August 14th, 2020
As we have been preparing for another Chronological School of Biblical Studies (CSBS) at YWAM Vancouver, I have been reflecting a great deal on my own decision to come to this school. I’ve been thinking about my time as a student and my time as staff, and remembering how I have used those experiences since. More importantly, I have been wondering if those same sentiments have been shared by those who have also gone through CSBS. So I reached out to all of our alumni in search of answers to why did we come, why did we stay, and how did we apply what we learned?
WHY DID WE COME?
Ultimately everyone comes to CSBS for different reasons, but the core purpose rings true in everyone’s testimony; we wanted to know our Bible better. In one way or another, we each realized that the level of understanding we had, or thought we had, was not enough. Some of us had questions of our own, some of us had received questions we didn’t have answers to, and others were experiencing the Bible for the first time and had no idea where to begin. For many of us, we knew that we could not be most effective in our ministries and relationships with God if we didn’t know His word better.
“To know the Lord better I needed to know His word better.” - Cambree, CSBS alum (2018/2019) "I wanted to understand Scripture for myself, and not be dependent on the Bible-study crumbs of others.” - Bethan, CSBS alum (2011/2012)
WHY DID WE STAY?
This question might seem redundant, or closely tied to the first, but when you’re in the thick of it, it begs an answer. We frequently refer to CSBS as a marathon, as opposed to a sprint. With nine months of course work and more than forty hours of homework a week, this course certainly requires more study than a Discipleship Training School. It can feel overwhelming at times. Needless to say, this school requires endurance. We had to take it one book at a time and remember the reasons we came in the first place. However, in many cases the reasons to finish were even more enticing. Our friend Janelle summarized that draw best.
“I stayed and continued through the entire CSBS because I simply had to. I couldn't NOT know the end of the story, the grand finale. I was desperate to know more. Yeah it was super hard—probably one of the hardest things I have ever done—but it was so, so worth it. Persevering was the greatest challenge and the greatest reward anyone could ask for.” - Janelle, CSBS alum (2016/2017)
HOW DID WE APPLY WHAT WE LEARNED?
No matter where we have ended up since the end of the course, CSBS is not something we could easily forget. We were equipped for a lifetime of studying the Bible. We carried the principles we learned beyond the classroom. What we learned has fuelled us to teach others—at home and abroad—to study the Bible for themselves. We have also been able to use our learnings to impact lives outside of our ministry and to shape our communities. That said, there was an unexpected trend in responses and it rings true for myself as well. CSBS didn’t necessarily answer the questions we came with, and left us asking even more. Although we didn’t always find answers, we were equipped to keep searching, pushing us to an even deeper study of the Word. Don’t believe me? Ask our alumni:
“Honestly, I think I left with more questions than I had when I came. But what CSBS did was give me tools to help me work through Biblical passages, understand the consistency of God’s character, and understand the timing and context of biblical writings. These tools have continued to help me even now as I study individually.” - Ntaalu, CSBS alum (2016/2017) “The beauty of the CSBS is its repetition. I started with questions and I finished with questions, but the difference now is that I have the tools I need to know how to approach Christian questions. CSBS taught me how to ask good questions, but also that good interpretations should be applied. It showed me that Bible study should bear good fruit in your life.” - Bethan, CSBS alum (2011/2012)
As I said earlier, CSBS is a marathon. You’ll work hard, and might even pull some late nights, but let me promise you, it is worth every single moment. To be dedicated solely to the study of the Bible for nine months is a rare privilege that very few people get, so if you get the chance, take advantage of every second.
*Alumni responses have been edited for clarity and length.