Some recent discussion here has suggested relating posts to action, which is part of what motivated me to post this note here. Many of you all may have heard about BikeMovement (young Mennos biking across the US and talking about church last summer, biking SE Asia this summer), and there’s a documentary on the US trip being finalized in the next month.
I’m writing about it here because I’m working on a study guide that will be sent out with the DVD to Mennonite congregations across the US, hoping to continue and expand conversations we had along the trip — what does it mean to cultivate a relevant community? how does that play out (or not) in church as we’ve known it? where do we go from there?
As I’m working on this study guide, I’ve been thinking some about style and form — how can this be most accessible and useful for the folks who we’ll be sending it to? Impact that a number of the planners are hoping for is that people who use it will feel empowered and hopeful, think critically about their church experience, and want to work for broader and more authentic inclusion in daily lives and the church.
I was wondering what resources, study guides, or Sunday school curricula you all have found useful for working on these kinds of questions — extra points if these do well addressing questions of race, sexuality, age and/or education levels among participants. Cause it seems like there would have to be good materials and models out there which spur churches to critical reflection and action, I just haven’t been around using any to know what they are.
So any tips and links would be much appreciated — and perhaps helpful in a broader sense as we consider what can help new action happen in the fleshy faith communities we find ourselves in.
Congregations will vary in the importance they place on specific issues. I’m not so sure about a top-down curricula that says “These things are important. Talk about them.” It may work for some things, but if it’s going to be genuine, the local people have to be involved in the decision-making.
I’m sure you already know this ’cause Denver’s the main person behind the documentary–and because I heard from him the study guide is the next part of the process–but my/his/our church’s young adult group developed our own set of questions and issues to discuss week by week.
Initially, we emailed questions and issues to the group leader, who sorted them out into categories. This is probably less intimidating for many people–nobody except the group leader knows who posed which “embarassing” question. Then, each Sunday, we discuss one or two of the questions. Sometimes the leader emails the upcoming questions to us ahead of time so we can think or read up on them if we want. I don’t remember when we started doing this, but it would have been last fall after BikeMovement. It’s nice not to be tied to a specific lesson plan or book that lazy people won’t read ahead of time, anyway. Pretty much anybody can get the discussion started.
Recent questions have included:
–How should church members treat its own who have engaged in sexual sin?
–Is it a sin for Christians to watch “R-rated” movies?
–Can adoption be intolerant or anti-ethnicity?
–What’s really so bad about masturbation?
–If women are allowed to preach in this church, why doesn’t it happen more often?
–How do we figure out what God’s will for our lives is?
These questions may seem silly to some YAR people, but my church isn’t YAR. Each congregation will find itself in a different place.
A few books I’ve found helpful:
“Eyes Wide Open” by Bill Romanowski (It’s about media choices.)
“The Will of God as a Way of Life” by Jerry Sittser
“Being White: Discovering Our Place in a Multiethnic World” by… well, they have names, but I can’t remember them.