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Going Deeper - with David Livingstone

Week 2 question starters...

Going Deeper with David Livingstone – Some Questions to Ponder or Discuss


My Own Story

David Livingstone’s story shows that he had a questioning approach to faith, seeking to reconcile it with his interest in science and, later in the light of his African experience to reflect on his views on salvation

  • Thinking about my own life and faith, what questions have I asked? Have I struggled to integrate my faith with other aspects of my life? 
  • Have I had any experiences that have caused me to re-think my faith or theology? How did that feel?
  • Is there one question that is occupying me right now, or maybe that ought to be?

What is Success?

David had aspirations as an evangelist, an abolitionist and as an explorer.  It could be argued that he was unsuccessful in all of these, gaining only one (recorded) convert, failing to find the source of the River Nile, and slavery got worse before it got better.  However, he viewed all he did as part of a much bigger, eternal, perspective of God’s Kingdom.

  • How do I measure success? Is that helpful or healthy? 
  • What are the advantages or disadvantages of viewing our endeavours in the larger context of God’s eternal promises?
  • Livingstone’s achievements in exploring Africa were enormous, if not what he had imagined. Are there healthier, life-giving ways of viewing our own endeavours?


It seems there are two main theological questions that arise from David Livingstone’s story, and they are both complex and challenging for our own discipleship.

  • Who can be ‘saved’, how does that occur, and how does that affect our views on mission and evangelism?
  • Livingstone understood his salvation not as a ‘ticket to heaven’ but as a call to action to alleviate human misery. He wasn’t (just) ‘saved from’ but he was ‘saved for’ a reason.  What practical/political/values difference does it make for me to be a follower of Jesus?

Clay Feet

The apostle Peter is our scriptural example of a man whose life was a blend of the admirable and unworthy.  David Livingstone was no saint, and his journals show he regretted not being a better husband/father.  Even Jesus, it might be argued, failed (from a human perspective) by getting himself executed. 

  • How does this affect the way I view myself or others?
  • What one thing will I take away from today, to encourage me in the days ahead?

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