The question above has never been asked of me, but I'm sure someone in our local congregation would like to. Frankly I don't blame them. So, if it does ever happen I've decided to write out my answer in advance. Spiritual formation is the heartbeat and purpose of the church.
I believe that wholeheartedly and the more I think about it, the more I read of people who possess great humility and insight, and the more I see in my practice of spiritual direction I realize that the issue of formation is more than just an issue of programs at a church.
Dallas Willard recently said, “There isn’t a problem in the church that discipleship can’t fix.”
I agree with that. I see marriages failing, finances becoming unbearable, self-image and self-promotion taking over people’s lives – and this is going on in the lives of people who have made a “decision” for Jesus.
They’ve been “saved” by most doctrinally supported definitions, but from what? It's like saying just because I golf on weekends (poorly) I am now on the PGA Tour. Right.
The reason I do what I do – the teaching, the blogging, the praying, and the direction is because I fully believe transformation is possible.
The renewing of the mind is possible. (Rom. 12:2)
Christ being formed in us is possible (Gal. 4:19)
A river of living water flowing from within us is possible (John 4:14)
The old leaving and the new arriving is possible (2 Cor. 5:17)
I do what I do because I long to see others – as well as myself – become like the Christ who brazenly pursues us into the gutters and alleyways, idol temples and self-promotion rallies that we often find our way into.
Without formation, there is no mission.
Without formation, there is no Christlikeness.
Without formation through discipleship that leads to our making new disciples, we’ve lost the path of obedience to Christ.
That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I love days like today. I got to have a front row seat to see how God is changing someone today.
That’s the point of the church. That’s the heartbeat of the Prodigal’s God – to introduce those far away to what life on the farm REALLY COULD look like.
My question is – do you believe this?