Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership

Presbyterian and Reformed Christianity

Weekly Email: Typical Discussion Questions

Each week there is a question for discussion sent out by email with an introduction to the topic for the week. These questions sometimes vary to suit the interests of the class.

The following are questions which have been used previously and may be taken as a guide to what is coming up.

For some topics more than one questions is suggested, but you only have to address one.

After you have discussed it with someone else, your answer to the week's question should be sent to the group email address by Thursday of each week.

Welcome and introductions

Share with others in the class who you are, why you are doing this course, how you expect to be relevant to you and one thing you would like to find about about Presbyterianism that has always puzzled you.

Module One: Foundations.

Week 1: What is Presbyterianism?

How are Presbyterians similar and different to other Christian churches? How would you explain to a group of young people in your church what it means to be Presbyterian? 

Week 2: Celtic and Medieval Backgrounds

EITHER Choose a figure of importance to Celtic mission or the Medieval church and discuss the relevance of their mission methods to your context today

OR Read and comment on the article by Donald Meek.

Week 3: The Reformation to 1564

EITHER What might we learn from the Anabaptists?

OR Reformation Sunday comes round every year. What would you say to a congregation of young people about what it was like being a Christian in a church in Scotland from 1559 to 1564?

Week 4: The Reformation to 1622

EITHER Construct a timeline of about 20 key events and personalities which help provide an outline of the story from the time of Luther until the death of John Knox.

OR Was the absence of a significant overseas Reformed mission a question of theology or of opportunity or both?

Lesson 5: Confessions and Covenants

EITHER Is there much difference between Calvin and Calvinism?

OR How is the intended role of our church's focal identity statement different and similar to the role of the Westminster Confession? (See

Module Two: Towards a Global Church.

Week 6: Revival and Party 1690 to 1796

EITHER In what ways did the 18th century prepare the way for the rise of the missionary movement from William Carey's enquiry onwards?

OR Do you think Meek's helps us understand what revivals are about or does he miss the point?

OR Who was John Witherspoon and what does his life tell us about 18th century Presbyterianism?

Week 7: Renewal and Disruption 1796 to 1843

What was the Disruption and how might it have affected Presbyteriansim in New Zealand?

Week 8: Merchants, Migrants, Missionaries, Converts

EITHER Compare the role of settlers and missionaries in the spread of Presbyterian Christianity in the 19th century

OR Identify a particular group of people of interest to you in the spread of Christianity in the 19th century and say why you think they were important.

Week 9: Presbyterians in New Zealand to 1901

EITHER Why was worship in the 19th century settler churches effective in its time?

OR Choose an event or personality in the 19th century Presbyterian Church in New Zealand and say why they were important.

Week 10: Presbyterians in New Zealand to 2000

EITHER How has the place of women in leadership changed in the church?
OR What might youth ministry in our churches learn from the rise and decline of the Bible Class movement?

OR Discuss the contribution of Congregational Churches, especially Pacific Island, the the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Module Three: Diversity and Renewal.

Week 11: Leadership for ministry and mission

EITHER How would you explain ordination to youth group which believes they should be able to baptize new converts and celebrate communion together?

OR Identify a key leadership issue for your congregation today and discuss the options?

Week 12: Sacraments and Ceremonies

EITHER A church has people who believe in infant baptism and people who believe in infant dedication and believers baptism. How would you help them understand each other?

OR What is done to prepare new believers and those considering confirmation for confession of faith and membership in your congregation?

OR What do we need to be doing about making initiation into faith, fellowship and membership more frequent and more memorable in our congregations

Week 13: Worship: Word and Song across cultures and generations

EITHER What do we need to do to avoid "culture wars" in worship?

OR Describe the experience of worship in a church different from your own and what you saw as the similarities and differences from what you have been familiar with. 

Did this help you think about what is most important in Christian worship and what is really going on?

Week 14: Community, change, controversy and mission

EITHER Should we spend time discussing theological differences or should we just take a vote and get on with mission? Or is there another way?

OR When there is disagreement in your congregation how do you seek to resolve it?

OR How important are a) matters of process (clarifying the issue, deciding who has authority to decide, discussion, motions, debate, decision), b) matters of theology (bible, understanding of God, Christian values and ethics) and c) practices of discernment (prayer, listening for the Spirit)?

How can missiology help us manage change?

Week 15: Theology and mission

EITHER Describe the ideas of a theologian who has been helpful to your understanding of the mission of the church.

OR What could churches in New Zealand learn from the post-communist experience of the Reformed Church in Hungary? (see article in the reader by Laslo Medgyessy)