If you’re just joining us, we’re reading through a book together. It’s called The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. We’re on Part Two, Chapters 4-7, but you’re welcome to jump in and join us. Here are some questions for discussion this time. To those of you who have been with us, I apologize for the delay during my 3 straight weeks at camp. I didn’t have as much free time as I’d hoped. But let’s get to it.
1. In the seventh century B.C., God criticized the Israelites’ attempts to get back into His good graces through prayers and religious ceremonies (chapter 4, pgs. 54-55). Think about the priorities of your church and compare them with the focus of the Israelites. How would your church stand up to Isaiah’s criticisms?
2. Think about your experience of working with the poor and marginalized in your community — or anyone you have helped through a tough time. Have there been moments when you, like Mother Teresa,saw “Christ, in his most distressing disguise” (chapter 4, pg. 60)? Describe that situation and what it’s teaching you upon reflection. Pray that God will show you what He requires, and that you will have an open heart as He shows you His will throughout this book.
3. Is it possible to love God and not love your neighbor (chap. 5, pgs. 65-67)? Why are the two commandments so inextricably connected?
4. What are the ways in which you and your church have taken on the “mission of God” by showing your love to your neighbors (chap. 5, pg. 69)? Which is more important: telling people about Christ or demonstrating HIs love through acts of kindness, compassion, and justice? Why do you believe this? Are there times when we should do one but not the other?
5. Do you see a connection between Rich’s difficult childhood and his later resistance to believing in Christ (chap. 6, pg. 74-76)? What was it? In what ways do your childhood experiences and relationship with your parents affect your openness to or resistance to God?
6. People like Rich need intellectually rigorous books to help them move from agnosticism to faith (chap. 6, pgs. 80-82). Why might people like him be offended to be told that you — or others — were praying for them? What are better ways to share your faith?
7. Do you believe it’s true that every follower of Christ was made for a purpose (chap. 7, pg. 92)? Even you? Explain why or why not. What would you say God’s purpose for your life is? What are you currently doing to live out that purpose? What could you begin to do this week to move in that direction?
Looking forward to hearing what you think.