Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor (and fellow parishioners)


Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor
(and fellow parishioners)
On Fearless Sunday (or any other time….)

1)  How do you feel about me asking you some questions that may be hard for you to answer truthfully?  Are you willing to tell me what you really think and feel and believe, even if it could get you into trouble with the church?  And how can I support you if you do get in trouble for being fearless and telling your truth?

2)  Who or what do you mean by the word “God” – if anything?  Do you experience God?  If you say you believe in God, what do you mean by “belief”?  (For a list of different understandings of God, from which your pastor can pick, see my “Varieties of God” musing.)

3)  Is the Bible the Word of God to humans, or is it humans’ words about God?  What is your relationship to the Bible?  How literally do you take its miracle stories (walking on water, physical resurrection, etc, etc), if at all?  (See my musing on “How to Read the Bible” to explore this topic with your pastor.)

4)  Who was Jesus?  Who/what is the Christ?  What is your relationship to Jesus and/or the Christ?  (My musing on “Varieties of God” addresses this question.)

5)  Is anybody going to an afterlife of hell?  Do people have to believe something religious in order to avoid ending up there, if it exists at all?  (Check out the story of Rob Bell, the evangelical megachurch pastor who stopped believing in hell.)

6)  Can people be “saved” without Christ or Christianity?  Are there ways to experience God/Ultimate Reality outside of Christ or Christianity?  Can other religions possibly be as good for other people as Christianity is for you?  (More at Pluralism Sunday.)

7)  Do you think it is okay for LGBTQ people to have sex?  Under what circumstances?  Do you support same-sex marriage?

8)  Do you support a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion?  Do you support women as leaders in all roles in church and society?

9)  Do you support universal access to health care?  Do you support a strong government social safety net to protect people from poverty, illness, and unemployment?  Does your faith lead you to take political action for economic justice and peace?  (Lots more on such issues at Progressive Christians Uniting.

10)  What questions are you glad I did not ask?  What else do you think, feel, and believe that could get you in trouble with church authorities?  What other questions should I be asking you?  Are you willing to go public with all your answers?  And again, how can I help you if you do get into trouble for being fearless?

Rev. Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life, USC
Website: MINDFULCHRISTIANITY.ORG Weblog: MUSINGS Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo
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Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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