Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spiritual Formation and Mission – Part 1

'Spiritual Formation' and 'Mission' are a couple of terms that I have been thinking about recently and I am beginning to see how they are related. Spiritual formation is a term that is becoming increasingly popular in Christian circles and has always been an important aspect of Christian discipleship. It refers to how we develop spiritually whether for good or for bad. God wants us to develop for good and for Christ to be formed within us (Galatians 4:19). But influences from the world around us may be forming our spirits in different ways. Romans 12:2 says that we can overcome being conformed in this way by the renewing of our mind and so be transformed into God’s image. This refers to the whole of our life and behaviour. Worship, prayer, meditation, Bible study and fellowship all help this process yet ultimately spiritual formation is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual formation is not just an individual process but also as a corporate one. I am fortunate to be part of a church that is really a simple organic group of believers attempting to organise ourselves on New Testament principles. I have to remind myself that what we have as a church is very precious. Today groups like ours are flourishing even though the traditional church in the West appears to be waning. But there is still ground for us to take. For too long we have lacked an emphasis of interacting with our world and our culture. As Christians this is our mission on the earth today. I think that during the twentieth century the Western Church in an attempt to ‘not be conformed’ has withdrawn from the world and so we have neglected our mandate to transform those around us. This is a trend that needs to be reversed. The conclusion that I am coming to is that discussing spiritual issues with those who do not necessarily agree with our world view is a much neglected aspect of our spiritual growth as Christians.

To be continued…

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