Grace Notes History
Grace Notes is a ministry of Austin Bible Church, Austin, Texas. Our Pastor-Teacher is Bob Bolender. Click on the church name to visit our church's web site.
The ministry began in late 1994 when I offered two Bible doctrine topical studies to people who subscribed to some Christian email list servers and newsgroups. One of the topics was on what the Bible says about depression; the other was a Bible study on sexual promiscuity, or what the Bible says about sex. More than 450 people sent email messages requesting copies. I made offers to more Christian groups, and I added several more topics to the list, including articles on Christian Music, Worry, Peace, and Faith-Rest. By the end of the year I had a database of more than 800 responders.
In February 1995 I sent a note to the people on the mailing list asking whether they would like to receive weekly studies of the book of Titus. There was good response to this, and I spent the next few weeks rewriting and formatting my own notes on Titus. I had a good set of notes for Titus because I had taught it several times in the past. I ended up with 10 verse-by-verse lessons on Titus, and about 50 categorical doctrine and historical studies to go along with the exposition. When I started distribution by email in March, 1995, about 450 people subscribed to the lessons, and more than 400 completed the series! At that time there were no quizzes with the lessons; the students just studied the Bible and the notes.
During 1995 I also began to develop the Grace Notes site on the World Wide Web. Every article or file that I prepared for email distribution I also formatted in HTML for Web access. I learned that some people prefer to use the Web for accessing or downloading files, while others still wanted to receive the email.
I started a session in the book of Ruth (12 lessons plus 36 categories) in May 1995, and in September I introduced a study in Ephesians (40 lessons plus 82 categories). I now had a tiger by the tail, and I haven't been able to let go yet!
People immediately began asking for studies in other Bible books; but at the time, I didn't have any more completed studies of my own. In 1996 I began to ask around among doctrinal men whether anyone had expositional studies which would be suitable for Internet distribution.
The first Pastor-Teacher to respond was Dr. Dan Hill of Southwood Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He sent me his teaching notes on Romans, and later those on Ecclesiastes, which I edited and formatted for distribution. Now, eight pastors and teachers have graciously supplied their writings so that they can be included in Grace Notes courses.
By mid-1996 the number of Grace Notes subscribers was in the thousands, and the first Romans session had more than 2500 subscribers.
Now there are studies in 48 books of the Bible, and of 375 doctrinal and historical topics and word studies. In support of these studies, I have continuously been developing historical studies, biographical sketches, and other types of articles useful to Bible students.
These studies have been formed into courses which are distributed by email. There are now 68 courses, divided into 12 academic units. Listing of Courses.
There are hundreds of sites on the Internet which have links to Grace Notes. Many people visit the site every day, and every week I receive new registrations for Grace Notes certificate courses. We have sent out more than 1900 of certificates of completion.
Grace Notes has a Facebook Fan Page now, and a growing list of folks come there to read Bible subjects and discuss various subjects.
Ethel and I are retired now, so I work full time on Grace Notes. I am developing courses, writing quizzes, handling correspondence, and helping pastors and church leaders set up training activities for their members and communities.
The most astounding thing about this ministry, and the greatest blessing, has been to see how many people in the world love to study the Word of God. The testimonies and letters of gratitude that I receive regularly, from all parts of the world, indicate that the Grace Notes service is very well received and appreciated.