FAQ about the Spiritual Formation Ministry
What is Spiritual Formation and why does it matter?
In his book, Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster answers the question this way. “God gradually and slowly ‘captures’ the inner faculties: first the heart and the will, then the mind, the imagination, and the passions. The result is the transformation of the entire personality into the likeness of Christ.” Spiritual formation matters because when we make the decision to follow Jesus we have only begun a life-long process. We can turn our hearts to God immediately, but our habits will come much slower as God gradually and deliberately shapes, molds and forms us into the image of Christ.
What is the role of the spiritual disciplines?
There is a stereotype of spiritual formation that sees it as a collection of tasks to be performed by the “super spiritual” person. This understanding can easily leave God out of the picture. And since, according to this view, we are essentially shaping our own lives through our own “self-discipline” we easily become arrogant and prideful, the opposite of the person God would form in us. The role of the spiritual disciplines is to help us place ourselves more fully into the hands of God. He is the only one who can bring the change that is needed in our lives as we allow his Holy Spirit to begin the lifelong process of spiritual transformation.
How important is community in the Spiritual Formation process?
There is another stereotype within Spiritual Formation that pictures only the solitary, silent life of the recluse. I like the analogy of Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, “God is not a bachelor who lives alone. He is a holy community of three. And we express his nature best when we are in a community committed to growing and being transformed into Christlikeness.” And so, Christian relationships are vital to the process of spiritual formation.
What is Prestoncrest doing?
The spiritual formation ministry at Prestoncrest is attempting to provide resources, events, groups and places that can help our members form a plan for spiritual formation habits to take hold in their lives.
Should Spiritual Journey Groups be composed of only men and only women, or can they be mixed?
On one hand, we would be denying the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians 12 if we completely segregated our groups. As Paul wrote, no part of the body of Christ can say to another, “I don’t need you!” (Vs. 21) And so, some of our groups are mixed. But on the other hand, there are levels of disclosure and confession that must be protected by gender separation and having a diversity of groups will provide this security.
What is the size of the Spiritual Journey Groups and how often should they meet?
We have kept the groups small (5-6 people) to ensure maximum participation and involvement. They meet once each week and remain committed to each other for one year.
What happens in a Spiritual Journey group?
The journey is a process. This is why it takes a year. Each session includes shared intercessory prayer. We also share what we have highlighted in our anthology of readings, particularly what inspired us, intrigued us, puzzled us or even bothered us. We also share what we learned from the scripture selections for the week. Finally, we share our decision for growth, our first steps towards change and maturity.
What should I be reading in my Spiritual Formation experience?
It seems that Jesus spent his 40 days in the wilderness reading Deuteronomy. All of his responses to Satan’s temptations were quotes from chapters 6 through 8. And scripture is at the very center of any spiritual growth experience. In addition, prayers and hymns can help to give you fresh language for your time in prayer. Even though your inner journey is a very personal matter, the experience of other followers can be a great help. And so, a slow and careful reading of the writings of spiritual writers, both ancient and modern can be a great help on our spiritual journey.
How much time does a Spiritual Journey group require?
In addition to the weekly meeting, an hour alone each day will go a long way towards recapturing the power of Sabbath. The readings for the entire week can be read in only 15 minutes ... or they can be pondered for an hour or more each day, as we try to re-learn the art of meditating, slowing, pondering and reflecting.
If you have more questions don't hesitate to contact Bob Chisholm or any of the 270+ individuals who have invested a year in A Spiritual Journey.