What is Spiritual Formation?
The term Spiritual Formation may seem deep and mystical. Perhaps it is intimidating. Truth is…it’s simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
In its most basic form, spiritual formation is the process of cultivating and growing in a loving relationship with God.
Let’s take an analogy from our human existence. Unless you were hatched, you have a set of parents. Even if you have never met your biological parents, they still exist, or did when you were conceived. You cannot change that relationship. You are a child and they are your parents, no matter what you do.
However, simply being born to a set of parents does not mean that the quality of your relationship is any good. What does it take to have a good, loving, growing, life-giving exchange with your parents? It takes time, effort, commitment, communication, proximity, authenticity, vulnerability, courage, etc. If you don’t work on the relationship, it will get stagnant and possibly die.
The same is true in our relationship with God. God is our Father/Mother, our creator. God’s end of the equation is constant. God loves you, longs for you, and continually pours out life-giving love to you every moment of your life. The question is how much effort do you put into your side of the relationship? Do you take it for granted and ignore it, or do you pursue it with passion?
Why is it important? Not to be too overly dramatic, but the fate of the planet depends on it. When we ignore our relationship with God, or even worse, reject it, then we turn to all that is left – ourself. Left in the isolation cell of self we inevitably stumble into the darkness of self-protection, which leads to hatred, which leads to violence, war, and murder.
If everyone on the planet was passionately seeking an authentic relationship with God, then we would be transformed by the life-giving love of God from the inside out and overflow God’s love to everyone around us. Imagine what would happen if everyone did this? There is a simple word for it — Peace. Peace on Earth, good will toward men. That’s good news, don’t you think?
A huge part of my ministry is dedicated to helping you cultivate that relationship, and overflow it to the world around you.
Cultivating A Spiritual Formation Plan for the Local Congregation
The local church is the ideal place to grow spiritually. However, it is often difficult to do so. One of my ongoing projects is to experiment with how to cultivate spaces for people to grow spiritually. This article gives some basic outlines for how to think about this.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard
Renew Your Life by Kai Nilsen
Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mullholland Jr.
Thirsty for God by Bradley Holt
Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren
We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren
Cultivating Sent Communities edited by Dwight Zscheile
Power Surge by Michael Foss
Read Spirituality Blog Posts
Access a long history of articles related to spiritual formation and the spiritual disciplines.