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Discussion guide for May 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.

Faithful Conversations: The challenges of innovation by Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean 

Questions:

  1. Root and Dean have differing views about innovation. Which view do you find most persuasive?
  2. What are some innovations you or your church have tried? How did they go? In what area/s does your church need to initiate some innovations?
  3. From Root and Dean’s dialogue, what are some key insights that stand out for you?
  4. What is a question you would like to have interjected into the conversation?

1001 New Worshiping Communities: Eight vignettes of innovative ministries by Eric Nolin

For the leader: There is so much packed in these eight vignettes, you may want to plan more than one session to discuss the following questions.

Questions:

  1. Following a brief introduction, Nolin writes about eight innovative ministries that are under the umbrella of 1001 New Worshiping Communities. What are some common themes you see present
    in these stories?
  2. Of the eight ministries, which would you like to explore further? Which would you feel most comfortable visiting? Which would you feel least comfortable visiting?
  3. It appears that a major concern of each ministry is how to sustain its viability for the “long haul.” What might be some ways for them to ensure the sustainability of their ministries?
  4. When you consider the constituency and needs of your community, what do you imagine could become an innovative ministry to serve them?

What if ministry isn’t about what we think it’s about? by Sharon Core

Questions:

  1. What are some ways you resonate with this story of Arlington Presbyterian Church?
  2.  After some years as a “successful” pastor, the author discerned a change of focus for her ministry that led to a radical shift in the mission of the church she served. What do you sense are factors that led to that shift? What shifts in understanding and commitment have you experienced in your ministry?
  3. What are three things you learned from reading this article?

Agility can only be built in community by Karen Rohrer

Questions:

  1. A key point of the article is that faithful innovation emerges from listening: listening to one another, listening to God’s word in Scripture and listening to what is happening in the world. What are some key points of the article that caught your attention, that you would like to explore in more depth, with more intention?
  2. The author lists four questions to frame a conversation to help us listen. One at a time in your group, share a personal experience by reflecting on the four questions: What happened? What surprised you? What did you learn? What might God be calling you to do?
  3. What are your thoughts about the following quote: “To me, faithful innovation is the new story that emerges when we merge our voice with the stories to which we have listened well — both the story of the gospel and the story of our various communities. Faithful innovation is anything that enables us to tell the big theological story together, along with the Holy Spirit and the community, in this time
    and this place.”

Pastoring in a secular age by Andy Kadzban

Questions:

  1. The author states he is a recovering deist. What do you understand deism to be? How might we all need to recover from falling into the trap of deism?
  2. What do you think the author means when he writes, “The problem was that I was pastoring as a functional deist?”
  3. Take a few minutes to share to what extent you identify with the author’s statement, “I didn’t need new or more effective techniques or paradigms. I needed new eyes to see God working right here, right now.”
  4. How can you and others in your congregation increase your capacity to live in the present conscious of God being with you?

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