The ‘Why’ Behind the BSF Discussion Group

BY SUSIE ROWAN | BSF Executive Director
In the Acts and Letters of the Apostles study, we learn from 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” This chapter teaches us that the Body has many parts, and we desperately need one another. In fact, we grow and are built up in love as people in the body of Christ come together. To be built up in love is the antidote to loneliness and withdrawal.

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:6).

We grow together

Christian growth accelerates in community, not in isolation. That’s why we are part of a body – the body of Christ, His Church. It requires immersion. We must embrace small-group attendance in our churches and in BSF groups, whether online or face-to-face. 

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “He (God) works on us in all sorts of ways. But above all, He works on us through each other. Men are mirrors or carriers of Christ to other men. Usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another is so important.” 

God uses Christian community to get us off the wrong path and onto a path of righteousness and peace.

God uses Christian community to get us off the wrong path and onto a path of righteousness and peace.

God also uses Christian community to heal our deep hurts. In community we are forgiven, we are loved, we experience grace. As my pastor said in a recent sermon, “It is through life-giving relationships that God heals the wounds of our hearts.”

The ‘how’ behind a thriving group

At BSF Headquarters, we begin each day in Bible study, sharing and prayer. We gather at tables of six to seven and share what’s going on in our lives – at home, in our families and at work.

In this safe place, I’ve shared my joys, my brokenness, my victories, my defeats. And my colleagues, whom I love more and more each day, share theirs. And we pray for one another. It is a precious time that has allowed each of us to draw closer to God and to one another.

My hope is that deep, transparent, honest and open sharing would happen in every BSF group across the globe. Together, we can find a deeper relationship with God, who heals the wounds of our hearts and compels us to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all …” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

I pray we would find friends who speak truth to one another in a way that builds us up rather than tears us down. We need to be loved, and we need to be challenged.

So, what is the cure for loneliness and isolation? Christian community! It’s essential for spiritual growth and maturity. When we focus on Christ’s righteousness in place of our shortcomings, we can build caring, encouraging and loving friendships.

So, what is the cure for lonliness and isolation? Christian community! It’s essential for spiritual growth and maturity.

What must we do? We must refuse the temptation to withdraw. Yes, questions, notes and other BSF materials are available without regularly coming to class. But what do we lose? We lose one another.My challenge to you is to show up and open up.

Together, let us experience God through one another for His majesty and our maturity!

423 Comments

  1. This kind of sharing is not going on in my bsf group. There is gossip and judgement and unfortunately because of this I will not return.

  2. praying that deep abiding God directed love and sharing of all our experiences whether they be joy filled or pain felt occur not only within but outside BSF.

  3. “ My hope is that deep, transparent, honest and open sharing would happen in every BSF group across the globe. Together, we can find a deeper relationship with God, who heals the wounds of our hearts and compels us to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all …” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).”

    Very encouraging!!

    • Praying yesterday, over a sense of isolation ( being new, in some areas, and longing for lunch with a friend)~~~GOD answered quickly!! While doing a return (being obedient for HIS will for me in matters of finance), there was a friend, who invited me to lunch. We had 2 good hours if uplifting, Christian discussion. GOD listens & provides!!

  4. I Corinthians 5:8 …“ with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Sincerity means the quality of being free from pretense, deceit or hypocrisy. People who are serious, kind and truthful and therefore trusted by others. We all need a safe place to share our lives with one another.

  5. Very encouraging, true with the right group of friends, sharing deep challenges halves the pain.
    God bless us all

  6. This just confirms our need for each other to help alleviate loneliness and isolation. God wants us to comfort others, bless others, left them up. Making someone feel special, goes a long way. This encourages them and let them feel the love of God. This could help them go just one more step in their situation trusting God. This one more step can be the step that takes them to the trajectory that is of a new and better life with Christ.

  7. I am so grateful for a community that shares each other’s joys, sorrows, defeated and victories. All while being very transparent and authentic 🙏❤️

    To be in BSF is such a joyful time. I recently missed 5 weeks of class because of an illness. I can’t begin to describe how deeply I missed my sisters in Christ😘

  8. Thank you very much for this program. For the fellowship it’s an eye opener to me. I used to read the Bible with out any understanding
    But now I really enjoy reading the Bible it’s now making sense to Christianity am pleased
    Regards

  9. We are continually on the journey towards true fellowship with one another. Often we fail to live up to our calling to love one another as Christ loved us, hence the wish for some to want to drop out when they feel mistreated. Dearest Susan, thank you for being so open and honest on this. This will help us correct our weaknesses, treat others better and have great fellowship.

    • My prayer is that we may grow together spiritually even as we share our moments be it joyful grief or otherwise

  10. Thank you for your meaningful writing about the importance of Christian fellowship. As someone who has difficulty being involved in group discussions, it was helpful. However, it is even more difficult in the large group numbers of our BSF location. Groups consist of 15-18 or more people, and it is very difficult to share meaningfully in groups that size. Your writing states that your group consists of about 6 people. That is a much more manageable size for meaningful, personal discussions. If there is any way to limit the sizes of BSF small groups, I think that would be very beneficial.

  11. One of the beauties of BSF is taking what the Lord has/is showing us and sharing these discoveries of Bible truths within a small group of people. I have learned various perspectives, encouragement, and practical applications from the group sharing and because of this bond have maintained friendships over several years.

  12. Thank you For the BSF on line information’ you are invited to my church on March 23rd at 300 p.m.

    the address is 1201 10th ave north and Coffee Street in Nashville TN.

  13. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  14. Ecouraged,uplifted!
    Thanks you.

  15. Yes it is so true we are the whole body we need each other.. we share each other joy and sorrows .. we help each other .. we are the truth family in Christ we encourage each other we support each other we have each other back .. the most cool thing we pray for each other we ask God to help us to go thru our hardship we are not alone .. God is Holy, loving, patient , kind and safe place for us to lean on .. He is our everything .. we praise Him.. all glory belong to Him .. we love you, we love you Jesus .. you have given us the best .. the bsf , the community , all of us belong to Jesus .. we are not afraid anymore .. we have all these gorgeous ladies who is so strong for each of us.. they bsf leaders work so hard for us .. to lead us to show us .. that Jesus loves us .. thank you thank you so much Jesus

  16. I’ve been in BSF since 1982. I love it & will be in it until I’m no longer physically able to come or God calls me home. I joined it very shortly after being saved & it opened up a whole new world for me. I love it!

  17. For me, its the best thing that happen to me, I look forward to meeting with my group and when I’m away I cant wait to be back.
    Praying and sharing with these wonderful ladies is such a blessing. This is the best 10 years of my life. Just knowing we are
    there for one another, all we have to do is make one call and we have prayers going up. What a blessing;

  18. If we want people to open up, w must help them to feel like the family at BSF is more than a “ONCE A WEEK for ONE YEAR” relationship…Or, is that me being more attached to people rather to God himself. I’m not trying to be funny. This is really where I am. I’m in my 70s, and new in the area. This is my 5th year in BSF, and I have no close sisters in the Lord here. I was a teacher and am not an introvert. I attend a church with my mom who lives with me but is also new in the area. We are struggling with forming close relationships there also. I just isn’t easy with no husband or children, or career to make those connections even within the church. We are as involved as my mom’s health will allow (she is 93) and our church has sm. groups, but my mom likes the older people group and this doesn’t allow as much activity as other groups might.

    I didn’t mean to go on so much. I may be the only one in this situation, but if it helps you to know where some may be coming from…I do realize that you structure a program for a HUGE age spectrum!!! God is my refuge and He provides what I need not necessarily what I might desire. Thank you for listening to me.

    Sincerely, Mlee

    • I agree. I am outgoing but have built no real relationships in BSF. I would love to have a mentor or a deeper relationship but it just doesn’t seem to happen.

      • I am praying for you. I’m a private person and have this problem too.

    • I am sorry you are feeling so alone. It is hard to make deep connections with people you see only once a week at BSF, regardless of how good of a Group Leader you have. Since my husband and I started our family we have moved seven times (in 18 years) and have had to make new friendships each time. One thing I encourage you to do is to ask the women in your BSF discussion group if anyone would like to go to coffee/lunch/dinner, etc. I am positive you are not alone! God may have placed the perfect friend of your heart in your group or in your church to support you. Sometimes (actually, almost always from my experience) you have to be the first one to reach out, get a phone number, and plan a get together before the closer friendships develop. I am praying for the Lord Jesus to develop close friendships for you and your mother as He draws you closer to Him.

  19. I love BSF! Getting more of God’s word and seeking Him every day has meant so to me. I love sharing the word of what I have learned with others. It is amazing that I have found my importance in Christ! Seeking Him has been the most important thing to me since retirement. Praise God I am not isolated!

  20. Praise God!! For his love for us and I thank him for BSF friends. I thank God that I do not feel alone or isolated my 14 month old grandson keeps me busy Monday thru Friday. My children and my other grandchildren keep me busy as well. I miss BSF and all the beautiful ladies I have met. I am in prayer about returning in September. I trust the Holy Spirit to lead me where I should be in this season of my life. So I hope it is what I want but if not I will return in 2021 hopefully. Love Joselyn

  21. God knew that I needed to read that passage. I feel so alone right now. I’m in tears.

    • Hugs to you Donna. I am praying right now for you to find new or dive into existing community. You are not alone when you are in Christ Jesus!

  22. Thank you for this opportunity to comment. I have long thought that the groups should be together more than one year (9 months). I find that it’s not until after Christmas or so that we start laughing together & talking together. Especially now that we don’t have the monthly fellowship luncheons in someone’s home. I would love to be more connected to a special group and I sincerely think it comes down to more time to be together. I know fellowship is one of your main goals in BSF & I hope you will consider this idea. Thank you for everything that BSF has done for me and so many of us. God-bless you.

    p.s. You have brought great attention to these issues of loneliness & isolation. They are critical issues everywhere in life. It isn’t just seniors either. For instance working & single mothers. Certainly BSF is helpful in that area but I believe just one-year together limits a lot of relationships that have perhaps just begun to flourish toward the end of the year. Thank you for listening. 💕💕💕

    • I am somewhat new to BSF and I think it is a great organization. The discussion time is very enjoyable, and seems to pass so quickly for me. Since the lectures are now available online and are not interactive, perhaps there will be future consideration for extended discussion group time to emphasize the F in BSF (fellowship). I do enjoy the corporate worship and collective gathering time in the sanctuary after group discussion time, but I have that weekly opportunity when I attend my own church. I trust that the leadership team of BSF prays diligently about the ongoing structure of BSF and its function within the church at large. They work very hard behind the scenes to balance all the aspects of the BSF gatherings and they understand that BSF is not meant to replace our churches or our service or accountability to the Lord within our churches. I am grateful for the wisdom of our BSF leadership. Thankfully, even if nothing changes, it seems to work very well the way it is. What I experienced was a different form of isolation when the BSF year concluded in May. We lost my father in law at the end of May on Memorial Day. I really needed the support of my BSF group, but it was over and BSF was on summer break. Fortunately, some of us resumed in the fall in the same class, but it was a difficult and lonely summer without my BSF group, to say the very least, because I had grown connected to each person. Now, I need to clarify that I am very active in my church where our son is the pastor, but we have a portable church and that means we have to work extra hard to intentionally stay connected with others throughout the week. We do not have a building to gather in; so we meet for small groups in homes and coffee shops, etc. Most churches experience the usual summer breaks in bible studies, but I propose this should not be.

    • Agree that groups need to stay together longer. You are right, just get comfortable with your ladies and the time is over and you start all over with a whole new group.

  23. Thanks, this information was very helpful to me and I am appreciative for info. I am and have been having challenges thru deaths in family and personal illness. I love attending BSF every chance I get to attend. Thanks for your very encouraging words. Be blessed.

  24. How inspiring! Susie you made me reflect on a time in my life when circumstances were gradually driving me into isolation. I had been away from my country for about ten long years. I was in a peacekeeping mission where visits were very restricted. It was also away from my country, different culture, people, climate, food, everything. Upon return, I found it so difficult to fit back into the life I knew; for, except for my children and one or two friends (for whom I thank God always), I was otherwise alone and very worried!
    Fortunately this didn’t last long. God in His sovereign love and mercy led me and my children to take refuge in a Church community. Through the Church we attended, we learnt of a sister Congregation that has English Service. It turned out to be a closely knit community, where we greeted each other after service, shared coffee once a month and monthly Bible study. In no time I was in this a huge family, so much joy, so much peace. And from there I joined BSF, oh, the love, the sharing, the joy and comfort; from God Himself through His people. Last Sunday a friend noted that there is nowhere, one could find the amount of rich social capital found in a Church. People from all walks of life! Thank you for leading me into this beautiful reverie!

  25. Fantastic! I’ve experienced learning, fellowship and acceptance from my BSF group.
    Many of our prayers have been answered as we pray for each other. Our leader is amazing too!

  26. Beautiful and well articulated, especially when I envisaged the first believers in Thessalonica being faced and surrounded with hatred. they turned to God and to each other with love. I have just retired recently from active service and I have found a lot of comfort in BSF fellowship and amongst true believers in my Church.

  27. The question why this or that is about our need to know GOD…Hebrews 4:12-13 is to the point of it all.. The word of GOD is living!!!!!!!

  28. Bsf has changed my life for the better . Every Monday night it gets better. Thank you all for all you do to share & increase our lives with your knowledge.

  29. These is very encouraging, will encourage others with these. Thank you

  30. This is so true. And sorry… this won’t be a gushy uplifting comment. I’m struggling. God told me to join a bigger church community and BSF because I have withdrawn so much, almost to the point of being a hermit. Ironically, I am wired to be an extrovert and to be social.

    Although I love my BSF group, I still haven’t been able to forge any lasting friendships. The same is true at church. I am not asking people for anything, but it is so hard when no one has the time to cultivate a friendship. Pretty much given up trying, to be honest.

    BSF, serving hospitality at church for an hour each Sunday and occasional conversations at work are my only social activity anymore. Insert shrug here. Just waiting on God to show me how to find real Christian friends. Tired of being lonely (I’m a single mom and I’m empty nesting now too). Please pray that God leads to the right place to meet the right people, or if they are already in my ‘world’, to give them a heart to reach out. Something has to change.

    • Karen, you are doing what The Lord has directed. Perhaps there is someone who sits alone … or a member who cannot come because of transportation problems. “Being present” is part of the equation, for certain. The Lord may be using your service in a way that is yet visible to you.
      I pray He will renew your Spirit, comfort you and encourage you in your service.
      Perseverance is a hallmark of great faith…. I pray you will soon see smiling faces, smiling back at you; familiar faces, seeking out that nice gal who serves the coffee …that you may know, be affirmed, in your service! Moreover, that you know you are ‘the blessing’, because you are aware it is so important to the fellowship of believers!

    • Karen L., good for you for following God’s leading to join a bigger church and serving in hospitality. I am thinking about where I met my close Christian friends. The main ways are: 1) Women’s Bible study at my church (not BSF). 2) Volunteer work in the community (we already share a common interest—volunteering. 3) Senior Center classes.
      I find I meet and attract the most people when I am not focused on myself. When I go to a public event (such as a church or a class) with a mindset of, “Lord, show me to whom I can minister and bless.” I purposely look for people who are alone, new, “marginalized”. When I get out of my car, I think L L L, “Lights, Lock, Love”, “Turn off car lights, lock the car, put on God’s love.” I will be praying for that the Lord will send you some friends.

      • Connie, thanks great for the LLL formula. Very creative, will certainly emulate and share!!!

    • Dear Abba Father, please direct Karen to those need a friend like Karen. Praying for you, Karen! in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

  31. Thank you, thank you for lifting my spirits. I have found some of my ladies falling away and this has come at a perfect time.

  32. This is very timely.
    Much appreciated.

  33. What a beautiful and important message. We so often forget the human component that is essential in a full Christian experience includes encouragement and fellowship. Thank you for illuminating this most elemental Christian ethos.

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