By Jim Nieman
In 2016, Ozark Christian College began producing free online teaching videos featuring professors such as Chad Ragsdale, Michael DeFazio, Shane Wood, and Mark Scott.
Since that time, the project—known as NextLevel Online—has grown to include 25 different biblical teaching series and 198 free online videos that have been viewed more than 100,000 times by church classes, small groups, student ministries, and individuals in all 50 states and 35 countries.
Ozark’s mission is to “train men and women for Christian service,” said Jim Dalrymple, Ozark’s vice president of advancement. “We do this in the classroom every day, and outside the classroom through church resources like NextLevel.”
One of the most popular video series is “How to Read the Bible,” taught by professor of New Testament and hermeneutics Michael DeFazio. (He teaches this “how-to” class each fall to Ozark sophomores.)
DeFazio said when he learned to read the Bible well—“with both heart and mind . . . a readiness to obey as well as a disciplined ability to understand what the text actually means”—it was life-changing. He said he’s “delighted” to share such knowledge “with people outside our college context.”
MANY VIDEO TOPICS, MANY INSTRUCTORS
A partial listing of NextLevel Online video topics (and instructors) includes: “Acts” (Mark E. Moore), “John” (Kenny Boles), “Revelation” (Shane Wood), “Children’s Ministry Training” (Teresa Welch), “Student Ministry Training” (Kevin Greer), “Married and in Love” (Randy Gariss), “Miracles” (Mark Scott), “Hebrews” and “Apologetics” (Chad Ragsdale), “Restoration History” (Rick Cherok), “Healthy Elders and Deacons” (Dalrymple), and “Romans,” “Ephesians,” and “Philippians” (all by DeFazio), among many others.
Most topics are covered in about 8 to 10 sessions of about 15 to 20 minutes each. (Go to occ.edu/series and you can begin watching within a minute or two.)
For years, Ozark president Matt Proctor and teaching faculty have traveled untold miles to preach and speak in churches in the cities and states surrounding Ozark’s Joplin, Mo., campus. While that is continuing, “These NextLevel videos . . . take our professors and their Bibles to more and farther places than they could ever hope to drive,” Proctor said.
“For those with little biblical training, most of the videos are still understandable,” DeFazio said. “Even those who know the Bible well . . . can benefit, whether a refresher for their own walk of faith or as a resource in sharing truth with those under their care.”
DOOR OPENS TO A WIDER AUDIENCE
In April, a rather large door opened when RightNow Media included NextLevel videos in its online library of discipleship resources. That opened up NextLevel’s potential audience to more than 3 million people and 16,000 churches.
The impact was immediate.
Ozark’s NextLevel platform, available at its website, averages about 1,500 plays per month, Dalrymple said. But during the first three months with RightNow Media, there were 53,000 plays by almost 35,000 unique individual viewers (not counting plays that took place in front of classes or groups) on RightNow’s platform.
Dalrymple expects viewership to continue growing as word of the resource spreads and as more series are produced.
“I’d say [NextLevel] has met expectations to this point, and it’s beginning to exceed expectations,” Dalrymple said.
Three other ministries have played important roles in launching the line of NextLevel videos, Dalrymple said. Funding by The Solomon Foundation and Christian Churches Pension Plan has covered a large percentage of production costs of NextLevel videos since the beginning. Additionally, Christ In Youth produced the videos for Ozark during the first two years.
Ozark plans to build on its success with NextLevel Resources. It has raised more than $35,000 to renovate current space and purchase media equipment to create an on-campus studio to produce future videos. (The studio will also be used to produce webinars, podcasts, and online course content.) Up till now, Ozark has been renting equipment and studio space.
“We want this to remain a free resource for churches and individuals,” Dalrymple said. “It is just one more way we are partnering with churches to advance the kingdom.”
Go to https://occ.edu/series to view a video . . . or a series of videos.
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.
_ _ _
The Three Sides of NextLevel
There are three aspects to NextLevel programming at Ozark Christian College:
– – –
As described in the article, NextLevel Online Resources are free video resources for you and your church. These are designed for use in adult studies, student ministry, leadership training, and personal growth.
More information is available at NextLevel Online.
– – –
NextLevel Onsite offers prepackaged seminars taught by an Ozark faculty member. An individual church serves as a host site and sponsor. Costs include travel, housing, and an honorarium. Ozark’s NextLevel planning team works with the host site to help facilitate logistics. Workbooks and other resources are included. Seminar topics include biblical training, leadership training, contemporary issues, Christian formation, and family/parenting training.
More information is available at NextLevel Onsite.
– – –
This is a free resource. Eight webinars are available at Ozark’s website; the average length is 45 to 60 minutes. Among the topics: “Struggles in Ministry” (Jim Dalrymple), “Raising iGen” (Chad Ragsdale), “Suicide: Signs and Solutions” (Gary Zustiak), and “Between Two Trees: Our Formation from Death to Life” (Shane Wood).
More information is available at NextLevel Webinars.