(UPDATE: Please see BSF Leader resigns; warns members about 2018 Study)
I remember the first time I “got” the Gospel. It was in a woman’s Bible study group called BSF, or Bible Study Fellowship. For the past 50 years and up until I left four years ago, BSF International has been solid (as far as I knew), offering a full year of weekly studies for men, women and youth, covering seven subjects: Genesis, Matthew, Life of Moses, Romans, John, History of Israel and the Minor Prophets, and The Acts of the Apostles. At the end of seven years, the studies start over.
I was part of BSF first in Minnesota, then Florida, and in Wisconsin. This was no coffee klatch. This was serious stuff. There was a dress code (no jeans). And there was a strict mandate at BSF: Absolutely NO outside books other than the Bible. I loved it, and wish I could still be a part of it. I even got to be a teacher in the children’s ministry one year – it was incredible. Before doing “discernment ministry” work on the radio in 2010, I was in training to be a small group discussion leader at my local BSF group. So imagine my sorrow to read the following note from a friend who lives in Oregon:
I am somewhat discouraged today after BSF. I love my teaching leader and group leader. They both seem so grounded, but last week our group leader shared with me a Jesus Calling excerpt, and today our Teaching Leader* read from God Calling! I spoke as gently as I could with my group leader about it last week and hoped she wouldn’t be offended. She said she took it as not the actual words of Jesus, but just that Sarah Young was inspired to “hear” his voice. It ended up in a pass but I told her I would send her some info.
(*Note: the teaching leader (TL) leads all of the small groups in a teaching/sermon session – a “large group” in the sanctuary – following the breakout small group meetings, lead by the group discussion leader.)
Please understand that in sharing this letter I am not here to throw BSF under the bus, nor am I warning anyone to stay away. Just the opposite. I want for this to be an easily-remedied situation. Perhaps it happened only in this one town. I hope that in sharing this letter, the folks at BSF headquarters will come to understand that the old mandate (no books but the Bible) was a very good rule. I hope that they will research why so many Christians are concerned with Jesus Calling, and its New Age inspiration, God Calling. (UPDATE: I also hope they will read the comments section below for additional insight.)
A good place to start is with author and researcher Warren B. Smith, a former New Ager and friend of ours who wrote about his concerns in the book, “Another Jesus” Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church through Contemplative Prayer.”
Again, I love BSF and my heart is to warn these precious ladies to be discerning so as not to allow the little sheep to stumble.
If you are wondering why Jesus Calling has so many red flags, I will point you to the numerous articles and interviews we’ve shared, in hopes that you will do your own research and compare what you find in Jesus Calling to the real Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the Bible.