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. Message is so much needed and so appreciated.

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  2. It is so encouraging as well as comforting to have a group of people I can trust and discuss personal feelings with about my faith, my shortcomings and my journey with Christ. Group discussion does provide food for thought that I might not have picked up on myself when doing my lessons. Seeing and hearing about faith through others fills my heart and gives me a sense of belonging to something that certainly helps in growing my relationship with Christ.
    Enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing .

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  3. So apropos to what our discussion group has been sharing. It’s tempting to save time for ourselves rather than invest it in community and then we all lose out!

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  4. Great reminder to focus on Gods righteousness not our shortcomings .

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  5. I have been attending BSF for almost 8 years. I love that this is a great way for me to intentionally met with the Lord daily. It is in his presence that I learn the most.

    Last year was probably one of the most discouraging years attending. The discussion lead seldom connected with us. She also participated a lot in the discussion. I don’t know if this is something new. I figure she already had her discussion as a lead and should be facilitating but she talked quite a bit. I was also placed in an older group and felt very disconnected.

    I wasn’t planning on attending this year but I knew God wanted me to continue to read his word and I am glad I stuck it out.
    Group discussions are still fair. We keep changing groups so it’s hard to develop friendships and also I attend an evening group so ladies do not stick around to chat.

    I am grateful for all the hard work that BSF is put into the studies and each lesson is so encouraging. I also enjoy praying the prayers specific to Acts that they provide 🙂

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  6. Thank you for this heartfelt sharing! I truly thank my God for BSF. IT has been a great blessing to my spiritual growth! Praying for others and sharing with them is just like taking good medicine. What a joy!!!

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  7. Dear Susie,
    Thank you so much for writing this! I am aware of a situation that needs this message. How compassionate of you to think of others that live lonely existences.
    We are blessed to be reminded of this. Thanks to God for putting this on your heart.
    Louisville, KY

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  8. I starting to enjoy BSF now, but considered dropping out about 3 weeks ago. I would enter and sit by myself. I’m very outgoing, but you walk into a big worship center and only see the back of heads. I have been taking notice of the number of ladies that sit alone. I’m not used to that. My old bible study started with coffee, hugs, social time, then the video. I was the wm leader and on the team for years and facilitated a small group. So many ladies tell me how they miss that. I’m sure BBC doesn’t want us to mess up the lobby, but a compromise would be nice.

    Also, the notes being available the week after the questions doesn’t make sense. I’m almost 66 and was basically told y’all don’t want me to cheat. Really?? If I read the notes first, then the scriptures, it helps me understand the scriptures. Imagine how it could help a new Christian. I also like to write on the notes as I study the scriptures, then I do the questions. So each week I have to go ask for the following week. You should do a survey and ask how many actually read the notes when they get them right before the speaker, then class. Why would I read them afterwards?
    It makes sense to have them together. I know they are on the computer, but unless I print all of that I can’t make personal notes on the notes. It is also so confusing when you first start. It took me awhile to figure out what week I was on since I started mid session. Just make the notes and questions match the date. Also, the speech is after the class, questions, and notes. How confusing.

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    • I feel the same way you do, Emily. I am very outgoing, but it seems like women go into the worship center, sit down with their friends and are chatting with friends, or sit alone. I often go and talk to people who are alone. Quite a few people come in at the very last minute, or late. In the past, our BSF began with discussion. This gave the group members time to visit before the discussion started. The lecture was last. Therefore, everyone got out at the same time and you could visit with people. But lots of women arrived late, totally disrupting the discussion groups, so that’s why they have the lecture first now. But the discussion groups get out at different times, making it hard to visit with people in other groups or to find friends you know from previous years. I agree, a coffee, social time right at the beginning would greatly improve fellowship at BSF.

      I am just as confused as you are about which lesson, notes, and lecture we’re on at any given time. I find it extremely confusing. What a smart idea you have…to skim the notes right before the speaker. Thanks. I hadn’t thought of that.

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      • If you have access to mybsf.org, you can print out the next week’s notes whenever you want. That is what I do; I like to read the notes after I read the scripture verses for the day. It helps me to pick out what I want to remember from the notes.

        I hope you are finding friendships in your small groups ladies! Be sure to look for ladies in your small group when you go into the lecture, so you don’t feel alone.

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  9. How courageous many of you are! When you are tempted to withdraw, instead you commit to engage. You are overcomers!

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    • Everyday we come in contact with people. People we know and some we do not know.
      I have found over the years the importance of having personal Bible Study each morning before engaging with people. When I have taken time for quiet time the day seems brighter and people I come in contact with are easier to talk to. BSF has given me an opportunity to share my life with others more easily.

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  10. I am learning day by day the importance of our Christian Walk. The early Church in Acts shows us so much e.g. the daily fellowship , the support of one another to persevere in times of trials and tribulations, caring for one another, telling others about The Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Plan if GOD IS UNSTOPPABLE and we as His followers have to get in the path to His Kingdom and join and help and encourage each other on the way

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  11. “Show up and Open up” I needed that exact encouragement!

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  12. Thank you for this encouragement! Sometimes at work and in the community I feel like an outcast or some kind of “religious weirdo” in this post-Christian world. However at BSF I feel so encouraged each week when I gather with fellow believers, women who seek to know and serve the Lord authentically. Just being with like mind Christ followers gives me the energy and right mindset to be surrounded by nonbelievers throughout the work week. It truly helps me to NOT lose my focus and trust in the Lord. When I don’t stay active in the Word with a community of fellow believers I begin to feel spiritually weak and I am easily prone to forget that God is in control.

    This is my 9th or 10th year in BSF and I will attend until the day I die, God willing. May God bless all the BSF groups across the globe!

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  13. Thank you for discouraging withdrawal. I enjoy participating in groups at BSF yet I fail to find value in participating in the small group (section) at my church (God uses Christian community to get us off the wrong path and onto a path of righteousness and peace). This truth is teaching me to work on my attitude. what I liked is the righteousness that is instilled.

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  14. Thanks for sharing this.

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  15. I love BSF and will attend as long as I can make it…it does help me to grow spiritually…. However fellowship is a bit weak it is also because I been away a few times Hope there will be a alumni association if we can meet with bigger groups quarterly or twice a year . I also love the sharing part to see GOD vividly not only in my life as EMMANUEL and also in others and have been recommending this to a lot of people here or oversea

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  16. Wow! This is so true. Praying that God will break down the walls we build in our groups and as a leader guide me to love each member of my group so much that I become the shepherd He has called me to be for each of my ladies so isolation doesn’t occur – just God’s love.

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  17. Very good article and thoughts. Some years are just easier than others to be open, share and fit in a group.. This is my 12th year and BSF has been a blessing.

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    • When I was going through a bad patch in my life,I couldn’t attend bible study,I missed it deeply.Transition from another state an illness with daily treatments and not knowing where it was available.Prayer and seeking God’s wisdom was my answer.Thanks you BSF, I found a class.

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  18. Interesting that BSF says they encourage fellowship, but I find it lacking in that area badly. When I went to CBS they really knew how to do fellowship. Every 5-6 weeks we’d bring in something edible to share, have coffee, and personal time together. Then 2-3 times/year we’d meet for a meal somewhere. This is discouraged at BSF from what I’ve been told and experienced.

    Also, we don’t cover the questions much anymore and now break up into 2-3 partners for discussions. Very difficult to concentrate in a tiny room with a dozen women talking at once. I’m borderline on giving up with BSF. I didn’t go with CBS since we now live quite far from the classes…

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    • I agree. The busyness of BSF Schedule precludes a real Fellowship camaraderie while trying to cover all the queries & getting back to the lecture hall. The few times where there was some comraderie was when a BSF leader would have an extra fellowship Time outside at his home or when we had extra fellowship time. I recommend that we skip the lecture once every 6 weeks to allow the small group time be unfettered with relaxed fellowship & not be constrained by a tight schedule so participants can get to each other better & pray for one another.

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    • I agree with you…very little time for fellowship at BSF. I am in a Daytime BSF. We do the Discussion group last. I try to stay afterward about 20 minutes when I can to visit and get to know the women in my group.

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      • I just stated in my comment how much I miss any fellowship. Everything has to be to the minute.
        Also, so many ladies sit alone. Just not my style. The lesson is great, but so rigid.

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  19. MANY HEARTS WORKING TO BE IN GOD’S WILL

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  20. Christian Community is essential for Spiritual growth and maturity

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  21. BSF has been a wonderful opportunity to grow, heal and learn more of who Jesus is and who He intended for us to be

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  22. How very true your statements are. I love your challenge, “Show up and open up!” For the older baby-boomers, sometimes that is the most challenging thing to do. Yet, once one does open up, letting God handle the burdens, the peace within is remarkable. It truly is healing from within.

    Nancy S.

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  23. I really appreciate this information, I am a widow, having to make a new life for myself in this phase of my life has been and continues to be challenging. With BSF I feel supportive by the teachings with the questions and notes material but mostly by the people I am surrounded by. Each day I attend a BSF discussion group, attend the lecture, I gain with friendly people around me and with potential friendships.

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  24. BSF has been a stronghold for me during church transitions over the last ten years. It has been a place for me to feel welcomed and encouraged while growing in God’s Word.

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  25. 2 Peter 3:18 says, “ in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ….” I find that BSF is one of the places to find that growth.

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  26. Loved the challenge ; show up and open up

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  27. Iam always blessed to be part of BSF, i look foreward to the monday evening class meeting at Allsaints cathedral Kampala

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  28. I whole heartily agree that the Christian community and the inter action of fellow believers with one another is the cure for loneliness and isolation. We have to stay connected to each other and share one another burden and keep pressing on. In may case I lost my wife seven months ago and if if wasn’t for BSF and brothers and sisters in Christ and my connection with my church I could very easily slip into wo is me and self pity and end up in loneliness and isolation

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  29. Each week I look forward to studying Gods word with the most amazing women. They share their life stories and how they navigate their joys and hurts through searching Gods Holy Word. Thank you BSF for making this happen for me each week.

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  30. God has used the BSF discussion groups and Fellowships as times of great blessing and encouragement in my life. Developing relationships, sharing our challenges, joys, and sorrows, and then praying for one another have provided precious spiritual jewels in my walk with the Lord. We truly are designed to be in community, sharing our lives with one another.

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  31. A very good reminder that we need others. Even God the Father desires our fellowship. And if that is so how much more do we need to fellowship with not only Him but each other

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  32. Susie,

    Thank you for your timely words of God’s wisdom! As a new GL in a satellite that has a regular attendance of fourteen to fifteen, this article was profoundly helpful! I was jotting down notes as if I were at a lecture, fast and furious!
    I deeply love my group of ladies and sense their fatigue and weariness after the holidays and flu season but I cannot just “feel their pain” and leave it at that. I have been called to a greater bedside manner, my bedside, as I kneel and pray for them. (Sometimes it’s literally drop and pray!)
    The ‘How’ behind a thriving group was just what I needed at this point of the study and of the year as it encouraged me to help my ladies to see that not only are they building a deeper relationship with God through Christ but deeper relationships with one another!

    Again, I say, thank you and “Praise the Lord!!”

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  33. I needed to hear this today. I thank you for sharing.

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  34. This is so true & profound. Thank you for sharing.

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  35. Thank you very much! I had good time and learned a lot from BSF i past several years. I miss it! I will consider to re-join when my schedule is fit.

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