Members of One Another Study Guide
Have someone designated as discussion leader for each chapter. That person should read ahead and think about the questions in advance of the meeting.
Before using the guide, your group has to read the chapter in question. You can do this together by having each person read a page or a paragraph. If you trust your people to read on their own, you can have them read before the meeting. If, however, you have people read beforehand, you will need to provide a reminder at the meeting or the points in the chapter. People will either forget what they read, or lose freshness on the insight they earlier saw while reading.
Once you are satisfied that everyone is on the same page, you are ready to ask your discussion questions. After each, allow time for people to think about the question. Don’t answer your own question. If people come up with ideas, encourage them, and solicit other ideas. There should be a number of answers offered on each question. Look for ways to expand on people’s comments.
The number of questions is not uniform. Some chapters may take longer to cover than others. But you also can choose to only use some questions, and delete others. You will also notice that the last section of the book is not covered here, because of the specialized nature of those chapters.
- McCallum recalls his lack of desire to be a part of the traditional church when he was a student. He talks about how most churches seemed to be the same to him, and they weren’t right for reaching out to his friends. Do you think this view is commonplace in our culture today? Or is he the exception? Also, is there any validity to such a view, or does it just represent a bad attitude?
- Do you think tradition is important in how we order the local church? How binding should tradition be in our thinking?
- McCallum talks about the concept of group “ethos.” He says a group’s ethos derives from the overlay of their theology with their values. What might be examples of theological points that could affect group ethos? What would be some possible values that could or should affect ethos?
- How would you describe the ethos in the church where you currently attend?
- In a footnote, McCallum cites a number of authorities saying that vast numbers are leaving the traditional church today—especially among the young. He also cites another source that discounts that negative picture. What do you think, based on your perception of people’s attitudes at work or school?
Chapter 1: An Awesome Church
- Chapter one discusses the church at Jerusalem in the early days of Christianity. According to the book of Acts, that group of thousands spent time most days meeting publicly and from house to house. Their involvement level seems rather extreme to many modern readers. What do you think?
- McCallum argues that modern people’s time priorities leave them emotionally and relationally starved. He thinks people in our culture are entertaining themselves into a lonely, apathetic stupor. Is his analysis over the top? Or do you agree?
- Is it realistic that modern westerners would ever forsake their TV habits and other diversions to devote themselves to fellowship at a level similar to that in the book of Acts? Why, or Why not?
- McCallum even seems to suggest that driving one’s kids around to sports and other activities could be worldly. Is there a point at which such activities become too extreme?
- Did any part of this chapter make you feel angry? If so, how do you analyze that?
- What did you make of McCallum’s description of “Consumer Christianity?” Do you see that definition in play today? How widespread to you think it is?
Chapter 2: Jesus Launches His Body
- Can you think of any differences between the New Testament church after Pentecost and the people of God in the Old Testament?
- Do you think the mystical union described in this chapter is well-understood by modern Christians? What evidence do you see that it is or isn’t?
- Because humans can’t always tell when people are sincere, it becomes possible that non-Christians could become members of a church. McCallum thinks this is a reason to do away with external definitions of the church. Do you think “two or three assembling in my name” is an adequate definition of the church? Why, or why not?
Chapter 3: Living out our Unity: Koinonia
- McCallum thinks that “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is referring to deep relationships between people in the church. Is that necessarily so? What other definitions of unity have you seen people use, either explicitly, or by implication?
- Do you think every member in the body of Christ is necessarily required to develop a ministry? What should we expect in this area?
- McCallum seems to think people in the church are suppose to wade into other members’ lives. What do you think the boundaries should be on this concept in both directions? In other words, when would people be too involved in each other’s lives, and when too little?
Chapter 4: Relationships: How Deep?
- Examine McCallum’s coverage of the “one-another” passages. Do you see areas where his analysis could be challenged?
- The author thinks disobeying any of the “one-another” passages would be as bad as getting drunk or watching pornography. What do you think?
- Is McCallum fair in comparing removing New Testament teaching on prayer on one hand, with removing “one-another” passages on the other? Why or why not?
- How much do you think success in the church comes from the preaching and music programs, and how much from every member carrying out his or her personal ministry?
Chapter 5: Pictures: The Body of Christ
- What do you think of the popular sense in modern Christian churches that a powerful preacher or senior pastor is the key to success? Is this necessarily a flawed belief? Or could it be warranted?
- What would you say to a newer believer who is dissatisfied with his or her spiritual gifts?
- What do you think of the author’s claim that “discovering our spiritual gifting is probably good, but really unnecessary?” What does the Bible teach on this subject?
- Why does the author say, “Comparing our giftedness to others is pointless, and actually foolish?”
- McCallum says, “When our people begin to grasp the picture of the body, they have reason to change from being takers to being givers.” How does he arrive at this conclusion and do you agree?
- In the conclusion, the author claims, “Groups that lack the organic ethos feel impersonal, no matter how nice people try to be.” Discuss what leads to a real feeling of closeness and belonging in a Christian group. Is your current group there? Or can you think of past experiences where this was more evident?
Chapter 6: The Church as God’s Army
- Do you see any contradiction between these militant references to the church, and Jesus’ call to turn the other cheek(Mat 5:39)? How are these to be reconciled?
- McCallum says, “People who fail to understand that the church is God’s army give themselves too much liberty.” Do you think it makes much difference whether people see the church as being at war? How?
- Compare the concept of “consumer Christianity” with what the author calls a “militant ethos.” How at why are these outlooks different?
Chapter 7: The Church as God’s Building
- In Haggai, the people were under obligation to rebuild the house of God (the temple). We are supposed to build the temple of God today—not a temple built with stones, but with ‘living stones.’ When the people in Haggai’s day stopped building the temple, they began paneling their own homes instead (Hag. 1:4). What happens today when people lose interest in building the temple of God?
- The author showed pictures depicting the difference in sizes and shapes of stones in ancient walls. What was his point, and how does this affect our view of the body of Christ?
- McCallum says, “The picture of the building definitely speaks against hopping from group to group.” Why does this follow? Is it really wrong to change churches from time to time?
- How realistic do you think McCallum’s suggestion that people not move around for career reasons is?
Chapter 8: The Church as God’s Family
- Do you feel the group you’re in is adequately affectionate? What can we do as Americans to help our reluctance to show affection to the people of God?
- What kind of things could your group do to strengthen the sense of family people get there?
Chapter 9 The Church as God’s Field
- How should a Christian worker view a field that offers no harvest? That is, if a local church can’t grow, win the lost, serve, or accomplish much of anything, what’s our move?
- How might competition damage ministry?
- McCallum points out that farmers work hard during harvest time, but also during the rest of the year. That’s true with literal farmers, but what does that translate into with the church? What work needs to be done in our group when there no harvest at hand?
- The parable of the wheat and the tares may signal that God will not prevent infiltration by the enemy. That’s probably why Jesus told us to beware of false prophets. What are some notorious cases of infiltration of the church in church history and today and what damage was done?
Chapter 10: The Church as Jesus’ Bride
- One thing most people expect from their fiancés is faithfulness. Is the modern church being faithful? What areas raise doubts?
- McCallum describes a graduate student who only shows up in fellowship, “if all the more important things are already covered.” What did you think about this case?
- Go through the following suggestions from the book and circle your appraisal of each from
1 = absurd, impractical, outdated, or foolish, to
5 = right on, needed, important, and biblical
Then, compare your views and explain why you picked the number you did:
- That our people should strongly consider taking jobs that pay less and require fewer hours, so they will have more time to invest in relationships and ministry.
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- That couples should consider living on only one income for the sake of their children, even if it means moving to a smaller house and driving well-used cars.
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- That Americans should stop saying they’re “barely making it” when in fact they live at the highest level of income in the world, both today and throughout history.
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- That walking Christians should not stress success in the world system for their kids (such as scholarships, sports ascendancy, or attending top universities), but instead urge their kids to succeed in spiritual growth, learning how to build quality relationships, and how to build a fruitful ministry.
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- That Americans are not short on time, but in fact have the same number of hours in their week that everyone else in the world has, including those in the New Testament church.
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- That playing video games or watching TV for thirty hours per week is not as important as building up the people of God.
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- If we are like Jesus betrothed, how can we prepare now for the wedding feast of the lamb?
- McCallum says, “Groups who insist that loyalty and fidelity to Jesus is totally reasonable and attainable, experience the joy only known to the faithful people of God.” How would we insist on loyalty and fidelity? What is the church to do if some members just don’t buy into this picture?
Chapter 11: The Church as God’s Flock
- How important do you think it is for the sheep to “know the shepherd’s voice.” What would this involve in our modern context?
- McCallum seems to link the idea of pastors moving from church to church with the idea of a hireling, at least in some cases. When do you think this linkage might be appropriate, and when would it not be fair?
- Is a larger church justified in offering the leader in a different church more money for coming to work for them? Why or why not?
- McCallum lists a number of consequences he thinks grow out of the modern system where pastors move to different churches every so often. For each, again rate your view from
1 = over the top, unlikely, doubtful, hysterical, to
5 = definitely observable, nearly inevitable, or unavoidable
Then, compare your views and the reasons for them:
- Members who perceive they were abandoned by their pastors often become cynical. Many leave the church, adding to the flood of the disillusioned and transfers to other churches. Those that remain keep up their guard, making certain that they don’t make the mistake of trusting a pastor in the future.
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- Committees and boards come to have more power, and they distrust future pastors.
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- Strange pastors coming into a new church, for whatever reason, have a huge job ahead. They don’t know the people, they don’t know which of them are the most spiritual, they don’t usually know their staff either. Building relationships at a level where people’s strengths and weaknesses become apparent can take years. Many important relationships that should exist with key non-staff opinion leaders will probably never be built, as they would have been with indigenous leadership.
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- Gaining trust at a deep level from a congregation usually takes years. And having people’s trust is very important in one’s ability to motivate others. Just as American leaders finally gain real trust with the group, it’s time to move again!
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- The New Testament concept of modeling becomes impractical under this system. People aren’t close enough to their ever-changing leaders to model their own lives after them, and they often see such leaders as hirelings unworthy of being modeled.
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- Having upwardly mobile preachers means the focus shifts from long-term ministry approaches to quick results. This whole system pressures leaders to show what they can do in the period of a few years, not for decades or for life. It would be hard to exaggerate the effect this has on leaders’ thinking. People wonder why the church persists in trusting programs and gimmicks for its growth, but this system virtually guarantees such a result.
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- Personal discipleship and strong equipping of the saints could theoretically go forward in churches with short-tenured pastors, but it’s unlikely. Discipleship and equipping are long-term strategies that take years to develop results. But in the mobile preacher scenario, quick results are all that matter. The well-trained force of workers would only begin to become effective when it’s time for their pastor to go. Long-term approaches lead to slow growth in the short term. But a church that grows from 400 to 800 looks a lot better on the resume than one that grew by 50 but did quality equipping that opens the door for multiplying groups in the future.
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- The modern system explains in part why church leaders in the west thirst for transfer growth. When making out one’s resume, numbers matter, and nobody asks whether they are transfers from area churches or converts.
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- It’s probably hard for short term pastors to lead their church into actions that could offend significant numbers of their skeptical members (like practicing church discipline or preaching unpopular messages).
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- I have personally talked to scores of ex-church goers who report becoming disillusioned with the church when a trusted pastor (including a youth pastor) left for no apparent reason other than advancement. Others still attend, but will no longer lead or take responsibility because of their cynicism. Extrapolated nationwide, this could account for millions of dropouts and quitters.
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- What were the valid and positive reasons McCallum mentioned for a leaders leaving a local church. Can you think of others?
- Referring to John 21, McCallum says, “After he has done everything for us, this is one thing he leaves us to do for him: “Tend my lambs” (John 21:15).” What kind of work might go into tending Jesus’ lambs?
Chapter 12: Of Wine and Wineskins
- Does your group re-evaluate their wineskins? Or have people locked in on the status quo? How well is your church able to change?
- McCallum thinks, “Any time we want to diverge from the example of the early church, the burden should be on us to show why we think breaking away from their pattern is warranted.” What do you think about that position?
- How do you feel about how the current structures in your church affect group ethos? Can you see any connections?
Chapter 13: The New Testament Pattern of Ministry
- McCallum believes the concept of “every-member ministry” is a precept in the New Testament, and therefore non-optional. Do you think this position is warranted biblically? Whether you answer yes, or no, what are the implications of your view?
- The book makes a big deal about the clergy/laity distinction. Do you think this concept is harmful to the church, and if so, how?
- McCallum says, “Unfortunately, the clergy-laity concept also fits in well with Americans’ determination to spend most of their time pursuing personal peace and affluence. By leaving the ministry to the professionals, American churchgoers can justify doing little more than coming to watch the show.” How would you assess this statement?
- Again, let’s evaluate McCallum’s list of claims. Circle your preferred number from
1 = maybe, to some extent, but overdone here, or unrealistic in our world, to
5 = urgent, vitally needed point too often ignored today!
Then, discuss the reasons for your opinions.
· First, we will have to argue the case that God’s will and his provision for every Christian includes ministry. Ministry is not optional in the Christian life. It is a means of growth, just like prayer, scripture, and fellowship. Given the beliefs of most modern western Christians, we will need to argue this case often and with power. Members must become convinced that they will never know true spirituality without developing a significant ministry (John 4:32-35; 13:12-17, 34, 35; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:10-13; Philippians 2:1-4; Colossians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15: Hebrews 10:24, 25).
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· God created humans to be significant and to accomplish things, according to Genesis one and two. He gave the original humans rulership and significant creative work to do, and this was before the fall. People today still long for significance, and as Christians we should recover our intended sense of significance based on the important roles God gives us to play in the most important project going on today—the development of his kingdom. Unless church leaders show members how to do these significant things in the spiritual realm, they automatically turn to the world for their significance. Leaders have to convince their people that serving God is significant and important—more important than getting ahead in the ways of the world.
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· We have to achieve success at some level in evangelism. Unless new Christians are coming into the body of Christ, the concept of every-member ministry eventually breaks down. People lose motivation because they can see that the other older Christians around them are in no particular need of nurture, training, or counsel (for more on this point see the chapter on outreach).
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· Leaders need to teach on key modalities of ministry that lie close to the vision for their church (as explained in Chapter 14 on equipping). For instance, in our church we teach most often on evangelism, personal discipleship, how to lead small group ministries, and how to serve the poor. At other times, we offer specialty classes on grief counseling, divorce care, youth ministry, children’s ministry, disability ministry, church planting, preaching, prayer, parenting, prison ministry, substance abuse counseling, Bible teaching, etc. We should also encourage members to initiate many other ministries in the church. The leaders are not the only ones who can show initiative in getting new ministries going.
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· We will need to establish structures, such as ministry teams or groups where different kinds of ministries can go forward. Some of these will require ongoing oversight and even funding. Those ministries that bear abundant fruit deserve “airtime” before the church. Announcements and short “ministry highlights” help people understand ministry opportunities.
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· We have to convince our opinion leaders that people have not been discipled unless they have developed a defined, significant ministry. Personal holiness without serving is a nonsense concept (Galatians 5:6, 13-14).
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· The opinion leaders in the church have to decide how to view those in the group who are “do-nothings.” Is it okay to do nothing? What should we say or do to those who take in, but never give out? Your answers to those questions indicate how hard-line or soft your church ethos is. Judging from the parable of the talents and other passages, doing nothing with our stewardship from God is a very serious sin. It’s a sin of omission, so it may not call for extreme church discipline, but omitters should be challenged, pleaded with, warned, and powerfully admonished, both during teachings and in person. They have to be persuaded that they are missing out on what God has for them. We may also need to challenge their right to take up space in crowded smaller groups of various kinds.
Any modern, western church that takes a stand that doing nothing is a serious sin must prepare to lose people. Hundreds of other churches in any metropolitan city will welcome omitters, patting them on the back and thanking them for showing up. Once people realize this you can expect them to transfer, and you shouldn’t worry about such losses. You cannot build healthy ethos by tacitly endorsing sins of omission. On the other hand, a church that has a strong ethos of action and involvement won’t lose many members to a competing vision of lazy self-gratification. The members of active groups enjoy being used by God and aren’t interested in doing nothing.
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- Do you think some people in your group have lost heart when it comes to developing their own ministry? If so, what is that answer?
Chapter 14: Equipping God’s People
- Compare the usefulness of classroom instruction and more personal forms of equipping like modeling and mentoring. What are the benefits and weaknesses of each?
- Let’s evaluate McCallum’s opinions on what is necessary for a member to be equipped. Circle your number from:
1 = fanatical, extreme, and unnecessary, to
5 = cannot be cut, absolutely necessary
Then discuss your views.
· In the first place, they would have to know their Bibles. Ministry is all about God’s word, and Paul implies that workers who cannot handle the word of God accurately should be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15). To know and handle the word accurately several things are needed.
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· They need to be familiar with the flow of the biblical story from beginning to end. The parts of the story only make sense in context of the whole.
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· They need to know principles of sound interpretation. Unless they can interpret passages in context and in harmony with the language used, and without contradicting other parts, they are dependent on others and not ready to lead. We have not equipped our people if they have to continually come to older leaders and ask what things mean.
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· They need to have an integrated understanding of the key themes in scripture. By “integrated”, I mean they have to have thought through the claims about issues like God, humans, the world, angels, the church, how to grow spiritually, heaven, hell, etc. in a way that doesn’t result in contradiction and inconsistency. Merely knowing many details about the Bible doesn’t mean one has a useable, balanced theology.
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· They need to be able to apply the word to daily situations and human need in a liberating way. They will need this when counseling or teaching younger believers. Field experience as well as library work are required to get to this point.
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· They need to have practiced what scripture teaches in a way that transforms their own characters. They need to be able to model Christian living, so equipping must include formation of Christian character and a biblical values system.
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· They need practical ministry skills in a number of areas, demonstrated by examples of success. For instance, to lead others into a lifestyle of prayer, evangelism, discipleship, and building others up, they need to have succeeded in these pursuits themselves. Otherwise, they are guessing when giving ministry advice and coaching.
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· They need to know how to love others, including their own families, deeply, and in a way recognized and appreciated by others. Only in this way can they become models people will admire and imitate.
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· The Bible calls on normal Christians to counsel each other with “all wisdom” that comes from having God’s word richly dwell within us (Colossians 3:16). It also calls all believers to develop discernment based on field experience working with people (Hebrews 5:12-14).
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· They should at least have a basic knowledge of false perspectives in theology and ministry. Unless they are familiar with faulty approaches, they will have poor discernment and will be unable to refute challenges Satan launches against their ministries.
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- How do you feel about the concept of personal disciple making? Is this necessary in the church today, or was it something Jesus did in a different era without the body of Christ available?
Chapter 15: The New Testament Pattern of Worship
- What do you feel true worship is?
- The book suggests that viewing worship as a meeting type might hurt the church. Do you see any sense in this? Is this a concern today, or something inconsequential?
- Most translations say in 1 Peter 2:9 that we can proclaim the virtues of God or the goodness of God. But the NIV follows the KJV saying we are to declare the praises of God. What difference do you see in the meaning of these two different readings? Which one do you think is right?
- What do you think of McCallum’s (and Peterson’s and Carson’s) claim that the New Testament never mentions or teaches anything about a worship service?
Chapter 16: The Ministry of the Word
- Evaluate McCallum’s statement that, “The best way to guard the truth, according to the New Testament, is to disseminate it so widely that too many understand it for the enemy to silence.” What is he saying, and what do you think?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of expository vs. topical teaching? What has your experience been?
- The book argues that even home groups centered on the ministry of the word. What do you think about that?
- McCallum argues, “Under a weak ministry of the word, fleshliness begins to permeate the church. People aren’t being convicted of their sin by the word, and instead, feel their carnal attitudes are legitimate.” What kind of attitudes might he be referring to?
Chapter 17: Other Lessons on Leadership
- How committed do you think a local church should be to choosing only indigenous (home-grown) leadership?
- The book says, “In the apostolic period, the leader’s record of sacrificial service and godly character counted for more than any degree ever could (if schools like today had existed).” How do you think modern Christians should view the question of graduate degrees? Should they be required, desirable, or irrelevant?
- McCallum wonders, “When churches tell their own members they should lead, but every time a top position opens they hire someone from outside, what does this say?” What do you think? Does hiring in leadership from outside discourage members from learning how to lead?
- How important do you think plurality of leaders is and why?
- The book argues that if many people in a local church aspire to leadership ministries, the ethos of the whole church will rise. What do you think about this proposition.
Chapter 18: Outreach in the Church
- Have you ever been a part of a church that was enjoying good outreach? Is it as good as McCallum claims?
- Have you ever seen a group where people truly worked hard at outreach for a long time and still didn’t win any fruit? What should people think if this happens?
- What is your impression of how evangelism is going in America today? Are people responsive to the gospel?
- What are some ideas for enhancing evangelism in your group? Feel free to use those from the book, or others you imagine.
- Have you ever taken any training for sharing your faith? Does that help?
- What does a group need in order to become what McCallum calls an “evangelistic community?”
Chapter 19: Church Finance
- What do you think of McCallum’s observation? “When churches can’t find money for missions, ministry to the poor, or equipping ministries, it’s usually because they wasted too much on foolish expenses.”
- The book argues that leaders need the strength to “kill the sacred cow.” What might be some areas to search for such unnecessary ministries?
- American churches spend many millions on facilities, and many believe this is the key to growth. What do you think about building large or fancy facilities?
- What do you think of the multi-site approach to growth in a local church? Should a group with multiple sites use DVD’s or simulcasts to all see the same sermon? Or should they have different speakers at each site?
- Why would a church refuse to make its records public? Are there good reasons for such a refusal?
- The book refers to recent financial scandals in the western church that have sent leaders to prison or disgraced Christ’s name. Do you think it is justifiable for a minister of the gospel to become wealthy from his work?
Chapter 20: Church Discipline
- What do you think of the fact that many modern churches reject the use of church discipline?
- Researcher, Mark Regnerus has shown that eighty percent of evangelical singles have sex before marriage (only slightly better than the ninety percent of non-Christians who have premarital sex). What does this say about the modern church?
- McCallum thinks, “Leaders who turn away from discipline in the church simply do not love those caught up in sin enough to run the risks involved in every act of discipline.” Is this the only reason, or could there be other reasons?
- McCallum describes a group where people know about each other’s sin problems. What do you think about that?
- Has anyone in the group ever been to a meeting involving formal discipline? What was that like?
- Discuss lesser forms of discipline. Is this something your group believes in and practices?
- What are some benefits that might result from the faithful practice of discipline?
- McCallum says, “Soft, undisciplined groups lose their ability to accomplish God’s mission.” How true do you think this statement is, and why?
Chapter 21: Student Ministry
- McCallum describes an on-going debate between authorities regarding whether young people are leaving the western evangelical church in large numbers. What is your impression? How is the church today doing with students?
- McCallum argues, “Students want purpose in their lives. As the church, we either show them real purpose in serving God with their lives, or they will find purpose elsewhere.” Is this a realistic view, or do students need to focus on their careers, etc.?
- Is there a university or college in your area? What would it take for your church to develop a college-aged ministry?
- McCallum doesn’t seem very worried about students listening to worldly rap or rock music. What do you think about that?
- Why do you think secular authorities are measuring such a remarkable increase in student business in America? Should we be alarmed, or is this not a problem?
- McCallum thinks students’ learning to build deep relationships is more important than excelling academically. What do you think, and why?
- What do you think about the stories in the chapter about churches preferring their schedule and buildings over seeing a successful student group?
Chapter 22: Ministry to the Poor
- The book makes a distinction between “relief” and “community development.” What is the difference, and do you think McCallum’s claim that we should press for development is warranted?
- McCallum says, “Poor people need the love of Jesus, not just handouts. Handouts by themselves don’t relieve poverty, and may actually make matters worse if continued after emergencies have passed.” Why would handouts make things worse, or is that even true?
- Service ministries may minister to many kinds of need, and poverty is only one. What other sorts of people might need Christian service ministry?
Chapter 23: World Missions
- Do you agree with the statement, “World outreach is a necessary ministry for any healthy church.” Why, or why not?
- Is your group well-mobilized for missions? What ideas can you think of to progress in this area?
- Do you think the local church should seek involvement and even some say about what is happening on fields where they send members?
 After showing the man who buried his talent being cast into outer darkness, Jesus went on to tell another parable where those who failed to do good for others were judged with the words, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me” (Matthew 25:45). In fact all the parables about being ready for the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 25 are about sins of omission. So is the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).