Steven Rogers novel, “Into the Room” is a great book to read and discuss with your book club, small group, or church.
Overall Discussion Questions
Best used for a one-time group meeting
- What was your opinion of Ben at the beginning of the book? Did your opinion of him change over the course of the story? If so, what characteristics or events led you to alter your view?
- Did you see any of yourself in Ben?
- Who was your favorite caretaker character (Jeb, Ruth, Addy, Gerri, Caleb, and Daniel) and why? Do you recognize any of your own characteristics in any of the caretakers?
- Was there a particular event or moment in your life where you entered the “room” with God? Would you be willing to share this with the group?
- The author was inspired to write this story while on a trip to Israel. Has any trip you’ve taken or specific experience you’ve had compelled you to share your faith with others?
- Did you learn anything about the disease of alcoholism reading this book?
- Who did you think Joseph was at the beginning of the book? At what point in the story did your view of him begin to change? Did a particular “Progress Report” speak to you personally?
- Of the Israeli sites visited in the story, which one would you most like to visit? Why?
Small Group Study Guide
These questions are designed for a small group study that meets weekly for three weeks. Use any questions that suit your group.
“While we move along, I convince myself of one truth—a bottle is always better than a book.”
For Days 1-5 in the book, pages 1-98 in the print version
1. Did any of Ben’s initial perceptions or descriptions of Israel surprise you? If so, why?
2. After reading this section, what are your impressions of Ben? Do you like him?
3. At the end of Day 2, Ben has his first substantial interaction with his fellow travelers. In planning the encounter, Joseph’s Day 2 Progress Report states he chose “…a time and environment where he (Ben) is comfortable—in the lounge before the evening meal.” He also concludes this setting is appropriate for future interactions. Are you comfortable with Joseph’s strategy? Do you think Joseph is taking an unnecessary risk? Can you think of a better time or venue?
4. On the group’s visit to Nazareth, they meet the interpreter, Hannah. In sharing with the group, Hannah expresses an overwhelming confidence in her own salvation. Do you share the same level of certainty? If not, what stands in your way?
5. While in Capernaum, Jeb tells Ben he views Christianity as “…building a new life on top of an old one.” What is your impression of this phrase? Do you agree with Jeb’s conclusion?
6. At the end of Day 4, Daniel explains how an ethical dilemma led to his conversion. Was your personal faith ever challenged or impacted by an ethical predicament? How did the event change the way you lived your life?
7. During lunch on Day 5, Addy recounts how she was called by God to become an Emergency Room Nurse. Have you ever felt or sensed as a strong a calling towards anything? Do you consider your vocation a calling?
For Days 6-8 in the book, pages 98-184 in the print version
“Turning, I look at the other room. Maybe I should try, once again, to be a good man. I move with more confidence, encouraged because the light is still there, and although I have no idea why, is willing to accept me.”
1. Following Ben’s drinking binge, his traveling companions are patient and tolerant. Why do you thing they reacted in this manner? Do you believe you would have responded in a similar way in the same circumstance?
2. How would you describe the Spiritual War waging inside Ben? Why do you think he’s so hesitant to acknowledge or discuss Spiritual Warfare?
3. After their Day 6 snorkeling in the Red Sea, Ben and Jeb discuss how God speaks to Ruth through the “urges” she experiences. Do you believe God speaks to you? If so, how does he communicate?
4. In his Day 6 Progress Report, Joseph considers the reactionary emotions and cites three examples—guilt, shame, and remorse. He describes them as a by-product of deeper and more fundamental concerns. Do you agree with this conclusion? In our opinion, do any of these emotions originate from God?
5. What were your sentiments during the Day 8 showdown between Joseph and Ben? As you read the exchange, did your opinion of Ben improve or deteriorate?
6. According to Joseph, Ben’s perception of what’s inside both the “good” and the “bad” rooms depends on Ben’s understanding of God. How do you think you would view the inside of each room?
7. How did you react when Ben entered the room?
For Days 9-12 in the book, pages 185-274 in the print version
“Let me know I can be forgiven.”
1. A recurring theme is this section is Ben’s increasing acceptance of the places he’s seeing and the events he’s hearing about as tangible and real. Did anything Ben encounter enhance your perception of the events and places surrounding Jesus’ life? Did anything help diminish any doubts you were experiencing?
2. What are your thoughts about the exchange between Ben and the Bethlehem shopkeeper, Yussef?
3. Following the visit to the Holocaust Museum, Ben accepts the presence of evil. Do you believe there is an evil force at work in the world? How do you picture or perceive this force?
4. Prayer is difficult for Ben, both privately and in front of the group. Do you struggle with prayer? Do you find it challenging to pray publicly or lead a group in prayer?
5. Ben needs to learn that he can be forgiven for his actions. Is accepting God’s forgiveness an obstacle for you?
6. While all the events in the book impacted Ben and his journey, three in this section were extremely significant—the trip to the Garden Tomb, his experience on the beach where Peter was forgiven, and his baptism in the Jordan river. Which of these made the strongest impression on you? Why?
7. What do you think will happen next on Ben’s journey? Do you believe there is the possibility of reconciliation with his family?