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Discussion guide for July/August 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.

Friday mornings with José by Don Griggs

Questions:

  1. Are you a member of your public library? What responsibilities do you have as a library member?
  2. What do you know about literacy programs in your community? How can you be involved in helping someone learn how to read English?
  3. What inspires you about Don and José’s relationship?
  4. Read Acts 8:26-39. What similarities do you see between the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian and the relationship between Griggs and José? What differences do you see?

Transition: Doug Basler cites the book Virgil Wander as the stimulus for transforming his espoused ministry of congregational revitalization to helping churches close faithfully. 

 Closing a church faithfully by Doug Basler 

Questions:

  1. What is your knee-jerk reaction to the “Part-Time, Stated-Supply Pastor for Revitalization” job title? What does the title suggest about the church and ministry today?
  2. Do you participate in a congregation that is considering closing? What emotions does closing bring up? How do you react to the phrase “faithfully closing”?
  3. “Virgil’s dilapidated Empress Theater reminded me of our church building.” What’s the condition of your church’s property? Have you “deferred major work for decades?” Why?
  4. What does your church building mean to you? What life events have taken place in your building?

Transition: Books inspire, encourage, feed imaginations, and convict. Happy summer reading!

Summer Books

Washed Ashore, Bill Eville

Questions:

  1. What do you think about the story of your life?
  2. When have you felt as if your life and ability to give it over to the one you loved mattered?
  3. What does it take to be open about our anxieties, shortcomings and fears? Do you agree that such vulnerability makes affirmations of faith “sound authentic, even breathtaking”?

Following Jesus in a Warming World, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap

Questions:

  1. When you consider the realities of our present climate crisis, do you find it difficult to be hopeful for the future? Do you wonder why few preachers issue a call to action? How can you encourage your church’s leadership to lead your congregation boldly by addressing climate change?
  2. What must you do to embrace climate and environmental justice to express God’s call to love your neighbor?

Before the Streetlights Come On, Heather McTeer Toney

Questions:

  1. Is environmental justice at the top of your priorities? Why?
  2. Can you appreciate the connection between climate change and historical redlining, fence line communities, food insecurity, the water crisis and voting restrictions? How can Christians of all races work together to change policies that result in inequities that also affect climate change?

Dancing in the Darkness, Otis Moss III

Questions:

  1. What is your reaction to the “anger, hatred and violence flooding across racial and socioeconomic lines that have dominated the first quarter of the twenty-first century”? Is the anger, hatred and violence justified? Why?
  2. What do you make of the differences between pathetic grief and prophetic grief? How might prophetic grief embrace both love and justice in healing the brokenness of the human soul and community?

Sober Spirituality, Erin Jean Warde

Questions:

  1. How would you characterize your relationship to alcohol? Is it mindless imbibing at social gatherings? Does it feel like a trap that you can’t escape? Is it total abstinence?
  2. What would mindful drinking look and feel like in your context?
  3. Does your congregation serve alcohol at events like weddings? What is the rationale?

Trauma-Informed Evangelism, Charles Kiser and Elaine A. Heath

Questions:

  1. What do you think of evangelism as learning to love our neighbors better?
  2. Have you been or know someone injured by the church’s methods of evangelism? How can you hold the church accountable for the harm it has caused?

Revelation for the Rest of Us, Scot McKnight with Cody Matchett

Questions:

  1. How do you respond to the idea that Revelation is not about speculation about the future but a manual for training dissident disciples in every age?
  2. What do you think when you hear that your Christian calling is to be a dissident, standing against corruption, abuse and sin in the ecclesial and civil contexts, and a disciple, followers of Christ?

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