Posts Tagged ‘online Bible study’

By Steve Booth. Photos by David Powers.

WebClassOn October 9, 2011, the Communication and Formation ministries of Richmond’s First Baptist Church partnered in beginning an online Bible study class. Facilitated by Dr. Michael Harton, the class is webcast from the First Baptist Church campus via the world-wide web. The class takes place at 9:45 a.m. each Sunday – at the same time hundreds of other adults, teenagers, children, and preschoolers are studying God’s written word.


Initial WebClass facilitator, Dr. Michael Harton.

When a minister in another church heard about WebClass, he voiced the obvious question, “What do you hope to accomplish with this new ministry?”

“To provide those unable to come to the church building an opportunity to engage the Scriptures and grow as disciples,” was the response.

But after further reflection, it also includes providing a safe place for people to receive and ask honest questions emerging from dialogue around a biblical text.

Recently I was interviewed by a young doctoral student who was assessing the value of online theological education. I must admit being cynical regarding its effectiveness when I was first asked to serve as an online instructor. The personal engagement needed between facilitator and students was hard to envision.

What I discovered, however, was unexpected: The online experience created the safe emotional environment necessary for open and honest questions and dialogue. With the guidance of a thoughtful and sensitive facilitator, the student is encouraged to question and reflect theologically on how one moves from awareness of God to belief in Christ to a living faith evidenced in behavior and choices.

WebClassRobert Mulholland says that Christian “spiritual formation is the process of being conformed by God into the image of Christ for the sake of others.” That is the ultimate goal of all Bible study classes, whether online or in a more traditional setting. And just as in more traditional settings, men and women choose to participate in WebClass, taking an intentional step in cooperating with God in their spiritual formation.

Editor’s note: Over the initial three months of the class, each Sunday an average of 20 online participants joined eight who take part on the set. Online participants can contribute to the discussion and ask questions at www.FBCRichmond.org/webcast.

There are many online resources for personal Bible study. Here’s a partial list.









http://netministries.org/bbasics/bbasics.html (includes Bible Pronunciation Guide)





http://www.bible.is/ENGESV (online audio Bible)

Steve Booth (Booth@FBCRichmond.org) serves as Associate Pastor for Christian Formation at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. Before joining the pastoral staff of First Baptist in 2002, he served the Bon Air Baptist Church, Huguenot Road Baptist Church and the Richmond Baptist Association. He also serves as an adjunctive faculty member for Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is a native Mississippian with family roots in North Carolina. He received the B.S. degree from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC, the Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Andover Newton Theological School in Boston, MA. He and his wife, Barbara, are the parents of three children.

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