The following are questions that could be
used for personal reflection and study or with a group.
One goal of Sidewalks in the Kingdom has been to avoid too
much theorizing and abstraction. One strategy for doing
this has been to root the ideas in personal stories from my
particular context. I believe that it is equally important
for the reader to root these same concepts in his or her particular
context before they can be validated or put into practice.
Between the first and second drafts of Sidewalks I taught
an adult education class on this subject at my church and
found the feedback from those individuals in a variety of
concrete situations invaluable. I would love to hear feedback
from individuals or groups who have used these questions.
Introduction: A Trip to Bernice’s
about the place that you live or work. Would you consider
it to be in a city? Why or why not?
you ever spent time in an area where you could walk from where
you were staying or working to a corner coffee shop?
What was it like?
3) If you
do now live in a city, what sacrifices have you had to make
to do so? Do the advantages outweigh the sacrifices?
4) If you
currently live in the suburbs, what were your reasons for
choosing that particular setting for your residence?
Have you found your experience in the suburbs to have ‘lived
up’ to your expectations?
Part I: Thinking About Our Cities
you hear the word ‘city’ what images come to mind?
your images primarily positive, negative, or mixed when you
think of the city?
do you think those images were formed? Are they accurate?
Chapter 1: Broken Promises: Sprawl and the American
1) Do you
have an ideal picture of home, neighborhood, community from
your childhood? What does it look like?
does your current life compare with that ideal?
much time per day do you spend in your car? How do you
feel about spending this amount of time driving?
would you be willing to give up in order to be able to spend
significantly less time driving?
about the place you now live through the various stages of
life (childhood, early adolecence, late adolecence, young
adulthood, family life, middle age, retirement). Does
the area that you live work better for some life stages than
others? Will you have to move to a different community
to adjust to a new life stage?
Chapter 2: From the Garden to Jerusalem
you ever fantasized about living in a place where you could
‘get away from it all’? What would that place look like?
2) Do you
think that you would actually live in a place that was ‘away
from it all’ if you could (or do you now live in this kind
of whether you would like to live in such a setting, do you
think that God cares whether or not you choose to live in
this kind of a setting?
4) Do you
think that people who live adjacent to cities should be forced
to pay city taxes and receive city services if the city grows?
Why or why not?
Chapter 3: Waiting for Jerusalem
1) If you
heard someone say ‘lets claim our city for Christ’, what would
you think that they were talking about? Is it a positive
or a negative image that comes to mind?
to imagine a city where Christ (and/or his followers) has
significant influence, what do you think that city would be
like? How would it be different than the city with which
you are most familiar?
3) If you
had $1,000,000 that you had to spend to ‘help the poor’ in
the city, how would you spend it?
is the most fun thing that you have ever done in a city?
What made it fun?
Chapter 4: Learning to See Our Cities
was the last time that you ‘walked around the block’?
Was it really a block or was it a cul-de-sac leading to a
collector road? Does it make a difference?
of classic neighborhoods that are portrayed on television
(Sesame Street, etc). Why do you think that those kinds
of neighborhoods aren’t built anymore?
3) Do you
think that Christians have a special mandate with regards
to the natural environment? What about the built environment?
What (if any) is the difference?
Part II: MARKERS OF THE CITY
1) Is the
place you live a city? If not what is the closest city
to where you live?
made you decide that the place you mentioned was a city?
3) If someone
asked you to describe precisely what a city is, what would
you definition of a city work for all cities in all time periods?
Why or why not?
Chapter 5: Public Spaces and Incarnational Ministry
much time did you spend yesterday on what could be considered
to be public space?
was the last time that you had a conversation with someone
who wasn’t a member of your household, church, or office?
What kind of a setting were you in when you had this conversation?
your favorite public space – even if it is nowhere near where
you currently live.
was the loneliest time in your life? Would the presence
of viable public spaces have had any impact on your experience
of being lonely?
5) If you
had an important message to get out (about abortion, war,
or whatever) and no money to spend where would you go to reach
the maximum number of people? Is there an adequate place
for this kind of activity where you live?
Chapter 6: Mixed Use, Pedestrian Scale, and the Whole
kind of variety in housing and commercial activity can you
find within a five minutes walk from your front door?
you rather live in a mixed-use neighborhood or a single use
neighborhood? Try to come up with a list of specific
advantages and disadvantages of both models.
3) If you
wanted to live in a mixed-use neighborhood, would that even
be possible for you given your geographic and economic limitations?
4) Do you
have any errands or tasks in your day where you choose to
walk instead of drive? What factors lead you to make
5) Of all
of the neighborhoods that you’ve lived in or visited, what
has provided the best setting for walking? What made
it the best?
Chapter 7: Beauty, Quality, and Other Non-Essentials
God care whether or not things are beautiful?
2) Do you
think that God really cares if a particular building is beautiful
or not? Does it matter what kind of a building it is
(private home, church, public building, corperation)?
buildings in your area would you consider to be community
treasures? If there are none in your immediate area,
think of the closest city or town that would have some?
were these buildings built?
any been built in the last 50 years? Why or why not?
civic values does your closest City Hall or County Courthouse
7) Of all
of your friends and acquaintances how many of them would you
consider to be true craftsmen in their primary vocation(carpenters,
it matter if, as a culture, we no longer had individuals who
could do stone carving, masonry, or fine carpentry?
Chapter 8: Local Economy and the Permanence of Place
1) Do you
live in the same town that you grew up in? Why or why
2) Do you
have any relatives (parents, adult children, or siblings)
that you would choose to live near if there were opportunity
for meaningful employment?
you ever conducted a commercial transaction that was also
satisfying from a relational standpoint? What were the
conditions that made this possible?
is where you live different from anywhere else in the world?
What gives it its identity?
the place in which you live been able to maintain (or strengthen)
its identity over the past 50 years or is it becoming more
like every other place in the country?
chooses whether a particular place preserves its identity
or becomes standardized?
Chapter 9: Critical Mass and Making Friends
images come to mind when you think of the word ‘density’?
How is it different than ‘overcrowded’
do you think that some people will pay top dollar to live
in ‘high density’ settings such as Park Avenue?
there any activities that you enjoy which require critical
mass for their existence (symphony, community theatre, art
museums) or could you be perfectly happy without any of these
you ever voluntarily traveled to a location specifically for
the critical mass that you would find there (rally, concert,
5) Do you
have any specialty interests? Would you enjoy having
a group of people who share a similar interest that you could
meet with regularly?
Chapter 10: Strangers and Hospitality
comfortable would someone with no car and no connections be
if they had to spend the day hanging out in your neighborhood?
Where would they probably spend most of their time?
Fed the hungry,
Provided clothing for someone who needed it
Visited someone in prison
Visited with someone who was lonely
3) If you
have done any of these things, was the time in which you provided
the help the only time that you had ever seen the person,
or had you seen them in other settings?
4) If you
have never done any of these activities, do you feel that
you should? What has thus far prevented you from doing
you ever felt unsafe in a city, what contributed to that feeling?
you ever felt safe in an urban setting? What factors
contributed to that feeling?
do you account for the violence that we are seeing in the
suburbs (Columbine and etc)? How could it be helped?
Conclusion: Seeking the
Welfare of Your City
1) Why do
you think that Seaside has been so popular? Would you
like to live in a place like Seaside?
2) Do you
think that Seaside provides a viable model of residential
/ commercial settings for the future of this country?
Why or why not?
the elements of an ideal neighborhood. How close is
the place you live to that ideal?
4) Who are
the players who could make it more like a neighborhood (new
home buyers, current homeowners, realtors, architects, government)
5) Are you
an architect, planner, developer, or builder (or do you know
one)? What might be a distinctly Christian approach
to these vocations?
6) Have you
ever been really excited about a new and exciting movement
before? What was it and how has your interest held up
over the years?
7) If it
were possible to do so, what is one specific change that you
would make with regards to either your immediate environment
or your personal motivation that would help you to be a more
obedient urban Christian?
8) What is
one thing that you might change about your church (its physical
setting or its membership) that would help it to be more obedient
to its ‘incarnational’ mandate?
9) Do you
know of any churches that have abandoned central city sites
to move to the suburbs? How has such a move effected
the church and its original setting?
10) Do you know of any urban
(or neighborhood) churches that are having a hard time surviving?
What could you do to help these churches to survive and thrive?
11) Are you more comfortable
with our Christian mandate to evangelize the world or to help
those in need?
12) Have you been interested
or involved in national level politics before? Did you
find it a meaningful place to invest your time and energy
as a Christian?
13) What do you
know about your municipal government? What city issues
could you see yourself getting involved in? Are there
any issues (or people) that you are convicted to pray for?
Appendix A: City Words -A Constructive Glossary
you think of any examples where being familiar with a particular
word actually changed the way that you perceived a particular
you ever had an experience where you felt left out of a discussion
because you didn’t know the jargon?
there any words on this list that were completely new to you?
there any words on this list with which you were already familiar?
there any words on this list that were defined differently
than you would have expected?
Appendix B: City Reading
one book (besides the Bible) has had the greatest impact on
did you come about reading this book?
the books on this list, which sound most interesting to you?
there any books on the list that you wouldn’t read if you
were stranded on a desert island with them?
of any Christian books or articles written about the city,
do you think that the authors of any of the books on this
list would be interested in reading them? Why or why
any book and/or author on this list. From what you know
about them in the description, what would you say to them
to make a case for the Christian faith?
Appendix C: Charter of the New Urbanism
do you like best about the Charter? What are you most
do you think that this document would be received by your
neighbors and friends?
do you think that this document would be received by fellow
members of your church?
4) Do you
think that your city council would ever adopt municipal codes
that were consistent with this document? Who would support
or oppose such a move?
issues raised by this document seem most relevant to the Christian
unique contribution might the Christian community make to