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Online tool aids small church, bivo pastors
Jon D. Wilke, Baptist Press
June 30, 2011

Online tool aids small church, bivo pastors

Online tool aids small church, bivo pastors
Jon D. Wilke, Baptist Press
June 30, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn.

— Gary Mitchell spent 20 years as a pastor in

small, rural congregations. Like many church leaders across the country,

Mitchell held a full-time job to support his ministry.

“I’ve been bivocational my whole life,” said Mitchell, who is 68 and “retired.”

He now trains, equips and networks with the nearly 1,000 bivocational pastors

in the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

“The vast majority of churches are led by a bivocational pastor,” Mitchell

noted. Nationwide, the Bivocational Small Church Leadership Network estimates there

are about 37,000 smaller church pastors, most of whom are bivocational, within

the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Most bivocational pastors are looking for affordable study tools to assist

them in their sermon preparation,” Mitchell said. “They are starved for

information and resources. I constantly search for study materials that are

easy to use and not overwhelming. Bivocational pastors have limited time and

resources.”

One of the main tools Mitchell tells pastors about is MyStudyBible.com, a

robust online Bible study tool launched in 2010 by LifeWay Christian Resources

of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I love the format of MyStudyBible.com,” Mitchell said. “All

the tools are in one spot.”

In June, LifeWay updated MyStudyBible.com with some key features to help meet

the growing needs of bivocational pastors, seminary students and other Bible

lovers.

In addition to the HCSB Study Bible as well as select content from books like

the Holman New Testament Commentary and references from Strong’s Bible concordance,

MyStudyBible now includes access to new free content including the English

Standard Version (ESV), American Standard

Version (ASV) and the Reina-Valera 1960

(RVR60) Spanish translation of the Bible.

LifeWay also introduced an online store where users can purchase access to

additional content such as “The Apologetics Study Bible,” “The Holman

Illustrated Study Bible,” “The Teacher’s Bible Commentary,” “Word Pictures in

the New Testament,” “The Holman Bible Atlas” and “Experiencing God.”

Users also can purchase access to content on an as-needed basis with three time

frames — 24 hours, 30 days, or unlimited. Some 24-hour access costs 99 cents.

“MyStudyBible.com makes the Bible and some of the best

biblical reference materials in the world accessible,” said Paul Mikos, LifeWay’s

executive editor of digital publishing. “Now people don’t have to spend $400

for commentary sets or Bible software. They can dive as deep as they need when

they need for as long as they need.”

“Expense is the biggest obstacle (for bivocational pastors),” Mitchell said. “Most

bivocational pastors can’t afford expensive commentaries or the fees for the

websites with all the bells and whistles. But they will invest in these types

of tools. These price ranges put invaluable tools within their reach.”

Aaron Linne, executive producer of digital marketing for LifeWay’s B&H

publishing division, describes MyStudyBible.com as “continuing LifeWay’s path

to utilizing the biblical text in new ways, presenting products and ideas where

the Bible itself becomes the basis for our digital publishing efforts.”

“The Bible is central to the Christian experience,” Linne said. “MyStudyBible.com

is all built around the Bible. We are trying to deliver the best digital Bible

reading and studying experience to the people we serve.”

Mikos said, “It is our prayer that this site is a blessing to those around the

world seeking to know the Lord and His Word more intimately.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Wilke is media relations manager for LifeWay Christian

Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)