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Part One: The Death and Resurrection of Expectations Chapters 1 - 7 1. What is your response to the author’s retelling of “The Star Thrower”? 2. The author tells the story of a child named Jacqueline in Chapter 2, and another child with the same name in Chapter 4. Tell about a time you met a child who changed your perspective, or inspired you to take action. 3. In what ways are you a victim of what the author calls “the tyranny of low expectations”? 4. Describe a time you had low expectations and they became a self-fulfilling prophesy. 5. Describe a time when you had high expectations that led to a positive outcome. 6. What is your response to the statistics listed in Chapter 5? Were you surprised to learn that poverty and disease levels are actually decreasing? Why or why not? 7. Respond to this statement from chapter 6: “Many say they ‘have a heart for the poor.’ But sentiment alone is insufficient.” Would you describe yourself as having a heart for the poor? What actions has that heart inspired? 8. Do you agree or disagree with the author’s statement in Chapter 7: “The twenty-first century Christian will not accept a gospel in which the limbs of Christ’s body on earth are amputated from the mind.”? Do you know Christians who focus solely on the intellectual part of their faith? 9. Read Isaiah 58 out loud, as a group. (You can have one or two people read, or go around and have each person read a verse or section).
Part 2: Poverty is not an Unconquerable Reality Chapters 9-13 1. When you read the first few pages of Chapter 9, what was your response to the lack of sanitation that often accompanies extreme poverty? 2. Respond to the statement, “we should not slump in defeat before an enemy that is already halfway dead.” Do you agree with this? 3. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti killed 230,000 people. A similar quake in Los Angeles killed 63 people, even though L.A.’s population is far greater. Do you agree with the author’s conclusion in Chapter 10 that poverty was the main cause of death in the Haitian earthquake? Why or why not? 4. Describe a time you felt hopeless. How are hopelessness and poverty connected? How can we bring hope to those in poverty? 5. Read Matthew 26. What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “the poor you will always have with you.”? Do you agree with the author’s interpretation of this passage? Why or why not? (For further reading on this topic, see article at http://www.scribd.com/doc/62508229/The-Biggest-Barrier-to-Helping-the-Poor 6. Have you ever heard Christians talk about the idea of “spiritual poverty” and contend that “we’re all poor”? After reading Chapter 13, what is your response to this idea? Have you ever had to go without having your basic needs (food and shelter) met? Have you ever complained that you felt “poor”?
Part Three: What Kind of People Will End Extreme Poverty? Chapters 14-20 1. What was your response to the story about Tom and the truck in Chapter 14? Have you ever given someone a gift and felt like they took advantage of your generosity? In what ways have we “taken advantage” of God’s generosity toward us? 2. What have you been taught (if anything) about church history? Do you see Christianity as an “uncrushable movement”? Why or why not? 3. Read the story of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. How would you describe Stephen? How do you think the church today might respond to bold preaching like Stephen delivered? 4. Chapter 17 offers some church history. Were you familiar with the facts presented? 5. What surprised you in this chapter? The author asserts, “the movement Jesus started is pressing forward.” Describe a situation where you have seen that occurring. How have you personally gotten involved with caring for the poor? 6. In Chapter 19, the author writes, “How we see ourselves is important because it has a lot to do with who we will become.” Do you agree or disagree with his statement? Why? 7. How do you see yourself when it comes to loving others? 8. How can we be humble yet leverage our personal power? 9. How do you respond to the author’s assertion in chapter 20, “The fear of pride is a significant threat to our Christian identity”?
Part Four: The Primary Colors of Social change Chapters 21-24 1. The author asserts that moms can fight poverty. Do you agree or disagree? (for further reading, see http://www.scribd.com/doc/64415431/How-Moms-CanFight-Poverty 2. What specific steps would you recommend to “create a new culture of effective Christian generosity”? 3. In Chapter 22, the author asks, ”What are you doing to raise your kids as generous agents of God’s work to end poverty?” If you are a parent, how would you answer that question? 4. Take a look at the website at live58.org, and select one project that captures your imagination. Talk about how you as a group will get involved with that particular project. 5. Chapters 22, 23, and 24 talk about the role of government, business and the church. Do you agree with the author’s opinions and conclusions about each of these entities and their role in fighting poverty? Why or why not? 6. Chapter 22 quotes former President George W. Bush as saying about America (in the context of providing HIV/AIDS medicine to Africa, “When we have a chance to do the right thing, we take it.” Do you agree that this is true of America in general? Is it true of you? 7. Chapter 23 focuses on the role of business. Do you buy Fair Trade goods (or products like TOMS shoes) with the intention of helping the poor? Do you believe that doing good and making a profit can co-exist?
Part Four: The Primary Colors of Social change Chapters 21-24 Continued 8. In Chapter 24, the author asserts that Christians have been entrusted with great wealth, and notes, “American Christians can make it completely unnecessary for Christian organizations to go to Uncle Same for support.” Do you agree? Why? What would have to change in your church specifically (rather than the Church as a whole in America) for it to embrace a “culture of effective Christian generosity”?
Part Five: Catalysts and Strategy Chapters 25-29 To begin, read through Isaiah 58 out loud, as a group, as you did in the first session. (You can have one or two people read, or go around and have each person read a verse or section). 1. Have you ever fasted? Describe the experience. 2. The author points out that you can fast from things other than food. What is God calling you to fast from, to free up resources to share with others? 3. In Chapter 26, the author points out that the average American Christian gives less than 3 percent of his income away. Do you fall above or below the average? No matter how much you give, what keeps you from being more generous? 4. Does your church spend money to help the poor? If not, why not? What steps could you as a member of your church take to lobby for greater generosity to the needy? 5. In Chapter 27, the author talks about the power of young people to fight poverty. What specific ways have you seen young people get involved in social causes? What is one way you could support people younger than yourself to get involved in ending extreme poverty? 6. The book ends with a vision for the future of the church and the world. Do you believe that vision can become a reality? What role do you want to play in making that happen? 7. Last week, you selected a project from the live58.org website. Outline specific steps each group member will take to participate in that project. 8. What do you want to do differently as a result of reading and studying this book?
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