I know I’m going to receive a bunch of contrary emails/comments on this one and accusations of “ruining BSF” as I have gotten before, but I have prayed and am prepared.
BSF (at least where I’m at) is no longer requiring you to sign out for notes/lessons ahead of time. I discovered this quite by accident when I got a lesson ahead of time as I will be gone next week.
So I got the notes for next week and read them and to be honest it makes me sad I’m going to miss next week because it has only fueled my desire for more. There were some things in the notes I had questions on and was curious what the teaching leader was going to say. I did more investigating on my own. I learned some things. It has convicted me in many areas of my life–things I’ve been working on for a while but was ho-humming around about.
This isn’t the first time I have gotten the notes ahead of time. Three years ago, I actually posted on this same topic. If you’re curious, the original post is HERE I went back and re-read this and it seems this was echoed to me again. I feel everything has a purpose.
I feel like when I go to class after having read the notes ahead of time, I am more enlightened, more curious, more open, more engaged, more ready to receive God’s word because my mind is more open to the passage. When I read the notes afterwards, I don’t get this feeling. I get a feeling of finality and “we’re moving on” so who cares?
Maybe I’m wrong and you all can disagree with me for it and chastise me, but from now on I plan to get the notes ahead of time so I can read them before class discussion and lecture. It awakens something in me I cannot describe and I feel more ready to absorb God’s word and lessons.
My confession: for the longest time I feel like I’m just “doing homework” here and not incorporating the Word into my life. I’ve been praying, but it seems hokey for I never can put my emotions into words and I feel God must think me a complete nincompoop.
For me, it’s all about understanding God and His Word better and whatever helps, helps. Many of you have commented how you wish the notes were online and I do hope that will be forthcoming as well. I think more would read the notes if we had them ahead of time instead of putting it off until you no longer remember what the passage was about. I personally wish the lectures were available for a week for everyone as well because who can make every class, right? Flu, holidays, family matters, sick kids, vacations, emergencies come up. It would be great to get more of God in any medium.
Bible Study Fellowship changed the lessons and the lecture so they correspond, why not the notes? Why wait on this change as well? I know some of you will say because then people will read the notes before answering the questions. This is a valid point. BSF would like you to do the questions and then hear the lecture and then read the notes. That’s how it originated. But what’s wrong with switching the lecture and the notes? That’s how a lot of school is taught, especially college. You’re given a reading assignment. You read it. You return to hear a lecture on it and an opportunity to ask questions. I learn better this way.
One solution: maybe make the notes available online 24 hours before the day of your class. That gives everyone plenty of time to do their lesson but still read the notes before lecture and discussion.
[Suggestion: I realize this is a stretch, but I will throw it out there. Our BSF leader recently mentioned it costs BSF something like $84/person/year just in materials and staff. Sometime in the future, I imagine BSF as going paperless. Could you imagine? We can get the notes and the questions all online and imagine the cost savings! That would be more money to put toward other ministry areas BSF engages in or expand BSF further to reach more people. At least in the developed world: US, Australia, UK, Canada, etc. where most of us own printers and computers and have internet access. I see this as a ways away but offering this as an option would be cost effective, save trees, and more environmentally friendly! Just a thought for the future :) ].
After all, the group leaders and the teaching leaders all get the notes ahead of time at leaders’ meeting. I can’t tell you the number of times over the years I’ve had a discussion leader say, “Read the notes because they clarify this further.” Wouldn’t it be only fair that the rest of us be allowed access to the notes before lecture/discussion?
At some point you just have to trust people to do the right thing. To do what is best for them. To follow BSF how it was designed to be. For personal responsibility is lacking in today’s world and learning about God is an individual choice just like doing your BSF questions is a choice. God and Free Will at His/its best! Thus, I see no harm in accessing the notes before discussion/lecture. For those of us who learn better by reading, it’s an eye-opener for sure. Bible study is all about growing with Jesus and each does this in his or her own way.
I would believe one qualm BSF is concerned about is this: Well, if the notes are online, why would anyone come to class at all? Answer: For everything else that makes BSF work: community, fellowship, lecture, discussion groups, prayer, worship, and a profound love of our Lord and Savior.
Please feel free to agree or disagree below for I am no expert nor am I a seasoned BSF’er, but merely one who sees an area for improvement and suggests it. And I would ask before you post your nasty email to not personally attack me as many have done in the past, but to take my idea as it’s meant to be taken: a suggestion to improve BSF, not dismantle the system. Change is good as BSF is demonstrating, and I hope you die-harders out there can see that. Change is a part of life whether we like it or not and if we don’t change, we don’t grow; and if we don’t grow, we don’t become more and more like Jesus.
In conclusion, I’d love to hear your thoughts especially if you’ve gotten the notes ahead of time for some reason or another and either liked it or didn’t like it.