Input on Changes Bible Study Fellowship is Making…

Hey all!

I know some of you were like me when you showed up to Bible Study Fellowship this year:  we’re doing what?

Changes made to my group:

No opening worship time.  We now go straight to our groups.

Flex Questions.  We are picking 6 questions to focus on instead of doing the whole lesson.  This is an effort to encourage those who don’t finish their lessons.

BSF is now only 1 1/2 hours instead of 2 hours long.

There are no hymns at all.

I would love to hear all of your initial impressions on these changes to the traditional BSF format.  These are the most changes BSF has ever done at once and they are major.  Please comment below with your thoughts.

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145 comments on “Input on Changes Bible Study Fellowship is Making…

  1. Cathy says:

    From my experience I work everyday. So when I go to BSF it is a very long day. I love praying in our groups instead. I truly appreciate the change. I start getting sleepy because a lot of times we would not get out on time generally we always went over. some have to drive very far so I appreciate it the 30 minute change

    • Debbie says:

      I’ve been keeping up with my study and following this blog. I haven’t physically attended with my group yet. I’m visiting my family in Maine and BSF isn’t available in my area. I live in SC and I attend a group in GA. I’m surprised to learn about all these changes and disappointed. BSF is my “me” time. I enjoyed everything about the whole program and how well it’s managed. I contacted my group leader and asked whether GA has implemented any changes. I will post again when I hear from her. Please don’t change anything with this group! Your setup is very helpful and informative. Thanks for all your insight. God bless you.

  2. Karrie says:

    We don’t have all of those changes, no flex questions, but I like all the other changes. BSF is trying to attract and keep a younger audience.

    • Barbarann says:

      And risks losing some older audience. I sought and found a place where the study of God’s word was paramount. Everyone, even Seniors, have demands on their time. As someone else said, BSF is my “me” time. The singular part of my day with my Lord. I find Him in prayer and scripture, where BSF leads me. Study requires that I pay attention. It demands engagement, time, commitment. Rare commodities today. It is here that i understand God wants all of my attention. You who field children AND BSF have all my respect and admiration. You are the energy and the witness that fuels the program. I am notorious for finding the separation of age groups in this program to be a limitation. But that discussion will keep for another day.

  3. alberto305070@gmail.com says:

    Works for me,1/2 of the questions, which you have mentioned before, repeat Them selves over time. So why discuss it over and over again. We sound so bad during the men’s worship it is a good Idea to skip it. It all works for me. Peace.

    Al Lietz

  4. Juan Fuentes says:

    for the children that attend with parents that is fantastic more time to do school work .

  5. Ross Gingrich says:

    Do we really think we will win the attendance gig with the millennials, doing this format?

    • Barbarann says:

      I don’t think so. We can’t phone our participation in, can we? Need to get up early, get it together and show up prepared to share our week of study, worship with two songs…how is that a Weight?…listen to the lecture, drive home or to whatever is your next obligation. Less than two hours with other Christians mid week. Effort? You bet. For some it is THE ONLY time you can find for Him in your super busy lives. I encourage you to NOT Forfeit this holy bread for your souls. That song: I miss my time with you. Those moments together, I need to be with you each day and it hurts me when you say you’re too busy. Busy trying to serve Me, but how can you serve Me when your spirit’s empty? There’s a longing in My heart, wanting more and more of you…it’s true: I miss My time with you. My special time with You.

  6. MF Holt says:

    This is not the case where I attend BSF. Everything was exactly the same. The biggest change I noticed was with the study of Revelation. The questions changed. There were no challenge questions and the questions were “dumbed down” and didn’t require nearly as much thought or effort as previously. I can now do my entire BSF lesson in about an hour where it used to take about 45 minutes per day. When I questioned that, I was told BSF was now focusing on “feelings” which is why every question has a “how has this affected you?” or “what have you experienced?”. If I wanted to spend that much time talking about my feelings I would do it on a psychiatrist’s couch. I don’t know about you, but I wanted to learn about the Bible, not constantly discuss my feelings. The only reason I go to BSF now is for the notes. They are still exceptional.

    • Marty McCrimmon says:

      I agree with MF Holt. Too many of the questions center on what I feel instead of what God is saying. I do appreciate the structure of the study because I personally get a lot out of it. I generally ignore the duplicate questions and the ones that as me how I feel about this or that and focus on what God is telling me..

    • Risa says:

      I agree. I want to learn things, not just discuss my yes feelings.

      • Clinton says:

        I agree with MF Holt, Marty and Risa concerning “Feelings”. Feeling can lead you astray. I want the nugget of gold in the scripture that leads to a deeper understanding of God’s Word. BSF does not bring me closer to the Lord because He is already closer than a brother but the study makes me understand the awesome responsibility we have as Christians in sharing the Gospel. If we are not careful, pride can enter into our FEELINGS. If the Lord tells me to share with someone, I tell them that God wants me to share with them. For instance, while having breakfast at McDonalds a few weeks ago, I needed to use the men’s room and on my way back to the mens room, I passed a man who was kinda unkept and the Lord told me in my spirit to give him some money. As I returned to my seat, I told him that God told me to give you this and handed him $5. The way that man looked at me with tears in his eyes, not saying a word but we connected. Now, here for me is where the feelings amount to something. I do not know what was going on in this man’s life but God knows and I am just thankful that the Lord was able to use me in this manner. ——– I can share many more times that God has spoken to me in like manner but not here. I can say, when you have taught your spirit to hear the voice of God, it simply makes your FAITH grow and not feelings.
        God Bless you all and God Bless President Trump!!!!!

    • Barbarann says:

      Oh i agree with every word.

    • Peggy says:

      I agree with the dumbing down of questions. With more churches doing away with Sunday School, this was one of the few studies you could dig into the word and really learn through the Holy Spirit. Not much meat left in BFS lessons.

  7. Mike says:

    If it gets the younger guys to come I’m all for it plus being in a men’s night BSF class it gets the kids home 30 minutes sooner

  8. Rungirl says:

    I personally love it. We never had but a handful at opening and most of the time our ladies didn’t stay for lecture because it’s too long of a day. I really believe this will help moms with kids maybe can get to class on time and not feel so rushed. I’m excited about the changes.

  9. Debbie says:

    We had our first class for Romans this week. I did not hear about any of these changes. 🤷‍♀️The only change they mentioned was how the questions have changed to make them more applicable to the individual instead of reading content. Personally this is more difficult for me. I felt I learned more when I could answer questions about what I had read. Our admin team is very organized and structured and classes go smoothly and on time. Ours is a ladies only morning class.

  10. Camille Auci says:

    Due to weather in GA, our first class cancelled. Are these changes across the country? Why?

  11. Moszella Bishop says:

    I think the changes is great so many ladies have a hard time getting to BSF because their children’s school time. Also, there is so many that needs to leave early. Hopeful this will enable more ladies to come to BSF.

    Have a Wonderful Blessed Day. Moe Ms. Moszella Bishop

  12. Linda Wood says:

    Very pleased with the changes. Songs – singing many that most do not know and why do we have to sing all verses….many 4-6 in length.

    • Pamela Lee says:

      Amen to you reply. Why all of the verses to the hymns. I go to MORNING bsf and it’s usually pretty empty. I believe this new format will work.

  13. ksherin1 says:

    We had no changes at all in Virginia. We had opening fellowship with hymns, followed by class and all questions and lasted 2 hours…same as always.

    • Rob Mount says:

      We were told in Boulder, CO that the new changes take effect in the next couple of weeks. We had the same schedule the first week also.

  14. Rosemary says:

    No mention of flex question situation. One song before lecture. Of course time change.

  15. Lynnp1 says:

    I’m disappointed with the change… I look forward to the time I have in the class, so cutting it by 1/2 hour feels rushed. I also enjoy doing the entire lesson. It’s my time to share with the Lord and how He’s working in my life. BSF has been a critical part of my growth through these lessons! I also love the hymns, especially since we sing contemporary style worship in my church. It helped me to learn and appreciate the music. I have to admit though, I don’t always make the opening worship since it’s early in the morning, after dropping my son off at school. I was saved in 2012, so BSF has been instrumental in my life. These changes seem to alter what I looked forward to each year since I began.

  16. Darl says:

    This is very discouraging. I always look forward to the song worship. Thank you for what you do. I enjoy reading your insights.

    Darl

    >

    • I’m a single dad with two daughters and it was going to be questionable to if my girls were going to be able to even go because of the original schedule, but because of the changes we are all going to get to attend.

    • Barbarann says:

      I really am surprised. The Bible holds an entire book on singing to the Lord, singing about the Lord, assembling choirs, for same,, many written by God’s declared favorite, King David. Many songs sung in Christian churches across the whole world are scripture set to music. It is the prime form of worship, purposed to express joy, a platform for prayer, an instrument for comfort, solace, lament, and a commonality with others in that worship. Great talent is not the goal. Command of breath, great pipes, and desire to join together in song has nothing to do with having a great singing voice for hymns. It is only about worship in a specific form. I think it safe to say with conviction: God does not care if you sing flat.

  17. Marie says:

    We do not have opening, but sing 1 hymn before lecture.

  18. Mary says:

    I am very happy not to sing the opening songs. As others have commented, many of us did not know them and singing all the verses seemed unduly lengthy. There really didn’t seem much purpose to the opening except for administrative issues which can be handled in the closing.

  19. Long time BSFer says:

    I personally miss the opening because it gave me time to settle from the rush and refocus (and I love hymns as well praise songs.) I wish more would have realized that purpose of the opening rather than seeing it as a time consuming routine. HOWEVER, I support BSF in their changes. I know they carefully consider, pray about everything and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in accomplishing their mission and vision. AND it’s not about me – it’s about God and His Kingdom.The shorter format is super for the evening classes for reasons others have mentioned. Can’t answer about the flex questions; it’s the first I heard about it and haven’t experienced it.

  20. S1081 says:

    We are still doing a hymn and the time is only shortened by 10 min.

  21. Paulletta says:

    Those of us in Florida have not had our first class yet. However, we are shortening our class to 1 hour and 35 minutes. Skipping the opening after September, but will still sing a hymn before the lecture. Instead of the opening, there is connection time in the group. I am praying that women will love it and more will come–especially those with little children. Our class is a day class.

  22. Paulletta says:

    Will continue to do all the questions–no flex in our class. Flex is for other classes–especially like those geared toward the college age, etc.

  23. Cheryl Adam says:

    I think you will have more staying for the lecture now as working folks would leave. I like the Praying with your group and think the whole thing will be better in the long run.Not sure about the flex question as I truly enjoy talking about each question and hearing others ideas. Thanks for your insights, I love reading them. God be with you.

  24. Joe says:

    Since our BSF meets in the evening, the shorter session makes it easier for those who bring children with them. I think we still sing 1 hymn before the lecture, but I did like starting with hymns.

  25. AGeorge says:

    Ours was no different this year, except we sang 1 hymn instead of 2 😁

  26. Fran Rouse says:

    I don’t see the rationale behind the changes. Too many accommodations are being made for those who are irresponsible. It’s thread all though our society. Where are our stands? I think the devil is behind this. Why only do just six questions. Are the others not as important. We are studying God’s word. There are no shortcuts.

    • Jess says:

      I agree with Fran. The singing at the Intro is WORSHIP and that is what we are to do. Worship God. Too many accommodations result in a weak lesson overall. God doesn’t have shortcuts and neither should we.

    • Llpgoodson says:

      I agree with Fran Rouse. I have attended numerous Bible studies and have found BSF to be the most in-depth….the best by far. If you do your lesson as intended, you read, study, dig through your Bible for answers, learn and draw closer to God. I have attended as a class member for many years and also as a leader. Miss Johnson (founder) would be stunned by these accommodations. She originally agreed to begin this Bible study only if the participants agreed to receive biblical meat NOT milk. We all get out of this what we put in. I say leave it alone. I’ve had seasons (illness) where getting everything done was a real challenge. I attended anyway when my lesson wasn’t quite “up to par”. I still benefited greatly by being there for the lecture and hearing what God had shown the the other women in my class. I would venture a guess that the folks complaining about the night class might not fuss if they were attending a sports event and it took the same or more of their time. God deserves our best, our most…..with praise and thanksgiving, not whining.

      • Velma says:

        I agree with the other ladies, why are we always cutting God short? He deserves our best and our all, not just what little we choose to give Him.

  27. Rob Mount says:

    I’m all for the new changes. We’re still doing all the questions in Boulder, CO. I pray this helps bring some of the younger guys to BSF. Also our kids program hardly has any kids in it. Getting the kids home earlier on a school night could help grow the attendance with them also.

  28. Mickie D. says:

    In Oklahoma, day class, there are two class sessions with the first starting at 9:15, followed by lecture including singing one song. The second session starts immediately after lecture. This
    schedule allows 200 more women to attend Bible study.

  29. 2star24 says:

    Our Leader always chooses hymns that relate to the lesson. They are, of course, the old hymns. It is the only time I get to sing the old hymns. Churches now want to sing “modern” songs. I started paying more attention to the verses of the old hymns since BSF. PLEASE, BSF, don’t try to become politically correct or lazy. It will be the downfall of BSF. All we want is to learn about Jesus and our salvation.

  30. Janet Young says:

    I am in BSF in Lakewood, CA. Our format has not changed at all.

    >

  31. Tammy says:

    Never enjoyed the morning worship… we all sounded so pitiful…I always skipped this part and went straight to my classroom. and we sing one as we begin the lecture time. Its ALL good to me!

  32. Jim says:

    I agree with 2star24. my men’s group still starts at the same time, but no large group assembly and no 2 hymns. we spend longer in the men’s group and like most mens’ groups, we don’t share like the ladies, so i would rather have kept the two hymns. lecture is now 5 minutes shorter, and i am old school (really old school), but i think the teaching of the gospel should not be shoe horned into schedules. either you are serious about studying or not. while i, too, pray on getting more people into Bible study, 30 minutes a week isn’t really going to make a difference. i am afraid that we are becoming IN the world and a little too much OF it.

    • Barbarann says:

      Jim, I so agree. If BSF becomes like other available studies, i’ll choose one closer to home and skip the long drive. I believe the Founder would be very disappointed with the push to accommodate the time schedules and the focus on feelings. How about focus on Scripture?

  33. Tara says:

    I don’t want to seem completely negative, but I don’t like the changes at all!

    This is my son’s first year going with me and he won’t get to have intergenerational opening or hear any hymns. I will really miss the hymns. Some were so perfect and just what I needed to hear. We were told its to help condense BSF for young children like my son, but honestly how late we get out (9pm prior to changes)wasn’t really a concern.

    Another thing I am really disappointed about is how short lecture will be. I love lecture. I am a student at heart and love learning every tidbit about the passages we are studying. I can’t even imagine how our teaching leader is going to pull off going over entire lessons in 30 minutes. I almost wish group was shortened slightly to give more time to lecture.

    And as to focusing on a select few questions, well that is just rubbish! The point of BSF is to do your lesson and commit or don’t go! I though it was for women who were serious, and needed or loved the structure. I thought we did our lessons so we could contribute and have genuine discussion. But, I guess this kind of ties in with a lot of the lessons becoming fluff. I’m so tired of so many questions about my feelings on everything! Sometimes your feelings don’t matter, and why is everything always about feelings? I noticed lessons becoming more fluff and a million feeling questions when the Revelation study rolled around. That one was a big dissappointment, and I felt we were too worried about feelings and offending people, but if you are a Christian then what is so offensive about God’s word?

    I guess I’m tired of everything becoming wishy washy to accommodate people who aren’t willing or dedicated to work or are too delicate to handle what the Bible says. Why do we have to cater to everyone and make it easier? I loved the time I got at BSF, the structure and how it weeded out the people who weren’t serious about it. I don’t want a social club, I want a seriously study of the Bible with other women.

    Whew got that off my chest!

    • Llpgoodson says:

      I agree, Tara!

    • Carlamcs says:

      I have a long treatise below… but you summed up a lot of my feelings exactly.

    • Deborah Soffes says:

      I agree also.

    • Bonnie Dorsey says:

      I agree, We need the worship to get our hearts and minds on the lesson and lecture. I also feel the questions are not in depth as they should be. I miss the challenge questions.

    • April Thomas says:

      Thank you for summing up just what I think about these changes. I am desperate for depth in a Bible Study. BSF has met that need in the past. I am so sad that it is going the way of the world. Feelings, fluff and shallow.

    • Risa says:

      I agree. I’m here to learn.

    • Risa says:

      Thank you. Very nicely stated.

    • I agree with every point you made. BSF requires serious commitment to study. Not a duty, but a Study. It is demanding.if finding time to study is too difficult, perhaps you miss the benefit. It must be a priority. I marvel at young moms with infants and toddlers who week after week get there on time, their study prepared and ready to share. I marvel at the well seasoned white hair women who show up every week with their deep wisdom and hearts for God’s Word, their eyes sparkling with joy in Jesus willingly shared. And for some, all their bones aching. Most of us are way too busy, often weighted down with huge responsibility, barely fitting in this special time to come together for worship. Please don’t water down BSF. Prioritize it. God calls us to Him. Bring your heart and your time to Jesus’ feet.

  34. Connie L Young Thurs. AM Class - Karl Road Baptist church. says:

    i would not learn as I do now if you didn’t give me ALL the questions to answer. You learn by looking them up.

    No hymns? That is almost sacreligious. Most mornings singing those hymns opens my heart to hear the Word.

    Just put the notes on for people who missed it.

  35. SJV says:

    I want a more structured bible study not a social club.in decept study of God word is what drew me to BSF .

  36. Anne says:

    I am surprised to hear this, as this didn’t happen in my class at all. Everything was the same, except because of it being the first day of class, we only sang one hymn instead of two. I wouldn’t like these changes at all. ☹️

  37. Mary says:

    Gonna take time to get used to. Didn’t see the need to change but if it works. Ok go with the flow.

  38. Peggy Parks says:

    I truly miss the hymns and hearing all of the beautiful voices God gave us. This was a time for me to praise God and meditate. I have made a lot of new friends attending BSF, but with no opening, I no longer get to visit with them. Needless to say, I like the old way better.

  39. BJ says:

    What are the changes to the children’s program?

  40. Judy Marti says:

    Ours hasn’t started yet, since we are in Florida and all had msjor impact with hurricane. What uou are saying, if that is what we all are doing, I will not like that at all. The singing of the hymns was my favorite part. 😟

  41. Claudia says:

    OMG! I’m in the Houston area and our BSF classes has been delayed due to Hurricane Harvey. I’m going to miss the praise time before class for me it sets the tone for class. I also love hearing everyone’s answer to all the questions, this will be a big change. I’m not sure I understand why cut the time down that we are spending in His Word.

  42. Lynn S says:

    One of the Fort Worth BSF groups did away with the opening a few years ago. I like it. A lot of the ladies only show up in time for the small group classes anyway and then go on to the lecture so it doesn’t bother me at all. My group does, however, have one hymn right before the lecture begins.

  43. I am for the changes, although we will be singing praise songs when we return from our group studies. Seems to me they are reaching out to the young folks and we need them to be a part of the Body for they will be carrying on when we finish our work on this earth.

  44. Jim Lucas says:

    Hello, I am an AL in the DFW area. I think the ideas are good. Some of the change was geared around the children as they were getting home too late on school days. Sometimes we wouldn’t get out of the building until after 9:00PM. In the men’s group I attend, we don’t do the Flex questions but feel that is a great idea.
    I believe BSF leadership can now see the focus needs to be on the millennials, gen x and gen y. Most of the GL’s in my class are 55 and over. This year we picked up a couple of under 40 GL’s.
    BSF is more widely using social media as well. While we had about 483 men enrolled coming into the first night, the welcome brought an additional 65 men making it 551 enrolled. I attribute some of this to social media. We are also piloting the virtual class which is also another avenue for those in distant places. While we only had a few the first time, one man was virtual from Mongolia. God is awesome and any opportunity to share the gospel should be considered. Be Blessed!

  45. roy3752@aol.com says:

    It is a change. We still have hymns. We were given two weeks at the old schedule before we jumped into the new schedule. I understand the reason and like the approach. I do not agree since the men in my group liked the opening with a song ——

  46. DianeB says:

    We have started our group in South Carolina and it is as always. We have opening as usual and hymns also. That is what makes a wonderful beginning. Sorry to hear yours has changed.

  47. Beth says:

    A newcomer arrived at BSF the same time I did. I showed her where the sanctuary was. She looked in saw all those women and couldn’t believe her eyes…all those women there to learn about the Lord. I had the same experience 7 years ago. It was such an encouragement to me.
    For working people and kids the shorter time and earlier start should be better. Answering fewer questions along with deleting the pre-worship part to me is going in the direction of watering down the study. If the questions aren’t important to our learning, understanding and application maybe they shouldn’t be included.
    I pray that through the study of Romans the Lord works in and through bringing me into His will and service.

  48. Carlamcs says:

    I was volunteering in children’s so I wasn’t aware of these changes until I listened to the lecture. WOW!. I have been attending BSF for 20+ years and these changes are BIG.
    Do I like them? Mixed feelings. I don’t like singing hymns ad nauseam, but I like some of the old standards. I like a mix of songs. Church services have already made this change. This is just adapting to familiar worship trends.
    No opening? I liked that time to meet with my friends that are not in my group. I bring grand-kids so after classI have to scoot. Our opening was sparsely attended though. It did give you an opportunity to be a little *late* and still get the full discussion. I remember when we met for the opening in a pew designated with our groups. As a group leader during that time, I had time to connect outside the discussion with some of our members.
    We are going to have one *Flex Group* that has less questions. Can’t you just answer the ones you want to in your regular group? What will the rest of the time be used for? What if you just don’t connect with those questions? I think some of the questions have been repetitive in the last few years. They have taken away the Personal and Challenge questions which were options to skip or not answer. i thought that was a safety net for some. I don’t know if it has been my recent leaders or a formal change, but ours tell us we don’t have to have a written answer to respond.
    This is probably the main thing that attracted me to BSF so many years ago… the accountability and responsibility. I’ve been in so many studies that people were too busy to complete. It makes such a difference in the group discussion.
    Now.. our lecture can be mind numbing. I was delighted to hear that was shorter. I’ve had 3 leaders in my BSF years and the lecture can be tiring.
    A shorter time is certainly a plus for the night class. I’ve never attended at night, but cannot imagine doing that after a day at work.
    My main motivation for attending now is to take the grand-kids. It does keep me connected to a daily walk with God.

  49. Field Carol says:

    I attend a morning group in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like you, we’ll no longer have the first 20 minutes that had included announcements, 2 hymns and a prayer. We’ll start with our small groups. However, we did have one hymn before the lecture.

    No one mentioned flex questions. That would be disappointing because hearing everyone’s answers has always been my favorite part–the Lord teaches in more than one way.

  50. Daisy Moses says:

    I love the changes because there will be more fellowship in Bible Study Fellowship. There is a song sung before our lecture.

  51. E says:

    I’m a millennial so I’m their target audience for these changes. My response? Nope! I am not a fan, and not just because I dislike change. I think as a whole churches have gotten to seeker sensitive and worried about making it flashy and interesting and convenient to fit within the world’s lifestyle. Isn’t that the opposite of how the Bible tells us to be? God directs us to be set apart. I liked that BSF was set apart. It was meaty, focused, and uncompromising in it’s purpose of studying the word. I’m a mom of 2 young children whom I homeschool, my husband is gone more often than not and I have still be able to get my lessons done. It’s about prioritizing them! I think these changes are taking BSF down a very, very slippery slope of compromising it’s primary goal. I understand the importance of not clinging to tradition for tradition’s sake, however I think we’re starting to see the pendulum swinging too far the other way. I’m disappointed.

    • Risa says:

      Absolutely! The devil is smiling.

    • Barbarann says:

      WOW. Spot on! I sure hope the upper echelons read your post. Trying to please everyone, to meet the needs of everyone is a recipe for failure. It is impossible. Serve God. The rest will take care of itself.

      • atozmom says:

        I hope they read this as well because here we can all be honest and provide honest feedback without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings. Thanks for your heartfelt comments!!!

      • Yes if BSF changes to fit the culture then it will have to keep changing as the culture will continue to change. I truly appreciate a millennial sharing her thoughts. We are to be set apart, committed to our Lord who is our number one priority.

      • Barbarann says:

        Thank you. A big part of the BSF program is its consistancy of focus. Until Revelation when I assessed the reluctance of leadership to declare. To decipher. To interpret like they would for any other book. I was so disappointed. It was a preamble for this year’s
        Approach. I just think Ms. Johnson never had watering down the study to comply with everyone’s time constraints to increase attendance her purpose. Digging is what she required. Numbers, not so much.

      • Karrie says:

        I agree with you 100%, but I’m guessing BSF has no choice, but to bend to the ways of this society. If BSF doesn’t figure out how to draw in a younger crowd, BSF will cease to exist. Find a young neighbor or friend and bring them!!

      • Barbarann says:

        Thanks for your very astute response, Karrie. I have had numerous years of BSF challenge to dig deep into scripture. Christ called me as a child of four, in a Christian orphanage, to listen carefully as my matrons read His Word. Blessed were the days I could read scripture for myself, to seek and to find Him. Never was I prodigal. I understand my blessing and my privilege. So I would grieve for my sisters in Christ to be given BSF lite on the premise that they will have less time for God. I pray I have this wrong.

      • Barbarann says:

        Dumbing down the material will leave BSF equivalent to most other offerings. Then I will no longer have need to drive a distance. I can get pablum anywhere.

    • Barbarann says:

      Well said, E. spoon feeding has never been the style of BSF. It really is true: the more effort you put in, the more you get out. Ms. Johnson would surely be unhappy with watering down the need to dig through that guidebook for finding Him in the blessed work of the anointed writers.

  52. Deborah Soffes says:

    I attend BSF in Daphne, AL, and our meeting format has changed. Previously, I enjoyed the songs to begin the evening as it prepares our minds and hearts for the evening. I will miss the hymns!

  53. Susan Shaffer says:

    I am amazed to read this. I attend BSF in Phoenix, AZ and our meetings have not changed! I would like to add, I so value atozmom. Thank you so much!

  54. Val Perkins says:

    We’re still 2 hours, no opening, hymns included prior to lecture.

  55. Marty McCrimmon says:

    You’re right about the end of opening worship time being eliminated, but we will still be having a hymn before the lecture.

  56. Kris Hutfless says:

    The only thing I didn’t like about the old format was the old hymns. Surely they could have used some updated music. They were always sung in such a high octave that I couldn’t reach and soooo slow. If the new format brings more people in, I’m game to try it. I just don’t want it to become bible study lite. I want a deeper study.

  57. Imblssd says:

    The only change we talked about was no opening session. We’re spending that extra 15 minutes with our group socializing (breakfast, snacks, etc). We still had our one hymn and then lecture like always. Same 2 hours. Maybe the 1.5 hrs is for evening classes.

  58. Kathy says:

    I was very disappointed when I heard they were shortening our time in BSF. I think that by not having the opening prayer and hymns to sing you are spiting yourself. The opening helps to put you in a worshipping mood, now just going to your classes are going to turn into more of a social interaction. I am willing to try it, but I do have some reservations. I don’t like the idea of shortened questions because that makes me delve more into the word.

    • brendaleeb@bellsouth.net says:

      I live in Atlanta – BSF was cancelled due to hurricane –Haven’t heard of any changes.coming?? Love BSF as it was last year. Let you know next Wed……

    • Anne says:

      I totally agree, Kathy. I am very disappointed. We need that time of worship and preparing our hearts for the lesson. It won’t be the same.

  59. Rhetta Davis says:

    We are only doing 1.5 hrs but are still answering all questions & still have 40 min for discussion group.

  60. Glenn Irwin says:

    Yes,  I agree, no singing hymns!!!   Hymns bring worship and the right frame of mind in addition It is the only chance  I get.  Our church only plays modern worship songs.Also really no fellowship in the beginning.  Lord forgive me for complaining.   

  61. MARGARET S CARBINE says:

    In Lexington, KY we opened the same way we did last year. Met in the fellowship for hymns and prayer, then went to group, then came back to Fellowship Hall for lecture.

  62. 45ydquem says:

    Our group has some of your changes. No fellowship before class and a shortened sermon. But we are still answering all the questions and including them in our group discussion . Are you still going to answer all the question in each lesson? You blog has changed my life and relationship with GOD.

  63. Gloria James says:

    In my group we do all the questions. We sung a hymn on the first night. Change is okay with me.

  64. Marsha says:

    I attend an evening class. We had no changes this past Monday except we only sang one song. No changes have been mentioned. We attend for an hour and 50 minutes. I love the old hymns. I love singing something I know 😄. If any changes develop, I will let you know. I know the day class here will be going straight to their small groups after the first 2 weeks.

  65. Risa says:

    I did not learn to appreciate hymns until I began BSF 10 years ago. Listening to and singing hymns calms my mind and heart and prepares me to learn in our small group. I can focus on God more when the rich words of the hymns enter my heart and soul. I don’t sing well but I still lift my voice in praise to Jesus Christ anyway. I don’t think BSF should have dropped the hymns. I also dislike the fact that we might not answer all the questions. Once in a while I’m stuck and leave an answer blank. Other’s answers help me to understand and learn. I do nit agree with any of the changes. We should not sacrifice quality for quantity. It’s only two hours. What will you really be gaining by sacrificing 30 extra minutes with God.

    • Anne says:

      So well said, Risa, and I feel the same way. I am very sad and disappointed with the changes.

    • I think Risa has it exactly. When the goal is purposed to save time what gets sacrificed? Time with God. We are at BSF TO BE with Him. In the place where we can put the world aside for our time with Him and our brothers/.sisters in Christ. To prioritize our Lord. There is a song called I Miss My Time With You. “Those moments together, and it hurts Me when you say you’re too busy.. busy trying to serve Me, but how can you serve Me when your spirit’s empty and the longing in your heart wanting more and more of you,” …..you see, don’t you, that trying to fit BSF in to your world leaves you with half a loaf. You deserve more, but to have it you must choose it. I read through all of these heart cries. Jesus said Choose Me. And you did. Don’t compromise. Pray fervently to make a way with Him. See,because He is the prize.

    • schussboom says:

      Exactly, what is “two hours” of our lives? I agree with Risa. Out of the mere couple hours (literally 2 hours) we give to God at BSF, are we now diluting our praise time to Him in order for us to “rush off”? What is so important that we cannot spare 2 hours out of 7 days x 24 hours?

  66. Frances Seleznoff says:

    I love love the changes.. If makes more sense .. It’s not such a hardship At night classes it’s too dark to come home after 9 o’clock .. they streamlined it it’s more fit now .. I was always hoping they would do that and God answered prayer.. Thank you . I sure am happy about the change..

  67. Nancy Ericson says:

    Regarding the changes: I was aware of shortened time but not that we won’t be singing hymns any longer. I know people live in an ever increasing busy world, but when we need to take time away from worshiping and learning more about God I have some real concerns. And if people don’t complete their lessons that is their issue with time management. Again, to take time away from studying God’s Word seems to me to be shorting God on the time commitment we extend to Him. Shame on us. Nancy Ericson

    ________________________________

  68. Carol Rivera says:

    We had the same changes except for picking 6 questions. I have mixed feelings about the no hymn. Love getting out early and I’m like everyone else more on my plate than I can handle. However, BSF was and will continue to be a time of growing in the word, the hymns added a special time of worship. Have a great year and may we all grow in serving and bringing others to know Him.

  69. Lucy says:

    I am not happy with the changes. I feel that the worship with hymns is vital to my own experience. It is as if we have decided to leave off the prayer time. That is how important music is to my worship. Our churches have eliminated the Hymnal and have huge screens without the music score….a sad situation. This generation are not learning hymns and the four verses tell of the love of Jesus, just as a story would….usually straight from the scripture.

    • Rachel says:

      Well said, I agree!

    • Barbarann says:

      When what we’re doing seems like skimming, it is because we’re skimming. When we arrive at BSF already calculating how soon we can leave, why did we bother to come? Singing hymns is an integral part of worship. Even a casual reading of Psalms shows you the purpose. Who gets cheated? We do. At BSF we sit at Jesus’ feet. Immerse yourself in what BSF has for you. It’s not half a loaf, but a full, sustaining meal. Here is the catch: the spoon is given to you. Dig in and eat. BSF has prepared your meal. Your work is to consume it. Feed on His Bread for your spiritual growth. Yes, and sing the glory of His Name at work in you.

    • schussboom says:

      well said, I agree too!

  70. Pete Babacheck says:

    We have no opening hymm.
    Straight from the street to the class.
    We answer all the questions. Class length still the same so far. Half hour lecture.
    Reason for change was “We want to reach the younger generation”.

  71. Michael X says:

    It appears that most of the remarks favoring the changes come from men that meet at night. I do miss the more scripture-related questions but not so much the music. It’s nice to be home by 830 instead of 930. Perhaps if I met during the day I wouldn’t mind the extra time, but since I’m a guy and the only option for me is at night, I like the changes.

  72. Rachel says:

    I came to BSF years ago knowing nothing about the Bible, not knowing the songs, but understanding that it would require time and serious commitment. Now thank God I am saved through Jesus Christ. Learning the beautiful hymns was an unexpected gift, and our monthly fellowships in homes are some of my cherished memories. I am sorry that BSF feels the need to keep taking away from us; in-depth lesson notes, challenging questions that encouraged further study, monthly fellowships in private homes, our hymns, opening gathering for announcements, overall class time, and so on.

    • atozmom says:

      I forgot about the monthly fellowships in the homes! They only did this my first year and then it was discontinued. Good, good points!

      • Rachel says:

        Well thank you! I have been in various BSF classes in several states since the 1990’s , and these recent changes seem to take us far away from Miss Johnson’s founding original plan.Sigh

  73. Astrida says:

    I loved singing a hymn or two before starting our evening, hearing a few announcements and then going to our small group. I will miss that, but it should be okay. The shortened time seems everything is more ‘rushed’, but I am taking a “wait and see” attitude.

  74. Robyn Hould says:

    As an evening attendee I greatly appreciate the time change to 90 minutes. We did all the questions in group though, not just 6.

  75. Patricia says:

    Our group in Wisconsin is still singing songs, I love those gospel songs, sets my heart up for our discussions. We’re doing everything the same, thankfully, so I’m a little confused as to how and why the changes are happening elsewhere. My thought is if anyone signs up for BSF they know it’s a year commitment to study the word and meet once a week; 2 hours is not an excessive amount of time to devote to this endeavor. I love BSF, it’s among the best things that has happened in my life. I’m sure those of us who are in it, all feel the same. Thank you Atozmomm for your blog and all the love and devotion you invest in it. I love the extra historical details! God bless you! – Pat

    • Barbarann says:

      God bless your heart for the Lord, Pat, and for your wisdom and your personal discipline. If Jesus in flesh were here would we give Him less than our undivided attention? He IS here with us! Come before Him in worship and praise for He is worthy, waiting for us to bring our open hearts lifted for filling. He brings us to His word, wanting us present there with Him. In the moment, open and soaking up the fruit of scripture prepared for you by those doing the heavy lifting so that we hear and respond.

  76. schussboom says:

    It’s probably more helpful to the night classes to go condensed. However, I can’t help shaking the feeling that we are just shortchanging God in doing away with worship. It sets a spiritual tone and prepares our hearts for the Word.

    And if people aren’t doing their homework (such that we have to go Flex to accommodate them), they are shortchanging themselves. Why are we shortchanging everyone?

    I get that systems have to change with the times — but cutting out worship to “attract” younger people, kind of feels like diluting something here.

    • Amen. How do Christians justify shortchanging God and themselves? How does BSF? Look. I detest getting out of a warm bed, into the car and driving up the road for 20 minutes for half a loaf. I don’t show up to count the minutes until I can leave. That, folks, is shortchanging myself! It is pretty basic: you want to be there or you don’t.

    • Tim says:

      The condensed format is specifically targeted at evening classes; the manual says “consider a condensed evening class format, as time continues to be a major factor in attendance for adults
      and students. A shortened evening on a school night benefits students and registering adults as well as busy class members and leaders.” It’s up to each evening class whether or not to switch to the condensed format. Similarly, the opening session (including hymns) is now optional for day classes.

      I agree that the opening and hymns set the tone for the entire meeting. The best explanation that was given to me is that BSF is a supplement, not a replacement, for church. There’s not a need for everything that happens in church to also happen in BSF. Worship and hymns are not typical in other similar settings, such as other Bible studies or in Sunday school classes.

      For many younger folks or even those who are new to the faith, hymns (especially in the way I’ve seen them sung in multiple classes) are much more of an impediment to worship than they actually are worship. The use of old English, odd words, and awkward unnatural phrases can make it challenging to understand the depth of the words. Rather than letting this be an issue, removing the hymns allows everyone to focus on God’s word and prevents adding an unnecessary distraction just to appease those who don’t want anything to change.

  77. ann says:

    The majority of people dislike change. Period. They like to justify their dislike in a variety of “religious” reasonings.

    I do not care what my personal feelings are about the changes. I support them 1,000 percent if it is what the leadership prayed for and felt the Lord leading. Additionally, if it will bring one new person that might not have wanted to come otherwise, then that is worth it. I am saved. More are not. This program is not about me. This program is about the Lord and growth. If you cannot feel that you are growing because you are not singing hymns, then buy a hymnbook and sing at home to the Lord. God is the final verdict on what is and what is not appropriate moving forward. I bet if the nay sayers would pray for God to continue to guide leadership…HE WILL!

    When my children attended the night program, it was very very difficult to stay until 9:00 pm and drive a long distance home, while still being prepared for school the next day. I think for those people, this is really wonderful. I do believe this will draw many to the children’s night program. When you have elementary kids, 30 minutes is huge at night.

    My college aged daughter attends a young adult class with about 50 attendees. I can assure you, they are all thrilled about these changes.

    Once again….not me, but about the needs of the ones we are trying to reach. BSF wasn’t meant to attend indefinitely. It is to equip you to go out and serve others in your realm of influence, church, neighborhoods, work, etc. May God continue to guide and direct BSF as it makes His Word known to as many as can be reached.

    • Tim says:

      Amen! There are many things about BSF (including recent changes) that I like or dislike, but I know that these changes were not made haphazardly and were all made with prayer and careful consideration.

  78. Long time BSFer says:

    Take a few minutes to read this excellent article about BSF, which was in Christianity Today. http://bit.ly/2hgKHoZ

  79. Beth says:

    They have not instituted these changes in my BSF group. The only change is that they have now merged younger & older together so we can learn from each other. Everything else is the same.

    • Barbarann says:

      I suggested that merge two years ago to my BSF group because IT IS SCRIPTURAL. got shot down because, I was told, the younger women specifically didn’t want it.

      • Tim says:

        I’ve heard from several younger men that they really appreciate being in groups with older men both to get a different perspective on things and to hear from their experience. Similarly, I’ve heard from older men that they like having younger men in their groups because it encourages them that there are still those who want to study God’s word. I think the biggest complaint I’ve heard about mixed ages is some younger folks feel intimidated when they’re around others who know much more than they do. Perhaps that’s why some classes segregate groups by Bible knowledge levels rather than mixing them or separating by ages, but I feel that leads to the same types of issues. BSF leaves a lot of these types of decisions to the individual classes, which in this area is unfortunate. I’m thankful that in my class all groups are a mixture (by every category possible: age, Bible knowledge, and even denomination).

  80. Liz Boyer says:

    As a relative “newbie” to BSF, I don’t mind the changes. While I like singing, I didn’t like singing ALL the verses of the “Old” songs – many of the songs I’d never heard of as they were never sung in the Catholic church – Getting to BSF at 6:40 is still a bit of a challenge for me but I appreciate the shorter time. Our group still does all of the questions – rather than choosing 6 to focus on…I DO like the fact that the Notes are now on the website as that was VERY helpful especially when I was out of town without a BSF to attend (just doing the questions without the additional insight was hard.) I’m happy to be reading God’s word and to AtoZMom, thank you for the historical insights! I LOVE them!! God Bless you All.

  81. Clinton says:

    Just finished lesson 2 for tonight. Have not given much thought as to cutting down on time and structure of the evening but now have a real burdened impression as to where possibly BSF is headed. I have noticed for the past couple of years, really nuggets of truth in the Bible are “kinda” skirted around because possibly the verses do not agree with what they have been taught. Because quite possibly they do not agree, we CAN”T pick and choose what we agree with!!!!!! I was asked in class some time ago that did I really believed that The Gifts of The Spirit were for us today. DUH!!!!! There is nothing outdated in the Bible. The entire Bible is relevant!!!! My question to our gab session here is just why did Jesus lay hands on the sick and they recovered? I truly believe He loved these people but mainly to get the attention of the crowd. Once Jesus had their attention, he was able to share with them. In John 14:12-14 tells us that greater works shall we do as the Father is glorified. If some of you fellow readers do not agree with my comments, please keep loving me and simply pray for me that God will reveal his correct Word in my heart. I am really having a difficult time accepting BSF picking and choosing our dumbed down questions. I personally would love to have longer class sessions and much shorter lecture time.

    I am kinda fearful to post this little note. But, I truly believe what is said is correct.

    • Barbarann says:

      Clinton, please don’t feel your comments are putting you at risk for disapproval. BSF is an open forum hoping for your willingness to share your thoughts. Each of us is a recipient and a contributor as participants in one of the most nourishing Bible based programs in the world.

  82. Carol S Krogsgard says:

    Our Birmingham, AL daytime ladies group has also changed our times to shorten it overall. I didn’t hear anything about flex questions, though. However, we missed our first meeting due to effects of Hurricane Irma, so last week was our first meeting and was a combined lesson of introduction and lesson 1. Hope they don’t change the way we review the questions because I learn so much from the other ladies thoughts!

  83. Barbarann says:

    I sense that nudging spiritually to voice one more concern because I think there is something a bit backwards. I hope it is not the position of BSF that the attending membership sets the agenda. Is that not the business of the leadership? I appreciate the invitation to input, but not to usurp the authority to determine policy and/or presentation here. I don’t know what is best about that. I’m the student able and willing to dig through scripture about
    How God is speaking, hoping to grasp meaning from nuggets the Holy Spirit has imbedded. Tell me when and where to be. If that is inconvenient for me, i am the one who must make it work. BSF is my guiding hand. I can’t determine schedule or format. That is not harsh or insensitive. Thank every leader who rearranges her schedule to lead your study. Bless them all for their faithfulness. And try telling any teacher or professor you only have time for half your studies and wait for the letter that dismisses you from his class. Look. We do not have a half way God. He is an all in all the time God. The God Who wants all of me all the time.not just part of me some time that is more convenient. No. He says: pick me. Choose me. Every time. All the time. Take it to Him in prayer. He knows our every weakness. Uh oh, that’s a line in one of those hymns we have to sing. Followed by an encouraging one: thou wilt find a solace there.

  84. txex says:

    I very nearly quit BSF this week. It wasn’t over the changes in format but what I find to be a noticeable increase of substantive and exclusionary rhetoric in this year’s notes. Over the past three years I have always felt ever-so-slightly looked down upon as a non-protestant attendee in spite of the non-denominational billing it was given when I was invited to join. There seems to always be at least one passive aggressive jab during lectures and now it has become more prevalent in the written material as well. If the goal is to increase membership why alienate any of the membership (as I know I am not the only one of my “ilk” in attendance)?

    Perhaps I am alone in my perception; I cannot say as it is certainly not something I would bring up during fellowship time. I have since taken the advise from a dear friend, whom I met at BSF, to grab onto that which has value and ignore the rest.

    I wish BSF would concentrate on what makes us the same, a desire to expand our faith and love in Christ, and allow us to leave our differences at the door.

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