“Wah, very cheem ah,” a colleague said to me as she saw me doing my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) homework.
As I looked up from my Bible, she told me that she’d always been interested in BSF, but shied away from it because she imagined the homework would be too difficult and the people too intellectual for her.
I could definitely relate. I’m a passive, shy and laidback person; the very first time my girlfriend told me to try BSF, I was really reluctant.
I already go to church, I attend cell, I serve – that should be enough, what?
To me, BSF just felt like something above and beyond the normal Christian walk. I thought it was for the “up there” Christian, and I was more than happy to just be a normal one. So I found every excuse to say no. My favourite one was “I’m too busy in this season”, but secretly I was thinking: “Every Monday night? Where got time?”
So I knew how my colleague was feeling, imagining that joining BSF would be like walking into a room full of theologians and feeling completely out of my depth, like a dummy.
But that’s not actually what BSF is really like, I told her.
I recently joined BSF because I had entered a season in my life where I wanted to know the God of the Bible better.
I know that sounds a little holy-moly, but it’s what it is.
The BSF centre I attend is at a cosy, quiet church in the east of Singapore. One of the first things I noticed on my first visit were the pews in which we sat. Pews. I hadn’t sat in one since I was a child, and together with the hymns we sang it made for a very austere first glimpse at BSF.
But I don’t say that in a bad way. Over time I found the no-frills approach to learning about God very refreshing. We don’t have to mingle, we don’t play games – we just split into male and female discussion groups and get on with our discussions. Of course, there’s a time and place for fun and fellowship, but at BSF I really enjoy the singular focus on learning about God’s Word.
My discussions with these young men have showed me a new aspect of unity and spiritual community.
Each weekly BSF session is split into group discussion time, followed by a lecture delivered by the centre’s Teaching Leader. At my first session, I wasn’t really looking forward to the group discussion time, as I was worried I’d be walking into a room full of John Pipers and Ravi Zachariases. But that wasn’t what I experienced. Instead, I met a group of down-to-earth guys around my age who were simply just there to share what they had learnt from their time studying that week’s assigned chapter.
My discussions with these young men have proven to be real, raw and edifying from the get-go. It really showed me a new aspect of unity and spiritual community because on Monday nights we all come together and are on the same page. An instinctive brotherhood, built not on carnal camaraderie but a common desire to know God better through His Word.
No one comes with anything other than hearts of humility that want to learn and figure things out together.
Another aspect of BSF I’ve really come to appreciate is the servant heart of the leaders.
They have so much more to do than ordinary members, yet I’ve never seen any of them talk about their service as anything but a joy and a privilege.
I go to the centre once a week – the leaders go for an additional session, usually at some unearthly hour, so they are prepared ahead of the discussions. They even do that mind-boggling homiletics exercise every week, breaking down each passage into great detail to extract the key principles for our benefit.
As they gather, I know they pray over each one of the members, usually on their knees.
My centre doesn’t have Children’s Leaders, but I hear that at other centres, volunteers take in infants as young as one month old just to free up the mothers for two hours of uninterrupted Bible Study and discussion. That’s dedication beyond the realms of my imagination.
I’m not going to lie: Giving up my Monday evenings is still something I find quite difficult to do.
But as much of a struggle sacrificing my time has been, I’m now convicted that when you “give” to God, you get so much more in return. I’ve really learnt so much from my 2 hours there every Monday night that I wouldn’t get by being at home.
So I guess it boils down to what you want.
In this season, I wanted to know more about the God in the Bible. I wanted to see Him in a new light I’d never seen Him in before. And ever since I acted on such a desire, I’ve not once been shortchanged in any way (Jeremiah 29:13).
If you have an inclination or a desire to be spiritually fed at BSF, don’t believe everything you’ve heard about how intensive or tough the study is. Give it a shot – you can drop by at one of their intro classes (you can find a class near you on the BSF website).
Regardless of where you are in your walk, you have everything to gain from choosing to know God better on a spiritual and intellectual level.