How to Catch AIRE: The ‘Best’ Online Bible Study?

Uncategorized Mar 21, 2024

Michael Jordan was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. When he launched for the basket, it was as though gravity did not affect him the way it does the rest of us. We used to call it “catching air.” I’m borrowing the term. 

And spoiler alert. When I say the “best” online Bible study, I’m not talking about one particular Bible study. I’m actually referring to the model of Bible study and devotional practice that most appeals to you based on your personality.

So, what is your personality type? Are you introverted or extroverted? Is your ‘quiet time’ with God actually quiet? Or do you wind up being a bit more vocal? How about this question: do you enjoy listening to worship music while you pray and study Scripture? Do you love details? Or are you more of a big picture sort of person? What form of media do you enjoy the most: videos, shorts, podcasts, music, blogs, or a good old-fashioned book? 

I encourage you to consider these things for a moment as I share some recommendations for the “best” online Bible study—or, as I’m going to call it, How to Catch AIRE. 

Last week I encouraged you to take a personality test and a spiritual gifts sorter to discover the unique way you were created and how your personality/gift mix will influence the approach you might take to your devotional time. And I included some definitions of various approaches to spiritual growth that were heavy on the details. This week, I want to paint with broader brush strokes and talk about four general models of Bible study and personal devotional time. One of them will likely appeal to you more than others, depending on your unique makeup. I’d like to give you some examples of ministries and resources where each model type can be found. And by the way, please don’t interpret my examples as endorsements of particular ministries. I merely want to show you some examples of what the different approaches look like.

The four categories are broad, which means that you might find yourself drawn to a mixture of two of them. But the point of this blog is not to pigeonhole your style as much as it is to help you explore an approach that is most effective for you.

I’ve chosen to call these four categories Action, Insight, Renewal, and Encounter (hence the acronym AIRE). I’m confident that one or a combination of these approaches will help you soar in your spiritual growth.

Some people are drawn to Action. By action, I mean that some believers do not want to simply study Scripture to know God through information and details. God has created them in such a way that they instinctively notice the needs of people around them, especially lost people and societal needs. They are drawn to witness to others. They are drawn to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the grieving, and celebrate the joys of life with their nearest neighbor. For these people, Bible study needs to be translated into specific actions.

Action people will benefit from giving space in their devotional readings to find practical ways to live out the insights they discover when they have their daily time with God. An example of what this might look like can be found in Anne Graham Lotz's very simple online Bible studies called “3 Question Bible Studies” ( Anne is the daughter of Billy Graham. She uses three questions, which have been around for a long time, to guide students through studying various books of the Bible. The three questions are: What does the Bible say? What does the Bible mean? And what does this passage mean to my life / how can I live this out today? It is the third question that will appeal to the Action group. 

Anne gives a passage for reading and then asks the student to write out a short answer to each of these three questions. Action people will enjoy not just reading about hope, for example, but finding a specific action they can perform during that day to “do” hope.

For those in the Action group who prefer other media venues, check out David Platt’s website, David wrote a best seller years ago called Radical. The book is about aligning the modern-day American culture with the calling to reach the world for Jesus. The successful book served to launch David to a national and international audience. Now, his ministry consistently challenges people to lay aside a materialistic life focus and become active in affecting society through actions. The website offers teaching videos, podcasts, and his “Pray the Word” devotionals, which are 5-10 minute readings that you can either read online or listen to David reading. His ministry focuses on Christian action in a relationship with God.

The second group, I call the Insight group, loves information, details, and deeper theological concepts. They spend time studying and learning, and they discover God in all of those details. Members of the Insight group enjoy studying logical reasons for belief (a field called “apologetics”), right thinking, and, well, Scriptural insights.

Popular Bible teacher Beth Moore models one example of this approach. Her YouTube channel features her teaching events, among other resources. She is a gifted teacher who focuses on simplifying and breaking down Biblical passages in an easy-to-understand way. She is very linear and organized in her subject matter and communicates well. She provides an example of good Biblical interpretation and practical application.

And if you want to go deeper, like an entire course of study (because, after all, you likely think studying is fun), try C.S. Lewis’ namesake The site offers free apologetics courses that include study guide questions and full-length videos. C. S. Lewis' legacy of defending the faith is well-known. He was an atheist who came to believe in Christ. However, this is video media and thought-provoking. If you are looking for the actual exercise of personal Bible study (doing the studying yourself with a guide), a lecture-driven course might take the fun out of it for you.

The next group I call the Renewal group. People in this group have devotional time driven toward sensing the presence and revelation of God as they pray and study. They study for personal renewal. Often, subjects such as being born again, maintaining holiness in life, and sensing God’s presence appeal to them. This group also enjoys worshiping while praying and may find that worshiping along with music is a vital part of their devotional time. 

I cannot help but recommend a classic here. Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest has recently been updated to modern language. Although it is a devotional book, it is available on Kindle for about $7, as of the writing of this article. And it fits so well in this category. Chambers' devotional has challenged Christians for generations to live life in the presence of God. His focus on God’s holiness and the awe of worshiping Him in reverence, meaning with an actual awareness that he is near to us, has upended many a heart over the years.

Finally, there is the Encounter group. Members of this group seek to encounter God in their inner lives each day. They enjoy contemplation and focus on discovering God's peace as they pray. Their devotional aim is to experience a union with God, listening to Him speak to them directly through the Scriptures. These folks would feel quite comfortable living in a monastery, just experiencing God each day in quietness and simple daily tasks.

A modern-day example of this devotional model is found at Sarah Young’s book series, Jesus Calling, is written from a conversational point of view, as if Jesus himself were talking to you, having a conversation. It is not heavy on interpreting the Biblical passages featured in the devotional guides but demonstrates what Jesus might say to you directly while you read the verses. The website offers a free devotional-type blog featuring various authors writing on various topical subjects. The writing style of this blog typically highlights that vein of seeking connection with God through contemplation and sensing the presence of God speaking directly to you through his Word.

I cannot speak of the four categories of devotional approaches without noting that each of them also comes with a warning about excess. Any model of devotional exercise can become out of balance if taken to excess or extreme. The Action group can tend toward moralism, condemning other believers who do not take action as seriously as they do. The Insight group can become rationalistic if taken to the extreme, causing them to become legalistic, dogmatic, and judgmental toward others who are not as much into details as they are. The Renewal group can lean toward emotionalism and become more interested in what they feel rather than keeping God as the center of their devotional focus. The Encounter group, who enjoy quietness and deep reflection, can tend toward escapism and isolate themselves from non-believers.

There are dozens of other examples of online studies and ministry groups that could be listed. Again, I share these examples only as examples and not as endorsements. I agree with them on the essentials, but our non-essential doctrinal points vary greatly.

The main reason I write this blog is to encourage you to read Scripture and develop a personal daily devotional habit that will move you closer to God and help you be more like Jesus every day. So, catch some AIRE!


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.