I am leading Sunday School tomorrow morning. We have an open day before we start our study of the book of Romans next week. We usually have around thirty young adults attend each week, so I am going to break the group into eight small groups of four to five people and give them each one of the following questions. I will give them 20 minutes to discuss the question. We will then come back together and each group will have three minutes to summarize what they discussed. I know these questions need more time than that to really work through, but I think it enough time to encourage future dialogues in the class. Plus, if they are really interested in a particular question, I can give them the resources that I pulled them from so they can explore farther.
- Summarize the gospel in four sentences.
- Is baptism mandatory in the process of becoming a Christian? What is the point of infant baptism that some denominations celebrate? Tell the others your baptism story.
- In your view, which is currently the bigger risk: trusting tradition too much or too little? Why? How would you like to see the church handle new ideas?
- Who comes to worship: consumers or community? What are consumers of worship? What is community worship? Does Trinity UMC do a good job of fostering community worship? How can we improve?
- Someone once described their view of the “Second Coming” Jesus that makes the “First Coming” Jesus seem like a strategic fake-out. What was the point of the “First Coming”? What is the point of the “second Coming”? Do you see the tension between these two views of Jesus, and if so, how do you reconcile the tension?
- Read Matthew 5:13-14. Discuss with the group your interpretation of this passage. Consider the words to “This Little Light of Mine”, do they accurately express the meaning of this verse? If we go back to the Greek, the word Jesus uses for “you” is actually the plural form “you all” (or “y’all”) and the word light is singular. (Collective body = one light). This is a message for the church body. Is our cultural bias pushing us to miss many of the biblical metaphors of the church because we assume these images are directed at individuals? Without a first hand knowledge of the ancient scripts, how are we to know when “you” is “you” and when “you” is “y’all” in the Bible?
- Jim Wallis wrote, “Of all the principalities and powers that St. Paul writes of in Ephesians 6:12, the government is one of those entities against which we are to wrestle as we seek to see God’s will “done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Not that this wrestling is always clear; when do we fight, and when do we submit (Romans 13:5, 1 Peter 2:13)?” When are we to fight and when are we to submit?
The quote continues, “When you struggle with government policies, you are likely to find yourself in controversy, and taking stands marked more by moral ambiguities than by stark right and wrong sides.” How involved in politics should Christians become?
- Stewart Burns recounts Martin Luther King Jr.’s epiphany in To the Mountaintop:
Around midnight, as he struggled to sleep, the phone rang on more time, “Listen n*****,” an ugly voice crackled over the wire, “we’re tired of you and your mess now. If you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow your brains out and blow up your house.” He paced the bedroom floor in angry fear, then walked across the hall to the kitchen to heated some coffee. He tried to find solace in what philosophy and theology had taught him about the meaning of evil. Could there be good without evil? Could there be redemption without sin? No answer came to shake his despair. Nothing relieved the fear in his gut. He was ready to give up.
“I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any longer,’ he recalled in a sermon the summer before his death. “I was weak. Something said to me you can’t call on daddy now,” as he had in past troubles. “You can’t even call on Mama now. You’ve got to call on that something in that person that your daddy used to tell you about. That power that can make a way out of no way.” He had to call on the Holy Spirit’s power to help him through. The church had been so much his home all of his young life that he had never stepped outside of it far enough, or bodly enough, to forge his own relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Spirit – not that of his father or mother or Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta.
He discovered at this midnight hour that “religion had to become real to me” – not merely the hand-me-down family business – “and I had to know God myself”.
How authentic is your relationship with God? Are you hanging out inside the church too much, preventing you from personally getting involved in social injustices? Are you hanging out outside the church too much, and not tapping into the power that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus?
So, which of these questions interest you? Feel free to comment, and if you want to know what I have been reading lately, Just ask, I will tell you! (Some of you can probably tell).