NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A nervous Henry Blackaby and his wife, Marilynn, pressed their faces to the front windows of the LifeWay Christian Store at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in Asheville, N.C., to see if anyone was buying his new book.
“They had it displayed on the center table, but we were afraid to go inside and see if anyone was buying it so we peeked in the window,” he recalls.
They shouldn’t have been worried.
On the cusp of its 15th anniversary, that new book — “Experiencing God” — has been translated into more than 60 languages, has sold more than 4 million copies and now is available to anyone with Internet access as the newest online Bible study available at LifeWay.com.
LifeWay’s e-business department launched “Experiencing God Online” in October and is hoping for 5,000 subscriptions throughout the next year.
“Due to the popularity of the original study and the numerous believers who have completed the study more than once, we felt that customers might appreciate a refresher –- especially in a new, interactive format,” said Allyson Hobbie of the e-business department.
The study joins two Beth Moore studies, “Believing God” and “Living Beyond Yourself,” already available at LifeWay.com, so users now have three distinct options for online Bible study.
“God will use any possible way to get His Word out,” Blackaby said. “If you’ve got the message straight, God will use it.”
Experiencing God Online costs $19.95 and includes eight sessions: an introduction and seven lessons that focus on the seven realities presented in Blackaby’s original text. Each lesson features a video element, an online workbook section and bonus materials such as devotions and testimonies from people who have completed each lesson in the past.
Hobbie said the testimonies included in the online study were compiled from customer feedback describing how each lesson had impacted their lives.
Blackaby said he, too, often hears how the book has transformed lives as he travels around the world. He said a woman in Sydney, Australia, told him she used the study with the famously isolated Aboriginal tribes of eastern Australia, and they have invited him to come and teach when he returns to the country.
“I was simply bearing witness,” Blackaby said. “It was my life message, but it’s become a global divine moment.”
Hobbie said a customer poll regarding online Bible study indicated people wanted convenient studies consisting of fewer lessons and requiring less time per lesson. “As a result of that input, each lesson’s core components can be completed in about 30 minutes and all within the same browser window,” she said. All the materials necessary to complete Experiencing God Online are electronic and included on the Web site.
The Experiencing God Online website also features an online community that allows users to interact with each other, post questions and reactions about the study and share prayer requests. Hobbie said the online community offers participants the convenience of an individual study plus the benefits of a group study.
While reacquainting people with the study is important, Blackaby said the online study especially serves as a means of biblically engaging a culture more accustomed to the Internet than books. “People are saying that this generation doesn’t read anymore and I think it’s important to have a medium that reaches them,” he said.
“I pray that every technological breakthrough related to communications would be used to get His message out. God has used it [Experiencing God] to transform lives, and I just wouldn’t be surprised if He used this further.”
For more information or to register for Experiencing God Online, visit www.lifeway.com/eg.