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.   

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.

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.

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