If you are reading this blog posting and have not read the others from this weekend (titles all begin with “Bible Study Fellowship”) then you are stepping into the middle of a conversation. Just thought you’d want to know.
a BSF RULE, paraphrased by Ruth:
If you have not answered a question on your own (and written down that answer on your worksheet) you can’t answer the question in the group discussion time.
that BSF RULE, considered and applied:
Okay, so this is one of the rules that I think is (in principle) quite helpful but which also can be enforced with a kind of enthusiasm that makes it less helpful.
CONSIDER THIS: The 4-fold approach is most effective when a person participates in all four folds. Beyond that, if a person has carefully thought through (perhaps even prayerfully) questions and answers and taken the time to write down their thoughts, they are better prepared to share their insights than those who are answering off the cuff. (Can God work “in the moment” and reveal truth quickly? Sure. That’s not the point.) A principle that a person should come prepared to the class, that all 4 folds of the approach are valuable and exponentially beneficial when applied together is reasonable. Furthermore, the it is likely that the community which is the discussion group benefits most when everyone in the group participates fully, invests fully.
In practice, I’ve seen discussion leaders enforce this rule well while others enforce it awkwardly.
Some discussion leaders may struggle with control issues (do I hear a witness?) needing to feel the rush of power that comes from being in total control. Is this ideal? Of course not. Is this an identifiable growth area for those leaders? Absolutely.
In another scenario, I can imagine that a discussion leader who is intimidated or fearful or feeling inadequate might either become legalistic or too lenient. Hey, I did it as a classroom teacher when I was less comfortable in my own skin that I am today. I still tend toward this when I am challenged and am listening to the wrong “voices.” And I know I’m not alone. I suspect this is a common expression of principles defined through rules and then amplified by fear, etc.
If BSF does, as it self-describes, provide a season of training for a lifetime of service, then it makes sense that people in various roles will also be in various places in their growth toward holiness and wholeness. So, I choose to extend a measure of grace for the inconsistency that is about imperfection. I am grateful for the many times that kind of grace has been extended to me.
Over the past year or so, I have seen an intentional move to show more grace and less of what is (or what can become) legalism in the application of what is really about a principle. I’ve poked about enough with the leaders in the class I attend as well as a few others I know in other cities to know that this leaning toward grace is very much organizationally intentional.
How cool is that?!
What I’m hearing is that the rules are being taught more as principles and leaders are being encouraged to err in extending grace rather than in enforcing the letter of the law. I’ve already experienced this grace a few times this year and found myself responding far more deeply than I imagined I would. Grace is powerful.