We welcome you to this “sampler”
for the online course (via BeADisciple.com):
“Defining Spiritual Formation”
Here, you will find this introduction to and overview of the course…
Defining spiritual formation
is a four-session course
designed to help individuals and small groups
to better understand
the ancient yet contemporary process
of how we come to mature in the Christian life.
The following video has been prepared to give a more personal orientation to the broad strokes of this course and desired outcomes…
Students can expect four lessons (each taking 1-2 hours) involving…
- A video presentation
- Supplemental readings
- Exercises (aimed at bridging head and heart)
Session themes/foci include:
- Affirming What Spiritual Formation Is
- Clarifying What Spiritual Formation is Not
- Acknowledging Some of the Tensions Embedded in Spiritual Formation (with an especial focus on God’s Part vs Our Part in Salvation and Spiritual Formation)
- A High-Level Map of the Spiritual Formation Journey
And, here you will find a list of exercises related to Session 1,
“Affirming What Spiritual Formation Is.”
Exercise 1: Try Your Hand at a First-Round Definition of Spiritual Formation
Here, before we engage any other materials, it’s beneficial to establish a baseline definition — against which and with which coming videos and readings can dialogue.
So, try your own hand at it now:
- what are key words that capture your current understanding of spiritual formation?
- how would you weave them together in a short and “tight” sentence? (Even if you have previously engaged spiritual formation writings, work hard here to develop your own wording and definition.)
Exercise 2: Engage the Following, Introductory “Lecture”
Exercise 3: Engage some further readings (on the general nature of spiritual formation)
- You are strongly encouraged to secure a copy of Muholland’s Invitation to a Journey — and, here, with this first session to read part 1 in which he parses or breaks down the various components of his definition
- A friend, Jerry Webber (formerly with the Center for Spirituality at Chapelwood UMC in Houston) has given us permission to share this excerpt from materials related to a Spiritual Foundations course which he led for years at Chapelwood. Note especially his own work in defining spiritual formation (on pages 34-38 of this download) — establishing some of the parameters one might consider and engage on the way to defining spiritual formation.
- Finally, there’s this sampler of Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart including chapter 1 thereof, Introducing Spiritual Formation. Note especially his discussion (on pages 22f) of a “distinctively Christian spiritual formation.”
Exercise 4: Revising First-Round Definitions
On the basis of this session’s video and supplemental readings, take some time to revisit your first-round definition of spiritual formation:
- how does it compare and contrast with Mulholland’s definition?
- what positive points stand out from other readings or the video (which you feel inclined to add)?
On the basis of these considerations, how might you revise your definition of spiritual formation?
Exercise 5: “Living With” Your Definition
Having modified your definition, take some time to “live with it.” Here, you might want to prayerfully journal about:
- how it feels… what makes your heart dance?, what confuses or frustrates?
- how does it connect with you experience of life and living and the Faith
- what prayer does it elicit or provoke?
- imagine your sharing this definition with Jesus and his reaction(s)…
what affirmations do you sense?
what discomforts do you feel?
To discuss this first session and its content, or
for more information about the course (and how to register),
feel free to drop us a line via this contact form: