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Discussion guide for April 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.

Hosts and guests by Alejandra Oliva

Questions:

  1. The author begins by describing family meals and meals hosted for guests. She ends the article by focusing on the circumstances associated with the influx of immigrants and refugees. What are some connections you see between these two realities?
  2. Which parts of this article do you and your church identify with most closely?
  3. Which parts of the article are most troubling?
  4. The eighth paragraph ends with a sentence that begins, “Hunger is not on a different continuum than violence …” Spend some time reflecting on this statement and what follows in the article.’

The hospitality of yes by Clayton Rascoe and Colleen Earp

Questions:

  1. What are some things you have learned about hospitality in these two accounts of the Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference center saying “yes” to opportunities presented to them?
  2. When have you said “yes” to an opportunity to do something new or surprising? What are some discoveries you made in the process?
  3. What is something your church has said “yes” to that reflects your hospitality? How has that experience impacted the life and mission of your church?
  4. If you had been a member of the board of directors of Massanetta Springs, what would you have seen as the challenges for offering the Matthew 25 conference with a totally different model than other conferences? What are some of your thoughts about the decisions made by the Massanetta board and the staff?

The ecumenical future of camps and conferences by Joel Winchip

Questions:

  1. If you have had an experience spending a week of the summer at a church camp, what are some of your memories? How formative was that experience to your faith journey?
  2. What are some experiences you have had attending a retreat or conference at a church conference center? How have those experiences impacted your Christian faith?
  3. What do you see as benefits to becoming more than a Presbyterian outdoor ministry organization to becoming an ecumenical Campfire Collective? What do you see as disadvantages?
  4. What do you see as ways church camps and conference centers can extend hospitality?

After you by Johanna van Wijk-Bos

Questions:

  1. Share about a time when you were the stranger in a place that was unfamiliar to you, where you were out of your comfort zone. What emotions do you remember experiencing in that place? Was there anyone who reached out to you with gestures of caring? Who?
  2. The author quotes C. Fred Alford, “Paying attention to the needs of the stranger opens a pathway to the experience of the divine.” What are some thoughts or responses you have regarding that quote?
  3. A key verse in the article is, “You shall love the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19). The Hebrew word translated “stranger” in the NRSV is translated “foreigner” (NIV), and “immigrant” (CEB). Which of the words do you think best conveys the meaning of the passage? Why?
  4. The author states, “There is no requirement cited as frequently in the Torah as the posture and behavior toward the stranger, occurring in all the law codes.” Spend a few minutes reflecting
    on that statement.
  5. Who are the strangers in your community? How does/can your church care for them?
  6. How concerned are you about the future of Christian camps and conference centers?

What the pandemic taught Montreat about conference centers and hospitality by Richard DuBose

Questions:

  1. Montreat learned three important lessons during the pandemic: vulnerability, resilience, and authentic hospitality. To what extent did your church and you learn the same lessons?
  2. What other lessons did you and your church learn during the pandemic?
  3. When you compare the life and ministry of your church prior to the pandemic to its life and ministry today, what are the major differences? What have you lost, and what have you gained?
  4. Is hospitality a major feature of your church’s ministry? If so, in what ways is hospitality expressed in your church? If not, how can hospitality become a more significant presence in your church?

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