Case Study: “What did he just say?”

I put this together for an exercise I’ll be doing with the Student Chaplains in November.  We’ll be doing some work on prayer and I thought this was a good case study to work with.  Yes, it is based on a true story (no, I’m not Walt).  How do you think the story continues?  C’mon, have some fun!

It had been several weeks since Walt has received the invitation to participate in the “congregational spirituality” forum from his District Superintendent. He hadn’t really wanted to go, as he loathed being the “obligatory young pastor” at gatherings like the forum, but he felt responsible to be true to his denominational commitments. He had said, “Yes.”

Several hours in to the forum, Walt was wishing that he’d been able to shrug off his sense of obligation. Every gathering like this that he’d ever been to had been the same – complaints about culture stealing time from the Church, frustration with people’s busy schedules, and calls to “try harder” in an effort to shore up practices that hadn’t been vibrant for years. As usual, any time Walt attempted to steer the conversation towards a positive way forward the conversation was quickly snapped back on to the “woe is me” track. It was depressing.

Walt looked forward to the escape of the lunch break and, admittedly, had tuned out the last several comments by the gathered clergy. Before his anticipated release could come, however, one gentleman made a comment that led him to blurt out a comment that he hadn’t expected to make. His attention was just tuned enough to the proceedings to register that a man had stood up and, straightening his suit jacket, had begun a lament on the decision of many churches to discontinue the mid-week prayer meeting. He went on for several minutes, during which Walt tuned in an out, and finally ended with, “And I say that if we all agree here to just re-start our Wednesday night prayer meetings, our Churches will come alive again!”

Walt could hardly believe it when he heard his voice suddenly echoed across the sanctuary, “I think prayer meetings suck.”

Work Out

Spend some time reading this brief narrative. Then, taking the narrative voice, briefly write out how this story might continue. Here are some things which your continuation should cover:

  • Why does Walt believe “prayer meetings suck?” What are his views on prayer?
  • What is the initial reaction by the gathered clergy to Walt’s comment? Does their reaction change at all as he explains his comment?
  • How does the District Superintendent react to Walt?

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