A Guest Blog by Bethany McIlrath
Seven years into our marriage, my husband and I have lived in four different states.
We’ve been a part of five churches in that time, and had plenty of in-between, “church-seeking seasons” too.
With so many seasons of transition, participation in Bible study has looked a little different for me.
Thankfully, God’s Word isn’t bound to a specific location.
We live in a digital age where, “two or more can gather in His name,” even while we are hundreds of miles apart.
The internet and cell phones have helped me survive our many moves by:
- Strengthening my relationships with long-distance loved ones.
- Enabling me to learn from other Christians I’ve never met in person.
- Building my understanding of the body of Christ as global and eternal.
Over the years, my faith has grown as I have studied the Word of God with others, even though we were miles apart.
If you find yourself in a similar season of life, here are several ways to grow your faith and fellowship with other Christians through long-distance Bible study.
How To Strengthen Your Faith Through Long-Distance Bible Study
This is a list of ways I’ve dug into God’s Word and into fellowship during times of transition and busyness.
If you’re in a similar season, I hope one of these methods works for you!
Persisting in God’s Word and in fellowship is a gift, especially when distance or circumstance requires us to establish an “out of the box” approach to Bible study.
1 – Bible Memorization Groups
My first foray into an organized long-distance Bible study came from a challenge and invitation issued by blogger Lydia Borengasser.
She was going to memorize Proverbs 3 over the course of one month and invited others to join in.
I signed up, printed the plan, and daily checked in with the group to review the memory verse of the day.
We talked about each verse briefly, which aided memorization.
This simple challenge to memorize a passage of Scripture together with an online community helped me discover the joy and help of having God’s Word ready in my heart anytime, anywhere.
Action Point: You could easily start memorizing Bible passages by asking a friend or family member to remember a passage with you. If they aren’t up for the challenge, ask them to help you by checking the words when you recite to them what you’re memorizing.
2. Book-Based Study Groups
As a blogger, I’ve been privileged to participate in several book launches.
Many of these launch teams read through the book on a schedule and discuss it throughout the launch.
Many authors go a step further and offer “online book clubs” to their readers.
These are tremendous opportunities to grow with other believers, including authors who have invested their time and passion in learning about their subject through Bible Study!
Action Point: Look for social media postings about upcoming book releases to find these sorts of online book clubs.
3. Text-A-Friend Studies
One of my favorite ways to gather “in His name” with long-distance friends is via text.
My best friend and I text every day about life and faith, but sometimes we also commit to working through a study together.
Recently, we each got a copy of He is Enough by Asheritah Ciuciu.
The format was ideal as each day of the study offered a “snack-sized” study and a “feast” portion depending on your availability.
Every day, my friend and I texted about what we learned, what questions were raised, or what verses stood out to us.
Action Point: If you have a friend you share your faith with, ask them if they’d like to read or work through a book or Bible study with you this way. I learned so much about my friend and about Jesus as we shared this activity together.
4. Bible Reading Accountability Groups
A friend of mine often hosts Bible reading groups on Facebook.
She chooses a book of the Bible, a start date and reading plan, and then invites others to read along with her.
Then, she daily posts the verses with some brief questions or thoughts.
This simple format has made my reading of the Bible so much richer!
Action Point: It’s not difficult to set up an online Facebook group, and it can be as private or public as you want. Technology makes it really easy to start a digital group of your own or find an existing group that suits your Bible study needs.
5. App-Based Bible Study Groups
A loved one of mine participates in a weekly Bible study that breaks for the summer.
During their “off-time” many of her group members stay connected by signing up for a YouVersion Bible plan together.
They group text as they complete the plan so they can stay in touch no matter where their summer takes them.
Since it’s all on the phone, they don’t have to worry about distance, travel, etc.
Action Point: To find a YouVersion study, tap “plans” on the lower toolbar of the app, and then “find plans” or “search.” I’d recommend starting with a plan based on an author you like, a book of the Bible, or a topic that matters to you. You can easily connect with friends through the “Community” option in the top toolbar.
6. Local Bible Study Groups
Often seasons of transition make it challenging to participate in your church’s Bible studies (and sometimes the Bible Study schedule just never fits with your own.)
Instead of giving up on group study altogether, I’ve attended study through nearby churches or community groups.
Many churches welcome participants from other congregations.
Community groups are often found in neighborhoods or outreach centers. You can also check with this ministry for locations near you.
Action Point: Check with this ministry for community Bible study locations near you.
7. Online Bible Studies
Another favorite “long-distance” Bible study method of mine is online Bible studies.
Some sites offer long-distance bible studies that pair with books you can buy. Others are entirely digital.
Living by Design Ministries’ free online Bible studies are particularly dear to me.
Through these studies, you can grow in Christ independently, with online groups completing each study together, via text, or in-person.
The versatile format is very helpful!
Action Point: Sign up for their Free Bible Study Challenge to begin experiencing the benefits of studying the Bible online with friends and family today!
Bonus Tip: Personal Bible Study While Busy or Traveling
No one likes to miss out on daily Bible study time when life gets busy or travel schedules prevent us from committing to a consistent routine.
Instead of feeling guilty about what you can’t do during seasons of busyness, focus on what you can do!
Use the time to re-read a part of the Bible you’re familiar with.
Even if it’s as short as 3 John! Print it or download it on your phone in a different translation than you are used to.
Or, pick a passage of Scripture you memorized a while ago and refresh your memory.
Also, make a point of sharing what you’re studying with people around you. It is surprising how much Biblical fellowship or evangelistic opportunity can be found on the road or in seasons of busyness.
Concluding Thoughts: A Time for Everything
As Solomon points out in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a season for everything.
God knows our busy times, our burdens, and our seasons of transition.
He is with us through it all—and invites us to recognize His constant presence through prayer, fellowship, and time in His Word.
Praise God we can draw near to Him anytime, anywhere!
Let’s not waste the many opportunities He gives us through modern technology, to do just that.
– Bethany McIlrath
Our Free Bible Study Challenge was crafted to help you take the next step in your Bible study journey, no matter where you are starting from!
- If you don’t currently have a Bible study routine, we will help you establish one.
- If you don’t currently have a Bible study community, we will equip you to build one.
- If you aren’t currently experiencing unity with other Christians, we will inspire you to pursue it.
And once we’ve helped you build momentum in one (or all) of these areas, we continue to connect you with free resources and tools that will help you endure long after this challenge is complete.
Register for our Free Bible Study Challenge Today!
You will receive a welcome letter right away and the first lesson (+printable worksheets) will land in your inbox within 24-hours.
We will be giving all participants an opportunity to share their testimonies with us at the end of the challenge. Our team is looking forward to hearing your stories and will be praying for you (and your Bible study communities) every day of the challenge.
A learner at heart, Bethany loves to share about her Savior and ways to lovingly serve others whom God has so loved. She wants those immersed in Christian environments to know the sweetness and joy of abiding in Christ for themselves.
You can find her reflections on First and Second Blog and connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. Bethany is also grateful to ghostwrite and guest-write for other bloggers and ministries. She and her husband Matt have been married for 5+ years and enjoy their small dog’s antics and opportunities to serve together.