Introducing BSF With A Warning

BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, BSF rules

I have gone to a Bible study every week since I moved back to Arkansas called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), and I really love it.

I’ve studied the Bible a lot of different ways with different groups and different materials…with just women, with men and women, with children…with books studies, with topical studies, with discussions about books written about the Bible.

There are as many different ways to study the Bible out there as there are personalities.

So what is special about BSF?

Let me tell you. It’s very very straightforward…just you and the Bible. You read the scripture. You answer your questions. It’s set up to do a little bit every day.

You go to bible study on Wednesday. You discuss your questions in a discussion group. (not a small group…a discussion group…I’ll come back to that.) You hear a lecture from the teaching leader, which at my class is very good. (My teaching leader’s name is Carla and she is precious).

After the lecture, you pick up your questions. You go home and start over. It’s routine. It’s consistent. It can even be monotonous. But, I can honestly say that I have not ever learned more about the Bible or studied as consistently in another Bible study setting.

If you stay in BSF (a lot of people drop out), you just do it. You kind of get lost if you don’t, so you just plug through.

As far as my spiritual journey goes, I have had a lot of ups and downs but one thing I’ve learned is that I am pretty much guaranteed for DOWN if I’m not reading God’s word. It’s that simple. I can still be down anyway, but I don’t have a chance without the words of God pouring into me consistently. BSF sets me up for success as far as studying the Bible daily.

Also, I love the preschoolers’ program (ages 2-6). It’s so good. This spring Ben has enjoyed his last season in the children’s program at BSF and I just cannot say enough about how wonderful it is. I will definitely take simon when he turns 2. Again, very bible based, very consistent. The teachers take so much time preparing to teach the bible story. And they really love those little ones, praying for them and encouraging the mommies. It is such a great ministry.

Every week at BSF, they pass out these little invitation cards and strongly encourage us to invite people to come to BSF. So why haven’t I told you about BSF?

Why haven’t I invited you?

Well these cards are very small and I can’t quite fit all my disclaimers about BSF onto the margins of this little card. So I thought I would invite you now. But first I will tell you some of the things you might not love about BSF, so that you will not get mad at me when you show up and you are ushered to your seat. That’s right, you will be told where to sit. Just like kindergarten. And that brings me to my next point. There are sort of, a lot of, well, for lack of a better word…rules. What’s crazy is that the rules that really bug me also contribute to creating the environment for consistent Bible study that I love.

For example, you can’t talk if you don’t do your lesson. And you can’t talk about anything except your lesson. That is why it is a discussion group, not a small group and definitely not a support group. You are talking about the lesson. No one is saying what their pastor said last week or worse, what Oprah or Dr. Phil said last week. I appreciate this because everyone is motivated to complete their lesson and I love hearing what the other ladies got out of their lesson. They are all from way different walks of life than me, which is another great thing about BSF. Varying denominations, ages, races, spiritual maturity.

But all these rules can be a little intimidating. Especially because on your first visit to BSF, you don’t attend a discussion group. You go to what is called Introduction Class…also known as a boring recitation of the history of BSF and all the rules and guidelines. This class is more than I can bear, and I am sorry to send you to it, but you must endure it if you are going to enjoy the wonderful benefits of being in BSF. All I can say is, endure it with a friend and maybe you could get some material if you worked for a comedy channel or club that needed material for making fun of Christians. Ok, that is a little harsh, but really. It is also true. I have said that I wish somehow BSF could sort of ease up on things like strict attendance records and a very short window of opportunity to get your lesson for the following week, because it seems to hinder a lot of people from coming to something that is actually really good. But the legalism must preserve the whole thing from becoming fluffy. And incidentally, if you are a BSF-er, you kind of need something fluffy on the side to balance you out. Because bsf is not fluffy. It is anything but.

In fact, it is best to approach it as signing up for a seminary class, because, if you wanted to, you could get as much or more out of it as some people get out of a seminary education. And unlike seminary, it is free.

So consider yourself both invited and warned. The next two wednesdays are introduction classes for the fall BSF study, which is Matthew. C’mon matthew! May 2nd and 9th. at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship on Warden Road. 9:10am. If you wander in around 9:15 or so, come stand in the back with Whitney and me and enjoy the singing of a very old and noncopyrighted hymn an octave higher than is humanly possible. You’ll love it, I promise!

Update, January 2013:

I wrote this post about BSF six years ago, and I need to add that BSF has become kinder and gentler with the rules about lessons and attendance and such.  It is still the very best way I know to study the Bible and now all of my kids have graduated from the wonderful preschool program, which makes me a wee bit sad.  Some days I think I will just wrangle up a preschooler to take along to class.

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23 Responses to Introducing BSF With A Warning

  1. Jerusalem says:

    That is the funniest thing. Ever! I went to the other big bible study in town that is a tad bit less strict. And I mean a tad. I lasted about 2 weeks. I feel like that sort of stuff brings out my dark side- I just want to break all the rules so very, very badly. It’s compulsive – I can just feel the mocking coming on like a tidal wave. Not good, I know. I blame my childhood.

  2. Mama says:

    I loved this about bsf. It was a perfect description. I also love that you go and endure the “rules” for what you get out of it. I love that you are willing to overlook the parts that are difficult. We would never do anything, if we had to have it all perfect before we would be a part of it. I also love that you, Anna and Whitney are doing it. I bet you have some people trying it out from your honest invitation.

  3. Kelly S. says:

    This description is priceless but SO true from someone who just began bsf a few weeks ago. Even though at times it feels as though I live to break rules, my time there has been so beneficial. Thankfully, we are not directed where to sit by our ushers and our leaders may be a tad less regimented than yours. God must know there’s only so much of that that I can handle. I think anyone I invite in the future, I’ll direct to this clarification of what they should expect!

  4. Kim says:

    I love BSF and i am anxious for it start with Matthew this year. BSF is not perfect, i don’t know of any Bible study that is. Our ushers pretty much let us sit where we want, and do help find seats for late arrivals.

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  12. april says:

    i have had a hard time with bsf. i talked to my group leader about my struggle to make the time daily to get the questions done, etc… she said, “you are what they call a baby christian.” say wha?

    now when i do get the questions completed and have something to contribute to the discussion, she says with enthusiasm “I am so proud of you!!!!” emphasizing the word proud.

    seriously not wanting to go back… help!!! how do we deal with comments like these from leaders?

    • alison says:


      I’m not even sure how to respond to your leaders’ insensitive remarks. I’m so sorry!

      I have had lots of different leaders over the years and some years are definitely a little tougher than others. I think if you enjoy your teaching leader (the one who gives the lecture), then the study is still worth it.

      Strangely, on a year I had a particularly ungracious leader, I had one of my best years as far as relationships with group members, which is kind of counter-intuitive. It was almost like we bonded in spite of her. For example, someone might come in late and it be obvious to everyone else that she was struggling or had a bad morning or whatever, and our leader would focus on her missing name tag. That would make the rest of us that much more ready to be compassionate and loving towards her. It was a funny dynamic.

      Mainly, I think God can make good out of all those annoying details for the greater purpose of studying His Word.

      I am loving Isaiah so much this year. I’ve been so blessed by this study, even on the weeks I don’t get it all done.


    • Deb says:

      Hello Ladies,
      I am a teaching leader in BSF. Someone forwarded this discussion to me some time ago and I am using some of the comments in the training of my leaders. No names of course… just examples of how things can “go wrong” or how our actions can be hurtful even if we don’t see it. I appreciate all of your candidness and pray that each of you will continue to love God’s word and desire above all else to grow in your knowledge of Him and His grace whether it be through BSF or another study.
      My heart does break for those of you that have been “hurt” or discouraged by your experience in BSF. I agree wholeheartedly with Barb, the enemy uses whatever tool he can in order to keep us from growing in the knowledge of Him and His Son, including causing division amongst the brethren. God bless each of you for desiring God’s Word in your life and may He bring you to just the “right study” for spiritual feeding.

  13. A says:

    Thank you for your response. I actually decided to talk to her about the commment. She said that I am a baby christian because I am doing this bsf stuff for the first time… and that I perceived it wrong, took it wrong. It wasn’t meant to offend. She said she’s never heard of anyone being offended by that phrase “baby christian” and that she uses it a lot. That left me feeling more confused. I’m not going back under her leading.. That may be wrong, but God will work it out in me whatever this struggle I am having.

    thanks for your kind words.

    • barb says:

      did you quit last march? i just read your comments and hoped you spoke to your teaching leader about the situation. she may have been a “baby group leader” that needed more training on responding properly! I hope that if you have not found another Bible study that you will give BSF another chance. the enemy will use any thing to keep us from studying God’s word!

  14. Tabby says:

    Chino girl…I am laughing out loud and reading to my class.
    thank you….

  15. Inkling says:

    I found you tonight, a few years after you wrote this post, and just wanted to say thanks. My mom has been nagging me for years now to get back into BSF. I finally decided to do it since my preschooler needs to hear about Jesus from somebody more than just me, and he’s not getting that at church. But it has been a total bear to try to communicate with the rule-oriented class administrator who loses half of my emails. I’m almost ready to give up. My current plan is to go there on the first day of class and if they turn me away because I have my son with me (I don’t have childcare), I’ll just register and hightail it out of there. I hate the idea of sitting through the intro again, but I can do it, if only they will let me put my child in on time! This is the rub. They want to go by their rules, and I just want them to utilize some common sense and grace for a mom who has is only doing this for her child in the first place. Oh, and I won’t even tell you the lecture I got from their headquarters in Texas when I called to see if I could have help getting the CA to responsd to me. Oh my. Rules run deep at BSF. If their children’s program wasn’t so good, I’d tell them where to go (and then I’d have to repent).

    • Alison says:

      I’m so glad you are going to try it out. My class administrator assures me that it become “a kinder, gentler BSF” since I wrote this post several years ago. We do not turn away mamas with kiddos on the first day even though the “letter of the law” says there is not provision for it.

      I look forward to hearing how it goes. And yes, the children’s program is worth it!


  16. Beverly A. Brownlee says:

    BSF preschool program has expanded. The minimum age requirement has been lowered to include newborns. Mothers, grandparrents, nannys, aunts, cousins, etc have the option of keeping their infants with them the entire 2 hours or taking them to the nursery where they are exposed to Christian age appropriate songs and stories.

  17. Shari says:

    I’m a long time BSF-er and currently a group leader. I so enjoyed reading your post and had quite a few laugh-out-loud moments (especially the part about the hymns!). I am glad to say that BSF has made some significant changes over the last 5 years and is indeed “kinder and gentler.”

    I hope you will consider taking your kids to the evening program at some point. My girls (13 & 15) have been in BSF since the younger one was 2. The evening children’s program isn’t much different from what the adults do. They have the same lessons, but age appropriate.

  18. Dana says:

    Just starting my 7th year of BSF. I could not agree with you more about it being one of, if not the best, way to study and learn about the Bible. I laughed at so many of your comments because I had many of the same impressions when I first started. When I was approached about being in leadership I thought the Lord was just having fun with me. I am very excited about the study of Revelation and have been given a young womens group to shepherd this year. But already there have been some misunderstandings between my TL and I. She also has said it is satan just causing division. But….I am loathe to over spiritualize everything. I see this as an opportunity to see each other’s heart and clear the air. I noticed in one of the comment boxes above that a BSF leader put quotation marks about the word “hurt”, as if to challenge or minimize what the person was feeling. It is hard to reconcile differences when your feelings are minimized or discounted. But God calls us to unity and I value BSF to much to take offense and quit.

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