Woke Church Discussion Guide

This fall Vintage Church is kicking off a study through Dr. Eric Mason’s book Woke Church. Keep scrolling to find details for how to get started with that study, questions for discussion, further resources, and more!

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 How do I get started?

Step 1 – Grab a copy of Woke Church.

Step 2 – Check out the questions below.

Step 3 – Grab something to write in.

Step 4 – Find a group to read with!

 

How do I find a group to read with?

Many Vintage community groups are reading through Woke Church, so check with your group first. Alternatively, feel free to grab a few friends to read and discuss together! If you’d like help finding a group to read with, email one of the following individuals based on which Vintage location you belong to:

Discussion Questions

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Other resources:

Chapter 1 – The Church Should Already Be Woke

 

Overview:

Where are we headed with this conversation around wokeness, and what exactly does the Church have to do with it? Dr. Mason will also provide his structure for the book that we’ll also use in our discussion each week: Awareness, Acknowledgement, Accountability, Action.

 

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: Set the ground rules for discussion and begin to engage meaningfully with Dr. Mason’s thoughts.
  • Acknowledgement: Position ourselves as learners, not critics, and acknowledge what experience and biases we bring to these conversations.
  • Accountability: Get to know one another in the group so we can dialogue well in the coming weeks.
  • Action: Commit to the next eight weeks of meeting and reading, and ask the Lord to grow and challenge us through it.

 

Study Questions:

Before you kick off this study together, please read over the Ground Rules for Discussion. These will help us all foster healthy, edifying, and redemptive dialogue through this study.

Now, take time to process your thoughts by writing out your responses to these questions:

  1. Why did you join a study on Woke Church?
  2. Find a quote from the chapter that really stood out to you and jot it down. Why did that catch your attention?
  3. On page 25 Dr. Mason says, “[The Church] should be the main communicator about challenges that happen in our country on race and justice.” How do you personally feel about engaging in conversations on race and justice? How do you feel about the Church engaging in these conversations?
  4. Everyone brings their lifelong experiences of race, both good and bad, into conversations about race. Take a moment to reflect on your own race. How does your personal experience of your race influence the way you approach these conversations?
  5. Check out the Wokeness Chart on page 29. Where would you place yourself on this chart?
  6. Now think about the context or family culture you grew up in. Where would that environment land on this chart?
  7. How do you think that context or culture affects the way you approach conversations about race?
  8. End your time by writing out a prayer asking that the Lord would grow you and challenge you however he wants through the next eight weeks of reading and discussion. Pray over what feels meaningful or significant to you about starting this study.

Chapter 2 – How Big Is the Gospel? (Justice and the Gospel)

Overview:

What does the gospel have to say about justice, and how does that inform the Church’s attitude towards justice?

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would understand that justice is a part of God’s nature and therefore a priority of the gospel and the Church.
  • Acknowledgement: We would recognize the difference between Dr. Mason’s description of the gospel and our own preconceived notions.
  • Accountability: We would identify any limits we have placed on the reach of the gospel in our world.
  • Action: We would write a prayer thanking God for the good news of Jesus and asking him to use us to bring that good news into all corners of the earth.

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. What’s something that was new or interesting to you from chapter 2?
  2. On pages 51 and 53 Dr. Mason provides a list of verses from the Bible that address justice. Why do you think the Bible talks about justice so often?
  3. On page 54 Dr. Mason says that, “justice is one of [God’s] key attributes.” What does it mean that justice is an “attribute” of God? What do you think that means for us?
  4. Throughout the chapter, how does Dr. Mason’s description of this “big” gospel compare with how you typically think about the gospel?
  5. On page 44, Dr. Mason writes, “Some Christians believe that to include social liberation and justice in the gospel is to preach a ‘different gospel.’ Others believe that to exclude social liberation and justice as part of the gospel is to deny the gospel.” What do you think?
  6. What limits are you prone to putting on the gospel? Put another way, what are some things you tend to assume will never be changed by the gospel? That could be specific individuals, communities, societal norms, etc.

  7. On page 57, Dr. Mason says, “The gospel is supposed to bring people together who wouldn’t naturally be together.” How does this make you think about your own social circles?
  8. End your time by writing out a prayer thanking God for the “big” gospel that breaks past any limits we could place on it. If you feel convicted over any ways you’ve made the gospel “small,” confess that to him and ask for him to give you a new expectation.

Chapter 3 – We’re Family, We’re Holy

Overview:

What does it mean for the Church to be a family, and how does this relational reality compare to, and even overrule, existing relational dynamics in our societies?

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would understand how the realities of God’s family should shape the way we see others.
  • Acknowledgement: We would desire these realities over existing relational dynamics around us, helping us grow in empathy.
  • Accountability: We would feel God’s expectation for us in the high calling of holiness to treat one another in a godly way.
  • Action: We would identify a group or groups of people who are different than us with whom we do not feel like family. Write out your thoughts on why you don’t feel like a family.

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. What stood out to you from the story of Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus from pages 60-64? Feel free to go read the Book of Philemon in the Bible while you’re thinking about this. It’s between Titus and Hebrews and at most it’ll take you 5 minutes to read.
  2. Throughout the chapter Dr. Mason describes the Church as a family. Not everyone has a great personal experience with their family, but what are some of the good things about family that you hope would characterize the Church?
  3. Dr. Mason talks about holiness on pages 64-68. Is “holy” a word you typically think of when you think about the Church? Why or why not?
  4. How does holiness play into this idea of living as God’s family?
  5. On page 69 Dr. Mason says, “God is [displeased] when His people don’t act like family and don’t represent Him as holy people.” Why do you think that is?
  6. Lastly, take a moment to think about people who live in your neighborhood or city who follow Jesus but don’t have the same skin color as you. Do you feel like a family with them? Why or why not?

Chapter 4 – Is the Church Asleep?

Overview:

How has the Church responded to issues of race during various periods of US history, and how do those responses affect our conversation today?

 

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would grow in our knowledge of the Church’s historical role in issues of race.
  • Acknowledgement: We would recognize the gaps in our knowledge, how our historical assumptions affect our conversations around race, and how those historical realities affect our present ones.
  • Accountability: We would feel the expectation on us to faithfully engage with our current realities.
  • Action: We would each identify knowledge gaps that this chapter surfaced for us and commit to tackling one of them this week.

 

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. Read the stories of Dr. Mason’s father on pages 75-76. What’s your reaction to these stories?
  2. This chapter covered a lot of history (check out our resource list for more). What was something new that you learned?
  3. “By 1776, only one denomination in America—the Quakers—had declared slaveholding a sin.” (pg.79) What do you think about that?
  4. On pages 83-87 Dr. Mason talks about the church during the post-Civil War era. How do you think this period of time was different for White churches and for Black churches? (This is reading ahead a bit, but check out pages 98-99 for a bit more on the Black church.)
  5. “White evangelicalism’s lack of involvement in [the Civil Rights era] hurt our long-term relationships with one another. Even to this day, the black church has never forgotten the brash disconnect of Christian conservatism’s silence or verbal support of segregation.”(page 89) How are these historical realities still affecting the way Christians in the United States deal with issues of race today?
  6. Dr. Mason shared several stories from his family in this chapter. How does your family history connect with issues of race?
  7. How does that history affect you as you think through these issues yourself?
  8. On page 92 Dr. Mason writes, “Our call is to preach the liberating gospel— and believe that this gospel can tear down centuries-old walls that divide.” Based on the chapter or your own studies, what are these “centuries-old walls” that exist between Black and White communities in the United States?
  9. What might it look like for these centuries-old walls to be torn down?
  10. What gaps did this week reveal in your historical knowledge about race in the United States? Write those down. Commit to spending some portion of this week learning more about at least one of those gaps (again, check our resource list for more). If you’re intimidated by where to start, just do a quick Google, or check out Wikipedia. You don’t have to buy any books to start learning more.

Chapter 5 – Things for the Church to Lament

Overview:

How should the historic and present issues of race in the United States provoke us as Christians, and what might God have for us in the Biblical practice of lament? Dr. Mason will share some of the things that provoke him to lament.

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would grow in our awareness of and empathy towards the unresolved issues that Dr. Mason introduces.
  • Acknowledgement: We would confess our sadness for, apathy towards, and even complicity in lamentable realities.
  • Accountability: By sharing honestly we would feel the weight of how we connect emotionally to issues that stem from racism and racial inequality.
  • Action: We would each use the lens of lament to identify a lamentable reality around us in a written prayer.

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. How does the Biblical practice of lament fit in with the culture you were raised in? Why do you think that culture thinks this way about lamenting?
  2. On pages 97-98 Dr. Mason says, “This chapter is about…entering the pain of others and pains we should all feel and bear together.” Similarly Galatians 6:2 tells us to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Why might God call us to make other people’s pain our pain?
  3. When you were reading the ten laments in this chapter, how did they make you feel? Did any of the ten laments stand out to you specifically?
  4. Have any of these ten examples impacted your life specifically? If so, how?
  5. Have you participated in or experienced any of these ten examples? Which ones?
  6. On page 109 Dr. Mason talks about the church’s reluctance to engage in justice issues, saying, “I don’t think this is something we lack the ability to do. I believe this is a focus issue. We don’t tend to engage this stuff until it becomes an issue of loss of membership.” What do you think about this? What do you hope to see out of the church that you aren’t seeing right now?
  7. Finish by taking this Biblical lens of lament and turning it on your own context. Take a moment to think and identify a lamentable reality around you that is the result of racism or racial inequality. Maybe that’s in your neighborhood, the apartment complex down the street, your child’s school, the other side of town, in the suburbs or in the projects. Write out a prayer to the Lord lamenting this reality. Take the time to sit in this lament. As Dr. Mason says, “we need room to worship the Lord in honest expressions of unedited grief.”(page 97)

Chapter 6 – Reclaiming Our Prophetic Voice

Overview:

At many other points in history, God’s people have possessed the ability to winsomely and ferociously denounce societal wrongs. What would it mean for us to reclaim this “prophetic voice” and apply it to issues of race?

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would grow in our idea of what preaching (and other Biblical teaching) can comment on, and even counter.
  • Acknowledgement: We would recognize any ways in which we shy away from living out these seven attributes.
  • Accountability: We would identify the responsibility we have in our social circles to practice these seven attributes.
  • Action: We would each write out examples of how we could utilize these seven attributes with that lamentable reality from last week.

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. In this chapter Dr. Mason describes seven attributes of prophetic preaching. Jot those seven attributes down—we’ll keep coming back to them.
  2. How do these seven attributes compare with what you typically expect out of Christian preaching and teaching?
  3. On page 127 Dr. Mason writes, “The chaos in our communities and in our world seems to cry out, ‘Is there a word from the Lord? Is there manna from heaven to soothe the soul ache of mankind? Is there a balm in Gilead?’” What’s your reaction to this?
  4. Let’s talk about these attributes not in terms of someone else’s responsibility but in terms of ours. This isn’t someone else’s job, this is our job, your job. So imagine you’re in a conversation with someone that touches on injustice and you’re wanting to utilize these seven attributes in the way you communicate. Which of these attributes do you feel strong in?
  5. Which ones do you feel weak in? Why do you think those have gone underdeveloped in you? Is there anything about your context or culture that has contributed to this?
  6. On page 124-125 Dr. Mason tells us that, “Hope never exists in a vacuum. It produces a love that endures all things. The enduring love that God has for us through the gospel is what keeps us going.” When you think about issues of race in our country, are hope and “enduring love” typically part of those thoughts? Why or why not?
  7. If you deployed the seven attributes of prophetic preaching in talking about issues of race and injustice, how might things change in your spheres of influence? Do any specific examples come to mind?
  8. Think back to that lamentable reality you identified last week. How might the seven attributes be used to talk about and address that lamentable reality? For example, 1. what does the gospel have to say about it, 2. how do we center on Jesus while addressing it, 3. how do we be clear on the issues around it, etc.? Do this for all seven, and devote a little extra time/space to those weaker attributes you listed above.

Chapter 7 – A Vision for Change

Overview:

How should the Church think through its approach to justice? Dr. Mason will explain three different levels of justice that will be crucial for the rest of our discussion.

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would expand our concept of justice to include these three levels.
  • Acknowledgement: We would confess our hesitancy towards any of these aspects of justice.
  • Accountability: We would assess our capability and responsibility to fight for justice in these three areas.
  • Action: Thinking back to that lamentable reality you observed, how could it be addressed through these three levels of justice?

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. What was new or interesting to you about the three levels of justice: intervening justice, preventative justice, and systemic justice?
  2. On page 133 Dr. Mason tells us, “The Woke Church must be in the business of doing something to stem the tide of injustice in our nation.” How does this expectation for the Church to engage with all three levels of justice compare with what you typically expect out of the Church?
  3. “Justice has to be done, not merely dialogued about.”(page 132) What feelings does this stir up in you? What might it indicate about us if we’re only willing to dialogue about justice?
  4. “Intervening justice calls us to get involved, to come alongside those who are hurting and make a difference.”(page 135) Think back to week 2, “How Big is the Gospel?” How does the gospel motivate us to both come alongside those who are hurting and make a difference?
    What gets in the way of you doing this personally?
  5. Take a moment to read Micah 6:6-8. According to this passage, doing justice is expected of you. So what might it mean for you personally to obey this scripture? How does this apply to Dr. Mason’s three levels of justice?
  6. Again, think back to the lamentable reality you identified in week 5. How could it be addressed through these three levels of justice?
  7. What organization is already addressing this lamentable reality? This might take some searching and asking around, but odds are there’s someone already at work in this area. If you can’t find anything, who is someone that is more knowledgeable in this area that you could ask about it? Write down the name of that organization or person.

Chapter 8 – The Woke Church in Action

Overview:

How can the Church maximize redemptive opportunities by actively engaging justice issues in our communities? Dr. Mason will describe some examples of action steps that a church can take.

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would grow in our understanding of, and hope for, what a church can accomplish by actively engaging justice issues in our communities.
  • Acknowledgement: We would value the work that is being done, acknowledge the gaps between what is being done and what needs to be done, and identify our apathy or fear towards getting involved ourselves.
  • Accountability: We would identify who (including ourselves) is responsible for the lamentable reality from week 5 and consider what being held accountable means for that group/person.
  • Action: Take action to support or continue to support the work that is already being done in this area.

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. Chapter 8 is all about action steps a church can take to bring justice into our communities, and Dr. Mason starts the chapter with, “Imago Dei as Foundational Bible Doctrine.” Why do you think he started with this? How is the imago dei (“image of God”) a helpful starting point when talking about action steps?
  2. Out of the twelve examples of action steps in the chapter, which one(s) got you excited or encouraged you? Why?
  3. “The church at large should always have a learning disposition—learning about our communities’ needs, thinking, brokenness, strengths, cultural make up, challenges, communication, media habits, etc.”(page 148) What are some ways we can foster this learning disposition when it comes to issues of race? What are some ways you’ve fostered it for yourself?
  4. “Whites need to speak up whenever they see something that looks like racism and injustice. We would be light years ahead if minorities weren’t the only ones talking about racism . . . As Christians, it is our responsibility to stand up and speak out.”(page 163) How did this make you feel when you read it?
  5. On page 147 Dr. Mason writes, “I encourage majority-culture churches to find an ethnic minority church in your region, and humbly say to them, ‘We want to come to the table. We want to understand what’s going on.’” Why do you think it’s important for majority-culture members to be willing to listen to and learn from minorities?
  6. Later on page 147 Dr. Mason adds, “We don’t build relationships with one another in order to have a mission field. You build a relationship with a person because you want to know them, love them, and do life with them . . . and out of that can come healing.” What do you think it will take for our communities, for you in particular, to build the kinds of relationships that can produce healing?
  7. Think back to that lamentable reality you identified in week 5. What individuals or groups have the power to do something about this reality but have failed to do so? What do you think it would mean to hold these people accountable for their actions or inactions?
  8. Lastly, take that organization or person you identified last week and reach out to them this week (if you haven’t already). Ask them how you could support the work that is already being done in the area of this lamentable reality. If you’re already connected to that organization and supporting them, take some time this week to send them an encouraging note for the crucial work they’re doing.

Chapter 9 – Seeing Through the Lens of the End

Overview:

Looking at Revelation 7, how does this intentionally diverse culmination of the Church inform our lives now and provide hope as we engage in acts of justice?

Objectives:

You’ll see these objectives fleshed out through the study questions:

  • Awareness: We would grow in our understanding of how the future vision of the Church in Revelation 7 dictates how we relate to others now.
  • Acknowledgement: We would acknowledge the gaps between that reality and our current reality, and between that reality and our desires.
  • Accountability: We would understand how we, individually and personally, are accountable for paving the way for this Rev. 7 reality in the Church now.
  • Action: We would look back at the past nine weeks and assess the work the Lord has done in us. We’ll write a prayer of thanksgiving and ask the Lord to direct our steps as we keep following him in the area of justice.

Study Questions:

After reading the chapter, write out your responses to these questions:

  1. Throughout the chapter Dr. Mason talks about Revelation 7:9-17. What does it mean to you that heaven will be multiethnic, with people “from every nation, tribe, people, and language”?
  2. When you think about your preferred church community or friend group, does its ethnic make up look different than the church as described in Revelation 7? If so, what do you think explains the difference?
  3. On page 169 Dr. Mason explains that, for the nations to be represented in heaven, “Somebody had to tell folks about Jesus…somebody had to cross into…a people group that was unfamiliar.” How has this book challenged you to do the same?
  4. Think back to Chapter 2, “How Big Is the Gospel?” How does the gospel motivate us to make this Revelation 7 vision for the Church a reality in our own churches? What responsibility do you personally have towards helping this happen?
  5. Take some time to reflect on the past nine weeks of this book study. What were some of the most challenging or thought-provoking things you encountered?
  6. How do you plan to continue learning and growing in the areas of race and justice? What’s the next step you plan to take in this? When do you expect to do this, and who would you like to share your progress with?
  7. Finish by writing out a prayer of thanksgiving for your time in this book study, for the people you participated with, and for Dr. Mason’s work. Ask the Lord to direct your steps as you keep following him in the areas of race and justice.
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