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More Ready than You Realize Reading Guides
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1. What are some reasons McLaren offers as to why "evangelism" has such a bad reputation?
1) It is often equated with pressure
2) It resembles a sales pitch more than anything else
3) People feel they are having the Gospel shoved down their throats (i.e. pressure).
4) People are threatened with hell if they don't agree with the evangelist.
5) Televangelism is only rehearsed spiels meant to sell the Gospel for the evangelist's personal gain, and most people aren't buying.
2. McLaren says we should view evangelism as ________ (a metaphor)? Explain.
McLaren says that evangelism as a dance means that it's like a song that just comes to you out of nowhere. It gets stuck in your head, and you find yourself humming a tune you don't even know. He states, "It sneaks up on you, and then sneaks inside you." Eventually, the song captures your heart "and you begin to move to its rhythm." And then, along the way, your whole existence starts to harmonize with the song.
3. McLaren uses the phrase, "they are more ready than you realize." Who are "they"? What are they ready for?
"They" are people who are ready and willing to talk with someone about their spiritual questions. They are ready for a spiritual friendship.
4. What does McLaren mean when he talks about "caring too much"?
McLaren means that sometimes, in spiritual friendships, we care so much that we forget to give the other person space and time to think. We overcrowd them, rush, or push them, and they feel pressured or even assaulted. They need their space, and we should give that to them.
5. Why doesn't Jesus simply answer direct questions in his conversations? (ie: why does he introduce C instead of simply moving from A to B?).
McLaren gave two reasons for this:
1) "Many times, Jesus will not answer a question or respond to a provocative comment because the whole discussion is not framed in a wise or helpful or accurate way." In other words, they've asked Him the wrong question, so He's going to bring up the right question.
6. What metaphor does Kierkegaard use to describe evangelism? Explain.
Kierkegaard says that evangelism is like a person who hides behind a bush, and, as a person passes by, jumps out and kicks him in the backside. Then he dives back behind the bush and the person is left walking along with senses awakened wondering what just happened. "His mind and curiosity are awakened." Similarly, "when a person helps another person begin to think about spiritual matters, he dives behind a bush...he hides, to give his friend space, time, and privacy to think through these matters on his own."
7. McLaren compares conservative Christians' previous stance toward slavery and women's rights with their current stance on the issue of homosexuality. How do you respond?
When McLaren makes these comparisons, he is doing so from the perspective of the team in opposition to the conservative Christian. From that perspective, I can see how they would see homosexuality as just another hurtle to leap in their quest for equal rights. However, from my Christian perspective, homosexuality is completely different than slavery or women's rights. True, at the time conservative Christians found Biblical backing to support their views, but it was unsound backing. I believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, and I don't think that I'm taking that out of context. I 'm not trying to take someone's rights away or punish them, but I can't say that the action of homosexuality isn't wrong.
8. What is God's response to the problem of people describing Him as a bigger, better version of themselves, making God in their own image? (ex: to the artist God is wild and beautiful, to the engineer God is predictable and stable)?
I'm not sure I understand the question, but I think what the book may be saying is that God created Christ so that we could see what He really looks like in human form. If people think of God as being made in their image, maybe His response was to send Christ (a human made perfectly in HIS image) so that we could see what that really looks like in Human form.
9. Explain the fear that "Christianity might make me a worse person?"
Non-Christians see these examples, such as the "born again" girl, who change into judgmental, intolerant people when they become a Christian. The also see people who are Christians (not recent converts) who are this way ("less tolerant and loving, less forgiving, less open and friendly, less honest and authentic, less human and humble"), and they fear that if they become a Christian the same thing will happen to them. They fear they will become worse instead of better.
10. What are the two unacceptable alternatives to "being a safe person to talk to about spiritual matters"?
1) "...safe people who don't have much to offer their friends spiritually"
2) "...spiritually knowledgeable people who aren't safe o talk to, because they will come on too strong."
11. Instead of seeing ourselves as privileged, chosen, exclusive elite, McLaren thinks Christians should see themselves as what?
Servants. He thinks being one of God's people should mean that we are chosen for universal service and sacrifice.
12. What type of "apologetics" does McLaren suggest?
McLaren suggests that "apologetics should being with an old-fashioned apology." An apology for the way Christians have behaved that has made it difficult for people who are searching for the Gospel to reach out and get answers; an apology for narrow-mindedness and for putting up barriers. This apology includes the remark that that isn't a proper representation of Jesus, and a desire that Christ not be blamed for this behavior. It also included a promise to try to do a better job.
13. Explain how doubt might actually be holy (according to McLaren).
According to McLaren, doubt is actually holy "when it reveals a desire to pursue the truth, even when doing so means revising one's current beliefs."
14. What do you think about McLaren's reflections on God and gender?
Honestly, this is something I had never encountered or considered. I see his point! He says that we need to try to understand the reasons for why people struggle with this, and I completely agree with that. For myself, this has never been an issue. I see God as a male figure, but that does not threaten me. I respect and fear Him for who He is, but I see him as powerful in the sense of a father figure. He is the Alpha and Omega, but he isn't chauvinistic. However, for people who support the feminist movement, I can see how it could be difficult to work out God being a "he."
1. McLaren uses the term "modern" in reference to a Western culture dominated by what 7 characteristics:
2. What does McLaren consider to be the best way to expand and deepen one's concept of God?
Engaging in spiritual friendships with people who are seeking God, "because their stubborn refusal to be content with our modern depiction of God will push us better than any book could to realize that God is not limited to our modern conceptualizations."
3. From the Cornelius story, what words of Peter does McLaren see as most appropriate for our attitude regarding evangelism?
"I am only a man myself."
4. What terms does McLaren suggest that we use to replace terms like "lost" or "unsaved."
Missed, treasured, loved, precious, sought after
5. Name 2 important attitudinal terms from 1 Peter 3:15.
Gentleness and respect
6. In what sense are we, as Christians, "lost" according to McLaren?
He compares us to letters lost in the mail. "Similarly, God has sent us into the world as ambassadors and agents of God's love, and yet many of us have never really arrived at our destination." When we aren't fulfilling God's purpose for our lives here on earth, we are lost.
7. In what sense are Christians converted in the Cornelius story?
Everyone is transformed through the process of spiritual friendship. Just like the Peter and the Christians back in Judea were transformed and converted to a new way of thinking when it came to the Gentiles, so everyone in a spiritual friendship will be transformed and see things differently.
8. ____________ is the more biblical term for evangelism.
9. Describe the "new kind of Christian" that McLaren believes we need to become.
"...not Christians who judge, remain aloof, feel superior, disrespect those who do not believe, but rather Christians who join Jesus and Peter in befriending others, and believing that as they do, everyone involved will become closer to God, closer to Christ."
10. From the 5 versions of God caricatured in chp. 7, which one is the closest to the concept of God presented to you from your upbringing?
Honestly, none of them really apply completely to my upbringing, but if I had to choose I think I would say the conceptual God.
11. What fear does Alice have in regard to becoming a Christian in chp. 7?
"If I become a Christian, but nearly all current Christians and churches are modern in their worldview, then wont' I be forced to conform to their modernity as well as their Christianity?" In addition, she feels that if this is true, then her fear of becoming a worse person is legitimate or will be realized.
12. "There is an integration of truth, beauty, and goodness that must come together to give a person confidence to step from relative uncommitment into Christian commit." Agree or Disagree? Explain.
I agree. Its like in the Bible where it says that even the demons believe in Jesus/God. There is more to Christianity than simply believing it to be true, more than believing that God exists. You must also believe that He is good and want to be like Jesus. Additionally there is this awesome beauty about it all that transcends this world, and until you see and understand that you can't be fully committed.
13. What is Robert Webber's definition of postmodern evangelism?
"This is post-modern evangelism -process in a relational and communal atmosphere of embodied faith, an awakening of faith in a healthy community of believers" (Journey to Jesus, Abingdon, 2001, p.70).
14. Summarize the main point of chapter 8. Do you agree or disagree? Explain.
The Bible is a difficult book to read and understand. Much in it raises concerns regarding the nature of God and how He views certain things. Today, people wonder how He would respond to feminism, homosexuality, and other such topics. To be effective evangelists, we must have fresh ideas and answers to the concerns from postmodern seekers. I do agree with this, although I don't know that I am prepared to offer this type of answer. You have to meet people where they are, and if they have questions your answer can't just be because that's what you've always heard. These are complex issues and questions, and they will require a very open mind that is willing to step into the shoes of postmodern seekers and attempt to see it from their angle.
15. How would McLaren respond to the statement, "The Bible is written for us"?
I think he would say no it wasn't, or he would at least ask who "us" is. It was written for us in that it was written for all seekers of God throughout time, but it was not written strictly for our 21st century mindset or worldview. McLaren thinks we need to step into the world of the Bible with humility in order to understand it.
16. Summarize the main point of chapter 9. What is your response to it?
The Bible is difficult to understand at times, but that's usually because we're only trying to look at it though the lens of our 21st century worldview. The Bible wasn't written for us, at least not only us. It was written in a foreign place, time, and culture, and we must be willing to step into that worldview in order to understand it fully. I agree with this, though I maintain that there are parts of Scripture that are not simply cultural and still have the same meaning today as they did when the words were written. However, I do agree that it takes some shift in our worldview to properly understand the Bible. It wasn't written to the 21st century, and we can't expect it to read like it was.
17. What is the main difference between how we encounter Scripture and how ancient people encountered Scripture?
We read it; they heard it.
18. Discern McLaren's 3 step process for interpreting Scripture.
1) Step into the world of the Bible; shift your worldview to prepare yourself to understand.
2) Read the Bible; take in its message through this new scope.
3) Step back into your present worldview and apply the Bible's messages to your life and world.
19. What is the profound and difficult question that one of McLaren's friends asked? What made it difficult?
a. "Why did Jesus have to die?"
b. McLaren had never been asked this question this way before. The question was asked from outside of Christian theology, so our typical answers relating to substitution and sacrifice didn't work. Most theological writing is under the supposition that the person who asked the question understands and believes in Christian theology, but in this case McLaren had to go about it in a completely different way, which made it very difficult.
20. What was the surprising, simple, yet profound answer to the question?
"Well, neither did Jesus." In the Garden Jesus clearly didn't understand why He had to die because he asked God to let the cup pass from Him. What was important was that He did it any way because that is what God wanted Him to do.
21. ____ must precede believing. What is your response to this formula?
I love this formula. I see this at work in youth groups all the time. Someone brings a friend to church. That friend starts coming regularly; they make friends in the youth group, and then, when they are ready, they begin asking about spiritual things. The process of believing is well under way. I think when people enter into a new and somewhat scary journey like believing, they want to see that it's worth their time first. Are these people really who they say they are? Do they really care about me? It takes time for trust to build to the point of beginning spiritual friendships that will lead to believing.
22. Define "motivation by exclusion."
"We're on the inside but you're on the outside. We're right, and you're wrong. If you want to come inside, then you need to be right. So, just believe right, think right, speak right, and act right, and we'll let you in."
23. To which Not Welcome signs can you most relate?
I relate to the unusual tolerances sign. I hadn't even realized that I did until I read about it, but it's so true. Every church as its little things that no one talks about or no one handles because we're used to it and it doesn't bother us anymore. What about outsiders, though? How does it make new comers feel when they attend your church? Further more, are you creating a church or a click? Are these inside jokes and taboos going to separate you from new comers? It's a good thing to think about.
1. What word makes McLaren bristle at the beginning of chapter 12? Why?
"Just." The word just causes problems with properly framing the question of whether Alice's dream is supernatural or "just" natural. McLaren's point is that whether or not the dream came from God or from within Alice, it still has meaning and it is still important. So the word "just" inaccurately skews the question.
2. What is April's great surprise according to McLaren's interpretation of her dream?
The baptism is a surprise to April because, McLaren says, she is telling herself that she is more ready to believe than she realizes. "...she is surprising herself by her openness to God."
3. What is the point of "no turning back now" according to McLaren's interpretation of April's dream?
That being a follower of Jesus means we can't turn back. Just as Jesus forgave us, so we must forgive others. Becoming a follower of Christ means making a 180 turn and never looking back; no excuses.
4. What is chapter 13 about? What is McLaren's main point? What is your response?
Chapter 13 is about McLaren's interpretation of Alice's dream, and what this means in her journey to Christ. McLaren discusses the possibility of this being a conversion experience for Alice. McLaren's main point, I believe, is that we don't always have to categorize or nail down a person's position in their journey to Christ. He says, "...we will know whether she has indeed encountered and connected with God by the results that we see and hear in her life." I don't know that I agree with his position completely. I do agree that it is hard, and unnecessary, to absolutely nail down a person's spiritual location at times. However, I do believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, so I would question the idea that this dream could be a conversion experience for Alice.
5. To what is McLaren referring when he speaks of "event" and "process." What is your reaction to his view of conversion?
McLaren is discussing two views of conversion. An "event" refers to a conversion event; a single moment where you accepted Christ or were baptized or something of the like. McLaren says he now prefers to think of people's journey to Christ as a process. People, he says, come to believe in Christ in different ways, and it's our job as Christians to simply be part of an ongoing process. Again, I agree with this to an extent. I think that we should desire to be part of a person's spiritual process and not just be looking for a conversion that we can date and then move on to the next convert, but I also believe in baptism for the remission of sins. Therefore, I believe that there should be an event, which McLaren would disagree with.
6. Draw and explain each line graph in chapter 13.
7. What is a good definition of spiritual friendship offered in chp. 13?
Again, I think this is from chapter 14 in my edition.
McLaren says that a spiritual friend is someone who tries to discern which is of the above processes is happening in a person's life and to encourage the process.
He also says that spiritual friendship is "being sensitive to God's Spirit, who guides us in what to say and do through what some people call 'promptings'..."
8. List the four ancient stages of conversion.
Seeker, hearer, kneeler, and faithful
9. From chapter 14, write down (copy) what you consider to be the best one or two sentences in McLaren's email(s) to April on the topic of prayer. Explain.
"Yes, if our focus is on "getting our way," then prayer is a pretty frustrating experience. But if the focus is on getting connected and staying connected to God...that's a very different (and more appropriate, I think) approach to prayer."
I think this is an excellent representation of what prayer should be. It isn't about us getting what we want; prayer isn't a wishing well. Prayer is about the relationship we have with the Lord and spending time in His presence. I love that McLaren chose to demonstrate prayer in this way to Alice.
10. In what way(s) does God relate to us like McLaren parents his college-age daughter? Do you agree or disagree?
McLaren says that God as our father, like him as a father, has plans for us in general. He gives us what we need and blesses us, and, although He has a plan for us, He wants us to have our freedom to make our own choices as well. He also says that if we ask God for advice there are things that He won't have a strong opinion on and somethings He will have a very strong opinion on. I completely agree. I believe that God has a plan for us to live our lives like Christ, but I also think that a lot of times He would be happy with whatever decision we make as long as it is moral and Godly. We have free will, that's the beauty of our relationship with God.
11. Christian spiritual friendship is always about (finish this sentence according to McLaren's wording in chp 15). . .
"...encouragement, empowerment, believing in people, whether we do so from 'up ahead' as mentors, from beside as peers, or even 'from behind' as students ourselves."
12. According to McLaren, what is the most unexpected lesson about Jesus? How does he support this idea?
That Jesus believes in people. He says that the fact that Jesus entrusted people (and us) with so much shows that he trusted people and believed in them.
13. Where did truth reside in premodern times? Where did truth reside after the Reformation/Renaissance?
In people or groups, like the pope or the Roman Catholic Church.
"In logical statements, abstract propositions, objective concepts independent of people, existing "out there" some where." It was all about the efforts of the individual during this time period.
14. What is "foundationalism?"
The process of using logic to build, from a single undoubtable certainty, and air-tight wall of truth founded on an unshakeable foundation. There are no doubts or uncertainties in foundationalism.
15. A powerful way to conceive of evangelism is as liberation from __________________________________.
_"overwhelming disdain" of guilt and shame to a genuine experience of God's love
16. You don't start by being religious, you start by being __________________________________.
human, relational, neighborly, friendly
17. What is something practical you could do to practice the Narrative Factor?
Share my story and God's story with someone in the grocery line or while waiting on a bus, and also listen to their story.
18. Name one of the most negative effects of boundary thinking?
"What Jesus intended as a starting line became for us a finish line." We crossed the boundary; we got "in," but then we stopped there. We didn't continue on our journey to seek Christ in our every move.
19. We simply come along to help them understand what already ________________ ______________.
20. What is the Learning Factor?
The idea that as we evangelize we continue to learn and be disciples. This protects us from coming off arrogant, like we have it all figured out. We're still learning too!
21. What is even better than recruiting people for heaven?
Recruiting people to be members and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God here on earth. This puts them in a position to change lives and join the revolution that is sweeping the world. Changing people from being part of the problem to being part of the solution.
22. What is the best "first step" we are advised to take after reading chapter 18?
To keep our eyes open for opportunities to be of service.
23. What is McLaren hoping to instill in his readers (it starts with a "W") instead of offering evangelistic formulas and models?
24. Being reconciled to God means helping others _______________________.
be reconciled too
25. Three kinds of humans: the sick, the healthy, and the _________________________.
26. What is the mark of a good book? How do you evaluate this book according to this criteria? Explain.
According to McLaren, "Good books make you want to put them down and go do something." I think, by this criteria, this is a good book. I'm not feeling like I want to run up to everyone I see on the sidewalk and ask them if they know Jesus, but I don't think that was McLaren's point. What I do want to do is go to those friends who I now realize may be more ready than they realize and encourage a spiritual friendship with them.
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