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…

Extend the Spiritual Life Survey

Hey all!

To those of you who were invited to participate in BSF’s spiritual life survey (I was told 55 classes were selected randomly to participate), I’d like to ask your thoughts on it afterwards and what/if you learned anything.

To me, it was a bit depressing, especially the part that addressed my engagement with non-Christians.

I’m a homebody.  I don’t get out much.  I homeschool.  I don’t have a lot of friends.  Hence, I really don’t talk about Christian issues either with Christians or non-Christians.

Hence, most of my answers were ‘never’ to those questions.

I also was a bit negative about being prepared by BSF to speak about my faith.  I don’t feel comfortable explaining Jesus to others.  Probably because I’ve never really done it.  Weird, right?

I don’t get into a lot of Jesus conversations.  Probably because I don’t get out much…

I was also negative about the seminars because since they don’t offer childcare, I am unable to attend any of them.  I was negative about the community BSF is and the relationships it creates because personally I have made no friends at BSF.  I can’t attend fellowships much due to my children as well which doesn’t help.  I was negative about the group leaders because most of the time they never answer a question and my group leader is an acquaintance, someone I’d chat with about the weather, and nothing more.  This has been the case for my entire 4 years in BSF.

The teaching leader I was ambivalent on as well.  To me, being an engaging speaker is more important than being personal.  If I’m falling asleep during lecture, it won’t matter what you talk about, be it personal or not, in the end.

Surprisingly, there were no questions on the notes.  Hmmm…..

I’m not sure how BSF will use the survey because none of the questions offered concrete suggestions or offered up any ideas as to improvement.  It was only things like “Are we doing such and such?” and not “What if we did offer childcare at seminars, would you come?”  Stuff like that.

Anyways, I thought overall it was good.  It asked questions on how you are growing spiritually right now and if you are studying His word and your home church.  I think it should be extended to all classes because it was a good self-evaluative tool–however depressing the results were as in my case.

It just made me feel like I’m not doing enough.  Like I don’t talk to others about Jesus when I should be.  Like I need to be more involved with my church, the poor, and others.  That God isn’t number one in my life.  That I’m not growing as I should be.  That Christian relationships aren’t important to me.  That I don’t serve enough.  That I’m failing in my Christian walk as a broken, Fallen, inherently selfish human being.  Depressing…

I also felt guilty for rating BSF’s job as low sometimes and guilty about pretty much everything else aforementioned.  Mainly because I don’t feel like it’s BSF’s job to fix any of this.  It’s mine with God’s help.  I guess some of the questions struck me as odd that BSF feels it’s their job to help me grow spiritually.  BSF is just a tool in my opinion–a tool that I must wield.

I’m responsible for my growth.  I’m responsible for growing with others.  I’m responsible for making friends or not.  I’m responsible for putting God first and learning His word.  I’m responsible for attending extra learning opportunities.  I’m responsible for everything.  But the questions made it seem like I wasn’t at times.  Does that make sense?

Hopefully, you all had a better feeling afterwards and are growing with God.

The question I was most embarrassed to answer was this:  have you read the Bible all the way through?  I had to say no.  It’s one of my goals, but I’ve been stuck in the book of John for two years now.  So that was depressing.  SEVERELY so…

I’d be curious to hear more about how BSF will use the results and how they will offer improvements.  I’m sure they spent some money on this so am just wondering if it will be fruitful or not.

I don’t know.  I feel like I’m being negative here when I don’t mean to be.  I guess it’s just because I’m in a negative funk right now.  I’m struggling with attending church.  BSF lessons have been a struggle for me as I POSTED a bit ago.  Praying has been a struggle as has prioritizing God in my life.  Doing much of anything outside of daily living is a struggle.  Motivation is severely lacking to say the least…

So I will pray.  Pray about my negative attitude.  Pray about why I’m in a valley right now in my spiritual growth.  Pray for BSF for whatever they are seeking from this survey and pray I helped in some small way.

I will pray….

What else can I do?