Gary Mitchell has spent 20 years as a pastor in small, rural churches. Like many other church leaders across the country, Mitchell held a full-time job to support his ministry work.
“I’ve been bivocational my whole life,” said Mitchell, who is 68 and “retired.” Now, he trains and equips the nearly 1,000 bivocational pastors in the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
“The vast majority of churches are led by a bivocational pastor,” said Mitchell. Nationwide, the Bivocational Small Church Leadership Network estimates there are about 37,000 smaller church pastors, most bivocational, within the Southern Baptist Convention alone.
“Most bivocational pastors are looking for affordable study tools to assist them in their sermon preparation,” said Mitchell. “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 that Mitchell tells pastors about is MyStudyBible.com, an online Bible study tool launched by Lifeway in 2010.
“I love the format of MyStudyBible.com,” said Mitchell. “All the tools are in one spot.”
MyStudyBible.com contains the award-winning HCSB Study Bible and commentary notes, as well as select content from books like the Holman New Testament Commentary and references from Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary.
Users can purchase additional content including The Apologetics Study Bible, The Holman Illustrated Study Bible, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, Word Pictures in the New Testament, The Holman Bible Atlas, Experiencing God, and more.
“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.”
Simplified biblical research
In July, Lifeway announced the acquisition of the WORDsearch and QuickVerse brands, further strengthening its position as a leader in digital Christian solutions. The addition of these two powerful Bible software resources is another vital step in Lifeway’s overall digital strategy to serve churches and individuals.
WORDsearch Corp. (WORDsearch Bible.com), based in Austin, Texas, has been producing software and electronic books for the Christian market since 1987. The company offers more than 4,200 volumes of electronic books for Christian pastors, teachers and laypeople through its WORDsearch, Bible Explorer, LESSONmaker, WORDsearchToGo and InstaVerse software products.
WORDsearch and QuickVerse (QuickVerse.com) software simplifies biblical research, allowing a user to view multiple reference materials including Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries and encyclopedias side-by-side on the user’s computer screen. Other QuickVerse software products include SermonBuilder that provides quick access to thousands of Bible-related stories, quotes and anecdotes and various biblical language tools, sermons and stories.
“There is unprecedented growth in practically every area of digital media, and we continue to seek opportunities to leverage these technologies in spiritually-transforming ways,” said Lifeway President Thom Rainer. “By bringing the strengths of WORDsearch and QuickVerse into the Lifeway portfolio of Christ-centered resources, we offer customers a more robust collection of exciting Kingdom tools.”
By acquiring the assets of these two companies and through other digital offerings such as the launch of the new Lifeway.com, MyStudyBible.com and more than 25 applications for mobile platforms, Lifeway continues to assert a leading strategy in the digital publishing industry. Lifeway’s growing digital products and services span such areas as webcasts, church software, digital downloads, self-publishing, simulcasts, apps, events, online communities, ebooks and other offerings that positions Lifeway as a leading provider of cutting-edge resources for individuals and churches.
“Expense is the biggest obstacle [for bivocational pastors],” said Mitchell, “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.”
by Jon D. Wilke, Communications Department