Zoe-Life seeks to bolster the life of congregations – through the facilitation of spiritual formation experiences and conversations. As such, it is not a distinct ministry as much as a catalyst for growth in individuals and local congregations. (For this reason, then, we ask that all invitations to work in and with a congregation come through the Office of that congregation’s Senior Pastor.)
“Zoe-Life Explorations” emerges from the heart, experience,
and ministry of Rev. Jim Reiter, an ordained Elder in the
United Methodist Church for over 30 years.
On the verge of receiving a Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation
by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the UMC
(having completed all coursework at Garrett Theological Seminary),
Jim’s work and passion emerge from a confluence of streams, including:
- Explorations in the contemplative life
- Immersion experiences in monastic settings
- Leadership in a variety of retreat settings –
including programs sponsored by the Upper Room
of the United Methodist Church
- Research in “stages of faith development”
and the ministry of the Church
- A keen interest in the intersection of Christ
and culture – focused especially in the
spiritual themes embedded in the movies
- Experience with and gleanings from the traditional
and not-so-traditional spiritual disciplines
Joining Jim in this work is his wife of 35 years, Kathy.
A graduate of the Upper Room’s 2-year Academy
of Spiritual Formation, a certified Spiritual Director,
and a certified consultant on the Enneagram,
Kathy brings a wealth of experience and insights
to those explorations she facilitates and co-facilitates with Jim.
At the heart of Zoe-Life and its mission (and the passion which Jim brings to his conversations with and “explorations” in congregations) is the recognition that the typical, mainline Protestant congregation does a good job of promoting the spiritual growth of individuals in the early stages of spiritual growth and formation: recognizing God, being “discipled” in the Faith, eventually finding a place of “ministry” and service (in which they can exercise their spiritual gifts). Studies increasingly show, though, that too many individuals are leaving these same congregations because they do not adequately address the ensuing stages of faith — stages in which the “interior” life and dynamics of faith become more and more important.
Here, Jim points to a post by Pastor David Terpstra at Christianity Today, “Exit Stage Left: Why the Spiritually Mature are Leaving the Church,” as representative of such literature. (Click here for a pdf download of the article.)
“The title of his article concerns me a little,” Jim comments. “‘Why the Spiritually Mature are Leaving the Church’: it can suggest some arrogance on the part of those advocating the interior life, can’t it? That said, though, David’s article goes a long way in explaining how (and why) many are leaving the church — not for the ways they’ve left the Faith but for the ways that they perceive the Church and its ministries are no longer relevant to their journeys. Along with others out there, he argues for churches being proactive and intentional in their ministry to individuals at all stages of their spiritual journey — and not just the opening stages.”
Tending to the full course of the Christian spiritual journey… and helping congregations to do the same: these are at the heart of the “explorations” Zoe-Life seeks to promote and facilitate in the life of individuals and congregations.