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Discussion guide for January 2024 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.

The future of the PC(USA) is pastor-less, and that’s OK by Catherine Neely Burton


  1. What, for you, was surprising, inspiring, or confusing about this article? Share some of your thoughts.
  2. Are you a member of or aware of a church without an installed pastor? What do you see as the blessings and challenges of such churches?
  3. Is there a church nearby where you live that is without a pastor? What are some ways you and other members of your church could reach out to that church to connect with its leaders and members?
  4. The author quotes from section G-1.0101 of the PC(USA) Book of Order. How do you think that section influences one’s view of the place of churches without pastors in presbyteries of the PC(USA)?
  5. What would your prayer be for a church you know that is without a pastor?

The great ends of the (small) church by Phillip Blackburn 


  1. In what ways have the concepts of “large” and “small” impacted your view of your church or of the PC(USA) denomination?
  2. Of the six Great Ends of the Church, which ones are most alive and active and which ones are least alive and active in your church?
  3. Which of the six Great Ends of the church needs to be emphasized more in your church? How might you go about increasing such an emphasis?
  4. The author refers several times to Jesus’ quote in Matthew 18:30 about Jesus being present wherever two or three are gathered. How do you interpret that verse in relation to your church’s life and ministry?
  5. Try restating the six great ends of the church with terminology that resonates today. How would you restate one or more of them?

Reviving Goodwill by Dartinia Hull


  1. What are some insights and/or memories that are evoked by this story of the Goodwill Parochial School?
  2. To repurpose a building and dream of a new future for a historic institution takes imagination, creativity, and commitment on the part of key leaders who have a passion for the project. What do you see as the key factors that have produced a new mission and future for Goodwill Parochial School?
  3. The author writes, “The tripod of church, family, and school had expectations for everyone, ‘and you didn’t want to disappoint them’” Hampton says. What is the status of that “tripod” in your community? What are some ways your church could partner with families and schools so children will have a firm foundation on which to build their life and faith?
  4. Are there any rooms, buildings, or programs in your church that may need to be repurposed? If so, what are some next steps you could undertake to imagine a new future? If not, is it time to do some reevaluating to discern if there are some things that need to be repurposed?