In The Faith of a Mockingbird, based on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird,
pastor and author Matt Rawle uses Lee's beloved characters to explore
Christian faith, theology, and ethics. Join Scout, Atticus Finch, Boo
Radley, and Tom Robinson in this four-week study considering God's world and what it all means.
This Leader Guide contains everything needed to guide a group through the workbook and DVD. It includes session plans and discussion questions, as well as multiple format options.
The Faith of a Mockingbird is part of The Pop in Culture Series of Bible studies in which Matt Rawle stirs up a tasty gumbo of insight, humor, and inspiration based on some of your favorite pop culture classics. A Participant Book, a DVD featuring four sessions with the author, and a Worship Resources Flash Drive also are available for group study.
About the Author
Matt Rawle is Lead Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana. Matt is an international speaker who loves to tell an old story in a new way, especially at the intersection of pop culture and the church. He is the author of a new series of books titled The Pop in Culture Series. The series includes The Faith of a Mockingbird, Hollywood Jesus, The Salvation of Doctor Who, The Redemption of Scrooge, What Makes a Hero?, and The Gift of the Nutcracker.
Read an Excerpt
The Faith of a Mockingbird Leader Guide
A Small Group Study Connecting Christ And Culture
By Matt Rawle, Josh Tinley
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2015 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
Scout Finch Telling Your Story
Planning the Session
Through this session's discussion and activities, participants will be encouraged to:
consider their faith story and how they tell it;
evaluate the roles they play and the roles they assign to others, and look at how these roles can be limiting or empowering;
look at how they can grow in relationship with God by developing holy habits;
examine what they can learn by reading and hearing stories — including those in Scripture — from different points of view.
Read and reflect on the first chapter of Matt Rawle's The Faith of a Mockingbird.
Read through this Leader Guide session in its entirety to familiarize yourself with the material being covered.
Read and reflect on the following Scriptures:
 1 Corinthians 12:4–27
 Mark 5:21–43
 Luke 7:36–50
 Acts 2:42–47
 Galatians 5:2–23
 1 Thessalonians 5:17–24
 James 5:13–18
Make sure that you have a markerboard or large sheet of paper on which you can record group members' ideas.
Have a Bible, paper for taking notes, and a pen or pencil available for every participant.
Opening Activity and Prayer (5 minutes)
As participants arrive, welcome them to this study. Since the subject of this study is Harper Lee's classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, open your time together with a discussion of your experiences with this story. Discuss some of the following questions:
When did you first encounter this story, and what about this story has stuck with you the most?
Why do you think Matt Rawle chose this novel? What does this story have to teach Christians?
Lord, as we begin this study, we thank you for the witness of storytellers. We thank you for the story of To Kill a Mockingbird, for the ways it teaches us and challenges us, and for the questions that it raises. As we reflect on this story, may we also be mindful of your story and how we fit into it. Bless our time together that we can learn from Scripture, from story, and from one another. Amen.
Watch DVD Segment (10 minutes)
Study and Discussion (35 minutes)
Note: Discussion helps and questions that correspond to Chapter One: "Scout Finch, Telling Your Story" are provided below. If you have more time in your session, or want to include additional discussion and activities to your time, see "Additional Options for Bible Study and Discussion" at the end of this section, listed after the Closing Activity and Prayer.
(See The Faith of a Mockingbird,pages 20–22)
Read aloud or summarize for the group:
Rawle begins his study of To Kill a Mockingbird by looking at the book as the story of its narrator, Scout, and discussing how brokenness frames her story. He notes that the novel opens with Scout saying that her brother Jem broke his arm when he was nearly thirteen. It then takes her the entire book to explain how this event comes to pass. Throughout the novel, Scout is forced to confront brokenness, whether in the form of fear, social injustice, or struggles about identity and belonging. This brokenness shapes her and has a lasting impact on her life.
In his look at brokenness, Rawle tells the story of a woman in his congregation who had grown hopeless because her body was in constant pain. During the sacrament of Holy Communion she experienced an epiphany. "When you broke the bread at the table," she told Rawle, "I realized for the first time in my life that salvation is offered through a broken body, not one that is whole. Though my health is failing, my hope has been restored." This idea of restoration through brokenness is essential to the Christian story.
How has brokenness shaped your life? What events that were painful at the time have had a lasting impact and have influenced who you are — specifically who you are as a child of God and a follower of Christ?
Often the brokenness we experience is of our own doing; it is the result of our sin. What have you learned from pain that you have caused? How have these experiences led to healing or new understandings? Is there healing that still needs to take place?
Why is brokenness so important to who we are as Christians? How does the fact that "salvation is offered through a broken body" affect how you understand pain and suffering? What does it mean to you that we find wholeness through Jesus' brokenness?
How do the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird learn and grow from the brokenness that surrounds them?
Is it possible for us to fully experience God's love and grace if we have not first experienced brokenness?
In what ways are you — and/or your group and congregation — responding to the brokenness you see in your community and world?
Finding Your Place
(See The Faith of a Mockingbird, pages 26–29)
Read aloud or summarize for the group:
Scout struggles to find her place in Maycomb. She clashes with her teacher, gets into fights, asks adults tough questions that they don't always want to answer, and often is the odd person out in the games that Jem and Dill play. This is difficult for Scout because the Depression-era South in which she lives is a place where people know their place. As Rawle writes, "Little girls are to wear dresses and remain quiet. Little boys are to mind their fathers and stay out of trouble. Men go to work. Women stay at home, unless they choose to teach or nurse. White folk go here. Black folk stay there. Everyone has her or his neat and predictable place."
When is knowing your place or role limiting? When is it empowering?
How do you understand the roles you are playing right now? Who assigned those roles to you?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:4–11. What role does Scripture assign you?
In what ways do you (you personally, your group or congregation, or the church in general) limit people by consigning them to a particular role in society? How do we put people in the role of "other" or "outsider"?
In what ways do you (you personally, your group, or your congregation) help people live into the roles that God is calling and equipping them to play?
How does your community of faith welcome and invite those on the margins? Who do you need to welcome to your table so that the gospel might come alive for them?
Activity: Play Your Part
A major aspect of To Kill a Mockingbird is the roles that people play and the places people fit into (or don't fit into). Most of us struggle with questions about the roles we play and how we fit in. Fortunately the Bible addresses this topic and offers some wisdom. In 1 Corinthians 12:12–27, the Apostle Paul likens the church to a human body. As the body has many unique parts, each with a unique and important function, so does the church have many unique members, each with a unique and important purpose.
Draw a large outline of a human body on a markerboard or large piece of paper (stick figures are just fine!).
As a group, read 1 Corinthians 12:4–27.
Ask each group member to consider his or her role in the body of Christ based on this Scripture. What body part would he or she be? (For example, someone who has a gift for seeing needs around them might be the eyes; someone who is ready and able to go anywhere on a moment's notice might be the feet; someone who is skilled as a communicator may be the mouth.) Ask each person to talk about the body part he or she chose and why. Write each person's name next to the corresponding body part on your outline. (If your group is larger than 6–8 people, you may want to divide into smaller groups for this activity.)
Talk about what it means for each person to be a certain part of the body and how each of them can embrace and grow into those roles.
Making Room for Awe and Wonder
(See The Faith of a Mockingbird, pages 34–38)
Read aloud or summarize for the group:
The storyline in To Kill a Mockingbird is full of surprises for Scout and her brother Jem. When they attend worship with their caretaker, Calpurnia, at First Purchase African Methodist Episcopal Church, they are surprised to see a congregation that is able to worship without "the usual church affects like an organ, hymnals, and or a bulletin." After Jem is sentenced to read each day to their contrary elderly neighbor Mrs. Dubose, as punishment for destroying her camellia bushes, he and Scout discover that Mrs. Dubose had been struggling to overcome a morphine addiction. Jem's daily reading helped distract her from withdrawal symptoms.
We need surprises in our lives. Interruptions force us to pay attention to people we would otherwise overlook or to see people from new perspectives.
Read Mark 5:21–43. Discuss:
How was Jesus surprised or interrupted?
Why do you think the woman who touched Jesus was "full of fear and trembling" when Jesus asked, "Who touched me?" Why do you think Jesus stopped what he was doing to heal the woman who touched him?
When has an interruption forced you to notice someone you hadn't noticed before or to look at someone in a new way?
Read Luke 7:36–50, in which a woman, described as a "sinner," anoints Jesus' feet with oil and wipes them with her hair. Who might you dismiss as a "sinner"? How can you better understand and appreciate these persons as people who are also a part of God's story?
What interruptions in your own life have been life giving? When was the last time God interrupted and surprised you?
Closing Activity and Prayer (10 minutes)
Prepare a large sheet of paper by dividing it into four sections. Title one of these sections, "What Christians can learn from Scout Finch." (You will be encouraged to do this activity at the end of each of your sessions, detailing what you've learned about each of the main characters you'll be studying.)
To close your time together, have each person identify one thing he or she has learned about his or her faith by reading and reflecting upon this chapter and Scout's story in To Kill a Mockingbird. Have each person write this one thing on the markerboard or sheet of paper under "What Christians can learn from Scout Finch." Invite participants to explain what they added to the list.
Lord, thank you again for the witness of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Thank you also for the witness of the participants in this group. Empower us as we go from here to live into the roles you have prepared for us. Allow us to be mindful of the experiences and perspectives of everyone we come into contact with so that we will not dismiss them or take them for granted. Guide us as we prepare for the next session. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Additional Options for Bible Study and Discussion
Four Portraits (20 minutes)
(See The Faith of a Mockingbird, pages 23–26)
Read aloud or summarize for the group:
Accounts of the same event can lead us to very different conclusions if these accounts come from different storytellers. As Rawle points out, "If Jem were our Mockingbird narrator, the characters would look slightly different," because Jem would likely draw different conclusions about the same events that Scout recounts. Rawle uses this difference in perspectives to look at the four different perspectives on Jesus' life that we find in the New Testament Gospels.
Activity: Same Story, Four Authors
The New Testament opens with four accounts of Jesus' life, ministry, death, and resurrection. Scholars typically call the first three Gospels — Matthew, Mark, and Luke — the synoptic gospels because they cover much of the same material. Synoptic means "same" or to "see together." Some renderings of parables and miracles in these books are nearly identical, and the common view among New Testament scholars is that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source and likely used another common source of Jesus' sayings and teachings. Even John's Gospel contains a handful of passages that are similar to those found in the first three.
Despite these similarities, each of the Gospel writers has a unique perspective and makes particular choices about what to include. There are well-known stories that we find only in Matthew (the wise men, the sheep and the goats), Luke (the Christmas story, Jesus' meeting with Zacchaeus), or in John (the wedding at Cana and raising of Lazarus). Each emphasizes different aspects of Jesus' teaching and frames Jesus' story in a different way.
To better appreciate the perspectives of the Gospel writers, look at three events that appear in all four Gospels:
1. Jesus' baptism: Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22; John 1:29–34
2. The feeding of the five thousand: Matthew 14:13–21; Mark 6:32–44; Luke 9:10b–17; John 6:1–15
3. Jesus cleanses the temple: Matthew 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46; John 2:14–22 (Notice that John places this story toward the beginning of Jesus' ministry, while the others place it toward the end.)
Pick one of the three events above, and have four people read aloud each of the four Gospel accounts.
What are the similarities between these accounts? Which versions are most similar?
What are the differences between these accounts? Which of the four differs the most from the others?
What can we learn from hearing stories from different perspectives? Is there a particular portrait of Jesus in the Bible that resonates with you? Why?
Think about the different choices that each author makes. What do these choices say about what the author wants to emphasize or teach us? How do we benefit from each author's perspective and choices? What would we lose if the Bible contained only one Gospel?
What keeps us from being able to see things from other points of view?
Why is it important for us, as Christians, to consider other people's viewpoints? How does seeing different perspectives better enable us to show love and compassion to others?
Wash, Rinse, Repeat (15 minutes)
(See The Faith of a Mockingbird, pages 29–34)
Read aloud or summarize for the group:
Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird, has a particular daily routine, structured around daily habits, such as reading each night with her father. Rawle writes, "Scout's life is full of simple habits and habitual honesty.... These habits give birth to a habitual honesty in her relationship with Atticus." What is true of Scout and her relationship to her father is also true for us and our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
What habits are part of your daily routine? How do these habits give your life structure?
What habits related to your faith have you developed?
How do your daily habits reveal your faith and values?
As a group, list on a markerboard or large sheet of paper any spiritual disciplines and practices you can identify. These could include prayer, reading and studying Scripture, worship, Holy Communion, acts of service and justice, and so on. Ask: How do these practices bring you closer to God? Which of these disciplines do you already practice? Which have become daily or weekly habits?
What is most challenging about turning a spiritual practice into a spiritual habit?
Read the following Scriptures: Acts 2:42–47; Galatians 5:22–23; 1 Thessalonians 5:17–24; James 5:13–18. What do they say about spiritual practices and habits?
Give each person a note card. Each person should choose one spiritual practice that he or she can commit to until it becomes a habit. On his or her card, each participant should:
name the spiritual discipline he or she is committing to,
set a goal for how frequently he or she will practice this discipline, and
determine when and where he or she will observe this practice.
Encourage participants to keep this card with them and to place it where it will remind them of their commitment.
Excerpted from The Faith of a Mockingbird Leader Guide by Matt Rawle, Josh Tinley. Copyright © 2015 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
To the Leader 5
Session 1 Scout Finch: Telling Your Story 11
Session 2 Atticus Finch: When Your Story Is Challenged 25
Session 3 Tom Robinson: When Challenge Is Defining 37
Session 4 Boo Radley: Defining a Mystery 51