Life Together Study Questions | Discussion Week 4
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Discussion Week 4
Chapter 4: Ministry
BACKGROUND to Life Together
Refer to Discussion Week 1 for background. All quotations taken from: Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community. New York: Harper and Row, 1954. Reprint 2009.
This chapter, “Ministry,” is not about “professional” ministry, but about the ministry that each believer has, one to another. Bonhoeffer breaks it up into seven ministries.
The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue
1. Bonhoeffer writes, “God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me God made this person in His image” (93). The Westminster Larger Catechism (Q 135-136) lists careless speech and provoking words as violations of the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.” The Bible has much to say about the power of our words, whether they be edifying or destructive. In what way is not holding your tongue violence against your brother?
The Ministry of Meekness
2. “Why does it matter if our own plans are frustrated? Is it not better to serve our neighbor than to have our own way” (95)?
The Ministry of Listening
3. In what way is truly listening to another an act of sacrificial love?
4. How can we better make this sacrifice of listening? What must happen in order to be better listeners?
The Ministry of Helpfulness
5. Helpfulness can be demonstrated in both minor and major ways, with minor ways often being the most difficult or trying. Discuss the following: “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God” (99).
The Ministry of Bearing
6. We often think of bearing in terms of “bearing one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). But in what way is the freedom of one Christian a burden to the other bearing it?
The Ministry of Proclaiming
7. Discuss the following: “renunciation of our own ability is precisely the prerequisite and the sanction for the redeeming help that only the Word of God can give to the brother” (108).
The Ministry of Authority
8. In what way is "the ministry of authority" wholly dependent upon the previously mentioned ministries? Why is authority without the other ministries “poison” (108)?
Take prayer requests and pray. Close prayer by singing the Doxology together:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.