This issue of Journal of Lutheran Ethics focuses on the question of What the Church is, can be, and ought to be. The following activities can be done in small groups in church communities and are meant to foster both discussion and action on the topics at hand.
Activity 1: The Church as Building.
 Insofar as the church IS a building, do a study of your church building together. Take a tour of your church building as a group. Make notes about what areas are most used, which are most beautiful, which feel most sacred, which feel welcoming. Consider looking at the original blue prints and charter of the church. Why was the church built and why was it built the way it was? What things need to be updated, what things are historical treasures? Consider as well if there is a difference of opinion on these matters among the group.
Activity 2: The Church as People inside and outside the building.
 Consider holding a listening session for people both in and outside of the congregation of your church and asking the following questions.
* What does this church in your neighborhood mean to you?
* What would you welcome in a church community near you?
* What do you fear in a church community near you?
* What hopes do you have for the church (however you define it) today?
Activity 3: The Church and Theology
 Consider holding a dialogue on the role of the church in forming faith and informing ethics. Gather a group who is willing to share their experiences and opinions about the following three questions.
* When you have questions about theology and the nature of your relationship to the world and to God, how has the Church been or not been a place where you can ask those questions and find those answers?
*When you have questions about politics and ethics, how has the church been or not been a place where you can ask these questions and discuss these answers?
* What do you think should be the role of the church in guiding congregants in faith and action?