What is homiletics?  I was stumped too at first.  So I took the seminar offered by BSF a while back.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, homiletics is the art of preaching.  BSF defines homiletics as analyzing and studying the Bible passage in preparation for teaching this to others.

In essence, you figure out what the passage is saying and then narrow it down into the main thesis of the passage and then apply application questions to those whom you are speaking too.

Come to find out, I was doing Homiletics all along; I just wasn’t writing it down.  My summary is basically the content of the whole passage and my conclusions is the thesis or what I got out of it–what the passage says to me.

I think some are intimidated by homiletics (the name alone does it for most people–blame the Greeks) but it’s really not that bad. It’s just what the passage is saying and what it means to the Biblical world and how it can be applied today.

I would wager most of us do at least some of form of an informal homiletics when we do our questions.  You have to to get an answer and be able to explain it to others.  I’ve ran into a couple of people who thought themselves better because they ‘did’ homiletics every week.

I wish BSF would change their final question because at first I thought it was just for the leaders and we weren’t supposed to do homiletics.  That’s what the question says, right?  “For Group and Administration Leaders.”  Well, that’s not me, I thought.  It seems unnecessarily restrictive when put this way.

No one explained homiletics to me or the last question.  We never talked about the last question in our small group or in lecture or in the notes even (I never heard the word even mentioned until the seminar came up and I had to attend it to find out what it was).  So why have it on the “Discussion Questions” if its never going to be discussed?

Homiletics is for everyone–not just the leaders.  You don’t have to be an expert in the Bible or have been in BSF for multiple years to do homiletics as I believe BSF implies.

As most of you know, the BSF process was never explained to me. I was just thrown in, handed the questions, and wished good luck.  I think Homiletics needs to be explained on the first day.  I think everything needs to be explained much better.  I think BSF assumes attendees know it all or you’ve been attending for a while.

I think we all need to go over this stuff every year so we’re all on the same page.  For an organization who adheres to their way of doing things stronger than super glue, you think they’d be sticklers on such things.

This year in Isaiah we’ve talked a lot about control–a lesson I think BSF could learn from.  I think BSF needs to loosen their grip a bit and let God use the tools of the modern age to bring more to Him.

BSF does not exist without the generosity of those giving and supporting what they do.  Still, I’m left wondering how many calls they do get from those desperate for Christ who are turned away because “we don’t do that here.”

27 thoughts on “Homiletics

  1. Though I’ve understood and empathized with some of the points you’ve made and I’ve even commented on, one area I have to disagree with is the general use of BSF in what was not explained or told ot understood by you. I believe I have an extraordinary lecturer and some group leaders better than others, but my experience in many of the areas you have be lacking in, is just the opposite for me. We have ALL always been encouraged to attend the homiletic training/sessions with an understanding of what is it. If it is not just for leaders, should there be an entire sheet of just that question for those you’ve done the training? We barely get through the questions for us all, adding the homoletics question to discuss including those without the benefit of the training, would be counter productive. It is to help me better discuss scripture with others not in BSF. My group leaders have always been available to me to call if I am stumped… and if they don’t know, get with our lecturer and call me back. I’ve even talked to the lecturer afterward for further edification, so all in all, my experience is totally different than yours.

  2. Hi, I’m glad you took the Homiletics Seminar and you learned from it. However, I think you may have missed the point a bit with your post.

    Group and Administration Leaders are REQUIRED to do homiletics each week. BSF offers the homiletics seminar so everyone can learn how to do it and they can do it IF THEY CHOOSE. They offer the seminar a couple of times a year. I, for one, took the seminar and planned to try and do it each week but life got in the way. I am involved in 3 different bible studies each week with a total of about 10 hours of homework. On top of all the other things I’m involved in, that stretches me to the point where some weeks I don’t quite finish one or the other of the homeworks. If homiletics was required as part of the homework for everyone, I would have to drop one of my bible studies and I would grieve over that because I learn so much from each and every one.

    So, I say do homiletics if you have the time or can make the time but don’t force it to be a requirement for everyone or some of us will have to drop out of BSF. There are things I don’t care for about how BSF does their business. However, if you stop and consider they are all over the world and have to have a very standardized and rigid formula in order to keep all the country classes along the same lines, I think it makes more sense.

    My advice is, while you are still involved with BSF or you have the opportunity to do it in the future, take what it offers and learn what you can and spend your energy on that rather than chaffing against the controls and things you don’t like. I am on my way out the door and don’t have time to look up verses but I believe God says we are to obey our government leaders without grumbling, etc. (or something to that effect). The BSF is the governing body in this case, so my feelings are that we need to go along with their rules or get out of BSF.

    Just my thoughts. I hope they help you find some peace on this issue so you can devote your energy to God’s Word. And, I wish you well in your new location when the time comes that you have to leave BSF.



  3. Like Mary (above) pointed out, Homiletics is required on the leaders. No one is prohibiting you from doing it, and the seminar regarding how to do it is offered twice a year. Another thing, I have been in BSF for about 14 years, so I am very familiar with it. Each rule was designed to correct a problem or to make things run smoother. The purpose isn’t to ‘cramp your style’ but to ensure that EVERYONE gets the most out of the program. In this instance, I think you are being very unfair to BSF.

  4. I completely agree with you. I was new this year to BSF after hearing wonderful reports from friends and a husband who have been in it for years.The “rules” were never explained, even tho I knew them from the friends. The sequence of the lesson, lecture etc was never explained until I asked friends. BSF should also be in the business of getting feedback from us. They should ask for comments about our experience so that they can make corrections. We have had a very poor teaching leader and the group has dwindled to half of the women it started with. Its a shame. Even tho I loved the book of Isaiah, the process is not as effective as it could be. I doubt I will stick with BSF but will find other ways to study as I have in the past. Thank you for your notes and letting us peak into your life a bit. May God bless you and your family !!



  6. Grateful vs Grumbling (Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Philippians 2:13-15)..I am a member of a BSF class in the Midwest. I was invited to attend by a dear friend (had never heard of BSF) and will forever be grateful for the invitation. To my knowledge, there is no other Bible study of its kind….FREE,world-wide,a truly in-depth study sustained by some of the most dedicated and caring Christian women I have ever met. I have been a class member as well as a Discussion Leader. BSF has been successful for a variety of reasons including what you call its rules. They serve a purpose, many of which you may not understand. Some of the guidelines may be to bridge customs from country to country, some may be because human nature leads many people who aren’t self-motivated to do “the least rather than the most”. Some are obviously because they lead to a richer and more thoughtful sharing time in the discussion groups. This lends each woman in attendance the amazing opportunity to share outside of BSF with more knowledge and confidence plus provides a means for further personal Scripture searching for each of us. For whatever reasons, the guidelines are what they are and BSF has lasted all of these years partly due to the “rules”. They are a tremendous success story. The goal of BSF is to train and prepare women to be leaders in their churches and communities. It takes discipline to do a thing well. You know this from your writing…what it takes to organize your thoughts, get them on paper, refine and sift through then refine again. Think of your kids…if left up to them, how many questions would they complete on their homework or how many days would they go to school rather than stay home and enjoy playing outside, etc. Sure, they are kids and we are not but many of the same tendencies to not follow through on things make their way into adulthood. Most people need incentive or motivation to complete tasks. Although BSF is quite structured, I’m sure you would agree that a lot of what each of us draws from it is directly related to how much we put into it. Hence, its structure. It works.

    Homiletics….so glad you took the initiative to take the class and I hope you will be able to take some of the others eventually as they are all very good. They are all intended to bring you back to the goal of BSF..To train you to go forth and lead. I’m sorry you have felt that you weren’t told enough about all of things related to the BSF seminars. This isn’t the case here. Our Teaching and Discussion leaders talk about and encourage these seminars from day one. And remember, the seminars are an additional gift as the ladies teaching them are adding prep and teaching time to their already busy schedules.

    So much goes on under the surface at BSF related to women who are seeking, hurting, lonely, the only Christian in their family or home, etc. I’m sure you have seen some of this in your discussion group. The leaders could tell you stories that would melt your heart. I encourage you to focus on the amazing things God reveals to you as you study and hear the lecture, listen to the answers in your sharing time as well as be grateful for the desire to want to know more and draw nearer to Him. If you look for and focus on the good, positive things you see, feel, experience there each week you can change your thinking. Changed thinking changes lives. I’m not saying you should overlook things in your life that are wrongs, injustices, etc., but instead the small things that you can learn to accept or just a different way to to learn react to things. You can purposefully and intentionally change your thinking to look for the good and cull out the things that cause you to unnecessarily grumble. You and those around you are affected the most by this. We are all grumblers to a degree. How far we take it and how often it happens is totally in our control. As I write this, I am taking notes myself to remember to “throw off that grumbling spirit” whenever I can. It is a spirit of ingratitude and I have way too much to be grateful for to go there (and I’m guessing you do to). I have seen in some of your other blogs that you have said you should be more grateful and shouldn’t fuss so much. So I say to you…”then do it!”. It will be a gift to you, your husband and children. Ask God to help you with this, to show you where, why and when you grumble the most and to help you reign it in..to get rid of it. People will see a change in you and will be blessed by it…starting with you. Do it as a gift for your children. I think you are a great, devoted mother and that you would love to pattern a spirit of gratitude for your children. What a legacy for them and your grandchildren.

    I am a lot older than you are and am really talking to you the way I would to my daughter. Because it’s e-mail and you can’t see or hear me, please know I am saying these things with a contrite and loving heart. I want the best, the most for you. I love the way you are seeking and finding God this year and the way you describe that in your writing. How could the Lord be more pleased than to know one of his daughters was earnestly seeking to draw closer to Him? BSF is helping us all do this as we study Isaiah this year. I hope you will continue to get your questions online and go through the study even if you are unable to attend a class when you move. You won’t regret it. Look for the positives as you prepare to move. Who knows what God has in store for you. Home will be where your heart is.

    (Attached is a short article I think is pretty good related to what I’ve said here. http://www.padfield.com/2001/murmuring.html)

    Serving Him,

    1. So well said, I get really frustrated by people’s focus having a bend toward the negative. I know BSF isn’t perfect but i grow weary of the constant criticism. There are reasons for certain thongs and most have no idea how much work goes into pulling it off each week just so we can all grow. grumbling, it’s something we must all look out for.

  7. I also have taken the homelitics seminar. I appreciate Mary’s statement. At our BSF, on the first day, they DO give a brief overview of what Homelitics is and why the last question is there. HOWEVER, I strongly support your statement that BSF needs to “let God use the tools of the modern age to bring more to Him.” They have made baby steps and I am hopeful we will see more in the future.

  8. Agreed, agreed, agreed. I laughed right outloud at your comment about BSF’s control. I believe you are absolutely so right.

  9. Oh dear loved ones. How God must laugh at us when we get into debates about the instruments He chooses to use to further His Kingdom. BSF, like so many other Bible studies, has been used in the lives of so many and is still being used even with what some think are archaic ways. Miss Johnson,the founder of BSF, who was a devoted follower of Chirst and missionary for many years, surely had the best intentions when she wanted women to take the study of God’s word seriously. She knew if they would be faithful and handle the Word accurately it would bring change to their lives. I have been a participant in this change and will forever be grateful for a lot of the guidelines that made me accountable to BSF, God and my groups. I am one that needs accountability so I don’t cut God short. Have you ever been there?

    Most of what happens in BSF is to help us be a disciplined learner, like a disciplined disciple of Jesus Christ. It is a proven way to keep people studying the word and when times of trouble do come there are others around who have wisdom from the Word to help you and lift you up before the Father’s throne. I have truly been blessed by this ministry and each week if fills my needy heart with the Word and helps me to see that My God is so big and awesome that he cannot be contained in one Bible Study or one ministry, but needs them all to get the word out that Christ died for all men and wants all men to come to a living knowledge of Him.

    Homoletics again is just one of those instrments. It is there like a challenge question so that if you want to go further and more in depth in God’s word you can, or if you are a teacher in a class other than BSF it is a good way of being trained to work up an outline and present the word. It can seem a bit intimidating but our enemy, Satan, would certainly have us think that way. Just ask the who, what, when, where and why questions about the scripture and you will gain a lot of insight into an outline.

    I have loved chatting with you and really didn’t expect to when I got online, but I guess God had other plans. You are awesome women and God sees your worth, so know your are loved in the Beloved.

    Blessings to all,


  10. Most BSF classes give Teaching Seminars throughout the year… subjects like… Personal Quiet Time… Presenting the Gospel… Resources for Teaching and Leading… among others. They also offer a Seminar on Homiletics… twice a year. It is free. I have taken it once and plan to do so again next year.. maybe twice again. They teach you the process of taking a passage and condensing it down to one or two main points and organizing it together. The lecturer uses it to prepare the lecture. The children’s program.. at least the evening children’s program of kids from kindergarten to 12th grade… they teach the homiletics to the kids and the children do it each week on their lesson. Check out their website for information.

  11. If only more churches had tighter ‘rules’, as you put it! I know that God is a God of order, and BSF is a wonderful example of following order. I pray you don’t let a minor issue keep you from attending more BSF seminars/classes so that you can continue to grow in grace as you draw nearer to Heaven in your walk as a daughter of Christ!

  12. Human nature desires that we be treated as individuals; we are ‘special’ unique… we deserve to be treated just the way we order our meals at restaurants our particular way we like our coffee made at
    our favourite coffee venue.
    I am into my 3rd year at BSF, my 2nd year as a children’s leader.
    I resented my first year,…..we sat too close, the hymns were difficult and being an unchurched Brit I did not know them… and who can hit those notes…Really!
    BSF was not ‘kind’ to me. It did not ‘cater’ to ‘my’ perceived needs……
    It pinched and confined my ‘individuality’ my ‘self’ development.
    In Isaiah I learnt to meet God in His throne room… I understood a little of the huge implications and the life change that Isaiah the man never forgot
    I got to love my Deliverer… I got to meet Him.
    In Acts I am being equipped to share what I KNOW not the ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ I feel, The foundational information I have learnt.
    BSF is a tool, a tool used by God to equip people who want to know Him and grow in that Knowledge SO THAT they may support their church and bring others to know their saviour too.
    If the experience at BSF was not to your liking… be honest to yourself as to why you felt uncomfortable. If the leaders were not infilled and inspired, were you praying for them each week? To be a leader takes committment and spiritual infilling, the enemy attacks anything Godly…
    Personally I am grateful for my husband receiving Christ because of BSF, and the lost that I have been able to point to God because of my growth because of BSF. Our aim as leaders is not to be individuals we are to fade , just as John the Baptist said so that the focus is on Him.
    BSF Uncomfortable ? You bet! Did Jesus tell us to know Him was going to be a comfortable easy process? LOL get over yourselves and be grateful you have this amazing opportunity.
    Oh and Praise the Lord for Homiletics! Now I can decipher what something means… as can my children thanks to an amazing Kids program!

    Have a blessed day
    In Christ

      1. Here I am… 4 years later, living the dream 😉 2 of my children are now also serving in my leadership circle; a group leader and an admin leader, how awesome is that!

  13. And this is why God allowed us the choice to have different churchs and Bible studies. If one is not being fed at one, they should go find the right one for them. BSF is one of the few groups that meets very consistently and has good materials. But it is your choice. The one thing that bothers me is that a well meaning Christian lady posted her thoughts up on the internet to criticize a well meaning organization to teach others more about Jesus and God. Why not just write to BSF. We Christians are our biggest obstical and why many others don’t want to be like us. Find the place that is right for you and don’t publically criticize the places that you attended. God has a special place for you and you will flourish there. My BSF classes have been awesome. Some lectures better than others. Some class members more diligent than others. But I have learned more about God and I think that is the overall purpose.

  14. I started BSF 25 years ago 2 days after I was saved. I hated the strict rules at first but then I came to appreciate them. I had never done well in school and the lessons were overwhelming to me. Since I couldn’t talk if I didn’t do my lesson I did all of my lesson each week. I learned a lot about my learning style from this, overcame some learning problems and went back to school to finish my AA Degree. The rules are a lot less strict than they were before. I love going to class when everyone has done their and are ready to share. I am going to learn homiletics this summer and I am very excited about it. I have tried a lot of bible studies over the years and the best one ever is BSF. It isn’t for everyone but for those called to do BSF it is life changing.

  15. If not 50 years, it’s almost 50 that BSF had strict “guidelines” that were adhered to and followed to the letter.
    When I first visited to consider joining, way back in the late 70’s, I thought, for one, it was just a bunch of older people, and that all those “rules” were just not for me. Then I went back in 1997, joined and finished the 7 years. (this was before the Isaiah study) In those 7 years, there were things that kind of bothered me, and things that didn’t seem fair, but because I had never had such thorough teaching and I was getting so much out of it, I didn’t let the “guidelines” keep me from this sound and successful ministry. When I finished the 7th year and graduated, I stopped going and did some of the ladies bible studies through my church etc…
    When Isaiah was offered, I, as well as many of my friends all went back, since it would 8 years before we could do it if we didn’t do it that year. Once I got in there, and was in full swing, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why I had ever quit. It is hands down the best detailed Bible study out there for people who want to really learn it.
    I did Isaiah, then last year we did Act’s of the Apostles, and this year we are doing Genesis. I was asked last spring to be on the Class Administration Team and it has opened my eyes to all the committed service that goes into this ministry.
    Now, they have changed many of the guidelines as well as the ideas and the tools they use to make the ministry work. While they never change the purpose and the doctrine of the study, they are trying to change some things to keep up with the changing world, in order to “move faith forward” to other people.
    While those stiff guidelines that were in place for so long were a little annoying at times, they worked for many decades.
    I pray that as they don’t change the message or the purpose, but do allow things they didn’t in the past, in order to bring more in the door to be fed with the Word of God, that they will have great success in the salvation of those who may not otherwise ever receive this kind of truth and hope.
    I so regret not joining that first time back in 1977 and being soaked by His word as I was raising a family. I believe they would have benefitted as much as I would have. Just possibly, I might of done some things differently and not have so quite so many regrets from the past. Although I know God has a Sovereign purpose for it all.

  16. Thanks AtoZMom! I have trying to figure out that question ever since I started BSF! Your blog is helping me in so many ways!

    God Bless!

  17. the homiletics thing cracks me up — when my wife participated in BSF, I noted they had (and continue to have it wrong). they mean “hermeneutics — the study and interpretation of a text.” all these years and its still wrong, hasn’t anyone bothered to look it up?

      1. thanks for your response. the study of Scripture (hermeneutics) includes application. more specifically though, homiletics is sermon prep and what homily comes from. the greek definition (from the web cuz mine is rusty) is essentially people assembled together. i don’t know about being in the know, but when i learned to preach, the two words were taught to us in sharp distinction.

        i think it is unfortunate they misuse the word even after people point it out because it a) makes it look like they don’t want to change or hear what others think (because I can’t be the first person to mention it), b) are unaware, and/or c) are unable to look things up.

        maybe this reveals a different problem/issue? i appreciate that BSF encourages people to get into Scripture, but maybe they don’t realize the posture with which we approach the text (humility) OR the value of Community in doing so. while it is VERY true that you don’t have to understand greek, hebrew or aramaic to understand Scripture, there is a huge benefit from hearing from other believers about what the text says. there is a fullness that can be brought to bear from academics, theologians, other cultures and other times. the “danger” of the Church is to approach the text as if we’re the only ones to think a certain way (one way to interpret something — the reality is that there can be many!).

        is it possible that they hurt their credibility of explaining the text of Scripture when they miss a fairly simple word such as this? i don’t know, but it still seems odd that no one has ever bothered to look up the word. it reminds me of Princess Bride and the word “inconceivable.”

        thanks for indulging me. i appreciate you’ve got your blog and i had the fortune to stumble across it.

  18. We do homiletics, your hermeneutics depends on your church denomination & what you believe, BSF teaches how to write your own homily by shrinking the text, finding the truths & how to apply them to you, we trust the Holy Spirit to talk to each of us as we work & that He brings to our attention the truths we need to apply.
    We do not read commentaries from other people until we are through with a particular studty because it is God’s interpretation we want , not another persons. The benefit of BSF is that they trust God to do the guiding.

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