Honesty is always the best policy. I remember completing Beyond the Building: The War Within and thinking to myself, “Great, you can take a breather before you work on the study guide.” This series has been in the making for several years, so I wanted to celebrate its completion. A few of my good friends started reaching out, “Ashley, where is the study guide?” They knew me all too well. At my core, I am a teacher. I am not satisfied with sharing facts without allowing others to put the information into action. I am actually excited that my friends reached out and pushed me to continue. To answer your questions, yes I am going to create a study guide. In fact, it will be available soon!
Beyond the Building Study Guide is about helping ministries to engage their communities. Many times people know that we attend services, but our experiences don’t translate into action. We talk about God’s ability to heal the brokenhearted, but we do not have the resources (or connections) to provide crisis intervention. We speak of a “sound mind, ” but we avoid having conversations about mental health and therapeutic services. We discuss the growing violence but do little to provide translatable solutions. We are the church. God didn’t give us salvation just so we can go to heaven and leave the world to figure things out on their own. God didn’t create us to be reporters, only presenting the facts of what we see. He created us as solution strategists, equipped through prayer and executing actions that will address the hurt, wounded, and despondent.
In the study guide, we tackle issues that many of our congregations don’t address or address inappropriately. We discuss homelessness, depression, leadership burnout just to name a few key topic areas. I am so grateful God allowed me to humanize these experiences in a way that questions our responses and challenges us to make the biblical improvements that will honor him. I desire for ministries to begin to ask the tough questions. I desire for ministries to be honest about areas where we might have missed it, need to repent, and then align with God’s purposes. I am even looking forward to the conversations that will begin as the church becomes all God intended her to be.
Another feature that I love is the questions for introspection and questions for group consideration. Too many times as leaders we try to make those we serve see things from our perspective. We do not engage them in assessing their challenges, questions, and feedback. So this feature will allow laypersons and leadership alike to grow together and prayerfully minimize the divide. We cannot work in isolation; we work on the same team.
This study guide is a much-needed investment. If you have a passion for evangelism and making an impact, this study guide will help you to ask the right questions. I cannot wait to share it with you and your ministry team.