BSF News: Discussion Group Options"See I Am Doing A New Thing"
BSF News: Discussion Group Options
BY JANIE STEPHENS | BSF EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
BSF has had a year of new things as well. This blog article would be one example. Before this year, BSF never had a blog. And this blog was delivered to you via mass email, which is also new for BSF.
Another new thing introduced this year in BSF is Discussion Group Options. These rolled out about the same time I moved to San Antonio — August 2017. The original intent of these options was to accommodate those who are either new to BSF or new to studying the Bible. Throughout this year, more and more BSF classes have embraced these options, and we continue to learn new and exciting things from their experience and feedback.
What are discussion group options?
Wouldn’t you say time with Jesus is the ultimate goal of in-depth Bible study? In fact, have you ever thought about what in-depth Bible study truly means? How would you define the word “in-depth” as it relates to Bible study? Would you define it in purely academic terms? Is the true meaning of in-depth Bible study simply that we can recite facts and knowledge about biblical content? Or does “in-depth” go far beyond that? In-depth Bible study should go straight to the heart — God’s heart, our own hearts and the hearts of our fellow group members, with whom we so desire to connect through the truth and love of God.
Discussion Group Options are a way to help group members conversationally engage with God’s Word. Each option presents a different approach to the Bible passage. We can think of these options in two categories:
- Options that use the BSF questions
- Options that use the “Three-Question Bible Study Method”
Discussion groups that choose to use the BSF questions may conduct their group discussion in a variety of ways. They may choose to discuss all the questions. Or they may choose to discuss only some of the questions. Or they may choose to discuss some of the questions with freedom to discuss other questions raised by the group members.
“We are never having to rush through a question, but can take time on the questions that we are confused about or touched our hearts and minds or convicted us. It makes it less of a question-and-answer, and more of a conversation.”
– Sophie, 19, Second Year BSF Member
The second category of options incorporates the time-tested “Three-Question Bible Study Method.” This method utilizes variations of the following three questions:
- What is the passage about? (fact question)
- What do you learn? (lesson question)
- How will you apply it? (application question)
Each BSF group leader is free to use this “Three-Question Method” in a variety of ways. One group leader may choose to forgo discussion of the BSF lesson questions all together and instead use the “Three-Question Method” entirely to guide conversation about the passage. In this way, the group leader trains his group members in proper Bible study techniques. With practice, group members are equipped to sift through the facts of the passage to ultimately draw out, discuss and personally apply truths embedded within the passage. Another group leader may choose to use the “Three-Question Method” as a grid to select five to six questions from the BSF lesson for their group to discuss.
“One of the best benefits of this approach is that it allows us to go very deep none or two questions… In allowing more time to share and discuss these questions, I find the relationships deepen and that we are more vulnerable and authentic in areas where we are struggling with particular Scriptures. I appreciate the insights others bring in these discussions that we would normally have time for in the standard format.”
– Anne, 42, Fourth Year BSF Member
“These options have allowed historically quiet group members to get in on the action. Guys who took a bit longer to speak up were cut off in the old way (we conducted discussion groups). Now that talking might go on for six to ten minutes unimpeded, the can get in. The group leaders were amazed at the spontaneous contributions of their ‘quiet men.'”
– Mike, BSF Teaching Leader
Why Offer These Options?
Our goal is that every BSF discussion group member encounters the heart of God through the Word of God, so that we may know, love and follow God. This goal will never change. However, the method and means by which we accomplish this goal can change.
Since BSF’s inception, our approach to in-depth Bible study has been a four-fold method:
1. Questions for personal study
2. Discussion Group
4. BSF Notes on the passage
This four-fold method is tried and true. However, we’ve realized two of the four folds — questions for personal study and discussion group — have become somewhat fused.
The questions are meant to be a tool to prompt our thinking and capture our hearts as we personally engage with God through His Word.
They are a springboard for our discussion, but they should not be the limit of our discussion.
When we have spent significant time with the Lord throughout the week, meditating upon His Word and applying it to our lives through use of the BSF questions, we won’t necessarily need the lesson questions to prompt our thinking during group discussion. We will have plenty of material to discuss simply because we have spent time alone with Jesus.