What is Spiritual Formation?

July 1, 2019 | Written by Thomas Thompson

Recently I began a transition to become your Pastor of Spiritual Formation. Many of you may wonder, “What in the world is Spiritual Formation?” While it may feel like a new term, it is actually another way of talking about the same journey with God we have all been called to.

You see, spiritual growth is not linear or predictable. It is a complex process as unique as each individual, and it progresses at a pace determined by each person’s circumstances and the activity of the Holy Spirit.

However, while spiritual growth is complex, there is a simplicity in its progression. That is, that one thing that we hope is true of all of our journeys is that we are following forward.

Spiritual Formation recognizes this forward journey with God, and rather than being a bystander in our own spiritual lives, we step out and become active participants with God. Following forward in our being formed in the likeness of Christ. As Colossians says:

That we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:28

Paul says that we don’t want to help people mature spiritually. Instead, we want to help people mature in Christ. He is the focus. To be formed in his likeness. Our journey is to keep moving towards Christ and to follow him forward.

Spiritual formation includes understanding the role of the Bible in our lives, learning new practices of hearing God, and walking with God in a venture of self-discovery, to understand how God is working in and through us.

In this role, I will be not only be preaching but working with our community of teachers and coaches to explore how to think more like spiritual directors and coaches with the people we lead. And at the same time, I will be finding ways to improve our own theological understanding, including how we read and use the Bible.

One expression of Spiritual Formation coming this fall is that we will be walking through the entire gospel of Mark together as a family. Mark’s gospel centers on three questions:

Who is Jesus?

Why did He come?

What does this mean for my life?

These questions begin our journey of spiritual formation. And to help us continue in them, we are calling our entire church to accompany the sermons with a companion book, The Gospel of Mark. This book can be used by individuals or groups, and allows us to dig deeper into the text, and into the implications of it for our lives, as people seeking to be formed by Christ.

I am so thrilled for this fall and pray you will seize the opportunity to step out with us as we step out after Jesus Christ!

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