Bible Study Fellowship

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Bible Study Fellowship
Abbreviation BSF
Formation 1959 in Oakland, California
Type Parachurch organization
Purpose "Bible education of people in the United States and throughout the world."[1]
Headquarters San Antonio, Texas, USA
Region served
Executive Director
Susie Rowan (since June 1st 2009)
$13.9 million (fiscal year
ending August 31, 2006)[1]

Bible Study Fellowship (also known as BSF) is an international Christian interdenominational or parachurch fellowship of lay people offering a system of structured bible study. It was begun in 1959 by Audrey Wetherell Johnson, a British evangelist to China.[2]

The BSF system[edit]

The BSF system of Bible study is highly organized and disciplined, and uses the technique of exegesis for expository study of the scriptures. BSF holds classes for men, women, children and young adults in 35 countries (2006). There are over 1100 classes worldwide. Classes for adult men and women are single-sex, though classes for children (toddlers and infants in Day Women's classes, and for Grades 1-12 in Evening Men's and Women's classes) and young adults (aged 18–35) are not. Each study lasts for approximately nine months, and over a nine-year cycle BSF classes cover Genesis, Romans, Matthew, Life of Moses, John, Isaiah, Israel and the Minor Prophets, Revelation, and Acts of the Apostles. Beginning in 2018-2019, Israel and the Minor Prophets will be split into People of Promised Land Part 1 & 2.

The BSF system involves four elements; daily questions to encourage personal Bible study, discussion groups (of up to 15 people) for sharing of personal answers to questions, a lecture by the class Teaching Leader covering the past week’s scripture with applications for daily living, and finally a set of notes reinforcing lessons from the previous week (plus a new set of questions for the week ahead). BSF classes and materials are provided free of charge.

Often the Teaching Leader and the notes will present historical details obtained from external sources, as an aid to clearer understanding of the context and background of the scripture being studied.

Discussion groups are led by Group Leaders, who are specifically directed to avoid any formal teaching role (this being left to the Holy Spirit during member’s personal quiet times during the week, and the Teaching Leader in his/her lecture). Group Leaders facilitate the discussions, and also perform a shepherding role with group members. They attend a separate two-hour training session each week, which involves group discussion through each of the week’s questions and answers, and generally a sharing of homiletics (see links below) on the passage being studied. Group Leaders can pray with their group at the end of their discussion time.


BSF grew out of a program of structured Bible study that A. Wetherell Johnson, a missionary with China Inland Mission, agreed to run for a group of friends in California in 1952. "In 1958, Ms. Johnson accepted an invitation to go to San Francisco to conduct Bible classes for the revival converts of Billy Graham's neo-evangelical crusades."[3] BSF began in 1959.

Upon Johnson's retirement, Rosemary Jensen became Executive Director (ED) and served for nearly twenty years. In 2000, she began serving as the head of the Rafiki Foundation International which has since moved from San Antonio, TX to Eustis, FL and Mrs. Jean Nystrand assumed the position of ED. In 2009, Susie Rowan took over as Executive Director.

The aims[edit]

The vision of BSF International reads "Worldwide training centers teaching the Bible to produce in all participants a vibrant relationship with God and, in as many as are called, a passion to commit without reservation to lead in the cause of Christ in the world."

The main aims of BSF International include:

  • personal relationship with God
  • daily Bible study
  • know Christ in his fullness
  • relate Bible study to daily life
  • equip members to serve in churches
  • help individuals communicate truth
  • train Christian leadership
  • support churches in the community
  • teach preschool and school children
  • aid and encourage families in the Christian training of their children.

Board of directors[edit]

In addition to BSF's executive director Susan Rowan, the organization has the following people on its board of directors:[4]


  • Mr. Bruce Smith (retired barrister), chairman
  • Mr. Anthony Tan (international businessman), vice chairman
  • Mrs. Suzanne Sloan, secretary (former BSF Area Advisor)

Other members:

  • Dr. John Amuasi (nuclear scientist and educator)
  • Mr. Steve Gately (former BSF Business Manager)
  • Dr. Walter Kaiser Jr. (former President, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
  • Dr. Mark Bailey (President of Dallas Theological Seminary)
  • Judge Ron Rogg (lawyer and judge)
  • Dr. Garth Bolinder (district superintendent, Evangelical Covenant Church)
  • Mrs. Pamela Bunn (former BSF Area Advisor)
  • Mr. Michael Duke (Retired President & CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.)
  • Mrs. Lois McCall, Emeritus (former BSF Teaching Leader)


According to the organization's Form 990 for the year ending August 31, 2006,[1] BSF has offices in the USA, Australia, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Kenya, and Singapore, and has a financial interest in the following 35 countries:

Doctrinal positions and practices[edit]

BSF has a statement of faith that to which all leaders must agree.[5][6] It emphasizes salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8) while encouraging a holy (sanctified) lifestyle.

Any BSF participant who agrees to the BSF Statement of Faith, when that statement is not in conflict with the church they are a member of, can be called into leadership positions in BSF. BSF is careful not to call someone into leadership where the profession of their faith as a member of their church would be conflict with the BSF Statement of Faith.


  1. ^ a b c Form 990 for the tax year ending August 31, 2006 from the Foundation Center
  2. ^ "Our history". Bible Study Fellowship. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  3. ^ BSF International from
  4. ^ BSF Board of Directors from the BSF website
  5. ^ BSF Statement of Faith from the BSF website
  6. ^ BSF Statement of Faith from

External links[edit]