Discussion guide for May 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.

Christianity’s shifting structure by Dustin D. Benac


  1. Broadly defined, “Christendom” refers to a culture in which Christianity holds people together. What does the author mean by saying, “American Christianity … is decoupled from Christendom”? What signs of Christendom’s demise have you noticed?
  2. How do you respond to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thought that “by the time [our children] grow up, the form of the church will have changed considerably”?

Transition: Teri Ott introduces seven ministry innovators “who are thinking creatively, taking risks, and exploring new territory beyond the walls of the church.”

Innovators in ministry you should know by Teri McDowell Ott


  1. Ashley Goff leads a congregation that sold its holdings, demolishing nostalgic ways of being the church. How does APC’s story inspire you to reimagine your congregation’s identity and purpose?
  2. Chris Burton employs the internet to proclaim the gospel of peace and justice. How can your church use digital technologies to connect with people? What digital rest stops do you create for spiritual refueling?
  3. Pepa Panigua promotes the kindom community to dismantle prejudices within the church. Where does your congregation hold space for naming and healing harm?
  4. Fernando Rodriguez encourages new and creative worshipping communities. What new expressions of church are emerging in your community? How could you partner with them?
  5. Shawna Bowman details the journey of Friendship Presbyterian Church, a mission-oriented congregation that emerged from the vision of two dying churches. Would your congregation be willing to die to help give birth to another community?
  6. Justin Forbes is discovering God’s presence along the margins and infusing youth ministry with the lessons he learns. How can your church focus its ministry efforts on social locations such as disability, sexuality, race and reconciliation, foster care, and teenage parents?
  7. Chris Dela Cruz details the Presbytery of the Cascades’ efforts to return Indigenous lands to their original communities. Central to the action is the release of the Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst, Portland, Oregon, to establish Barbie’s Village. How does this action fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)?
  8. Daniel Herron created a digital Christian community serving over 53,000 middle and high school students representing 85 countries. What appeals to you about his story? What do you resist?
  9. Taeler Morgan introduces us to Gather Tacoma, a 1001 New Worshiping Community that embraces people who are actively deconstructing their faith and those with little or no faith commitment. How can your church provide a space for spiritual and theological questioning?
  10. Do you agree with Mark Elsdon: “This is the time for the church to think bigger and take risks. What do we have to lose?” Why? How can your church think bigger and take risks?
  11. John Kotter (Leading Change) says creating a sense of urgency is fundamental to implementing a compelling, clear vision. How are your congregational leaders fostering a sense of urgency?

Transition: Trey Wince and Mark DeVries frame ministry innovation as the work of amateurs, beginners who do what they do out of love. As beginners, we can drop our confidence in our expertise and step into generative approaches to ministry.

Can I have the keys? Trey Wince and Mark DeVries


  1. Who are you actively mentoring in the ministry of leadership?
  2. Who is your ministry’s “keeper of the keys”? How is restricting young people from leadership opportunities contributing to your church’s demise?

Transition: Wince and DeVries suggest assuming a beginner’s stance to adopt a generative approach to innovation. Similarly, Kalbaugh testifies to a symbiotic connection between artistic – generative – imagination and beginning again discovered in her cancer diagnosis amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Art and innovation — beginning, again by Juli Kalbaugh


  1. “Liminality” refers to disorientation, a time between, illustrated by a door threshold, where we are neither in nor out. When have you experienced a time of disorientation? How did you live into your liminality?
  2. Kalbaugh’s journey found grounding through her intentional embrace of artistic expression and appreciation. For her, it seems, art has been a spiritual practice, a holy habit. What has served as a holy habit for you in a time when the ground seemed to shift beneath your feet?