How Spiritual Formation Does Not Happen



This post is a continuation of a previous article, “You need to Get Plugged In” It is  my response to the typical church, programmed-based approach to spiritual formation.

It treats people like cattle to be herded through a process with the other cows. That ignores one of the basic characteristics of God. He loves people, and people are all individuals. To treat everyone the same is stupid because they are at different places in their development and need different things to help them to continue to grow.

It is knowledge-based, and gaining knowledge does not make us like Jesus. We might become better informed, but we may also become proud about the fact that we have what we think is the correct perspective on a doctrine, while that of others is inferior. Scripture warns about knowledge leading to pride. It’s a rampant problem throughout the church.

It’s the easy way out, avoiding the investment that goes into real spiritual formation. Sending someone to class is much easier than getting to know the person and sharing life with them.

It ignores what God is doing. God is at work in everyone’s life in a myriad of ways. It would be so much better to get to know a person, find out how God has been working in their life, and work together with him.

It doesn’t work. We have all kind of resources available to us today, packaged programs, polished speakers, DVD’s, downloadable sermons, podcasts, costly projection systems, books upon books, but it doesn’t seem to have really netted much improvement in behavior from Christians.

One of the churches we attended after my pastoral years, had the 101, 201, 301, 401 class structure as their discipleship process. I had been a pastor for over two decades, but to be a member, I had to attend their 101 class. I did. I hated it because I had taught those things for as long as some of the attendees had been alive. Before I attended 201, I was asked to teach 101. I declined.

This is not the way spiritual formation happens.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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