This fall, you will begin to see a shift in how we describe how the Christ walk works, and what spiritual growth can look like for you and your people group. The shift will be church wide and will be about spiritual formation. It will be the most meaningful thing I have ever done in all the years of my ministry. You will be hearing a lot about this shift from all areas of ministry in our church, so let me put a little meat on the bone.
The issue of spiritual formation, centered in being transformed, is not new in the Christian faith. Paul said, “…What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation”(Galatians 6:16). It has been a primary issue, though perhaps given different labels, throughout church history. From the time the Spirit of God descended upon the believers in Jerusalem, God has been transforming the souls of individual believers in the context of local Christian communities.
Preaching was never meant to be the only element needed for the transformation of Christians into Christ’s image. In fact, it is supposed to be a very small part of the process, as are small-group bible studies, personal bible study, Sunday school classes, or even one-on-one discipleship. No one thing is sufficient for growing Christians when the focus is solely on communicating biblical information. So, we are joining a great movement that emphasizes transformation of the believer’s inner and outer life, which includes many elements, and finds greater expression in the word “together”. Soul making and shaping is really an integrated approach to both spiritual disciplines and biblical insights.
If you want to get a bit ahead of the curve you may want to read Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. It came out in the mid-seventies and is a significant voice of what is now a growing movement that is… well…transformational. More to come.