Template #2: Good questions to ask about (almost) any nonfiction book

Last post, I shared a number of discussion questions that a small group might apply to any book or chapter of the bible.  Today, I’m going to share some template questions that can (more-or-less) be applied to other things a small group might wish to study or discuss.

Template #2: For a chapter of a Non-fiction book other than the bible

1.  What is the title of the chapter?  If there is no title, what brief phrase would you give the chapter as a title?  What do you think most people think of this topic?  What did you think of this topic before you read the chapter?  What did you think about this topic after you read the chapter?

2.  What was your favorite part of this chapter?  Why?  Do you have an example from your own life that demonstrates this principle?

3.  What parts of the chapter did you have trouble understanding with?  What parts of the chapter did you disagree with?  Why?

4.  How would you summarize the authors most important points in the chapter?

5.  Does the author use any verses from scripture to support his points?  Read the wider context (perhaps the whole chapter.) Do you gain any new insights into this idea?  Read it in a different translation or paraphrase.  What new things do you gather from this?  

6.  Is there any scripture that the author didn’t use that he might have to support this point?  Is there any scripture that might contradict this point?

7.  Overall, what did you think of this chapter?  Rate it on a scale of 1-10.  Defend your answer.

8.  Did the chapter make you aware of anything you should be doing differently in your life?  What specific steps are you going to take this week in changing your behavior, attitude, etc?  How can the group support you in this goal? 

9.  Is there any glaring part of this topic that you are still unsure about around this topic?  Can you suggest any good resources to anyone that might help them clarify this issue?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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