“Personal Questions” and/or “Opinion Questions”

It seems to me when I first started with BSF in the study of Isaiah, all the personal questions were marked as personal and our BSF leader would not call on us to answer the personal questions.

Slowly, through the years, I started marking the questions I thought personal that were not marked personal in the questions as such:

“Personal Question.  My answer:”

because I believed them to be personal questions.

This year, in the study of the Life of Moses, it seems to me that hardly any questions are marked personal yet usually 20-25% of the questions asked are either an opinion question (what or why do you think) or a personal question by my assessment.

I think BSF has quit marking personal questions because there are too many on each lesson and if they are marked as personal, the leader can’t call on you.  Quite often, at least in my groups, the personal questions have a dead silence after they are read.  In the past, BSF would move on if no one answered.  Now, if they aren’t marked, my leaders will call on someone.

I’ve mentioned before when I’m in class I don’t answer the personal questions.  EVER.  One, my answers are here for all to see so if I repeated them you’d either know who I was or think I just copied the answer off the internet.  [Believe it or not, I’ve had women in my group say my personal answer in class so this does happen!].

Personal questions are a mixed bag for me.  Sometimes I think they are good; others, not so good. If there are too many on the lesson or some that don’t even apply to the passage, I can’t deal. Some questions speak to others more than me and that’s the point.  Plus, they get us thinking. That’s the point as well.

However, sometimes I want the personal questions to stay between me and God and not others. It’s no one else’s business how I obeyed or didn’t obey God or why I didn’t obey and the consequences thereof, etc, etc.

Has anyone else noticed a change in how BSF has handled the personal questions over the years? Has the number of personal questions increased or has it reminded steady or even decreased?  I’ve had a couple of you comment that the personal questions have always been there but would love to hear from more of you.

What Can BSF Improve?

As suggested by a reader, I am posing this question.  If you have a suggestion, please post your comment below.  This may help Bible Study Fellowship and leaders spread the Good News to many more.

If you don’t have a suggestion for an improvement, you may also list problems you find as well. Through prayer, God will provide the solutions.  However, please keep it positive criticism. Complaining will do no one any good.

My suggestions:  Since Day 1, I’m been a proponent of online BSF groups.  There are so many who cannot attend classes but who have internet and would love to have an online community to study the Word.  Notes should be online.  Lectures should be online.  We can’t make them all due to life circumstances, illness, etc.  It would be nice to not feel like you are not missing out.

Replace the hymns with modern Christian music.  I guarantee BSF would grow 10 fold.  Keep the classics as well, but mix it up a bit.

One that’s not quite so tangible:  loosen up a bit.  Sometimes I feel like BSF is too serious.  Decorum must be followed, yes.  But a little fun and laughter never hurt anyone.  I feel like the leaders and admin team are so afraid of saying something not politically correct or of offending someone that they have walls around them that make them seem stuffy.

Bible study in general has an air about it of being boring (and it often is).  Add some fun and you’ll add people (and kids)!

Previous post HERE

Thanks in advance and God Bless!

Why is BSF SO Popular?

I got this question on my blog and rather than answer it myself, I thought it would be cool to have you all answer it.  So post a comment below answering the questions:

Why do you love Bible Study Fellowship?  Why do you attend?  What makes it so great? And Why do people flock to it every week?  I will post my answer after I read you all’s :)

My answer:  BSF is an in-depth bible study of the Word and the Word only.  Before I found BSF, all the bible studies I had found were fluff to put it mildly.  Most of the time it was about the people in our group and their circumstances.  We’d spend the whole two hours on “problems” instead of seeing what God said to solve the “problems”.  I’d walk away, depressed, feeling none the better.  I felt no closer to God or to knowing God.  I was so disenchanted I wanted to quit.

Then a mentor of mine from my church told me about BSF and the study of Isaiah.  I signed up and haven’t looked back since.  As you may have seen from my answers if you have been here long enough, they are much more thorough, in-depth, and thoughtful.  My knowledge of the Bible has increased 100 x (and I’m not exaggerating here).  I feel like I can discuss the Bible with others and know what I’m talking about.  Before, I had a vague impression of stories and that was it.  What the Bible was all about, I could never have told you all.  Now, I know when someone is twisting the Truth and I call them on it.  I know when something is dead-wrong–because I know God.

BSF is for those who want to know God and His word.  It’s for those who are tired of sitting in church on Sundays only hearing the “good” God and not the “wrath” of God.  It’s for those who want an authentic relationship with Jesus.  It’s for those who crave the Truth and all of the Truth.  It’s for those who are looking for a study where God is first and relationships with others second.  They have a top-notch kids program as well from infants through high school, which follows along exactly with the current study and steadily progresses in depth with age.

After every class, after every homework lesson, after every day, God will reward you for your diligence. He is there with you.  And if you join Bible Study Fellowship, He will be closer to you than ever before.

Read Lesson 10 Notes!!

Unlike Lesson 9 Notes where there was not a lot to glean, Lesson 10 Notes will inspire you and motivate you to improve something in your life whether it be prayer, work for God and His enabling, or the belief that you are holy, etc.  Great job by BSF in capturing the essence of Exodus 25-31 that is hard for most of us to get because it is buried in such legalism.

Get the Notes Ahead of Time!

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.

It’s BSF Time Again (Well, Almost!)

Hey all,

Hope everyone had a restful and relaxing summer.  We just back from a camping trip where a hummingbird got stuck in our tent.  It was so amazing to see up close just how fast those wings actually move.  God’s creations are amazing!Hummingbird

Like last year, I’m wondering start dates for you all.  I will be doing the Study of Moses (sorry to all those Revelation guinea pigs out there :(  Will have to wait until next year.

I’m SUPER excited as I’ll be taking on an expanded volunteer role with BSF (and, no, not a group leader, although maybe one day).

Just leave your start date below as a comment.

Thanks and have a fantastic, blessed week!

Homiletics or Hermeneutics?

I received a comment on my blog, saying Bible Study Fellowship has it wrong for the final question every lesson.  It’s not “homiletics”.  It should be “hermeneutics.”

Never having heard of hermeneutics, I googled.   And now I am wondering myself which is it that BSF means.

Homiletics is “the application of Scripture” or “the study of the composition and delivery of a sermon.”  Webster’s defines homiletics as “the art of preaching.”

Hermeneutics is “the interpretation of Scripture” or exegesis.  Webster’s defines hermeneutics as “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible)”.

Exegesis is according to Webster’s “exposition, explanation; an explanation or critical interpretation of a text”.

When I took the Homiletic seminar a few years back offered by BSF, I understood it as the interpretation of Scripture and what is the Word saying.  But is BSF looking for what is the Word saying or what is the Word saying TO ME?  Or is it how to preach??

While there is infinite applications, there is usually only one (or a couple if not clear) interpretations.

I’m confused after having done my own research on just what is BSF looking for on that last question.  What the Bible is saying?  What is the Bible saying to me?  Or how to give a sermon to others on what the Bible is saying?  Or how to give a sermon to others on applications from the passage?

Would love to know from you leaders out there which it is…