Where Do You Learn Your Spiritual Formation?

by Christine Sine


Spiritual formation is defined as an intentional Christian practice that has as its goal the development of spiritual maturity that leads to Christ-likeness. The term brings to mind  Christian spiritual practices like study, contemplation, prayer and Sunday School. But is that really where spiritual formation happens.

I have been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about both how I accomplish spiritual formation in my own life and how I assist others to move closer to God. Most spiritual formation occurs not in formal study settings but in informal often spontaneous encounters and discussions. It is just as likely to occur walking around Costcos with our intern or picking raspberries with friends.

Walking around Costcos may not sound like the ideal place for growing ones’ spiritual life but it is often in situations like this that the rubber hits the road. As we walked we talked about the struggles we have to live simply in a culture that takes such abundance for granted. We discussed fair traded products and how we can help the poor and the marginalized through our choices. We also talked about buying organic and the ways in which we can support local family farms by investing in community supported agriculture (CSA).  This may not sound like a very spiritual discussion but we covered the spectrum from social justice and the minimum wage to care for the environment.

As you know I am not a fan of teaching “spiritual formation” by sitting people down in chairs and yakking at them. Unless we give people an opportunity to practice what they are learning and show them that we are also practicing what we preach than I don’t think anyone is learning anything about what it means to be a Christian.  Personally I would like to scrub Sunday school all together.  Hands on spiritual learning is far more effective.

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Melissa Jackson July 9, 2015 - 4:08 am

I never saw Jesus more than when I worked at Target. There were people doing the most wonderful charity work there, people helping those less fortunate, people who had little helping others, but I also saw how I could help others by being kind. It was amazing. I gave a sermon on it more than once! love your emails-Melissa-Boston

Christine Sine July 9, 2015 - 5:41 am

Thanks Melissa. You are right – we so easily miss these Jesus moments when we are not attentive to God’s presence in our everyday lives.

Michael Moore July 9, 2015 - 6:47 am

Yes, Jesus is far more present in life than in a lecture. I appreciate the integration of scripture and experience with discussion than straight lecture. Plus I am far more likely to encounter Jesus in the encounters on the street or in the cafe/bar/restaurant than I am anywhere else!

Christine Sine July 9, 2015 - 7:18 am

Amen to that Michael – love your phrase “Jesus is far more present in life than in a lecture.”

robertrife July 15, 2015 - 11:04 am

It’s the principle of “indirection” by which God’s deepest lessons are learned when we’re busy looking the other way. The truest test of one’s formation is never in the ecstasy of contemplative prayer but in the wrong lane during rush hour because some dipstick was texting while driving. Lord, have mercy!

Christine Sine July 17, 2015 - 8:22 am

So true Robert and in complaining about the texting distraction we often miss the wonder of God in the moment.

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