Discussion guide for January 2023 issue

In each issue of the Outlook, we include a discussion guide to further reflect on the issue. We recommend using this guide in your Bible study, small group or book club. It's our invitation into a faithful conversation.

Advocating for older adults in long-term care

Kathy Bradley

  1. What must it be like as an adult child to watch your elderly parent’s health fail?
  2. What does the author’s journey reveal about how God interacts and intervenes in our lives? What role does paying attention play in caring for our loved ones?
  3. How have you prepared for long-term care? How do you feel about the people you have appointed guarantors?
  4. How do you define Quality of Care and Quality of Life in your own words? Visit for more information.
  5. Does Matthew 25:31-46 motivate you to embrace advocacy for those without a voice? If not, what will?

Transition: Kathy Bradley’s advocacy work is helping those in long-term care live better lives. Patricia Tull imagines how purposeful aging can make a difference.

A faithful Third Act

Patricia K. Tull

  1. What comes to mind when you hear the term “baby boom”? What do you find to be positive or optimistic about the designation “Baby Boomer”? Negative
    or depressing?
  2. How do you respond to Elder Carol Dunn when she says, “Getting serious about earth care and helping restore
    the planet for our beloved grandchildren has brought us new energy, hope, and even fun”?
  3. Do you agree with Tull: “Baby Boomers approaching retirement with pensions and social security have vast resources to help reset the needle on climate change, and nothing helps to soothe the fretting like getting things done”? Does her insight overwhelm you or inspire you?
  4. Do you agree that Moses is a fitting biblical role model for staying purposefully involved in later life? Why?
  5. How do you react to the idea that your experienced hands “have so much
    more to give”?

Transition: Patricia Tull inspires us to imagine the fruitfulness our lives could have, even in the third act of life. For others, growing older does not feel as full of opportunity. Missy Buchanan offers a hopeful and faithful vision of older adulthood.

I’m just here

Missy Buchanan

  1. What comes to mind when you think of older adulthood?
  2. When have you heard an older adult utter the three simple but heartbreaking words: “I’m just here”? What feelings did those three words evoke in you?
  3. What difference would it make if we adopted specific goals for our later years, such as having meaning and purpose, being respected and independent, and having deep, fulfilling relationships? How would adopting such goals transform older adulthood from “I’m just here” to “Here I am, Lord!”?
  4. Which of the five tips for navigating the relationship between adult children and aging parents most resonates with you and your experience?

Transition: Goal setting can be an important tool in staying motivated in later life and striving to be useful to God and others. Leslie Scanlon introduces us to an octogenarian pastor whose most consequential work addresses today’s broken world.

Paul Smith

Leslie Scanlon

  1. What do you think of the boundary-crossing ecosystem Smith has created to address conflict? How do you imagine his work is developing relationships across various divides?
  2. Can you imagine a “sacred space” in which all participants are encouraged “to unleash all the things that are on their minds, without being judged”? How could such a space be located and honored in your community?
  3. “Smith says the Baptist church gave him the freedom to find his voice”: How are you helping young people to find their voices in your community?
  4. Of the three learnings Smith identifies – nonviolence, interfaith listening, and journaling – which do you imagine to be most influential in bringing change to the world? Which will you adopt as a spiritual practice?

Transition: Buchanan, Tull, and Paul Smith inspire us to imagine the fruitfulness our lives could have, even in the third act of life. Yet, as Jesus said of Peter, when we grow old, someone else will take us where we do not wish to go (based on John 21:18). When the time comes, who will advocate for us?