Welcome to Part 3 of ‘A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition’. Let’s recap:
Part 3: My Bethel Is Not Your Bethel, Class Life, Out-of-Class Life, Why You’re Here
My Bethel Is Not Your Bethel
“throw out the rulebook and be flexible, listen with your heart.” ~ Alumni Advice
All the advice/wisdom from me, or other alumni, has to be taken in context. The BSSM experience of this year (Your Bethel) is not the same as last year’s (My Bethel). Every year the staff at BSSM spend hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours pouring over feedback from their students and seeking God for the ways the school can be improved for the following year.
This means that advice from students of previous years can be inaccurate, so before talking about class life at BSSM I wanted to confess my potential wrongness. Side note: If I am wrong about something do tell me, no need to stay wrong, right?
Because of BSSM’s radical growth over the years, most classes will have new, challenging problems that didn’t need to be addressed previously. According to Kris Vallotton, my first year class (2012-2013), had a problem with authority. We’d ignore direct instruction from RGPs and Mark Brookes, and were talked to by Kris Vallotton and Mark Brookes on more than one occasion.
Now this doesn’t mean that 2013-2014 even has a problem, our ceiling your floor right? What it does mean is that in general the leadership is going to focus on different topics with you guys than they did with us.
Speaking of ways that the school improves, here’s an example of how a new mandate was integrated into BSSM over time:
- 2011-2012: Bill feels God stressing the need to collect testimonies accurately and thoroughly to edify and encourage the body.
- 2012-2013: This becomes a growing initiative and is talked about at the start of the year
- 2013, February/March: bcrr.us/bssmtestify is launched
- 2013, May: Testimony book is published (credit Dave Harvey)
- 2013-2014 (Present): bcrr.us/bssmtestify is on the back of your name tag
Another example could be the city project, how it’s gone from a few dozen people to an army of over a hundred, transforming the city on a weekly basis.
Let me summarize all this:
- The school is always transitioning positively, from glory to glory as it were.
- If you hear complaints from alumni, assume they’ve been fixed.
- If they haven’t, see if you can help fix it.
Ah, class life; homework, due dates, assignments, lectures, notes, what a wonderful time! You’ll be exposed to a ton of information while you’re at Bethel, so let’s compartmentalize class life to make it less overwhelming:
Your day: Class is from 10:30 to 17:45 (5:45pm), Monday to Thursday. This is the best way to think about it, because then:
Days are the same length: Plan to be busy in between these times. Do reading, homework, reserve seats in the morning, meet and talk to people upstairs at the civic.
Everyone’s more available: If you plan hangouts or gatherings outside of this time frame, way more people can come.
There are morning and afternoon schedules. Morning means 10:30-12:00 and afternoon means 16:15-17:45. Monday and Wednesday this will involve your revival group or small group; on Tuesday it involves your AMT/Track, and Thursdays, for most people, means your activation.
Each day has a similar “middle schedule,” from 12:00 to 16:15:
This is a time for you to press into God and join in some amazing corporate prayer, or get drunk as a skunk with Holy Spirit. This is not a time for:
- Talking with friends or catching up in the auditorium
- Reserving a seat (do that before)
- Being obnoxious or loud in any sense (unless that’s how the prayer is going)
If you see someone you want to talk to, and you are in the auditorium, quietly ask to talk to them outside or upstairs. If it isn’t worth the 15 second walk, it can wait.
Announcements [12:30-12:45, varies]
Pay attention! If there are announcements on the overhead screens read them, they aren’t always read out loud. This is not talking and catching up time, or coffee time, or potty time (note: coffee time and potty time are tied together, avoid entirely if possible). It isn’t getting settled in your seat time either, because you were already sitting in your seat, eager to learn about all the awesome opportunities BSSM is offering at announcements today!
Side note: last year, our class would yell, “ANNOUNCEMENTS!” whenever someone at the podium said they had announcements. I endorse this tradition, it’s fun and it helps the delinquents pay attention.
Bible [12:30-13:30, varies]
What an amazing opportunity to dive into the Word of God, to enrich your spirit. In my year this was usually taught by the zealous Bernie Ooley or the emphatic Dann Farrelly. Whoever teaches it, take in all you can.
Worship [early afternoon, about an hour a day]
“It’s a totally new place where you’ll probably see some things you haven’t seen before. Different manifestations, different ideas. The best advice I heard in Redding is don’t be suspicious and use discernment!” ~ Alumni Advice
Refresh yourself, soak in the presence, go deeper in intimacy with God. This is a time of praise and worship, try not to be distracted.
Bring recording material: Carry something to record with so if you’re struck by a sudden awareness of your need to do laundry, you can write it down and release your mind to focus on higher things.
“Have a recording device handy everywhere you go. Start a filing system early so you can categorize: homework, proph.words, notes, bills etc..” ~ Alumni Advice
If this is really new for you, here’s a look at some beginner moves for worship.
Grasping God’s Word [12:30-13:30, varies]
Taught by the scholarly Dann Farrelly, you will learn so much here it’s crazy.
Bring the book to school: If GGW is scheduled that day, bring the book so you can write in notes and comments.
Read the book: at least the day before, more on this later.
Core Speakers [Last thing before break]
This is probably why you came to BSSM, to hear Kris, Bill, Jason, and others dispense distilled wisdom into your earholes. Their talks are sometimes marathons (it can be over two hours at times) so when you are asked to stand and honour them, sneak a stretch into your applause. Stay sharp, you do not want to miss a word, or expression, from these brilliant orators.
Let’s look at some of the people you’ll be hearing from:
- Bernie Oolie: Excitement embodied, Bernie has a passion few can match. She believes strongly in empowering women in the church.
- Dann Farrelly: The scholar of the bunch, Dann is a gifted teacher who delivers his material in an easy to follow along manner.
- Kevin Dedmon: Inventor of Treasure Hunts, Kevin’s passion is for the lost, and to say he likes getting drunk with Holy Spirit is an understatement.
- Chris Overstreet: Your local motivational speaker, Chris will also likely be the one who releases you to street ministry (more later).
- Kris Vallotton: A father of the house and a powerful prophet, Kris has a great passion for the city (City Project was his baby) and for raising a generation of young people with a value for purity.
- Bill Johnson: Considered the father of the house, Bill is a great apostle with a sincerity and humility matched by few in this world.
- Mark Brookes: Overseer of first year, he’s kind of like your surrogate father for the year, treat him like it.
- Jason Vallotton: Kris’s son, Jason’s passion is helping broken people. He’ll talk a lot about counselling and inner healing.
There are many others besides these select few, including guest speakers and revival group pastors.
Ear protection: My year the sound guys (who were awesome) didn’t have much control over outbursts from speakers. The resource table has free earplugs to take the volume down a notch. I recommend having them handy for Bernie, Kevin, and Chris O depending on where you are sitting.
Stories: Bill and Kris lose track of what stories they’ve told to whom. Your job is to remind them. Just remember that if you always say, “no tell us!” they will repeat themselves and you’ll miss out on other, different stories they could be telling.
Break Time [15:45-16:15]
Do not leave your seat until the speaker dismisses you. Be honourable and give them your full attention for the whole time. When it is break time, this is your phone-checking time, your potty-break time, your catching-up-with-friends and your making-final-notes time.
If someone has an afternoon schedule that day, don’t keep them, and that someone is you, don’t be kept! Excuse yourself and get to where you need to be on time.
Ok, deep breath. That’s the day-to-day, what about the special stuff?
Let’s pretend your Revival Group meets on Mondays (if they don’t flip Monday and Wednesday when you read this). We’ll be talking more about RGs in Part 4: Relationships, but for now think of them as extended family reunions, every week!
Seriously though Revival Group time is awesome, make it a first priority.
AMT/Track time! These are amazing opportunities to customize your experience and get the most out of your time at BSSM. Advanced Ministry Training (AMT) is like an elective in school, whereas a Track is like a taking a minor on your degree, in that you take the same AMT for the whole year.
Unless you are absolutely certain you want to take a track, I recommend the AMTs; you can try more things that way.
Small Group time! Of course your small group can meet any time you decide on, but the default is the same slot as your RG time on the alternate day. Small Groups will also be talked about more in Part 4: Relationships, until then, consider them to be your best friends, your brothers or sisters in your immediate family.
Thursday is Staff Speaker day, where you’ll hear from someone you normally don’t. Did you know Bethel has around 500 staff? They won’t all talk to you, but you should know how many people work to keep the place jumping.
Finally, before city services is the City Services Speaker. For us it was usually Chris Overstreet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man more passionate for the lost. I find that if you do whatever he asks to get you pumped up, you’ll have a better day for it.
Activation! Or is it City Services now? Either way, this is the time when you get your hands dirty for the Kingdom. You want to know what’s had the most profound impact on the City of Redding’s leadership? It’s been us happily, hardily, and humbly serving them in any way they need.
Tips for Class Time
To talk to someone about it: Just had a revelation? Blown away by that last talk? If you really want to get that awesome stuff locked down talk it out with someone. Explain it to each other, write it down, discuss alternate interpretations; attack and defend it with reason and scripture.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17
But don’t talk during class: Just don’t, it’s rude and dishonouring. Take it outside if you must.
Keep the phone off: Turn it on during break, but its function should be to record the talk or take notes only, everything else it does distracts you from what you are here for.
Do your Homework: Do it, do it, do it now. Read your books, read your bible, write and take notes, do your 30 days starting 30 days before it’s due.
Reserve your seat clearly: This was a pet peeve of mine. Reserving seats is an accepted practice at BSSM, finding a friend on the morning schedule ups your odds of getting good seats. Just make sure your reservation is clear:
- Not a pen or torn piece of paper
- Not something half sitting between two seats
- Use your binder (no one will steal a binder, and the name helps friends find you)
- Backpacks are cool too (think big here)
- Extra classy people put something across the top of the chair so you can tell from a distance that the seat is taken.
Stairwells are for going up or down: Not for hugs and hellos. There is only one stairwell in the Civic you can use in the entrance area; think of it like cars on a highway. You wouldn’t suddenly brake in bumper-to-bumper traffic to roll down your window and say hi to a friend. If you want to talk, wave them over to a place that’s off the “road.”
Coffee timing: If you can’t get your coffee from River Rock and be in your seat on time, you need to find a coffee place on the way to school, or save money and bring a travel mug.
Be Flexible: The schedule will change, mistakes will happen, have grace and roll with it.
Be aware of yourself: Don’t be like school kids who are too self-absorbed to realize they are blocking people’s way. Avoid standing in doorways or near stairwells, fountains, or RG tables; unless of course you are using them.
Find out who’s taking the great class notes: I recommend you still take personal notes, but official notes can be found if you ask around, or you make your own! These give you a chance to review what you might have missed.
Out-Of-Class Class Life
“Do your h-work before you go out on fri and sat….” ~ Alumni Advice
Do it, do it, do it now people.
There’s a method to the madness: If you are doing your homework, you’ll notice that bible, kingdom foundations, GGW, and the speakers afterward end up talking about the same topics at the same time. For example, about halfway to when ‘Culture of Honor’ was due Danny Silk, the author, gave a talk on the fivefold ministry that tied in perfectly with the early chapters of the book.
Challenge yourself: Challenge what you believe and what you are being told. If something a speaker said didn’t sit well with you, talk to your intern or RGP about it, or your roommate, small group, or friend. Stay sharp.
Dann will talk to you about logical fallacies and reasoning. I urge you to do everything you can to understand his talk. Why? Because the stereotype that Christians believe whatever sounds good and are uneducated or ignorant doesn’t need any help. Be smart, you may need it.
As a student of BSSM you are a representative of Bethel, and an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven. Just as a diplomat isn’t simply sent to another country with no training, you aren’t being released until you’ve learned how to carry the culture of honour when you speak and minister.
In general, consider how people would perceive your actions, as an ambassador you are being watched every time you are in public.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23
You’ve already been told I’m sure, but in case you haven’t: you don’t have permission to minister to people outside of BSSM, yet. You will be released later this year when the leadership knows you are ready.
Ministering at Church
You also cannot minister at church, yet, unless you are a second or third year. There will be training for this, and seek approval from your RG pastor before doing it. In this case it is better to ask permission than forgiveness.
Why You’re Here
You are here for whatever you and God decide you’re here for. If you don’t know what that is, press into God and he’ll help you out.
“Don’t get behind in your homework, and pursue Him; not just the signs and wonders. You’ll see all the signs and wonders you could imagine but if you don’t allow Him to change you, you won’t have the character to hold onto what He wants to do through you.” ~ Alumni Advice
“Stay focused on the one thing God has called you to no matter what. Stay on task in the path where his clarity is acute.” ~ Alumni Advice
You get what you put in: If you don’t work at problems, they won’t be solved; and nobody will work on your problem harder than you will.
2nd or 3rd years aren’t perfect: That sounds mean, but I want you to understand that finishing first year shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be figuring out what you need to deal with, what stands between you and God, and then working everyday to bring that barrier down.
I’m also saying this so you won’t be discouraged or surprised if you meet a 2nd year who seems worse off than you; instead be encouraged that they are further ahead than they were last year, and if you work hard, you will be too.
Deal with it now: There is no better time to fix your hurts or problems than right now. This has always been true, but it’s more true now, if that’s possible. Just think, a year from now, you’ll be glad you started today.
You are here for you: Not for your church, or anyone, or anything else. This year is ultimately about you. Take the time you need to take care of you.
That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for Part 4: Relationships!