1 & 2 Thessalonians
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians)
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
David, Life of
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Names of God
Sermon on the Mount
Year of St. Paul
Fine-tuning our Bible Study Method
We've had a wonderful response to our invitation to study Joshua on the Internet. As of Thursday at 11 pm Pacific Time, we have a total of 512 students: 327 in a discussion list and 205 on the study-digest list. Take a look at the subject of this e-mail message. You'll probably see that you've been moved into your study group for the new study of Joshua on Monday, September 14. We're almost ready! (More on study groups below.)
A number of surveys have been taken of past study participants that have resulted in several modifications to our method. We're trying to allow a large number of people to participate without the process of the study itself getting in the way.
An online study shares many similarities with "real world" classroom teaching, along with some obvious differences.
Classrooms and Questions
As in a classroom, questions are posed by the teacher for study, reflection, and response by the "students" (I'll talk later about the word "student"). Usually one person provides an answer, representing the class. There may or may not be discussion, depending on whether other classmates might have different perspectives, or perhaps due to the complexity of the question itself. Homework which is "passed in" is usually seen only by the teacher and not usually distributed to the entire class.
Now, can you see the situation in an on-line study, where 60 of you answer a question in the same way? Lots of mail, all saying the same thing. Pretty soon, some people will get bored, frustrated, or find their in-box overwhelmed ... and leave the study. Unlike a classroom, it is not necessary to "hand in" your homework, and it is certainly not "cheating" to respond to just one question, or even a part of a question. You are not students in the traditional sense of the word ... you are here for the love of God and a desire to learn more about his Word to us through scripture.
Also similar to a classroom situation, the study takes place on a set schedule. This is necessary to keep the study moving. However, we know that many of you have work or family responsibilities, vacations, and other demands on your time that will cause you to miss some of the material. Modern-day life makes this inevitable.
Please don't get discouraged and give up if you fall behind. Unlike mathematics and language courses, scripture text has valuable lessons wherever you pick it up, so jump right back in whenever you are able.
Those of you who have been in previous studies will notice that we've extended the time period for most lessons from one week to two weeks. This will allow more time for those who do not have daily access to their computers, and will accommodate the large span of time zones -- from Europe to Africa, from Asia to Australia and New Zealand, from America -- of people in our study. It will also relieve some of the urge to "hurry and respond" before the next day's questions are sent. I'm hoping this extra time will allow you to answer the questions on your own, read those who have already responded, and initiate discussion if you have another viewpoint or question. I also ask, as a courtesy to your fellow classmates, not to rush to be the first one to respond. This will allow others to get a chance to see their original answers "in print."
We'll also be using a bulletin board system and a chat room to discuss certain "hot" issues as the study progresses. I'll let you know how and when to use these.
At the beginning of our study, we've divided the e-mail discussion participants into groups of about 100 participants each. This is to provide enough people for a lively discussion without causing e-mail overload. After a few weeks, we'll probably consolidate into a fewer groups as some move to the study digest.
We've found that eventually about 55% to 60% of participants elect to receive the study through a digest, an accumulation of e-mail messages sent every day or two (rather than every message sent separately). The digest is suited for people who mainly read the questions and comments, but who don't participate much in the discussion.
If you decide to switch from a study group to the digest, please don't ask me to do it for you. You can make all the necessary changes on our online form. If you want to make sure you're in the same group as your friends, use the same Subscription Center page to remove yourself from one group and place yourself in another. You can make changes at any time.
May God richly bless us all as we study together!
Yours in Christ,
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Joyful Heart Ministries
Copyright © 1985-2013, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastorjoyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.
In-depth Bible study books
You can purchase one of Dr. Wilson's complete Bible studies in PDF, Kindle, or paperback format.
Other Bible Study Books
- 1, 2, and 3 John
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter & Jude
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- 2 Corinthians
- Abraham, Faith of
- Christ Powered Life (Romans 5-8)
- Christmas Incarnation
- Colossians and Philemon
- Great Prayers of the Bible
- Jacob, Life of
- Jesus and the Kingdom of God
- JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey
- Lamb of God
- Lord's Supper
- Luke's Gospel
- Moses the Reluctant Leader
- Names and Titles of God
- Resurrection and Easter Faith
- Sermon on the Mount
- Seven Last Words of Christ