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.
During the pandemic lockdown, what experiences, if any, did you have of encountering God’s beautiful, creative artistry as present in your family, church or community?
In a Bible dictionary, look up the word “Ebenezer” to read the definition. Then, in a Bible commentary, read the notes related to 1 Samuel 4:1, 5:1, and 7:12. What are some insights you gained from this research? What are some insights you discern from Theresa Cho’s use of the word in describing her church’s ministry during the pandemic?
Of the several ways Cho and folks of St. John’s Church repurposed materials, resources, indoor and outdoor spaces, which intrigues you the most? Why?
What are some new ways liturgical arts could be explored and developed in your church’s ministry?
“In a new and disturbing way,” Thomas Long writes, “preaching has become perilous.” Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Why?
Long tells of a conversation with a theologian from behind the Iron Curtain who said you can tell the difference between the imposter preacher from the authentic preacher by the preacher’s voice. What is your response to that story? How can we distinguish authentic preaching from inauthentic preaching?
The truths expressed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be quite controversial in today’s politicized climate. What must the preacher bear in mind when preparing to preach? How can the worshippers be prepared to hear the truth of that Gospel.
“Symbolically, at least, (preachers) get up from the pew as members of the body of Christ, before they open their mouths as preachers.” What are some implications of that image? What are some thoughts you have about the movement of the preacher from the pew to the pulpit?
Reread the story that Long shares about the time he was a guest preacher in an African American church in Trenton, New Jersey. What rings true for you in that story? In what ways can congregants become involved in fulfilling their part in preaching and listening to the sermon?
What is an experience you have had that you could describe as a “surprise calling?”
Lisle Gwynn Garrity uses the metaphor of “breadcrumbs” as an image to express what she perceived as clues to how she felt she was being called by God to a new form of ministry. What do you think of her use of that image? What are some times when you could have used the same image to describe events in your faith journey?
What key elements do you see in the author’s story that led to a vision becoming the reality of a new, creative way to engage in ministry? Have you perceived a vision that led you into a new reality of living or serving?
Reflect for a moment on the author’s third principle, “art and commerce must be reimagined.” What are some thoughts, questions or affirmations that that principle raises for you?
Describe a time or times when some part of the usual liturgy in your church was changed. Describe how the change was unsettling or was enriching of your worship experience?
Erin Dunigan focuses on the work of Dr. Marcia McFee, who “wants to help pastors and congregations learn how to create sensory-rich worship that is respectful of the differences people bring with them.” One of McFee’s suggestions is to make worship “M M Good” by which she means “intentionally making worship meaningful and memorable.” What are some worship experiences you have had that for you were meaningful and memorable? What made them so?
Given a Presbyterian Reformed liturgy, what are some ways you can think of where elements or actions could be added to enhance the liturgy to engage the worshipper to have a more personal, inspirational and nurturing experience?
Donald L. Griggs, a PC(USA) pastor, has served as associate minister for Christian education for several congregations and is a former teacher at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He has written numerous books, including Called to Teach, A Collection of 16 Essays, and Teaching and Preaching in Jesus’ Name: Eighteen Inspiring Bible Passages.