Spiritual formation:The development, through practice, of people who “be,” think, feel, work, relate, and play … in the way of Jesus.
Spiritual formation: The development of disciples.
transformationmake [spiritually form] disciples …teach them to do all I have commanded you. (Matthew 28)
transformationI have given you an example … love one another as I have loved you. (John 13-15)
transformation to be conformedto the image of God’s Son (Romans 8)
transformation … be transformedby the renewing of your minds. (Romans 8)
transformation… I will show you the most excellent way … follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 12-14)
transformation…until Christis formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)
Spiritual formation involvesintentional spiritual practices (or disciplines) so people can learn a way:
Actions within our power which we do to train ourselves to do things currently beyond our power, and to become people we are currently incapable of being.- Running a marathon- Playing the guitar- Learning Chinese
Actions within our power which we do to train ourselves to do things currently beyond our power, and to become people we are currently incapable of being.- And if you’re part of a local congregation, you’re already doing many of them!
Spiritual formation through gathered worship …gathered worship as group spiritual formation
Gathered (or Public) WorshipLiturgy: A planned successionof group practices (exercises) and rituals.
Rituals: Practices done to bond tothe meaning they represent.
Ritualism: Performing the prescribedaction without connection to the intended meaning: religion on autopilot. (Checklist mentality. Routine/Judge mentality.)
How can we maximize gathered worship for spiritual formation as disciples? (How can we avoid spiritualmalformation through ritualism or autopilot religion?)
1. Showing Up: Going to a place I didn’t choose At a time I didn’t chooseFor a purpose I do choose. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
2. Association/ Hospitality Associating with some peopleI like and others I don’t like for a purpose I believe in. (Romans 15:7) Using my presence and our space to help “the other” feel welcome in our community. (1 Corinthians 11:33)
3. SpeedAltering my pace to see what I’ve missed and to feel a different rhythm.Speeding up … slowing down (Hebrews 3:15)
4. Inhabiting a storyRe-orienting my life in a holy storyline that renders me atransforming nonconformist.
3 Framing Stories From “Science, Religion,and Spirit: A Sacred Story for our Time,” by David Korten
For people, generally, their story of the universe and the human role in the universe is their primary source of intelligibility and value....The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation.”—Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth
1. The Cosmos is a Grand Machine.2. The Cosmos is Createdand Ruled by a DistantPatriarch3. The Cosmos is theManifestation of anIntegral Spirit
The cosmology of the Grand Machine strips ourexistence of meaning and purpose. In so doing, itsupports consumerism and an ethic of individualmaterial gratification as a distraction from theterrifying loneliness and despair of an otherwisemeaningless existence. By characterizing life asessentially competitive it provides the ideologicalbasis for social Darwinism, colonial imperialism,racial domination, and the unrestrained competition ofmarket fundamentalism. It neglects the far greater roleof cooperation and synergy on which all livingsystems—and human society, civilization, and culture— depend.
[The Distant Patriarch] cosmology focuses on ourindividual relationship with a personal, but distantGod .... By implication, relationships with one anotherand with nature are secondary to this primaryrelationship. Although some adherents believe that wehave an obligation to care for God’s creation in thislife and to show compassion to our fellow humanbeings, in many interpretations of the Distant Patriarchstory, life on Earth is but a way station on the path toparadise. Nature exists for our temporary human useand comfort. Authority is rightfully exercised by thosewho demonstrate by their pious religious observancetheir closeness to God and their understanding of Hisintention.
In the [Integral Spirit story] we come to knowthe nature, purpose, and intention of this divineforce through our inner experience and ourobservation of its physical manifestation. Allbeings, stars, planets, humans, animals, plants,rocks, and rivers are expressions of this divineforce—each with its place and function inservice to the whole. The human brain evolvedto reward cooperation and service. Extremeindividualism, greed, and violence arepathological and a sign of physical,developmental, cultural, and/or institutionalfailure. Appropriate moral behavior is definednot by rules, but by relationships.
In my experience this is the underlyingcosmology of many Catholic nuns, a surprisingnumber of religious leaders and congregationsof various faiths, and most people who definethemselves as spiritual, but not necessarilyreligious.It is, however, a story without institutionalsponsors to give it public recognition andremains a largely private belief system....[T]hose who align with its foundationalinsights may not recognize themselves as agroup, which limits their ability to share theirinsights and join together to fulfill theresponsibilities the Integral Spirit story implies.
Ivan Illich (Austrian former priest, philosopher, social critic, 1926-2002)
Neither revolution nor reformation canultimately change a society, rather youmust tell a new powerful tale, one sopersuasive that it sweeps away the oldmyths and becomes the preferred story…
… one so inclusive that it gathers all thebits of our past and our present into acoherent whole, one that even shines somelight into the future so that we can take thenext step…. If you want to change asociety, then you have to tell an alternativestory. - attributed to Ivan Illich (Austrian former priest, philosopher, social critic, 1926-2002)
5. Public Prayer, Creed and Song Allowing our hopes, dreams, concerns, beliefs,and desires to be formed and aligned with God’s will … together. Desire for justice, mercy, peace Desire for honesty, humility, gratitude, truth Desire for God’s kingdom, honor, power, glory Desire for good desire formation! (Romans 15:5-6)
6. Attentiveness Letting come, letting go. Waiting for what I may receiveonly by cultivating openness and receptivity to God. (I Peter 2:2)
7. GenerosityTaking greater pleasure in being productive (fruitful) than consumptive. (2 Corinthians 8:7)
8. Modeling Exposing apprentices to masters In prayer, teaching, artistry, faithfulness, service, hospitality, etc.Contemplative and charismatic models … (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
9. Concern and commissioningQuoting, affirming, praying for, humanizing, including “the other” Being sent out to know, love, and serve “the other.”
10. Mystery“Flat” actions versus layered actions… Layers of meaning in the eucharist (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:23 ff)
- The cup of thanksgiving - Participation in the body and blood of Christ - One loaf, one body - My body … for you- Forgiveness of sins- Remember me- New covenant in my blood …- Proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes- Until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:23 ff)
The body of Christ, broken foryou…The blood of Christ given foryou…