Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Door Set Open, By Peter Seinke

A Door Set Open
Chapter 6 – Joining God’s New Creation

1.  Steinke’s introduction to this chapter is both humorous and quite serious…contrasting the wide gap between biblical and confessional understanding of resurrection with that of often-misguided popular religion.  Steinke wisely draws upon the guidance of N.T. Wright in such matters.

What does “the resurrection of the body” mean for us individually, as well as for creation itself?  How does a “soulectomy” completely miss the boat?

2.  By using Plato’s cave allegory, Steinke stresses that we’re in for a huge surprise…namely, that “the biblical final destination is…not merely heaven.  It is a new heaven and a new earth.  All creation has a future.”

What does this mean, not only for the ways we might experience new life in the future, but also for the ways we might experience new life right now?  How does such hope change and shape our present attitudes and agendas?

3.  Review & discuss the implications of these statements:

- With the resurrection of Jesus, everything changes.

- Easter’s grand promise is a newly embodied person in a renewed world.

- Easter is about God’s new creation and the calling of believers to be agents of the kingdom.  Christians are called to embody the hope that the God of promise offers.

- The Christian physicist John Polkinghorne remarked that hope is not a mood but a commitment to action.  Its character implies that whatever we hope for we will be prepared to work for, thus bringing it about as we are able.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Door Set Open, by Peter Steinke

Chapter 5 – The Making of a Mission Culture

1.   The church’s mission is a huge piece to digest…easier said than done!  Steinke initiates this discussion with the need to know what direction one is headed…to have a destination…an orientation.  He then moves into a discussion of “mission drift,” limping along without a focus…an apparent affliction of many congregations today.  Look again at Steinke’s list of drifting symptoms…

Can you recall examples where you felt the church was in the midst of such “drifting?”

2.  “Mission is the nature and purpose of the church, not some list of qualifiers.  Because God has a mission, a church arises.  Apart from mission, the church is meaningless.  The mission has churches.” 

How do these statements compare with the perception of the average church member today?  Where might there be agreement or disagreement? 

3.  Steinke notes how issues of survival challenge us to examine our self-understanding as people of God, asking:  Who are we?  What is God calling us to be? 

How has St. Mark changed over the past two decades, and how do we understand our mission today?

4.  “If the gospel isn’t transforming you,” N.T. Wright asks, “how do you know that it will transform anything else?”  “People who work for a clear mission in the church and for the wider world need to be experiencing transformation in their own lives.”

How do we learn to tend to this focus in fresh ways, especially when we’ve been a part of the church for so long?

5.  “Again and again, we have to explore why we come together.  Congregations need to continue to review who they are and how they will respond.”  Let’s try on Steinke’s follow-up questions for size:

What are we trying to be?  What is our calling at this time and in this place?  Can we make a difference?  Is there a purpose for our presence?