Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan (CBSM)?

CBSM (Catholic Biblical School of Michigan) is a lay apostolate incorporated as an independent non-profit organization [501 (c) 3 status] listed in the Official Catholic Directory, with a Board of Directors approved by the Archdiocese of Detroit. CBSM exists to invite Catholics to encounter Jesus in and through the inspired Word of God and grow as missionary disciples, fueled by daily connection to God in His Word. More here >>

How is a CBSM class different than a typical Bible study?

Bible studies offered by parishes (like WWP or Ascension Press) typically cover selected themes or excerpts of of the Bible using discussion questions, booklets, and videos. 

The Catholic Biblical School of Michigan differs from them in these ways:

  • Greater depth and more comprehensive. We include historical context, the text itself, and how the Word is still active today in our faith and our lives. The depth and comprehensiveness make Biblical School courses an ideal “next step” following participation in a parish study. 

  • We study the Bible in its entirety, every book. In shorter courses that do not cover every book of the Bible, we still teach and read books in full so that we can be impacted by the full force of the inspired human author’s writing.

  • The Catholic Biblical School uses real teachers to give engaging live lectures at each of its locations (or live video conference with faculty in our online virtual class). Each member of the faculty has a post-graduate degree in Catholic theology and is experienced in teaching adults. All faculty members are available to answer questions in person as well as via email. It’s a guided apprenticeship in prayerfully reading the Bible as a Catholic. 

How is a CBSM class different than a college or university course?

Unlike a college or university course, participants do not receive grades or evaluations for participation in a Catholic Biblical School class. There is no formal “application” to join, just a registration form. We do not offer any academic degrees. (Participants who complete all four years, do receive a certificate from our ministry). 

While our classes are in-depth, comprehensive, and taught by seminary-level faculty, our focus is on helping people grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Our program has participants from all age groups, walks of life, and educational backgrounds. With no academic “grades” or exams, participating in CBSM is all of the “good” parts of school–without the parts that sometimes cause stress!

What impact does participating in CBSM have on a person's life and faith?

In a word, growth. Visit our impact page to find out how understanding the Bible leads Catholics to be better disciples of Jesus–more ready to share and act on our faith. 

Why do people join a CBSM class?

Reasons for participating are as diverse as the people in our classes! Some of the most common answers from surveys of participants include, to:

  • learn more about their Catholic faith
  • feel more confident about reading the Bible
  • catechize children/grandchildren more deeply
  • grow in community with other like minded Catholics
  • better understand the Mass
  • get answers about the “tough” and often misunderstood parts of the Bible
  • explore how God might be leading them to minister or serve in the Church
How do CBSM classes benefit parishes and pastors?

CBSM classes complement and enrich parish life by offering highly-qualified teachers and in-depth study in a convenient, local context. CBSM classes are regional and typically bring together Catholics from six to sometimes as many as fifteen (!) parishes in an area, providing a unique opportunity for faith formation and fellowship. Participants become more passionate and engaged Catholics, more likely to share the Gospel, and more ready to say “yes” to wherever the Lord may be leading them to minister or serve in the parish community. Hosting a CBSM class requires no financial commitment from a parish, only a facility and enthusiasm to invite Catholics to deeper encounter with the Word! 
Check out data on the impact of Catholic Biblical School participation. 

Are there Open Houses or Information Sessions?

Yes! CBSM classes start every September. During the months of June, July, and August, we host “Information Nights” at parishes that are hosting a new CBSM class. Information Nights are a bit like an “Open House”–you can meet faculty and staff, get questions answered one-on-one, meet current and alumni CBSM participants, and more. Read more about video/tele-conference and on-site Information Nights here >>

Our Locations and Schedule

Where are classes held?

Most of our classes are held in local Catholic parishes across the Archdiocese of Detroit, Diocese of Lansing, Diocese of Grand Rapids, and Diocese of Kalamazoo. We also offer a virtual online class, accessible to any person, in any location! View current locations here. You can also start a satellite small group or bring a Biblical School ministry to your parish/setting.

When are classes held?

Most classes are held on a weeknight, from 7-9 pm from Sept-to-May. We have a smaller number of weekday classes, short courses, and our fully-flexible virtual online class. 

How long is the course?

Each “year” of The Bible Course and Bible Foundations runs from mid-September to mid-May (about 28-30 weeks of class in total), with holiday breaks. View our typical annual schedule here >> 

Other courses are shorter and meet monthly or weekly for a season. 

What if I need to miss classes?

It’s not a problem. As a community of adult learners, we understand (and expect!) that work, parish, and family responsibilities, illness, and travel will impact class attendance at times. Our teachers audio-record every lecture and provide it to all participants so that you’ll be able to stay engaged and connected. 

Will class be at the same time and location for all years ?

Yes! When a parish decides to host a new CBSM class, the class remains at that location (at the same day/time) for all four years. Participants are welcome to switch to a different or more convenient CBSM class as needed. 

Do I need to join for four years?

No. We encourage each person to make a commitment to join just one year at a time or in a shorter course that’s just a few sessions long. At the end of each course, you’ll be invited to re-register for the next year’s course.

Can I re-join or "double-up" on classes?

Yes. We understand that “life happens” and if you participated in CBSM years ago, but never finished, you’re always welcome to “re-take” or “rejoin” to continue your study. Those who have completed a course (“alumni”) are also always welcome to re-take it. 

Occasionally, a person’s geographic location and “season of life” allow them the time to fully participate in two different years, simultaneously. 

Is there a distance learning option?

Yes. Our online virtual class follows the same curriculum and uses live interaction with our same CBSM faculty, but can be experienced from any location. >> Find out more here 

About Our Classes

What's the class format each week?

During the first hour of our in-person parish-based classes, we spend a short time in prayer, have small group discussion (based on Scriptural readings assigned for the past week), and have Q&A with the teacher. During the second hour of class, the teacher presents his/her lecture, which informs and guides each participant’s engagement with the Scriptural readings and short reflections they will complete on their own during the coming week. 

The combination of prayer, written reflection, reading, discussion, Q&A with an experienced teacher, and dynamic lecture creates an environment where all adult learners can thrive and grow in faith. 

Shorter courses like Bible Foundations and those held at ministry centers follow a similar format.

For our virtual/online class, read about the weekly routine  >> here

How large is a class?

Classes vary from 20 to 60 participants. Small group discussion takes place within groups of 6-10 participants.

Will my instructor or small group change?

Each parish-based class location typically has a new instructor (also known as teacher or faculty member) for each of the four years of study. This offers participants the opportunity to learn from expert, faith-filled teachers who bring their own talents and personal witness to the class experience. Our teachers all have a Masters degree (or higher) in theology, and include lay men and women, and clergy. See some of our current team here >> 

Small groups change 1-2 times per year. This enables all members of a class to slowly get to know each other, and strengthen each other in Christ through sharing of weekly reflections.

Why does CBSM include small group discussion?

Directed small group discussions have an effective and valuable place in the adult learning process. By expressing the lessons in their own words, participants are able to better retain what they have learned, deepen their understanding of the material, and improve their ability to share it with others. Our small group discussions are outlined by the questions answered in weekly short-answer written reflections (aka “homework”), so discussions remain focused on the lesson at hand.

Participants experience small group discussions helping them better see how God is working in people’s lives and find Scripture is brought to life in new ways. We change groups over the course of a year so that you have the opportunity to get to know the entire class over time.

Why do we start with the Old Testament?

In Year A (aka “Covenant Year”), we travel through the history of the Old Testament, beginning with creation, working through epic events such as the Flood, the Exodus, and the era of the Kings, especially David and Solomon. Through these books, we learn how God calls us to know Him and form our hearts to His Word. We learn how God works with and cares for His people, even when they turn from Him and suffer the consequences. We end the year in hope, with a return from exile and the adventures of the Maccabees. This sets the stage politically and religiously for the New Testament, and it means when we encounter Jesus at the start of Year B, we know what He and His Jewish audience would have known about God’s promises for salvation.

What does studying the entire Bible in four years look like?
How much time will it take?

For parish-based classes (where lecture and discussion are done during the weekly class meeting), most participants spend between 2 and 3 hours outside of class on activities including reading, praying with Scripture, and completing short written reflections (often called “homework”) for each lesson.

Every participant is different. For some, in seasons of life filled with a busy work schedule or many family responsibilities, spending 20 minutes a day for 6 days a week is all that one can manage–and with a willingness to learn, it’s enough! The Holy Spirit can work powerfully with the time we offer to God. Other participants find themselves newly retired or with an abundance of time for study and choose to spend well over 4 hours a week, i.e. doing optional supplemental readings. This too is a fine way to participate and enter into a deeper study of God’s Word. Whatever your “season” of life, discern what’s the best fit for you and trust that our Lord will provide fruit to your faithfulness.

Is there "homework"?

Kind of. Each week’s “at-home” content includes short-answer questions for participants to reflect on prior to the next week’s small group discussion. It’s like “homework” because it’s done at home.

It’s unlike homework in that it’s not graded and there’s freedom to respond as suits your personality and learning style. For example, some participants write in “bullet points” or lists, others handwrite a few sentances, and others type longer paragraphs. All styles can be fruitful ways to prepare for class discussion and reflect on the assigned Scripture readings. The weekly written reflections do not require research outside of assigned class readings, though some people choose to add in insights from other books/sources. Participants do turn in their written reflections to the instructor after each small group discussion. Teachers do not assign a grade, but share their own thoughts and encouragements back with each participant, providing an opportunity for “one-on-one” communication within a larger class.

How often is it okay to miss class?

As adults, many of us have busy lives with work and family responsibilities, as well as vacations and parish commitments, and the unexpected injuries/illnesses. Some are “snowbirds” who even leave for warmer weather for weeks or months at a time! Very few people will be able to attend 100% of classes during a year. However, CBSM participants should plan to commit to attending on regular basis. This creates the optimal setting for learning, as lessons build upon one another and themes develop over the course of several weeks. So, how much is too much to miss? 75% is a good benchmark–if you’re able to attend about 3/4ths of the time, then join in!

If you’re not able to attend that frequently and know that keeping up by listening to lectures provided by your instructor online isn’t a good choice for you, we encourage you to wait for a “season” of life that allows you to attend more regularly. We’d also encourage you to check out our online virtual class that offers maximum flexibility for those who need to miss class often. 

What books are used for classes?

The primary book used for class is the Bible. In addition, we recommend quality secondary sources to enrich our understanding of interpretations and the context of the Scriptures. We also suggest optional books for those interested in additional research.

Book lists are available here >>  

Can my participation be applied to catechetical certification?

Both the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Diocese of Lansing apply CBSM classes toward certification for catechists. If your parish or diocese is interested in applying your CBSM participation to catechetical or other certification, we are happy to accomodate and share samples of common equivallencies used by the Archdiocese of Detroit and/or Diocese of Lansing. 

How do I know I am receiving Catholic teaching on Scripture?

CBSM is deeply rooted in and continually nourished by the fullness of the Catholic faith:

  • We minister with the explicit permission and support of the Bishop or Archbishop of each diocese in which we host parish-based classes.
  • CBSM is an official lay apostolate of the Archbishop of Detroit.
  • All members of our faculty have post-graduate degrees in Catholic theology. These degrees encompass not just Scripture, but also sacraments, systematic theology, spirituality, and morality.
  • Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Detroit)’s Departmental Chair of Sacred Scripture serves as an active member of the  CBSM Board of Directors, granting final approval for hiring of all faculty members.
  • Deference is always given to areas where the Catholic Church has made a specific interpretation of Scripture. As is typical in Scripture studies, we may reference the works of our Jewish, Orthodox, and Protestant brothers and sisters. CBSM carefully chooses these works in accordance with Catholic theology.
  • CBSM a recognized by the Catholic Church in the United States and as a Catholic organization and is listed in the Church’s The Official Catholic Directory.

Registration Information

How do I register?

Registration is available through an online form from Memorial Day through just after Labor Day each year, and paper registration forms are available at all Summer Information Sessions

Can I register even if I haven't attended an Information Session?


How much does it cost to participate?
Does CBSM offer discounts, scholarships, or financial aid?

Yes! We automatically suggest a 50% discount for additional family members who join a class with their spouce, children, parents, cousins, siblings, etc. 

We provide “open arms” financial aid to anyone who requests it. This means, we trust that every person who participates will give as able to help fund this ministry. For those unable to give our suggested donation/tuition contribution amount, simply check the box for a reduced or no contribution on your registration form–no additional paperwork, income statements, etc. required. We simply trust in God’s providence through the generosity of our participants to provide the means for this ministry.

What are the different ways to pay and/or contribution options?

We are able to accept payments/contributions via credit/debit card or check through our website or by mail. We accept cash contributions in-person, at Information Sessions and other events. 

Participants are welcome to pay the suggested tuition in full during the summer, with a deposit or other partial contribution before the registration deadline in early September, through a monthly contribution plan, etc. We’re happy to accomodate your schedule needs when it comes to supporting our ministry financially and are grateful for your support.  

We make a decision during the first week of September each year on if we’ve received enough contributions or deposits to fund new class locations. In the event we do not receive enough contributions (unusual), all contributions will be refunded.