting and God provided
an answer to our prayers with a full-time position for me at Proverbs 31 Ministries. While this was exciting, it also meant I had to drop out of my Wednesday morning group.
The thought of leaving this group scared me. Not only would I miss my friends, but I feared losing the love, prayer and accountability. I knew I would continue to read my Bible, but I would miss the joy it gave me to talk about God’s Word with my group as we applied it to our lives.
I soon realized I wasn’t alone in this longing for a close-knit community. As the prayer coordinator at Proverbs 31 Ministries and an active blogger, I began to see common threads in women’s requests and comments:
• They want community.
• Many are intimidated to join a face-to-face small group.
• Many are apprehensive to read their Bible and get to know God.
• Most fear being themselves.
• Fear, hopelessness, the past and doubt rule many of God’s children.
• Not everyone has the opportunity to be part of a group.
My heart broke with every request and comment I received. I wished each woman could find a group like I used to have. Truthfully, I still wanted a group like I used to have. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted what God had planned … not just for me, but for many others.
It started a few months before “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst was about to be released. I really wanted to read and study this book with a group. The only thing missing was a group. Between a full-time job in the office and a full- time job at home raising four kids, there wasn’t time to find a group to fit my schedule. Then the craziest, most exciting thought entered my head: “What about an online Bible study on my blog?”
I decided to give it a try, praying for God’s help every step of the way. I invited women from all over the world through Facebook, Twitter and my blog to join me as we began our first Bible study based on the principles in “Made to Crave.” I hoped for 20 women. But God had other plans as 2,500 signed up.
Since January, 2011, I have had the amazing privilege of leading over 30,000 people in online study! I can’t even write that without gasping! Never would I have prayed for what God provided. It didn’t seem possible.
Why do so many people sign up for an online Bible study? It’s because here they have found a place to belong. We wear no masks and don’t play games. We hold each other accountable and encourage each other when one of our sisters is hurting. We participate in large group discussion on my blog and Facebook and have started smaller prayer groups for women who desire something more intimate.
These groups have given me the accountability I desired. If I’m going to lead,
I have to be in the Word daily and participate in the weekly assignments. Plus, I’m blessed by the life change I have witnessed first hand.
I realize there is no substitute for face-to-face friendships and community. But if for some reason you aren’t part of a group, why not consider a different option: online Bible study. It made a huge impact in my life and thousands of others. It might just impact you too!
I hope you’ll stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries and learn about the online study groups currently being led by me and other P31 friends. You can learn more on our website at www.Proverbs31.org
About the Author
In addition to being an online Bible study leader, Melissa Taylor is the Gather & Grow Coordinator, Prayer Coordinator and Administrative Assistant for Proverbs 31 Ministries. You can find out about her ministry and online studies at www.melissataylor.org. Melissa lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and four children.