Trendy “Spiritual Formation”

This is an interesting piece by John Ortberg, pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.  He details seven aspects he thinks trendy notions of “spiritual formation” have picketed up, recently, and the baggage clinging to it coming from people who just want the latest trendy thing in their spiritual lives (mostly my interpretation).

A couple of the examples I find good:

1. I hate how spiritual formation gets positioned as an optional pursuit for a small special interest group within the church. People think of it as an esoteric activity reserved for introverted Thomas-Merton-reading contemplatives. I hate that. Spiritual formation is for everyone. Just as there is an “outer you” that is being formed and shaped all the time, like it or not, by accident or on purpose, so there is an “inner you.” You have a spirit. And it’s constantly being shaped and tugged at: by what you hear and watch and say and read and think and experience. Everyone is being spiritually formed all the time. Whether they want to or not. Whether they’re Christian or not. The question isn’t if someone will sign up for spiritual formation; it’s just who and what our spirits will be formed by.

6. I hate how hard spiritual transformation is, and how long it takes. I hate thinking about how many people have gone to church for decades and remain joyless or judgmental or bitter or superior.

The practice of the “Christian Spiritual Disciplines”, which is at the core of the Imago Dei Initiative, is incredibly ancient and varied.  As Mr. Ortberg states, it is incredibly hard and it takes a long time – from glory to glory, in the way we experience the ever deepening insight and humility that results from the practice of it.

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