Feedback on BSF Changes This Year…

I received an email about the changes Bible Study Fellowship has made this year and the email was wondering why BSF didn’t ask for feedback on the changes at the end of this year.

So, here it is!  Your chance to tell BSF International what you think of the changes!

Leave a comment below.  Your voice matters!!

I’ll go first:

I personally didn’t like the flex questions.  I always did all the questions anyways as you all know and skipping around made the lesson feel choppy, haphazard, and incomplete.

I miss the opening time and the hymns.

We also have quit having monthly fellowships in others’ houses.  We maybe had “all-class fellowships” 3 times this year.  Once in the beginning, before Christmas break, and our last meeting.  I miss this unstructured time together.  Even these all class fellowships were rigid as we were always asked to come prepared to answer a discussion question and I don’t know about you but I get tired of homework!

I DO like the shaving 30 minutes off of our time.  I attend a night class, and it’s hard to focus late at night for me for 2 hours and my kids were zombies most of the time because of school.  That extra half an hour does make a difference.  I’m more relaxed.  I have time to get home and unwind.  And I have more time to do my own in-depth study of God’s word and reflection time on the lesson before I go to bed so hopefully I don’t forget quite so easily!

I like the not calling on women so often.  It eliminates the guilty feeling if you didn’t get your lesson done.  I also like the laid back atmosphere more of “just come” instead of “don’t come if you didn’t do your lesson”.  No one appreciates a guilt trip.

That’s my 2 cents.


55 thoughts on “Feedback on BSF Changes This Year…

  1. Love all the changes! Lead to greater individual participation. We never have done fellowships in anyone’s home.
    Personally, prefer not to have hymn/group prior to small groups. Too much shuffling around, especially for the seniors and mobility challenged.

  2. I totally agree with the prior comments. I do not like not having to give a Bible reference for my answers. I believe that we have a more “I think” rather than what the Bible says. I did write a letter to headquarters 2 years ago. No response. In our group there was no prayer support for one another. VERY DISAPPOINTED in the changes. BSF was my lifeline. Now I don’t have a church that was my life line AND BSF has left me as well. I did speak with a friend in Indiana. Her comments are the same. I live in Michigan. The changes for the millennials is destroying what was once the best Bible study available. I have been Class Secretary, Group Leader, Children’s Asst. Supervisor and class member for 15 years.
    Does Headquarters even care? The numbers are dropping here.

    1. Thank you for making these comments. I have been more in prayer than ever for BSF. Many of what BSF taught and emphasized in the past has been dropped. One major point as you mentioned teaching and/or by example an “I think” towards God’s. This is why many are coming because they are lost in their own thoughts and reasonings.

  3. I don’t miss the early gathering time and hymns. I usually skipped those anyway. I had to rush to drop off grandkids at school now have time to get ready by myself. We changed how we answered a little. I didnt mind the change. The half hour less was ok, but seemed like it rushed the lecture. Our leader talks fast anyway and now its really hard to take notes. Overall, didn’t mind the changes.

  4. I didn’t care for the way the questions were asked. I do all questions so I felt like I was doing unnecessary questions. Also it didn’t run as smooth because it was the questions for each day were lumped together. I really missed the opening because that just set the mood for the discussion groups. The hymns play a very important part and I felt like just going to class you didn’t have the prayerful mindset.

    I was ok with the time change but can do either because I don’t have small children to get ready, so I understand how young mother’s would like this change.

    All in all I love BSF and whatever you do I will still be on board.

  5. I personally strongly dislike it when you ask for ‘feedback’, especially when it is not apparent that you have any authority to implement any of the suggestions. ‘Feedback’ is usually synonymous with ‘complain’. Why don’t you ask what your readers LIKE about the changes that BSF is implementing.

    I especially LIKE that the powers that be at BSF have prayed about every decision to change. Whether I agreed with them or not, or if, as a GL, I had difficulty, at least I know and have faith that BSF Headquarters prayerfully considered every change.

    I LIKE the freedom to go deeper into the doctrine & heart questions. My experience this year has been that those that complain about too many application questions are only interested in head knowledge of the scripture ( very important) but are not so interested in applying the lessons to their own lives. I have seen much personal growth in my group and within myself this year. Many ladies in my group have told me how much they have learned from listening to others share. Even the shy ones have opened up their hearts and trusted the group with their deepest heartaches.

    I LIKE that I get to touch on each day’s questions. Since discussion time was cut by 5 minutes, there were many weeks when I didn’t even get to day 5 and certainly not day 6. I would always try ask the group if there was a skipped a question they would like to discuss. I even had a few ladies specifically ask to go back over a skipped question.

    I LIKE the monthly all class fellowships. When I had small kids in the program, that wasn’t an option and it was difficult to find childcare so I rarely got to attend any fellowships.

    I LIKE the shorter time.

    I LIKE that we have an option on how to lead the group. We can choose to go through every question and read every answer directly from the page, head down, never looking each other in the eye, or we can get off the page, look at each other and share our hearts with each other (fellowship?) all the while giving God the glory.

    I was resistant to the changes at first and had to ask my teaching leader, ‘when did I become an OLD BSFer’? But watching my group bond and create life long friendships with each other like I’ve NEVER seen before has been amazing. Only God could knit such a group together.

    And on a personal note, I LIKED that this year, your comments at the end of your posts were mostly positive and not berating to the BSF writers. Thank you for that. I hope it was intentional and I certainly noticed. .

  6. I don’t like the 3 different formats. I spend time doing my lesson and for the group leader to decide how and what questions are important to lump I don’t like. Plus people get off on rabbit trails and other topics that aren’t part of the lesson. I feel like the group leaders have more control of the group when you answer each question and you get the quite ladies to answer. I get they are trying to reach the younger generation but I don’t feel I’m getting much out of the discussion time.
    I like the shorter time as stated with kids. No one was ever in our open except the ladies without kids but then some ladies just go straight to their group to skip open. I love the shorter format.

  7. We actually had more discussion with the open format & people talked to each other about what the Lord taught them. As far as fellowships, BSF wants the classes to have some minumum number but doesn’t prescribe the maximum…that’s an individual class thing. I have mixed feelings but overall more positive than negative. As long as BSF keeps their 4-fold approach to Bible study, I still think it is one of the best around.

  8. Agree with all your thoughts. Just not the same. Why the change. I have always believed “don’t change success!” And BSF has been very successful for many years.

    Sent from my iPhone

  9. Wish there was an ATOZDAD’s Blog to get the men’s perspective of BSF but since you offer the only opportunity to give anonymous feedback on BSF, I can say that I agree with every point you make. They do apply equally to the men’s version. I also want to thank you for the insights you have provided this year. Please keep up the good work.

  10. I dislike these changes. We need structure and we need all the questions answered. Otherwise no one will do their homework. The homework is the most important part of BSF and is the meat of learning. There are plenty of questions that are personal, we certainly do not need more. I want to hear what the bible says, not everyone’s personal issues. They are trying to attract younger women into BSF, which is fine, but this will not do that. They have to realize that many younger women are working full time and have children. THis is why there are more older groups. Sometimes change is good, but this is not one of those times!

    1. I agree with your comments. I don’t answer those questions because they are personal. I prefer the actually study to read exactly what the bible says of those times.

    2. I disagree. The homework is not the most important part. Our connection with God is the most important part. Doing our lesson is our time with God. It’s not showing others in our groups how smart we are by parroting back what we wrote.

  11. I’m not sure how this brings in people.

    When we started with a Hymn we prepared our hearts for worship. We prepared ourselves to be in His word and we praised Him. I miss that!!! I have heard that some groups do not sing any hymns at all any more – how sad!!

    The Flex questions….. well sometimes I get stumped on a BSF question and it helps to hear what other people felt in regards to the question. Why do the questions if other questions are going to be asked during the group time. In addition, I found a lot of people not sticking to the word of God but to their own personal opinions.

    I’m not sure how these changes benefit BSF nor how they bring people into our classes. We need to stay TRUE to HIS word and in His word not of our own!

    Our group was given the option to stay together next year – but it was asked in the group time yes or no to stay tougher – kind of putting people on the spot!

  12. I personally don’t miss the opening song. It gave us a chance to chat and catch up on each other’s lives for a few minutes. Sidenote: Only about 4-5 ever came early enough for that. My BSF is in the morning and we only had our group fellowship 3 times this year. When I went to an evening class a few years ago we had fellowship every month.

    Also, I kinda liked the prior attendance requirement. Our ladies were so hit & miss with attendance I never felt connected to them. I couldn’t tell you some of their names. 😔

  13. I think you said exactly what a lot of women are thinking about the changes. I do my lesson, but I feel very intimidated most of the time because I am bashful about answering questions, but I learn so much just from listening. This is just more pressure to answer!

  14. As a member of a virtual group, I am so happy to be able to attend BSF, again without having to drive several miles. That said, I’m still not sure how I feel about this new ‘flex’ program. I feel like the more open-ended questions are all personal so why bother anymore with “sharing’ day, when that’s what we’ve been doing all year. I have been in other Bible studies that were not as structured as BSF and they tended to go ‘off-course’ often, so I felt like we were encouraging each other (which is what we should be doing, anyway), but when I am in a Bible study, I want to better learn the Bible! This new relaxed format could be heading that way.

  15. I so agree, do not care for the flex questions at all. When we dumb down God’s work, we are the one’s that suffer. When sharing is at a minimum, no one benefits.
    I understand BFS desires to attract new members, is the only way it can attract new members to shorten the class time, why so many accommodations! God’s word is meant to be disgusted, comprehended, lived and shared.

    1. Vanna, your comment reminds me of the modern state of “globo churches” as I call them–trying to cater to all when some will never come. Who suffers? Those who truly are God’s…. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Blessings to BSF for being open to try new ways of functioning.
    Change IS difficult sometimes but I still appreciate participation for 13 years. However it is structured, BSF has been a wonderful tool for trying to fully understand God’s words and love for us.

  17. Right! My comment is this, class is too structured. I have shepard many men to BSF class but the rigid, monotonous question study discourages them and they quit. I ask each and everyone y and they answer, “it is too structured” my input after six years with BSF is that they are right. New bee’s need someone to verbally teach them until the Holy Spirit descends upon them. The word of God I have come to discover is not meant for everyone unfortunately, God really has predestined believers and that is the difference between the saved and the unsaved.
    Suck it up, not everyone is going to Heaven. The outer darkness of eternity really does exist, it is not a fairy tail. God gives everyone a chance to come to Him, he has given His only Son for us and given us the Word as a path back to Him, some do and some don’t. with this said, BSF needs to quit being so boring, start focusing on quality instead of quantity for all who really want and believe in God.

    1. I love you pointing out acceptance of some won’t come to God. Very spot on. However, since we don’t know who that is, it’s still our job to pray for them. But that’s where it ends. It’s their job to grab onto Jesus. But I think our lives would be easier and less stressful if we accepted this fact and didn’t cater so much to everyone. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I love the shortened time I love skipping the hymn before class would love if you simplified the question more for better understanding. I would love more discussions in our class I would love to shorten the lecture I love having socials in class would love if we can sip tea in class love our lecture leader

  19. First, let me give a shout out for you, atozmom, for all of your insights that you provide. I often have struggled to articulate what I’m trying to say and when I create a paragraph you can say it in a sentence! So thank you, thank you!

    I’ve been going to BSF for two years, I love the way our homework has been renamed “heart work”. Isn’t that why we study the Bible? We want our hearts to know what God is saying to us, we want to know how God is asking us to live.

    I didn’t always like the sixth day question either and sometimes skipped it, but now I’ve come to realize that this is the most important question in our lesson; what has God taught me as I read His Word and how can I apply it to my life? I believe it’s really all about the application. We often start with the sixth day question as the first question at discussion time

    Change is hard! But I am grateful that BSF is working to try to reach the millenniums, offering virtual classes, working at ways to shorten the class for our busy lives, praying over all of the decisions that they make. I truly believe they are working at taking the gospel to our next generation.

    So, just as with any change, some of it we like and some of it we don’t. I believe that as BSF continues to find opportunities to change in this every changing world and teach people with God’s Word, they are living out the command to take the gospel to all people.


  20. I’ve tried really hard to embrace the changes that have been made. Really hard both in trying to like them and to accept them. BSF What is happening now probably has Ms. Johnson writhing in her grave.
    1. As much as I realize it’s not all about head knowledge without actions from the heart, I am pretty much done with how do you feel questions. There are too many and they are too repetitive. Too many see above in my answers. Enough already!
    2. The shortened class time just seems rushed. Without the opening, there is no more buffer to put the worries of the day behind you. And with less time for discussion, it’s hurry, hurry there too.
    3. Lectures are rushed.
    4. Next year we are to chose which questions to ask or to put aside the questions for discussion. Oh my that is going to be the biggest fiasco ever. Who’s going to be held accountable to sticking to what is in the bible and not some commentary.?
    With all that said, it’s really not about me. It’s about bringing people to God. I chose not to be a stumbling block and until God has other plans for me, I will continue to do my best to do that which is in His plan for me. But thank you for letting us voice our opinion. BSF isn’t willing to do so (lack of evaluation has always bugged me).
    1. As much as I realize it’s not all about head knowledge without actions from the heart, I am pretty much done with how do you feel questions. There are too many and they are too repetitive. Too many see above in my answers. Enough already!
    2. The shortened class time just seems rushed. Without the opening, there is no more buffer to put the worries of the day behind you. And with less time for discussion, it’s hurry, hurry there too.
    3. Lectures are rushed.
    4. Next year we are to chose which questions to ask or to put aside the questions for discussion. Oh my that is going to be the biggest fiasco ever. Who’s going to be held accountable to sticking to what is in the bible and not some commentary.?
    With all that said, it’s really not about me. It’s about bringing people to God. I chose not to be a stumbling block and until God has other plans for me, I will continue to do my best to do that which is in His plan for me. But thank you for letting us voice our opinion. BSF isn’t willing to do so (lack of evaluation has always bugged me). BTW, this is my 10th year in BSF.

  21. For context, I am 14 years in BSF, 9 as a leader in and evening men’s group of about 600 that has doubled in size in the last 10 years. Susie Rowan’s leadership is due credit for the growth as in the ministry’s growth from a year or two of decline before she came. I started under rigid guidelines and have seen them gradually soften every year, not quite at the pace of this year, but steady change that was sorely needed.

    I had a negative reaction at the start of the year seeing the time reduction as counterproductive to setting a tone for the evening and shortening time for community building in the larger class. Now everything seems rushed and lecture became like drinking from a firehose. Leaders meeting’s prayer time and training time have been shorted and often homiletics is given lip service. Organization and logistics could be handled by the STL (now two of them) and announcements electronically transmitted.

    From the breakout session at the retreat I learned that HQ is aware they may have done too much too fast and are re-taking a look at formation and intent of the questions. Personally, I prefer a balance of one personal question for every four of the other varieties where the meaning comes from scripture and not so much feeling. It is still Bible Study Fellowship, not from our journals.

    Fellowships occur monthly and that hasn’t changed. My method of group leadership has been more fluid each year. When a question bombs, I usually have anticipated it and have a re-phrased version to substitute and I usually give the obvious questions less time. Finishing all the questions has become less and less important to me as long as we cover the key doctrinal points and the aim I came up with in homiletics. The attendance policy has come to the rational point that there are no drops for attendance reasons as long as there are empty group seats. We are, after all, adults.
    My wife and I are both group leaders, certainly older than the median age of leaders and we both resented the notion that “we don’t want to attract 55 year old white guys” (area team quote) was offensive. This kind of Bible Study is opted for later in life when the spiritual timing is right. To me, most of the changes are good to get young people in the door and keeping them there. That’s good as long as we retain the thorough and rigorous attention to Scripture that has been BSF’s hallmark for 59 years.

    All that said, there is no better place to spend my time in the Word than BSF. It has grown 90% in the last 10 year so HQ must be doing more right than wrong.


  22. Lots of great comments. I always wondered why BSF assigned people to a new group of people every year. I’d like to have some Christian women that could provide consistent friendship and support. But I suppose meeting new people every year keeps us from becoming clique-ish. I like giving up the opening hymns and time. I prefer the Bible-based questions as opposed to the personal questions. And if you get sick, I wish we could get the notes from the lecture online in addition to next week’s questions. I’ve learned a lot but am thinking of attending a different Bible Study next year.

  23. I miss the music and going through the questions…I find that many ad lib vs giving the Word.

  24. I like the changes. I do miss the hymns. We had home fellowships for our groups. All our ladies liked the changes even us older ones. It does take us out of our comfort zone. For leaders prayer time we break up in four groups and that makes it better for hearing and communicating. Let’s at least try and see what happens.

  25. I like that they got rid of the hymn singing singing since it allowed us to get out by 11 am. I also like that the group leader doesn’t call on people to answer questions any longer so you can feel free to come even if you didn’t have time to finish your lesson. I think these changes are necessary to attract younger members to BSF because younger people need to get out earlier and they won’t come if they think they will be put on the spot to participate if they don’t have time to finish their lessons. The things I don’t like about the new format is the over abundance of personal questions in the lessons. One or two personal questions is all that is needed in each week’s lesson, but there were usually a lot more than that in each lesson this year. I realize that it is important to apply what you are learning, but I don’t think these personal questions help in this regard much. I also wish that they would study a chapter each week instead of focusing a whole week on just a few verses. Last year we studied 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John during the John study, and I wish we could have studied some of Paul’s other writings during the Romans study. This would have been possible if we had studied a chapter a week, instead of spending many weeks on just a few verses. Overall, I’m still very glad that I joined BSF because I’ve grown in my faith since joining and I’ve made some great Christian friends.

  26. Ok, I have mixed feelings. Point of reference from attending BSF for +20 years.
    I will admit change is always difficult for me. I have to consciously remind myself this isn’t about me.
    So, to start with.. I like the shorted time, but I miss the opening (because that is the only time I have to connect with BSF friends outside my group). I am not a big fan of hymns, but one would be nice. There are some great hymns. And it gave stragglers a bit more wiggle room to get to class on time.
    I will like the notes online next year. I access my lesson online now and complete most of it on my computer. That’s just me.
    I don’t like personal, after personal question. In the past personal questions were marked as such and members were to volunteer, not be called on. Yes, we need to apply these lessons to our lives, but lets get the foundation/structure of it all.
    I don’t like skipping questions. Weren’t the questions thoughtfully, prayerfully, considered when writing the lessons? I put the time into answering them, etc and then we skip several now. Our GL will sometimes just answer some questions herself and then move on. Sometimes I feel like they are trying to just have a *friendly discussion* and are jumping around the lesson.
    I liked the fellowships at members houses. it was relaxed and we felt like *friends*. With the new liberties though, my GL has had a few in the evenings (I attend in the morning). These went w-a-y over the usual time and were pretty good as far as Christian connections. The all class fellowships are blah. We had one with a double group because our GL was out and of course that fellowship was blah. I do understand it is something for those that can never attend because of child care. It’s a compromise that makes sense.
    Are groups being asked if they want to stay together next year? It would be okay with me this time, but there have been years when I couldn’t wait for that group to be done.
    I was so delighted to discover BSF 20 years ago because it valued accountability in completing the lessons. I had young children then so it wasn’t always easy. But, it counted for something then.
    Thanks AtoZmom for your blog.. at least someone is answering all the questions for me.

  27. Frankly, it’s hypocritical to constantly reference Miss Johnson at Bible Study Fellowship when her studies and format no longer resemble anything she established. I wish the whole thing was renamed. Just remove the Study and call it Bible Fellowship.

    A people who do not sing and praise and worship God are not a people God is proud of and you can read all about it in the Old Testament and Paul’s letters to the churches.

    A people who do not commit wholeheartedly to God and the study of His word are a people headed for trouble. Most churches have pitiful excuses for the deep study of God’s Holy Word. More coffee drinking and donut eating than Jesus on Sunday mornings. More reading the latest book for sale by Famous Christian Protestant Person at the Christian bookstore, some Liberal Comparison of World Religions for the Mainline Crowd or not reading the Latest Christian Best Seller and showing up for tacos and loads of irrelevant small talk mid week in the constantly changing small groups in the attempt to play house church. Or let’s all take a bus to Big City Christian Concert or Conference or go Hammer Roofs in Tropical Country for a Week to Play Missionary and Take Lots of Photos Holding Smiling Children with Presents (rather than actually helping widows and orphans year round.)

    Bible Study Fellowship was the SERIOUS PLACE to get good, solid Bible instruction for a lot of Protestants and Catholics whose own churches had fallen away or neglected deep, rich, thorough STUDY. It was a place to get trained to go back to your own church and BUILD good, sturdy programs for children, teen, and adults or to help bolster flagging programs or become a strong helper and servant to programs that were already in place and working (far too rare these days in most denominations.)

    Bible Study Fellowship was a place that trained leaders and members to be responsible, accountable, and show up every week no matter how you felt. It was place that taught obedience to God’s word and self discipline. “Oh, it’s rainy or about to snow. I think I’ll stay home.” “I’d rather go to the out of town soccer tournament rather than keep my commitment to support Children’s Worship.” “I want to go to my sorority tea rather than help with leaders’ children on Tuesday morning.” BSF taught sacrifice of self which the Christian life is all about in following and imitating Jesus. It might have been subconscious but it was there…loud and clear. I’ll never forget being frustrated after praying and making 27 unanswered calls in a row trying to get child care for leaders’ training morning. I was the Assistant Children’s Supervisor for many years. Our long time CS said, “Sugar, haven’t you yet learned why you are committed and called and they aren’t? We’re different from them. We’ve crossed that road to servanthood and they’re not there yet. Don’t get frustrated. Be thankful to God you’re on the road and pray for them to come onboard and truly follow Jesus with us.”

    Miss Johnson’s book was not called Created for Commitment for nothing.

    Basically, last year we were told in a roundabout way that leaders over 55 were encouraged to step aside for younger leaders. I’m not sure what happened to older women and older men leading and teaching the younger but it clearly doesn’t fit into the Rock Band Jesus Culture these days and catering to the nons and setting the compass on BSF towards the nons and no longer being the one reliable place outside of seminaries for serious Bible study.

    There are multitudes of women’s Bible studies that are superficial or require little time or preparation or commitment. I will not name them but just about every Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Congregational, and Rock Band Church has them. Now, it’s a little tougher for men to find the same but they are there, particularly in the Rock Band churches. Why BSF wants to imitate them, I have no idea.

    I loved Bible Study Fellowship. I am grateful for the tools it gave me, the head knowledge it gave me, and a few deep friendships it provided. I am thankful for the leadership I learned, the listening skills I was taught, and how to engage children and really TEACH them about God and His People and how to plant seeds of the love of Jesus in them. I am full of gratitude for the years of shepherding women and what I learned.

    One of them things I realized somewhere along the way was the cult of BSF and how some never graduated to move out and on to new callings of service in their churches and communities. Maybe it’s the Lecture Leader who has fallen into pride or the Children’s Supervisor who is stagnant and dialing it in but can’t imagine NOT being the CS in her big city BSF. Maybe it’s the group leader whose children are all over the country now and grandbabies are growing up and her attendance is sporadic because she wants to be in two places but she refuses to give up her position. Some of us leave willingly and some of us never do.

    Some people have a fear of leaving BSF because years ago they tried Community Bible Study or a Kay Arthur Precepts Study or Beth Moore book study or Priscilla Shirer group and it wasn’t deep enough or structured enough or whatever. Times have changed. I know leaders who have gone on to CBS and found just what they felt like they were missing these last couple of years in BSF. My best friend has moved on to CBS. She waited years to complete BSF and finish the Minor Prophets but this repeated for the third year with Romans was too much frustration in comparison to what was happening in her CBS group. One well was draining her and the other was filling her. It was a HARD choice. I’m in the same boat. We no longer live in the same city but the BSF changes in both have disappointed us.

    Yes, it’s not all about us. If it was, we wouldn’t have served in leadership for over a decade each. We wouldn’t have “sacrificed” so much to stay in leadership with our perfect attendance year after year at great cost to our families.

    Yes, we know the Board of BSF prays. So do we.

    I found a Precepts class that God clearly led me to at a church across town in a denomination I left years ago. It was like the water at Meribah. I did not realize how thirsty I was and how dry my well had become despite being great at Homiletics, being told what an awesome group leader or children’s leader I was, and how faithful I was. I was dry as a bone inside. I could knock out the “new” lessons in an hour each week on Sunday night. I spent half the week dreading it yet when I started it, I whipped through it in an hour. Homiletics took me more time than the new style lesson that used to be studied over for an hour every day back in the “old days.” Leaders meetings became excruciating. Hymns were rushed. The same praise by the same people every week. (I can tell you every single leader’s favorite praise without peeping!) Break into Admin, Children, Groups and mostly do actually useful work on occasion. Get back together in a massive group and get surprised to lead the opening two questions. (I was never sure what the purpose of being surprised was but guaranteed our TL would pick the most harried, having the worst week GL to lead. Then, the misery of the fake what you did right and wrong.) I never understood why in these huge groups, we didn’t break down into three random groups run by the TL, the CS, and the AL each week. Having leaders’ training for the lesson with 70 or 50 leaders was not intimate nor did it allow for real training. I used to get amused that we would train for “conversational” sharing and yet, in our LEADERS’ groups, our TL called us to answer by name in military fashion every single week. I can’t say that I blame her. Conversational sharing with 40 or 70 women turned into many, many side conversations of sharing. It’s hard to rein that back in, that’s for sure!

    So, whine time. I was unhappy about no music. I was unhappy about no opening prayer. I was unhappy about the dumbing down of the study. I was unhappy about forced fellowships increasing. I was unhappy listening to “warm chat” and superficial endless whining about life. I was unhappy being told that head knowledge was not important and only heart knowledge was important except it seemed to me that ignorant heart knowledge was just as meaningless as heartless head knowledge. I was unhappy being told it wasn’t about me and how it was about all the unsaved people out there as if I didn’t deal with that every single day at work and in my neighborhood and every week at my huge mainline denomination marching into apostasy gorgeous cathedral of a downtown church. I was unhappy about women openly discussing their out of wedlock love lives with no response and unhappy about endless whining about getting old and the sometimes miserable changes that come with that instead of being grateful to be alive when so many are called home so young. I was unhappy about the canned openings in lecture and endless references to CS Lewis as if there was not 2000 plus years of Christian history and the constant acting as if Orthodox and Catholic Christians were somehow not Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, Brazil, Poland, Italy, or the USA because they didn’t have Rock Band Jesus in their hearts and a non denominational pastor standing on a stage with a light show.

    God was troubling my waters. When God troubles your waters, you’d better pay attention.

    I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I could give up Bible Study Fellowship. I loved it. I loved Miss Johnson. I loved God’s Holy Word.

    Somehow, somewhere along the way, it became an idol to me. It became more important than my family, my church, and almost my God. Everything I did revolved around Bible Study Fellowship. I didn’t fly home to help my mother care for my father during the BSF school year. I only went in the summer. I remember Ruth Graham Bell saying something similar about her years as a Teaching Leader in NC.

    This may sound like Bible Study Fellowship bashing and it is NOT meant to be that. Some of it is ME bashing ME. Some of it is disappointment in the choices of the BSF Board. Time will tell, just like a prophet, whether it is of God or not. Some of it is to get some of you to THINK deeply about the WHY you do BSF. Has it become an IDOL to you or is it an appropriate study TOOL in your tool belt?

    For me, Precepts has filled my dry well. The format works for me. I love the co-ed class. I’m deep into God’s word. We take turns bringing sweet and savory snacks weekly. We break between group and have plenty of time to use the restroom, get snacks and settle down to watch the video of either Kay or David Arthur or Dr. Wayne Barber. Before class, the prayer list goes around and an email goes out mid week. Nothing feels forced. Our leader doesn’t have to give up another three hours a week to train. We arrive at 6:30 and leave by 8:30 but if we go over, we go over. No one stresses. We NEVER rush.

    I’m also taking courses at a historic church which is filling that 2000 year giant hole I had. They are led by highly trained theologian and I so appreciate the peace this has brought me and the inspiration of those who faithfully and sacrificially served Christ and His people over 2000 years.

    Here’s the deal. I’m no longer in leadership. I miss it but I don’t. I know I was led out for a reason. If I can’t cheerlead for the new changes, then, I needed to switch conferences. I’m still on Team Jesus but serving somewhere else. That’s okay. I think Miss Johnson intended that all along!

    Will I do the newly designed History of Israel? I’m signed up. We’ll see. But if it more closely resembles what went down with Romans this year, I will have to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. God speed to you all. Be blessed. I’m out of here.” I left Romans after Christmas. Precepts was demanding more time and I didn’t have time to spent half the week trying to guilt myself into doing my BSF lesson. It had become ridiculous. I LOVED doing my BSF lessons in the old days but the new John was misery and Romans was frustrating me and the new format was not for me. Just like all brands of clothes are not built for your particular body, not all studies are for you or for me.

    I’ve been encouraged to train for Precepts. My BFF has already been invited to leadership in CBS. There is life after Bible Study Fellowship. There is life IN Bible Study Fellowship. Each person must pray and seek God’s wisdom on where they are called to serve, where they are called to fill their wells, and where they are called in life.

    I love you, AtoZMom. You kept me sane for many years in Bible Study Fellowship when my BFF fellow leader and I would be going nuts over yet another “what do you think” question. I came here to have my well filled and to be confirmed, that no, I wasn’t crazy. It really was a frustrating lesson, not just for me. Clearly, lots of men and women still love it, love the new format, don’t give a rip about not singing or calming themselves in worship and praise to our Heavenly King, and want to have lots of warm chat and what do you thinks and another get together. Go forth in peace. I look forward to meeting you in Heaven.

    1. Ah, SweetMama! So, so good to hear from you! I’ve missed you and prayed for you often.

      I’m so glad you’ve found what fills your heart and your need for Jesus. Thanks for sharing!

      Thanks for speaking the truth when many feel that criticizing is blasphemy. We all grow through people telling us what we’re doing wrong, not affirming us when we are doing wrong.

      I came to BSF 8 years ago (wow! It’s been that long!) with Isaiah. I came because I couldn’t stand the “let’s bash our lives and husband’s” “bible” studies I had been attending. I learned so, so much about the Bible, God, Jesus, and His plan for me. I shared that online and yes, got bashed to hell for it. But I stuck it through and am still here…

      I love BSF but like I’ve said before it’s a tool– you must study on your own or like you, SweetMama, find what fills your soul.

      The lessons are frankly unchallenging. I finish them lickety-split. I do the lessons as soon as they are posted online so I’m done 2 months ahead of time.

      I intend to finish out the studies I haven’t done with BSF and then investigate CBS as well. I’ve heard such great things from them.

      I hope others read your words and take them to heart. Why are you in BSF? Is this the place to be? Where do you serve? All great questions we need to constantly ask ourselves and pray about because God leads us.

      Have a wonderful summer and I miss you so! Hugs and kisses your way and stay in touch!!!

      1. I wish we could edit. There are so many mistakes in my post!

        I will continue to read you weekly even if I don’t respond. I can’t imagine NOT finishing what I started in BSF but I can’t imagine my frustrations if the “new” Minor Prophets turns out to be more of the same from the last two years.

        I know a lot of people ARE happy that BSF is easier, that the time has been shortened, and there are more opportunities for chit chat. I’m sad that I probably won’t finish what I started with Bible Study Fellowship. But I’ve had more peace this spring than I have in a long, long time.

        I spent ten days in Rome and it changed my life.

        I pray for you and your husband, children, and big dogs. I think of you often.

    2. Greetings, Sweet Mama!:)

      Thank you for your valuable insight and courageous comments.

      You are absolutely correct in saying the Bible Study Fellowship should no longer be called BSF, as this outstanding, life-changing Bible study has been systematically dismantled and rebranded.

      In short, Bible Study Fellowship is not the in-depth Bible study that Miss A. Wetherell Johnson founded in 1959. Simply, Bible Study Fellowship is BSF in name only. (Please read and study Miss A. Wetherell Johnson’s excellent book, Created for Commitment: The Remarkable Story of the Founder of the Bible Study Fellowship.)

      Sadly, I, too, departed BSF during the study of Romans last spring. The format had been compromised so much (no worship, therapeutic fellowship and discussion sessions, less-than-desirable lectures, and so on), I was compelled to finally let go of this Bible study.

      While I have now committed to a couple Bible studies with Precepts (and personal Bible studies using the John MacArthur series), my hope is that the Bible Study Fellowship returns to its original, life-changing format.

      I pray Bible Study Fellowship reinstates the life-inspiring Cross on its logo; the Spirit-filled praise and worship music; the brain-stimulating discussion questions; the thought-provoking lectures; the heartwarming fellowship times; the Christ-centered seminars; the unique, homemade nametags; the weekly phone calls from the group leader; the reverent dress code for those in administrative/leadership positions; the attendance expectations of class members; and so forth.

      In closing, may Bible Study Fellowship once again reflect and glorify the Creator God and equip its members (the Body of Christ) to go forth and spread the Gospel message: by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone am I saved (justified, made right in the eyes of the Father). Restated, the Christ Jesus is the only way, truth, and life to the Father (John 14:6). Amen. Alleluia.

  28. I enjoy my BSF study time because the framework keeps me in the word. In the group I attend, I feel a serious lack of “fellowship”. Our so called fellowship times are orchestrated every bit as much as lesson discussion times. No opportunity for Christian fellowship and getting to know our sisters in Christ on a personal level. When we move from our small groups to gather for lectures we are admonished to keep moving and not talk or we might be late for lecture! When are we able to find “fellowship” in this structure? Must all conversation be so rigidly controlled?

  29. I am returning to BSF this fall after 1 year away, and look forward to these changes. But In my prior classes there were too many requests to pray for me. I purposely did not go into details about my personal life and therefore never requested personal prayer. However, the leader would call each week to see if I had a prayer request. That’s good for some, but I felt pressured. I must say that My first class had a great leader and the class meshed very well. Great study and good fellowship. As I forestated, I am looking forward to the fall study, and praying that the changes are good ones.

  30. As a former DL in BSF for over 15 yrs, it saddens and breaks my heart to see BSF go from a Christ Centered Ministry to a People Centered Ministry. When I look at all the changes that have been made this year, they all moved away from God to people. Eliminating the opening took away putting God First with Praise,Worship, and Prayer and replaced it with a Group focus agenda. BSF was always the one place in my life where I knew God was always first and the focus of the time spent at bible study. Shorting the time was probably a good idea, especially for those who have children. However they shortened the lecture (God’s Word) to accommodate the groups. The changes that the BSF leadership made with the questions in my opinion does not encourage the people to spend quality alone time with the Lord, because now my opinion or feelings have been elavated to be just as important as God’s Word. What’s wrong with answering questions with God’s Word? In my opinion, BSF leadership no longer believe that the plan that God gave Whether Johnson is good enough for this generation. They believe that they have a better plan, which means that they are no longer being lead by the Holy Spirit but by the flesh. The Holy Spirit will never lead us away from God and his word! I learned this from BSF. I pray for BSF leadership all the time, hoping to see changes returning to honoring God and his word.

  31. I am sad that we no longer sing hymns. I understand the need to reach out to the younger women/men but Christian hymns have been a common thread in many cultures for hundreds of years. As for the questions and the newest format, I am undecided so far. I agree that it’s important to apply what we have learned and studied but I think it’s important to READ and STUDY God’s Word for what He says to all of us first.
    I love the concept of BSF but I may return to Community Bible Study next year. I went to iCBS last year and enjoyed it very much but came back to BSF for the Promised Land, Part I.
    I’m 66 and have done almost every year of BSF for the last ten years.

    1. I come from being in BSF since 1991, off and on (More on than off).

      Couple questions, Aynne. Does your BSF not do any hymns? We still sing one before lecture. Other than that, everything is quite rushed. The lecture is very condensed and has become difficult to take notes and I don’t have time to listen to the lecture a second time online. Second question: How do you find CBS studies?

      I am a host for the Children’s Dept and, if the idea for shortening was to help moms get there on time, it didn’t work. They are no more on time now than when they had 2 hours. And moms still leave early on a regular basis. And years ago, when my children were little, I had no problem getting the older ones to school and my young one(s) to the study on time.

      As for the questions: Neither my husband, daughter (a millennial), or my husband like the way the questions have changed. In fact, our daughter has dropped BSF and moved to a small group study instead. She finds more fellowship there as well as honesty and in depth study. In our group, we tend to be “old fashioned” and not do the “pair share” and our leader lets us have time to discuss specific questions but doesn’t do the 3 question method much as we don’t like it. I like hearing how something has impacted a person’s life but wish there was a bit more direction in not going off on bunny trails. In addition we are told never to correct anything – but I’ve actually heard what verged on heresy/non biblical truth 2 times in my group the past couple years.

      As for changing groups: I’ve never had a big issue with that. I’ve actually made deep friendships among some of the ladies and we get together for lunch from time to time. I even have a fellow leader with whom I study during the summer.

      I hope BSF returns to focus on scripture more.

      AtoZMomm: Thank you for your blog. I don’t come here terribly often but once in a while if a question doesn’t make sense, I’ll glance at your lesson which helps me understand what they are talking about. Never used to have this problem even with “challenge” and “personal” questions (I miss the personal ones – easier to know when it was ok to share personal things.)

  32. Very heartbroken to see how bsf has departed from the word of God and gone to what I call a ladies chat sessons. I never answer the personal questions and frankly tire of having to listen to the ladies talk about themselves. I totally agree with dragging Ms Johnson’s name into this as this is a complete remake of her wonderful God-given instruction. I will start next year, but don’t want to be a dropout. I have grieved all day long.

    1. I really think BSF needs to rename itself as the new direction will tarnish the stellar reputation of Ms Johnson

  33. Not a fan of altering a great study. I’ve seen more poor attendance and spotty attendance without the rules. I’ve seen people judged on their heart knowledge because of the pressure to share personal application. I’ve seen more reluctance to share because there were no introductions or name tags.

    The changes won’t keep me from going but the judging and playing favorites did cause a move to another group. And I’m not alone in doing that.

    BSF is still great. The notes blew me away every week, so thank you to whoever writes them. I truly appreciate the opportunity to attend and the time and effort of everyone who makes it possible. There’s no perfect study, no perfect leader, no perfect student, but what I saw happen because of poor leadership is hopefully isolated and not because of a new rule.

  34. I’m extremely frustrated with the shorter hour and the dumbing down of the lesson. Leaders meeting no longer has the time to train new leaders. We are losing leaders and class members at a very fast pace. The flex questions create issues in the group. People feel cheated for all the time they spent in their questions. I sense an overall discouragement in the class members as well as leaders.

Leave a Reply