As I Read - Reimagining Spiritual Formation

Here is a lame attempt to be as funny as Mike is every day over at his blog.

I have found the greatest invention for humanity. This invention will help relationships to flourish.

That's right. Bath & Body Works' PMS Relief Spray Mist. What a wonderful discovery.

Although the intention is for a woman to use it on herself during that real emotional time of the month, I propose that every man in the nation also carry a bottle around with them wherever they go. When a woman is showing signs of PMS, pull the bottle out and spray her down. Not only will women control their emotional madness because of the spray, but the threat of being sprayed by every man in the vicinity if they have an emotional outburst in public will make the world will be a much better place.

Thank you Bath & Body Works. It's about time.


Here is a new thing I'm going to try today. I am starting to read a new book: Reimagining Spiritual Formation by Doug Pagitt. As I read through the intro and first chapter, I'm going to type up the thought-provoking quotes and my thoughts, if any, on them. We'll see how this works. As always, feel free to share any thoughts that you might have.

One of the interesting things before we get going. The author is telling the story of one week in the spiritual life of his church. It's an interesting idea. One of the strange things about his church is its name, Solomon's Porch. That was the name we gave to the church in Lansing before the intitial parting of ways. I loved that name from Acts 3:11. "And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering."

"The life of Solomon's Porch is not primarily about the things we do, or the reasons for our doing them. Solomon's Porch is about people. It is a community trying to live with God in the world."

If you're interested in doing church in a different way, I just went to there church website to see what it looked like. It was awesome and had lots of neat articles and useful information. Part of it included this excerpt from the book.

We dream of a church where:

* We listen to and are obedient to God
* People who are not Christians become followers of God in the way of Jesus
* Those who are not involved in church would become an active part of it
* People are deeply connected to God in all of life; body, mind, soul and spirit
* Beauty, art and creativity are valued, used, and understood as coming from the Creator
* Culture is met, embraced and transformed
* Joy, fun and excitement are part of our lives
* The kingdom of God is increased in real ways in the world
* The Biblical story of God is told and contributed to
* Biblical justice, mercy, grace, love and righteousness lead the way
* Truth, honesty and health are a way of life
* We value innovation and are willing to take risks in order to bring glory to God.
* Worship of God is full, vibrant, real, and pleasing to God
* Faith, hope and love are the context for all
* The next generation of leadership is built up and leaders are servants
* Everyone is equipped to do ministry
* God's Spirit takes precedence over all structures and systems
* Christian Community is the attraction to outsiders and the answer to questions of faith
* People participate in the kingdom of God in accordance with their abilities and gifts
* We are connected to, dependent on and serve the global Church
* People learn the ways of God and are encouraged to make it central to their lives
* Other churches are valued and supported
* Peoples' visions and ideas of ministry come to life

"We are working with a view of spirutal fomration in which we forget about working on a part of a person's life, and instead work with people as if there is no distinction between the spiritual, emotional, physical, social, professional, and private aspects of life. We hope the result of this vision of human formation will be a move toward a place where we focus on the holistic formation of people who are in harmony with God in all arenas of life, and who seek to live in the way of Jesus in every relationship, every situation, every moment."

"Maybe there is something to the critique that the church is marginalized in the world to such a degree that the marks of a 'successful' church have been reduced to tangible evidence such as size, market share, political influence, healthy budgets, and the creation of model citizens living the American Dream. This marginilization is not due the the Church's poor use of marketing techniques or lack of effort in discipleship. Rather, I've become convinced that our misguided belief that life change can come through proper knowledge acquired through education has failed to produce the kind of radical commitment to life in harmony with God in the way of Jesus that we are called to. When the realitites of life crash into our knowledge of God, faith is often the prime casualty. Doesn't the role of communities of faith need to include more than making converts and educating people in right belief? Doesn't it need to also make possible corporate and personal lives lived in harmony with God? I am not suggesting that churches have not sought this holistic approach to faith in other times, but I do believe that the knowledge-based spiritual formation of the 20th century has so reduced the call of Jesus to right belief that many become confused about why mere profession of belief does not bring about life change."

"Two decades from now, will our efforts at human formation be shown to have contributed to the lives we have led for the past 20 years? Will they have helped us live as blessings to the world, or will we simply be living the kind of self-absorbed 'personal' Christian lives that are so common today? This is the kind of issue that those who buy in to the educational model of spiritual formation may not need to struggle with. The educational approach provides assurances of effectiveness through tests, catechisms, and statements of faith, which meaasure whether people have been 'properly' formed. When we move beyond belief-based faith to life-lived, holistic faith, the only true test is lives lived over time."

I'm not even through the first chapter yet. Reading this way is taking even longer than anticipated. However, it does make me think more about what I am reading and ponder it a little harder. I like that.

I will repeat the feelings of my heart once again. This book stirs those feelings within me. I long to experience Christian community again. I want to live my life together with fellow Christians. I believe so strongly that by living our lives together as Christians we are effective witnesses to the world. People will not know Jesus by trick evangelism tools or proper spiritual education, they will know him by believers like you and me living our lives together where we live. Then our neighbors, friends, and co-workers will see Christ as being relevant for today. I long to be part of a Christian community that isn't afraid to share their lives with one another. I just don't know where or how to begin in the setting that I am in.

Watch out for the potholes.