Last week I shared the things I loved most about BSSM. There are so many things I could list, and I’m grateful I got to experience First Year online. I’m sure I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would recommend BSSM to anyone.
This week I want to share a few of the things I wasn’t a huge fan of:
The feeling of forced intimacy for the first several weeks of Revival Group. Online school is just different. It’s harder to connect as quickly when you can’t stand face-to-face and clearly read people’s expressions. It takes longer to build relationships. I felt especially awkward one week when we were asked to share who we were thankful for in our group, and I hadn’t connected with a soul yet. Some people were gushing over classmates they’d already made connections with, and it made me feel like the odd one out. I would have preferred allowing the sense of community to develop naturally from the get-go like it did later on.
The homework. I know there had to be SOME measure of accountability in the program, but this so often felt like busy work to me. I would’ve rather journaled things out with God on my own than answered the specific questions that were assigned. (Special mention goes to Kingdom Foundations in particular…I always knew it was going to be a long – and sometimes boring – week when a Kingdom Foundations course was on the schedule.)
The flowery introductions for literally every speaker. Although BSSM does have an amazing group of speakers, it takes away some credibility when each speaker is introduced the same way (“You’re in for a real treat!”), even if every word is true. I would’ve rather skipped the introductions altogether and gotten more time to hear the renowned speakers themselves!
A few sessions where the speaker clearly expected we had been given his notes (which we hadn’t) and was referencing them the whole session. Again, Kingdom Foundations gets a special mention here. These sessions often felt disorganized, but I expect things will be straightened out by the time the next online school year begins.
Repeated sessions. I don’t know what happened in the planning process, but there were a few messages we heard twice. I was so hungry to hear as many new messages that I could, and it was frustrating to feel “cheated” out of other sessions we may have had instead of watching the same message multiple times.
That the e-books came from the Bethel Store instead of Amazon. I prefer to read on Kindle so I can save my highlights to Goodreads, but the e-book downloads from Bethel were complicated to export to the Kindle app and couldn’t be connected to Goodreads. Downloading the e-books in general was a pain, often didn’t work, and sometimes ended with me spending my own money on Amazon just to get it into my hands.
That we didn’t get a discount on individual copies of books. E-books were free, but I already had several hard copies of the books we were required to read and I wanted to add a few more to my collection. We only got a discount on the multipacks, though, which included books I already owned and didn’t want to buy again.
THAT THEY DIDN’T TELL US WHAT BOOKS WE’D BE READING AHEAD OF TIME. This was frustrating for me (and I know it was for others, too, because this was a recurring complaint in the Facebook group). I wanted to plan ahead: read ahead if my upcoming weeks were busy, order ahead if I was getting a physical copy without having to pay for expedited shipping, and budget for the exact number of hard copies I’d be purchasing. I was unable to do this because we were never informed until the beginning of the month the book was due which book we’d be reading.
When sessions would consistently go over time. I am completely on board with allowing the Holy Spirit to move and offering the option for people to stick around longer if they want. But many of us were on a schedule, and we had set aside a certain time frame for sessions that would regularly fail to stay within those time frames. This felt inconsiderate of our time and boundaries. I felt like I couldn’t plan anything within a few hours of my BSSM sessions, because I never knew for sure what time they’d end. It was also frustrating when I’d be late to the next session because the previous one went long.
That our weeks technically started on Wednesday, but assignments were due on Sunday (and, later, Monday). I did as much ahead of time as I could (for me, that usually meant I watched the prerecorded sessions the previous weekend), but all our live sessions were on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I also happened to have my revival group at the same time as AMTs on Thursdays, so I couldn’t watch the AMTs live and had to wait several hours for the recording to be uploaded. This added stress, as Thursdays were already really busy and I was ready for a break by the time the last class was finally uploaded. I loved having all the sessions crammed into only two days for easy scheduling, but it would’ve been nice if those two days could’ve been at the beginning of the week so we had a full week to finish everything.
That Bethel doesn’t prophesy “dates, mates, or babies.” I get it; I do. It’s important to be wise, and you don’t want to accidentally steer someone wrong if you happen to make a mistake. But dates, mates and babies are pretty much all people in my stage of life want to hear about. I have a hard time resigning myself to the fact that everybody else gets to hear from God about what they want to hear about, but the single and childless folk don’t. Maybe these words should be left to the prophets with proven track records or maybe they should come with a disclaimer, but I hesitate to rule out these types of prophecies altogether.
BSSM was an incredible experience overall. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I will always look back fondly on my time in First Year, but these are just a few minor things that caused some frustration.
If you have any questions about BSSM, especially the online version, feel free to drop a comment below!
Hey! I'm Brianna and I'm a millennial. I'm also a reader, writer, God-lover, introvert, and recovering perfectionist. ☺️
I want to inspire millennials to retain their morality, hope, and faith as they transition into adulthood and full-fledged "adult."