Monday, October 06, 2008

New Church Study: The Shack

The Shack, written by William P Young, is an amazing book. It's about a man's relationship with God after he has lost his youngest child. The story represents the Holy Trinity in some amazing and unique ways. It also deals with the problems of suffering, forgiveness, evil, and faith. if you've never read the book, I encourage you to buy a copy. It's wonderfully written and will make you re-envision your thoughts about God in a good way.

Erin Presbyterian church is beginning a ten week study of the book and I'm going to put these studies online. if you would like the studies sent to you by email, please contact me at I'll add you to our online study list.

Here's this week's study:


P7/8 Although externally religious, his overly strict church-elder father was a closet drinker, especially when the rain didn’t come, or came too early, and most of the times in between.

P8…his daddy was not a fall-asleep-happy kind of alcoholic, but a vicious mean beat-your-wife-and-then-ask-God-for-forgiveness drunk.

What causes overly-strict religious people to become abusive? How is God’s grace perceived when Christians seek forgiveness for everything? Do we abuse God’s kindness and take His patience for granted?

Mack confesses during revival – only to regret as his confessor is a worker with his abusive father…

For almost two days, tied to the big oak at the back of the house, he was beaten with a belt and Bible verses every time his dad woke from a stupor and put down his bottle.

Why is confidentiality so important to the credibility of the Church? What happens when we breach this?

P10 His favorite topics are all about God and Creation and why people believe what they do.

Mack seems to have a love/hate relationship with religion, and maybe even with the God that he suspects is brooding, distant, and aloof.

Why are people attracted to talking about religion more than practicing it? How does God become distant in our lives? What causes some people to have a love/hate relationship with religion?

P11 I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships, so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.

Why do loving relationships sometimes hurt us? Is it important for healing to come from within a relationship rather than from outside help?

While Mack’s relationship with God is wide, Nan’s is deep.

What do you think this means? How common do you think this is?

P12 You know that place: where there is just you alone – and maybe God, if you believe in him. Of course, God might be there even if you don’t believe in him. That would be just like him. He hasn’t been called the Grand Interferer for nothing.

How does God interfere in our lives? Do we need proof that God exists? Why/why not?

Relevant Scriptures:

Titus 1:6-9; James 5:13-16; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; Romans 12:17-21; Hebrews 11:5-6; Psalm 14:1-7

Chapter 1: A Confluence of Paths

P19 “What’s wrong with you, Mack? Still smoking too much dope or do you just do that on Sunday mornings to make it through the church service?”

Is sarcasm a problem for Christians? Does it contain a grain of truth? Did Jesus ever use sarcasm to emphasize a point? Why/ why not?

P20 Mack was taking no chances on how she might remember the conversation in a day or two. Wouldn’t be the first time that her sense of humor morphed into a good story that soon became a “fact.” He could see his name being added to the prayer chain.

Why are Christians bad at exaggerating circumstances, difficulties, and problems about other people. What makes us so prone to gossip and hyperbole? How does the world respond to our exaggerations?

P21 Nan: “I just don’t know what to do. I’ve been praying and praying that Papa would help us find a way to reach her, but it feels like he isn’t listening.”

When do we feel like God isn’t listening to our prayers? Are we just not listening to His answers? In what kind of situations have you experienced waiting for God? How was this resolved?

P22 Papa was Nan’s favorite name for God and it expressed her delight in the intimate friendship she had with him.

What do you think about Nan’s name for God? What do you frequently call God? What does that name tell you about your relationship with God?

Mack: “Honey, I’m sure God knows what he’s doing. It will all work out.” The words brought him no comfort but he hoped they might ease the worry he could hear in her voice.

Nan: “I know. I just wish he’d hurry up.”

Are we guilty of using trite holy words to ease others’ anxiety or pain? What causes us to do that? Are we offering help or just easing our own anxiety? What does this type of insincerity reveal about our own insecurity with God?

Relevant Scriptures

Matthew 19:23-24; Matthew 23:23-24; 2 Corinthians 12:19-21; Mark 14:32-36; Galatians 4:4-7; Psalm 6:1-10

1 comment: said...

I have to say that "The Shack" by William P. Young was a very thought provoking read.

After reading the book, I was left pondering several things about it – which is a true testament to the book's worth. I had several questions on the validity of some of the descriptions of God but I had to humbly admit that there may be no answers this side of heaven for how God presents Himself to each individual.

I posted a more in-depth review of this book on my own blog