Looking back and forward at BSF

Looking back and forward at BSF

Looking back and forward at BSF

BY MICHELLE CLOUD

COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST

2019 marks both BSF’s 40th year headquartered in San Antonio and 60th year since incorporation. God is so faithful and good! January is a time to reflect on the past and look to the future and BSF Headquarters wants to celebrate a few highlights of the year past and preview the year to come.
Three highlights of 2018

 

New study launch: People of the Promised Land, Part One 

A new BSF study takes years to create.

  1. Theologians and Bible teachers collaborate by poring over the biblical text, commentaries and BSF founder A. Wetherell Johnson’s own notes.
  2. BSF Headquarters staff members pilot the study, followed by more careful editing with an eye for the use of global English that members around the world will understand.
  3. Next comes developing the children’s lessons, Daily Dives and other supplemental materials.
  4. Finally, everything must be translated into Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Spanish before lessons can be printed on the BSF press. At the same time, digital versions of the material (audio, e-reader, PDF) are built.

Headquarters staff is currently studying PPL1 alongside you, and we pray this Old Testament history has been as enriching and transformative for you as it has been for us!

Mybsf.org holds all your BSF materials in one convenient location

Only those BSF members who attempted to navigate the old website will fully appreciate the simple beauty and intuitive user experience of the new mybsf.org. It took nine months to design the site, which houses more than 2,000 pieces of BSF material. 

Yes, you read that correctly. Two thousand documents! That includes notes and questions in multiple languages and formats (hello, audio!), lectures, children’s songs, Home Training Lessons, Daily Dives and much more. Take a minute today to explore all that mybsf.org has to offer. It’s a phenomenal (and easy) resource! 

BSF Online Groups 

Do you have a cousin in Supilinn, Estonia, who is thousands of miles from the nearest BSF class but still hungry for God’s Word? Distance is no longer a barrier to fully engage with a group of BSFers in verse-by-verse study, thanks to BSF Online groups. At the close of 2018, 7,600 BSF members studied in online groups throughout more than 110 countries! We have heard amazing stories of life transformation from people who could never attend BSF before. They include those homebound because of severe illness, physically isolated by working on an offshore oil rig, serving as missionaries in remote locations or even those needing a group that speaks their native language. It’s amazing how God uses new technology for His glory! As we continue to develop this resource and must limit capacity in this phase, please pray the Lord provides the proper infrastructure so we can open the door wide to handle the global demand so we can plug in every person who desires to take part in on online group.

Three plans for 2019

 

BSF Leaders Summit 

Previously, BSF leaders attended a regional Retreat every three to four years. This August, all BSF leaders from around the world will attend the BSF Summit, designed to unite, inspire and mobilize our global leadership team. More than 50,000 leaders will attend local gatherings (let’s all have a collective cheer for easy travel arrangements!) to remain connected (via video) to BSF’s mission, receiving the most current communication, encouragement and support. 

Development of People of the Promised Land, Part Two 

Headquarters is once again in the process of creating a new study, which will cover 18 books (1 & 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles and the Minor Prophets). Each theologian and Bible teacher involved desires to help BSF members better understand God’s Word and God’s heart in today’s world, so pray for them as they continue studying for and writing the drafts of what we’ll all be studying in 2021. 

Word Go 

You probably haven’t heard of this because it’s still in the early stages of development. All we can say is we’re working on developing a platform where small groups (and even churches) around the world can study God’s word verse-by-verse in a format that seamlessly integrates into modern schedules and lives. We realize that’s vague, but you’ll be hearing more this year about this exciting new project!   

As we forge ahead in 2019 – please join Headquarters in taking a moment to praise God for His faithfulness – all He has done in 2018, will do in 2019 and how He chooses to work in and through everyone in the BSF global community of believers.   

How to help your child enjoy God

How to help your child enjoy God

How to help your child enjoy God

BY BARBARA REAOCH |
BSF CHILDREN’S DIVISION DIRECTOR
Kids know how to enjoy pizza, pets, games and ice cream. But how we can we help them know what it means to enjoy God? God is not looking for kids who dutifully behave, but for those who will know and love Him (Psalms 34:8, 37:4). Something will always be missing until they grasp that God made us to enjoy a relationship with Him (Genesis 1:26, Psalm 16:11, Matthew 22:25-38).
A father’s story

 

One father shared his struggles and joys in bringing his three kids to BSF every Monday. “The kids love it,” he said, “but it’s lots of work for me!”

A neighbor asked why he bothered rushing home every Monday and then back to church for BSF. “One Monday a week,” he replied, “is a small investment for the eternal dividends God promises.”

This father understands that enjoying God is a process. His kids once thought of God’s Word as a rule book. Now they’re experiencing God’s Word as His voice and enjoying a delicious meal for their souls (Psalm 119:103).

At first, his kids read the Bible just to complete all the study questions. “Over time, my kids’ thinking about Bible study has changed. It’s no longer ‘eat your vegetables.’ Now Bible study means tasting sweet honey.” The study questions serve his kids as a journal. They record God’s truths with words and pictures. This journal helps them realize what it means to enjoy God.

More than a “Dear Diary” discipline, journaling helps kids concentrate. God made our brains so the act of writing out our thoughts helps us think and remember. Here’s an amazing truth: nothing has a greater impact on a child’s life than the Word of God. The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and points us to Jesus. When we write down what is true about God, the Holy Spirit supersizes it!

An 8-year-old’s journal entry.

These three journaling topics can also help get you started:

CLICK EACH TOPIC BELOW TO READ MORE

What do God’s actions tell you about who He is?

How can we help kids enjoy God as they would their best friend?

We cannot see God, but we can help kids know God in His Word. God’s actions tell us who He is. As you read the Bible together, point out what God is doing.

Then ask, “What did God do, and what does His action tell us about Him?”

Examples:

  • Genesis 1:1, 27; Psalm 19:1 – God created everything. God alone is able to bring something out of nothing. He is all-powerful and good.
  • Isaiah 41:10; Romans 3:24-26 – God is also righteous. Jesus willingly died so that the Father could forgive our sin and give us Jesus’ righteousness (Psalm 86:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Describe what God has done for you in Jesus.

Children do not understand their own sinful hearts and the greatness of God’s grace to them in sending Jesus as an atonement for sin. We can help kids understand and remember God’s acts of love.

Ask, “What has God done for me in Jesus, and how will I praise Him?”

Examples:

  • Our holy and loving Father created us to love and enjoy Him (Genesis 1:27-30; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:1-7). As His precious children we are happiest when we live for His honor (Isaiah 43:4-7; Acts 17:28).
  • Jesus is stronger than everything – even sin and death. God promises to forgive the sin of all who turn to Him and trust in Jesus. God’s children will spend eternity in heaven with Him (Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:1).
How you are learning to love the things Jesus loves?

Children think their own way is best. We can help them understand the joy and privilege of obeying our loving Father, whose way is always best (Romans 6:22-23; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

As you read the Bible, watch for God’s Word to teach, challenge, correct and train you and your child (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Holy Spirit grows us to be more like Jesus as we respond to God (Ephesians 4:22-24). Knowing God as Father changes us from being rule-keepers to people who can find joy in obedience (Romans 8:14-16).

Examples:

  • The Holy Spirit is Jesus with you all the time. All who turn to God and trust in Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in them (Romans 8:9-15). That’s how close Jesus is!
  • God invites us to taste and see His goodness (Psalm 34:8). As we spend time getting to know God by listening to Him speak, we love and enjoy Him.
Super-sized enjoyment

Journal entries help you remember. God strongly warns His people not to forget His Word. At the same time, He encourages us to actively remember His goodness (Deuteronomy 4:10; 8:2, 18; 32:7). Help your family learn to rest in God’s grace for the future as you remember together what He has done in the past (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:8). Journal in words, pictures, stories, poems or songs, to help you remember the mighty work of God in your lives.

Journal entries help you trace God’s work to make you more like Jesus. Most children enjoy looking at family photos and videos to see how much they’ve grown. Or they eagerly mark their physical growth on a door or wall. Spiritual growth is not as easily measured. The Holy Spirit changes us little by little, as we yield to Him. In the future, when you reread the journal notes, you will enjoy God even more. He will reveal to you His power at work in the minds and hearts of those you love.

Are you ready to start journaling as a family? Parents can play an active role in helping children discover their soul’s most satisfying joy in God. This requires earnest prayer and deliberate effort. Together, families can discover that the greatest enjoyment in this world and in the ages to come is God alone.

A 10-year-old’s journal entry.

Barbara Reaoch’s new book A Jesus Christmashas just been released. The book is a 25-day journey that can guide your family through the Old and New Testaments to Jesus.

Each day’s Scripture passage leads kids of all ages to explore God’s truth in their lives. The Family Journaling space gives you a daily opportunity to begin to learn how journaling helps kids enjoy God.

What’s New at BSF

What’s New at BSF

What's New in BSF

A new year. A new study. And new ways to engage in God's Word.

I am not a prophet. (You can write that down.)

Several years ago (at the turn of the millennium), when I was a teaching leader in Kentucky, class members often asked me two common questions: “When will BSF release a study of Revelation?” and “When is BSF going to translate its material?” In both cases, my answer was emphatic: “No way! Do you know how hard (translating) or controversial (Revelation) that is?”

Now, here we are. Revelation is in our rear-view mirror, having blessed more than 475,000 men, women, boys and girls three years ago with the wonderful story of God’s consummation of His perfect plan of redemption. Meanwhile, translation has been woven into the fabric of Headquarters’ normal operating procedure. We produce more than 50,000 copies of each lesson in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Spanish. In addition, BSF now has 15 non-English-language classes and hundreds of non-English hybrid and satellite discussion groups around the world.

Look at what God has done!

And look at what He is doing!

As you begin your study of People of the Promised Land I, we are ecstatic about all the new things God has provided to allow current and new members to come and engage with the Lord through His Word in the community of our classes.

If you haven’t checked out your new member website, mybsf.org, go there now! (I’ll wait.)

(Pssssst! If you haven’t created a mybsf.org account yet, now’s the time. If you need help, a leader can help at class. That’s what’s community is all about.)

Are you in? Isn’t it awesome?!

People love their paper lessons, and we have no plans to eliminate the material you pick up at class. But if you want to store your lesson material on your iPad or read the notes on your Kindle or listen – yes, listen! – to your notes on your smartphone on the drive to work or your morning run, it’s all there! In Spanish and Chinese, too! (I’ve overused my quota of exclamation points, because, yes, I am excited!!)

What else is new?

Here are just a few new things in BSF:

  • A new blog home: You may have noticed this blog post has new surroundings. This is where you’ll find the latest BSF stories, and we’ll soon load those we’ve posted in the past. We hope you like the place.
  • We’re more flexible and accessible. Repeat after me: “The four-fold approach has not changed. The four-fold approach has not changed.” BSF remains committed to the rhythm of 1. Personal study of Scripture. 2. Group discussion of the passage. 3. Expository teaching. 4. Rich study notes. There is no greater transformative power than the Word of God. However, BSF has allowed flexibility and some customization to meet the cultural context of our classes. These include discussion-group options, shorter class nights, lecture at the beginning of class in some classes, immediate onboarding of new members and access to lesson material and lectures to those on the waiting list, to name a few.
  • Where did my Home Discussion Pages go? They’re now called the Daily Dive. You don’t have to be a BSF member to download them. Like the HDPs, they follow the same Scripture classes follow each week, with a couple questions for each section and principles. Plus, on the back we have added weekly an Attribute of God and a Basic Truth of the Christian Faith. This material can be downloaded and used for family study in the home, personal study or copied and used in groups, such as Sunday school classes or small-group study.
  • Look at all the free stuff! While there is no fee to be part of a BSF class, we have accessible and new free content for non-members: Attributes of God; Basic Truths of the Christian Faith; Preschool Hymns; Basic Truth Songs and our library of Home Training Lessons.
  • Online BSF: More than 600 group leaders have been or are in the process of being approved to lead online discussion groups. This means more than 9,000 people who are unable to attend a physical BSF class can participate online, where members have experienced deep, rich discussion with members from other parts of the world. But this new BSF component is still in process. Many are waiting to be contacted or placed while we get final pieces in place. Therefore, we need your fervent prayers that God would provide even more leaders and integration of our technology to handle the increasing demand, so even more people can be engaged in God’s Word through BSF.
  • Online registration: We were shooting for the launch of an online registration process for incoming members to all classes, but technology glitches have caused a delay. Please pray as we iron out the details that will make the registration process even sleeker. We hope to have that ready later this fall.
  • Giving is quick and easy: We are thankful for how God has provided for this ministry through the years. Our presses, personnel, technology, operations and initiatives come at a significant cost, and we are grateful for those who have given so generously. Meanwhile, the need for financial support continues to grow, especially as we develop dynamic resources and means to reach deeper into the world with God’s Word. Classes will always have a freewill offering plate. But for those who wish to give online, we have made donating easier. Check it out at https://www.bsfinternational.org/give.
  • Questions?: While there’s more to come, let me close by turning us back to God’s Word. BSF questions are designed to help shepherd members through God’s perfect Word. No time is more valuable than your personal time with the Lord. Taken to heart, this leads to transformation of our lives, joyful witness and a burning desire to share truths God has revealed to us through the Bible. This leads to authentic, Spirit-led discussion in our groups, with our families and even among those who don’t yet know the Lord. God’s Word is meant to be shared. Deep heart connection with God comes through His Word plus authentic biblical community. Spending time in solitude with God in study and prayer is necessary. But Christian growth accelerates in community. So, spend time in the Word daily, come to class, engage in discussion and see what God does in your life and in the lives of others.

All this change and new things are not for BSF’s sake, but for the glory of God. Join us in prayer as we – Headquarters staff and members around the world – raise our arms in worship of the One who is worthy and then as we reach out and engage a world that desperately needs to know the glory of His holy name.

“The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.”
— Psalm 28:8-9

mybsf.org

Your weekly questions. Study notes (in PDF, ereader or audio formats). Class lectures. Chinese and Spanish material. And more. It’s all right here in our new member website.

When facing forward feels like fast forward

When facing forward feels like fast forward

When facing forward feels like fast forward

BY SUSIE ROWAN | BSF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
I bought my first iPhone in 2009, two years after the first one was released. Today, I have the iPhone X — the fourth iPhone I’ve owned to date — with new apps and updates. (Hello, Face ID!) Can you believe texting, selfies and mobile web access didn’t exist 10 years ago? Smartphone updates come unexpectedly when new releases are ready. I get a notice on my phone, and I’m eager to have the latest. Are you?
Rationale for Change:

In 2009, when I became executive director, BSF board members showed me the writing on the wall. Once I saw the facts, I knew BSF must face forward and face outward to survive. In my first remarks to teaching leaders, just 10 days after assuming my new role, I said this:

Now we’ve got some work to do. We are called to reach the next generation. We are called to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to our communities and to the nations. It will take all of us… We must be passionate for Christ. We must love people as He loves them. We must Cheris the Word of God and believe that BSF is the best Bible stud to teach the truth about God to the nations. We need to realize that we live in an ever-changing world ruled by a sovereign, never-changing God, who calls us to figure out how to proclaim His never-changing truths to the ever-changing cultures and generations of today. That is the task before us. I ask you to continue with me in this work.”
And you have!

The first change, in 2009, rolled out quickly. Do you remember? It involved our dress code. When I returned to the United States from teaching BSF in India, the pressing debate in BSF at that time involved the length of cropped pants in our women’s classes. Coming from a culture where persecution of Christians was horrific, I was heartbroken to hear that cropped pants were such a hot issue. I knew that passion for Christ and compassion for His people had to be preeminent over procedures. We needed some heart work.

But dress code was only the beginning. From several surveys and studies, we learned BSF no longer felt current. We barely had entered the digital age. Our procedures felt controlling, and the weekly study seemed more about homework than heart work.

While maintaining a reputation of excellence in Bible study, BSF also had a reputation for rigidity and legalism. We learned that while many BSFers knew their Bible well, they did not always live Christ-centered lives. As Mark Bailey, BSF board member and president of Dallas Theological Seminary, taught teaching leaders this summer, just because you know the Bible doesn’t mean you know the God of the Bible.

My heart is to uphold the vision of our founder, A. Wetherell Johnson, who had a passion for Jesus Christ and for in-depth Bible study. Board member emeritus Lois McCall knew her well and described Miss Johnson as a “teacher and a lover.”

She loved God, she loved His Word, and she loved people. As a great teacher of God’s Word, she found excellent methods and procedures for in-depth Bible study that pointed countless people to Christ.

But 10 years ago, we found ourselves in the position of many ministries. If we didn’t face forward and face outward, we would face fiasco. As stewards of BSF in a digital age, we are responsible for adapting our methods while maintaining our core principles and values.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

Reality of Change

BSF has undergone change and is undergoing change because we remain steadfastly and passionately committed to our God-given mission: Global in-depth Bible studies producing passionate commitment to Christ, His Word and His Church.

Our staff is committed to developing a culture of innovation while holding fast to the vision of our founder and the mission for which God created BSF. Innovation is more than a buzzword; it is essential to vibrant ministry. Through innovation, we take a timeless mission and find ways to accomplish it today. We understand and respond to our participants’ needs.

“Learning and innovation go hand-in-hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
– William Pollard

The work of the Spirit is sufficient for yesterday, today and tomorrow. But yesterday’s procedures and methods are not. God never changes, yet Jesus was history’s greatest agent of change. God’s Word never changes, but communication methods do.

Innovation allows us to bring an unchanging God to an ever-changing world. In doing so, we remain a relevant and powerful advocate for the Word over time.

  • BSF will innovate with passion to make Christ known.
  • BSF will innovate prayerfully, seeking to discern God’s will in every change.
  • BSF will innovate with deep empathy for those we hope to reach and retain.
  • BSF will innovate patiently. Despite the “age of acceleration” we realize it takes time to learn and adjust.
  • Innovation in BSF will involve pilots and pivots. We call that agility, allowing our methods to bend and shift.

In BSF we will often implement change on a small scale. Then, we pivot and make improvements from what we learn, then launch on a broad scale. Launch will be when improvements are ready, which may or may not coincide with the start of a new study year. Time is of the essence in this age of acceleration.

Throughout the past year, we threw several logs of change on the fire. They include discussion group options and new digital material. It’s our prayer that these changes — and any changes we introduce throughout the study year — won’t smother the flame but will fan the fire of a renewed passion for Christ in every local BSF class.

If we are willing face forward, and even accept some fast forward, BSF will not only survive, it will thrive!

BSF News: Discussion Group Options

BSF News: Discussion Group Options

BSF News: Discussion Group Options

"See I Am Doing A New Thing"

BSF News: Discussion Group Options

BY JANIE STEPHENS | BSF EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
T he past few months have been for me a season of new things. In August 2017, I joined the staff at BSF HQ. That meant a new city, new friends, new home, new church, new BSF class, new things to learn and many new opportunities to depend upon the Lord. New things are wonderful. But new things can also be hard. Familiarity takes its time to settle in.

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:

  1. Options that use the BSF questions
  2. 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:

  1.  What is the passage about? (fact question)
  2. What do you learn? (lesson question)
  3. 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

Why would a group leader choose not to discuss every question on the BSF lesson? Because to discuss fewer questions in the same amount of time creates space for group members to flesh out their thoughts, ask questions and have a real, fluid conversation about God’s Word. Every BSF lesson includes fact questions, lesson questions, doctrine questions and application questions. By utilizing the “Three-Question Method” as a grid for question selection, a group leader is assured his group will experience a well-rounded conversation about the Bible passage.
“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
3. Lecture
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.

“I love the concept because it leads to a more robust conversation between members of the group. I’ve noticed some members who have been hesitant to share opening up more. I think it’s led our group to become closer in Christ together without the pressure of being rushed through the questions.”

 Kari, 39, Second Year BSF Member 

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.
“God is moving our class and in the guys in ways I have never seen before in BSF. It is amazing. This past Monday, I asked the guys to put away their lessons as we began discussion. They were shocked. We had a rousing conversation… one of the guys asked if we were going to do this regularly. Thank you for your vision and implementation of this new format. I think it will breathe new life into BSF.”

 Gregg, BSF Substitute Teaching Leader 

If “heart-connection” is our aim, then our hope, prayer and desire for these new options is simply that they begin to break down the barriers that hinder the “heart-work” of in-depth Bible study.

How to coach our kids in today’s culture

How to coach our kids in today’s culture

How coach our kids in today’s culture

BY BARBARA REAOCH |
BSF CHILDREN’S DIVISION DIRECTOR

J enny and Ryan’s story of their 16-year-old son intrigued me. As parents, they enjoyed discipling their three children to know and love God and the gospel. They were confident of the durable foundation of truth in their kids’ hearts and minds. However, navigating through strong cultural waters sometimes left Jenny and Ryan wondering what way to go.

Take social media.

Not only does it absorb valuable time, it can supply toxic answers to our kids’ biggest questions. The family’s decision to keep social media “off limits” had always worked well. But in high school, Eric’s friends began to tease him for not being on Instagram and Snapchat. Gatherings planned on social media left him out. Eric wanted to join his friends on Snapchat. How were Jenny and Ryan to respond?

Kids are Vulnerable

Jenny and Ryan’s story is not unique. Parents in a recent Barna poll named peer pressure as the issue that impacts their children most. The latest technology, the right clothes, sexual encounters, drugs and alcohol and the money to have it all — wherever our kids turn, the culture pressures them to conform. “Parents’ Dilemma: When to Give Children Smartphones,” a headline of a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, highlights this issue.

“Experience has already shown parents that ceding control over the devices has reshaped their children’s lives, allowing an outside influence on school work, friendships, recreation, sleep, romance, sex and free time.” (1)

There are no simplistic formulas for safeguarding our kids. What guiding principles will help strengthen our children to flourish in today’s world?

Think about how we protect kids from the harmful viruses and bacteria all around them every day. We build up their bodies with vitamins and nutritious meals. We strengthen their defenses through immunizations. We protect them by making them wash their hands before meals. What would a spiritual immunization plan for our children look like?

Build

As nutritious food builds up the body, biblical truth builds up the soul. God’s Word was a consistent priority in Jenny and Ryan’s home. Their kids were developing a biblical worldview through the open communication they enjoyed. Although children will make mistakes, God’s Word is powerful to realign our thoughts and desires to what is true.

Eric spent time researching the pros and cons of Snapchat and presented his favorable findings to Jenny and Ryan. Although Jenny and Ryan weren’t convinced it was a good idea, they wanted to honor Eric’s time, effort and thinking, and therefore decided to allow him one week of access to Snapchat. At the end of the week, they would listen to his impressions. They wanted Eric to realize their home was a safe environment to ask tough questions and wrestle with the controversial topics presented in culture. They realized if they weren’t willing to talk with their son about these things, plenty of other voices in the culture would.

Before the one week was up, however, Eric realized Snapchat was not for him. He saw the wisdom in his parents’ previous decision and deleted the app from his phone without a second thought.

Strengthen

Vaccines train the immune system to fight disease. Bacteria or viruses still enter the body, but now the body is strong enough to resist the infection. Gospel truths are God’s way to develop a healthy spiritual immune system. Rather than telling Eric “no,” Jenny and Ryan knew a stronger biblical worldview would help him navigate cultural currents. Cultural messages will continue to bombard our children, but we can equip them with ways to distinguish the difference from a gospel-centered perspective. They need to know how to differentiate the good, true and honorable aspects of culture from those things that are not.

Protect

Smart phones put the whole internet at a child’s fingertips. Kids can turn to their phones for answers about everything, from fashion and sports to sexual identity. It is wise for parents to establish boundaries for internet usage for their kids’ protection. But how else might we protect our kids’ minds and hearts?

The simple rule “Wash your hands before you eat” sets a boundary that spares kids many illnesses. Likewise, a few simple relationship boundaries go a long way to protect our kids’ minds and hearts. Families are the one safe place where children can learn what they believe about God and why. When kids can talk about what they believe and ask hard questions without fear, their faith develops resilience. Our kids thrive when we spend regular unhurried time with them. With God’s help, this seemingly impossible goal can become reality.

Trust Him

There are no simple formulas for coaching our kids through cultural pressures. They will make mistakes. But God in His goodness provides what we need. Scripture reshapes our goals for our children. Prayer reminds us of God’s vision for our children. As we act on the principles — build, strengthen and protect — we free our children to flourish no matter what challenges they may face.

  1. Morris, B. (January 12, 2018) Wall Street Journal.

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