July 30, 2008

Long distance Bible study/accountability

I have really struggled for years to get into a routine of a quiet time each morning. There also just isn't time in my week, on top of homeschooling, cooking and cleaning, not to mention pregnancies and nursing baby's, to take part in a women's bible study group outside the home. That said, I have missed those things immensely.

Earlier this year two of my three sisters and I were all commiserating on these very points together and decided that we would do something about it. We decided that even though we live in three different states and two different time zones, that we would do a bible study together!

How would we be able to do a bible study, long distance, but together? I'm so glad you asked! We each do our study/prayer time as fits our schedules and then after we have completed it (or as soon as reasonably possible) we send an email to the other two sisters to share answers to study questions, insights and our prayer requests and praises. It has been SO great!

Currently we are studying John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life". There is a separate study guide you can buy (or download from here) to go along with the book. This has been the most challanging study we have done so far. Very deep, but not tons of work and reading to do each day.

Also, our third and youngest sister was able to join in when we started this study about a month ago. So, all four of us sisters are participating together in this! It is so cool! We are all in slightly different seasons of life (I'm the oldest child, by quite a lot, ahem, with 10 years separating me and my next sister, then 12 years between me and the next and 14 years between me and my youngest sister), living in different areas, involved in a wide variety of things, some of us homeschool, some public school, one has just had her first baby, etc. What is so cool is that with all these things that you might think would make it difficult to relate to each other at times, doing this bible study together each day, I feel, has really been drawing us closer and closer together. Our differences start to blur when we hear each day how we are struggling in the same ways and praying for each other and our families each day.

I have been asked by other women I know if they could join our "sister" bible study group. I have had to say "no". This is a closed group now. There are issues of trust and opening our hearts to each other that would be ruined by adding a stranger to our group. That said, there is nothing stopping anyone else from starting their own online/email bible study group.

You could form a group from people near and far, a group of ladies from you church, homeschool group, blogging friends, whatever! Just because it is email doesn't mean everyone has to live far away from each other. The point of doing it through email is for the sake of time, convenience and daily accountability.

We have gone through two other studies already this year. They have been awesome! We have stuck to books that offer either study questions within the book (sometimes at the back of the book offered as an option) or a separate study guide.

I don't think any of the three of us who did these studies can recommend these books highly enough! They were so great and God used them in such awesome ways in our lives, hearts, marriages, and mommy-ing! We started with "Lies Women Believe" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Then, we did "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver. And, I already told you the study we are doing currently.

My encouragement to everyone is this: If you are not in a bible study group, but wish there was a way to fit one into your life, or if you have been struggling, like I was, to be consistent with a quiet time with the Lord and need accountability/encouragement there, find 2-3 other ladies (I think 4 is the max for an intimate group like this) who feel the same way you do (I bet they are easier to find than you would think!) and invite them to join you! Pick what you are going to study, set up your email addresses and choose your start date!

This would be a great way to start the new school year, coming up in about a month. You have time now to find your group, get your study materials and set your start date! You can never go wrong starting each day with the Lord and making Him a priority! Finding a way that makes it easier (I won't say easy) and with accountability and encouragement gives it a boost that will help it be lasting.


julie said...

What a wonderful bonding experience for you and your sisters. Enjoy!

Runningamuck said...

Great post! =0) I totally agree.

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