Friday, September 28, 2007

The Return to Spiritual Formation

A person who claims to be a follower of Jesus claims to have a relationship with him. This means they know him, not just about him (Philippians 3:10). Yet, we have turned our churches into groups of people who are studying God as though they were taking a course at school or attending a business seminar. We aim at the head. We don't deal in relationships. And we wonder why there is no passion for Jesus and his mission?

Wrong Question:

How do we develop church members ?

We, churches, aim for this. We develop ministries in our churches that are geared to make people better church members. We want the individuals who come into our building and join the church. We want them to become a club member. We want to make sure that our new members understand the great benefits that they can receive with their membership.

Unfortunately, we have made following Jesus all about being a good club member. There are many wonderful people across the U.S. who have devoted their lives to the church. They fill all the roles that need to be filled and empty themselves out to the church. They look at their lives and see that their lives are not too much different from those outside of church and who have 'Sunday's" off. There is a misconnection and they begin to struggle with their beliefs.

Reggie says, " I think the solution is an abandonment of the church culture idolatry and a radical introduction of spiritual formation.

Tough Question

How do we develop followers of Jesus ?

The purpose for "framing" the question this way is the following: It shifts the conversation from the institution to people. This will also shift the conversation about "numbers". Numbers may still be used but they will be used to measure different aspects of ministry - not how many were at the building ( this is a tough shift ). our conversations then could be about where we see God (Jesus) at work in people and the community.

BTW, the "" on framing and numbers are reminders for me. Framing is coming from Brian McClaren's new book that I want to post on and numbers is the straw that broke my back on leaving YMX. Both of which I may post on later.

The following paragraph may be the most interesting paragraph of the book for me. Here it is: Instead of dumping a packet of church member stuff on them, why not interview them about what they would like to see happen in their lives in terms of their spiritual development and personal growth? He then goes on after the interview, this could occur: the life coach could then fashion a customized personal growth strategy for the person or family.

I really like this thought process and compare it to the gym. I remember when I was part of Gold's Gym, we all had trainers and each person at different goals. Depending on those goals, that is how our training program was developed. I would love for us as churches to do this. This would do a few things. These are the important things in my opinion:

1. The church is supporting the people NOT vice-versa
2. It places the spiritual growth upon the individuals to "carry out"
3. Places the training back at the home

I am still in the process of working out this life coach plan for each member. I have a few diagrams thrown out and a few of them, I think could be viable. In doing so, it would change the whole complexion of the church.

Reggie gives seven benefits of life-coaching. I am not going to go through them, owever, I will place a quote that I loved from him: Imagine helping people see how God can get into the life they already have instead of asking them to give up their life for the church.

So, what is the purpose of spirtual formation ? Many would argue what / how this would look like. I would say that it is more organic (doing life) than academic (curriculum) based. I will close with this final paragraph:

The community of faith should be an enviorment where the number one pursuit is the development of human beings created in the image of God and redeemed into his family through Jesus.

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