Creating Environments for Spiritual Formation in Your Church (Part 1 of 3)

 Jimmy Adcox by Jimmy Adcoxthe_secret_place-title-3-still-4x3

 

Spiritual formation has been a hot topic in many circles over the last several years. Ancient practices have gained popular attention again.

When Richard Foster wrote his Celebration of Discipline in 1978, it was a rare book and a “voice in the wilderness.” Now, hundreds of books have been published on the topic.

Many ministers and church leaders are more aware of personal spiritual practices that create space for God’s transforming work. However, popular awareness does not always translate into practice. And, a growing practice among leaders does not always translate into church practices.

So, how do we better equip our churches to become places of transformation? How do we create environments that support and empower people to live out this life with God together? What can you do to help your members become more mature Christ followers?

Here are some thoughts and suggestions that have grown out of one church’s desire to become more intentional about congregational spiritual formation.

Begin the Personal Journey

The starting place on the journey has two fronts:

•     Learning all you can about spiritual formation

•     Engaging practices of spiritual formation in your own walk with God

These practices will help you “think” spiritual formation processes as a paradigm for preaching, teaching, mentoring, shepherding, and congregational oversight.

Even more importantly, giving attention to your own walk with God will keep you in the process of spiritual transformation.
Even more importantly, giving attention to your own walk with God will keep you in the process of spiritual transformation.

As Ruth Haley Barton reminds us in her excellent book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, the best thing we can bring to ministry is “our own transforming selves.”

Be careful not to engage the practices merely as a pragmatic means to lead a church. This is first about being attentive to your own life with God, separate and apart from your leadership role. Live in a process of spiritual formation. Then, let your ministry flow out of your life with God.

Pursue the Journey as a Leadership Group
Make listening to, being with, and practicing the presence of God an intentional, ongoing priority with elders and ministers
Make listening to, being with, and practicing the presence of God an intentional, ongoing priority with elders and ministers. Go on this journey of learning and experiencing God together. Read and discuss valuable resources together. Practice spiritual reading and praying scripture together. Go on spiritual formation retreats. Find mentors in spiritual direction. Practice listening to God and seeking his direction together.

This priority and process will gradually transform how you conduct meetings, determine priorities, make decisions, shepherd the flock, and engage planning processes.

Do not hesitate to let the church know how you live out your ministry as group. Your intentional pursuit of God together will influence and model life with God for the entire church.

    Part 2   Part 3  Addendum

 

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