If the Church Were Christian

cover picture
By Philip Gulley, and subtitled "Rediscovering the Values of Jesus". The best way to introduce this book is to simply list the Table of Contents.
If the Church Were Christian,

  1. Jesus Would Be a Model for Living Rather Than an Object of Worship
  2. Affirming Our Potential Would Be More Important Than Condemning Our Brokenness
  3. Reconciliation Would Be Valued over Judgement
  4. Gracious Behaviour Would Be More Important Than Right Belief
  5. Inviting Questions Would Be Valued More Than Supplying Answers
  6. Encouraging Personal Exploration Would Be More Important Than Communal Uniformity
  7. Meeting Needs Would Be More Important Than Maintaining Institutions
  8. Peace Would Be More Important Than Power
  9. It Would Care More About Love and Less About Sex
  10. This Life Would Be More Important Than the Afterlife

Since this is a churchwide bookstudy, meetings will be held in a number of venus from February 26, 2012 through the end of April, 2012.

Comments

Chapter 10 – This Life or the Next Life

1 What is your “model train set”?
2 Do you feel that church offers an alternative world? How is it different from the “real” world?
3 What about souls? Is there anything “real” there, or are they entirely metaphorical?
4 If afterlife theology is not a bludgeon, what other purpose does it serve?
5 Do you know people like Ben and Dorotha? How do we get more people to be like that?
6 If Jesus cared for this life rather than the next, where did afterlife theology come from?
7 What does “letting go of the rice” look like in actual practice?
8 Do you think it's possible for the USA to “grow up” enough that the priorities of our country and culture would match those of Jesus?

Chapter 9 – Love vs Sex

1 Why do you think the church is so afraid of sex?
2 How is this chapter basically different from the other chapters?
3 No mention is made of sexual exploits by great leaders. Comments?
4 Comment on any question(s) on pg 167.
5 What can we do as a church to move from fear of sex to love of love?
6 How are Romeo and Juliet related to this chapter?
7 Do you feel closest to God while making love?

Chapter 8 – Peace vs. Power
1 The first pages present stories of power problems. Do we have stories like this in our church? Please DO NOT go into detail here.
2 I do not see power issues in our church. Am I just visually impaired (blind), or are we among those few churches without this problem? Why?
3 “...the church has so closely identified itself with the nation that it has lost its prophetic voice and witness...” Comments?
4 How do you feel the “tension between the push of country and the pull of discipleship”?
5 Why would it be more difficult for us to choose integrity over power than it would for Jesus to make that choice?
6 When have you brought peace to waring factions?

Chapter 7 – Meeting Needs vs. Maintaining Institutions

1 Why is Napa FUMC worth saving, as an institution?
2 How do you feel about the finances at Napa FUMC? Do we give enough or too much? What feels right to you, and do you think that more or less giving will make a significant difference?
3 How involved are you with the HOPE center?
4 What other “projects” would you be interested in investing your time and effort?
5 Tell us a bit about your favorite outreach program?

Chapter 6 – Personal Exploration vs. Communal Uniformity
1 Comment on the Quakers list of “no-nos”.
2 Who should be asked (forced?) to leave?
3 Why do so many people from other denominations migrate to Methodism?
4 Where have you felt pressure to conform? What did you do about it?
5 When is it appropriate to answer a rhetorical question asked in a sermon?
6 When did you give a communally correct answer where an exploration would have been more helpful? What resulted?
7 What benefits of uniformity is Gulley ignoring or minimizing?

Don't forget the author's questions on page 192.

Week 5 – Inviting Questions vs. Supplying Answers
1 Do you have a plan for our continued moral/spiritual growth? What does it look like?
2 How important is “Truth” to you?
3 How does Napa FUMC 1) discourage spiritual inquiry AND 2) encourage it?
4 Have you read Dawkins' “The God Delusion”? What did you think of it?
5 I feel as if Napa FUMC is like the church on ppg. 94-6. So why are we not growing seriously? Could it be that the pastor does not lead an adult Sunday school class?
6 We hear stories of conservatives in the pews holding back progressive pastors AND conservative pastors holding back progressive parishioners. How does this work at Napa FUMC? (or not?)

Week 4 – Gracious Behavior vs Right Belief
1 Do you attempt to start conversations on religious issues? How has it worked out?
2 Discuss the formation of Christian shared theology.
3 Why do you think Gulley chose an example of sexuality on pg. 71-2?
4 Do we require a phase of spiritual rigidity along our faith journey? Why (or not)?
5 What do you think about continuing revelation?
6 Where do you think the church should be in 100(0)(00) years?
7 Why do you think Gulley uses grace rather than compassion almost exclusively in this chapter?
8 Why does humor help?
9 What is the minimum number of divisions the church must have suffered to produce 39,000 denominations?

Chapter 3 – Reconciliation vs. Judgment
1 Are you more concerned with offending God or other people, and how much more?
2 Do you ever thank Jesus (Christ) for interceding with God on your behalf?
3 Does the “Church” have any authority to extend divine forgiveness?
4 Do you have any successful reconciliations you want to share?
5 How do we learn reconciliation? Recon 107 is not in the catalog. “Tell your brother you're sorry!” doesn't work, either.
Author's questions on page 194.

Chapter 2 - Affirm Potential vs. Condemn Brokenness

How has your faith helped you to overcome personal struggle in your life?

Do you have any resentment for the church you grew up in and its practices?

If church was not the place you learned sound morals where did you?

Did you childhood church emphasize worthlessness, brokenness, and failure or acceptance, inclusion and love?

Did the teachings you had on Christianity instill guilt in shame?   If so when did you realize that?

Do we shame people into becoming progressives?

Do you unintentionally use shame or guilt to accomplish your objectives with others?

Is God as you define it higher than humanity?

Do you quote a particular bit of scripture to support your preferences?  I s there also one that contradicts it?

How has the bible been helpful in your quest for self-understanding?

Do you trust pastors to be biblical authority's?  Why or why not?

Have you confronted a pastor to voice a contrary opinion?  What was it?  Any consequences?

How do you grow to be more generous?

Lastly.......Do you feel terribly guilty for having gone to the Galapagos leaving your husband and reading group to struggle in you absence?  

1 Where does your morality come from?

2 “if some forms of religion couldn't be classified as mental illness”, how do you figure out where to put yourself on a scale from Richard Dawkins to Jim Jones?

3 Has Napa FUMC ever made you feel guilty about anything?

4 Have you ever endured any spiritual abuse?

5 What does salvation look like to you?

6 On a scale from 1 (Condemning Brokenness) to 10 (Affirming Potential), where would you put Napa FUMC?

Introduction
Why does it matter what church you associate with, if any?

Chapter 1
Virgin birth, miracles, sinless: which of these is the best reason to worship Jesus? Why (or not)?
Where would you place yourself (on a scale of 1 to 10) between orthodoxy (1) and orthopraxy(10)?
If Jesus is divine AND human, just like the rest of us, what does that say about divinity?