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Amy is co-host and blogger for both Stand Up for the Truth and Naomi's Table, two ministries that give her the opportunity to write and talk about Jesus all day long. She has written, produced and broadcast in the realm of television and radio news, magazine business journals and marketing materials.

What is Spiritual Formation and why does it matter?

Leadership and Spiritual Formation DMin Retrea...

I found the following article published just this week from John MacArthur’s Grace To You ministry, and I’m sharing it today so you can begin to understand why Spiritual Formation is causing so many Christians concern:

It’s possible—perhaps even likely—that you’ve never heard the phrase spiritual formation before. It’s the kind of terminology that’s often sequestered in academic circles. But in recent years, the concepts and practices of spiritual formation have gained popularity in the church and brought related issues to the forefront for many believers.

Even forming a basic definition of spiritual formation is no simple feat. It’s a fluid concept, with a wide range of accepted meanings and applications.

In broad terms, spiritual formation is the process of spiritual shaping and growth. Sending your children to a Christian school would fall under the wide canopy of spiritual formation. The same could be said of any education tied to a specific religion—Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, or Muslim schools all contribute to the spiritual formation of their students.

However, in Christian circles, spiritual formation refers to more than mere academic instruction. Most often, it’s a reference to the dynamic means of sanctification. It deals with the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit and the various methods He uses to bring about spiritual growth in our lives.

It’s at this point things can become confusing. On one hand, there are the time-tested, practical Christian disciplines we’re all familiar with—things like personal and corporate Bible study, worship, prayer, discipleship, and service.

On the other hand, many of the leading voices in the spiritual formation movement stress the need for more intuitive interpretations of spirituality. They encourage believers to incorporate a wide variety of extrabiblical spiritual practices, such as contemplative prayer, silence, meditation, creative expression, and yoga. In fact, some of the most popular methods of spiritual formation have been lifted from Catholicism, new age mysticism, or other religions and re-branded with biblical-sounding terminology.

But any kind of subjective spirituality that draws your focus away from the Lord and His truth can have disastrous results, derailing your spiritual growth and cutting you off from God’s plan for your sanctification.

All true spiritual growth starts with the preeminent role of God’s Word in the lives of His people. But is Scripture alone enough for spiritual maturity?

Great question! What are your thoughts? And more importantly than our own opinions, what does God have to say?

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7 Responses to “What is Spiritual Formation and why does it matter?”

  1. Mr Davis #

    1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come ; and even now already is it in the world.

    5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

    If any teacher lays aside scriptures for the sake of their teaching either in word or deed isn't listening to the apostles or Paul. If they do not repent if confronted in meekness and love in all humility you know what spirit is in them. It isn't from God.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:49 AM Reply
  2. Mr Davis #

    Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

    Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:01 AM Reply
  3. SPIRITUAL FORMATION LEADER DALLAS WILLARD EXPOSE: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/dallaswil

    September 14, 2012 at 4:11 AM Reply
    • shari slough #

      Very good website for information. They are right on target and will expose the deception.

      September 14, 2012 at 6:03 AM Reply
  4. shari slough #

    Spiritual formation is just another word for transcendental meditation. It is eastern mysticism. Other labels but the same thing, breath prayers, how to hear from God, centering prayer and contemplative prayer. In my area of Indiana, there are multiple churches teaching this technique to the congregations. This practice is not biblical at all. It opens up the person to the demonic realm. Many years ago before I was serving the Lord, I was into the occult. I learned how to meditate through a counselor. Your body will go through sensations, euphoria and a false sense of peace. As you practice this, you will begin to hear a voice, thinking it is God. It is not God but a deception- angel of light- satan. I can't urge people enough to read their Bible and do research. We are to follow Jesus not man, even if that man is a pastor, author or tv evangelist. Jesus will speak to us in His word. We are to "engage" with our Heavenly Father not sit still and be silent and clear your mind! Dangerous, Dangerous, Dangerous!!! We are in the last days, deception is very great – Read the Word Of God!

    September 14, 2012 at 6:02 AM Reply
  5. Patrick Driscoll #

    Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. Out here in Los Angeles, we have a Christian radio station which broadcasts the solid Bible teaching ministry of John MacArthur. But then in the afternoon for three hours, we have a wimpy talk show host who is nothing more than a cheer leader for men like Rick Warren, Dallas Willard, Robert Schuller and some of the prosperity preachers. As we get nearer to our Lords return, false teachers will increase. Thanks again for your ministry.

    September 17, 2012 at 6:48 AM Reply
  6. Old Christianity…going back to Paul in Thessalonians, teaches that God purifies and sanctifies through our life experiences and daily duties. To most real saints, our duties in society and for others is actually more important than piety. This is the message in King Lear…the old Christian teaching. "All things work together for good to those that love God."
    I have followed this for my adult life. For instance, when unexpected babies have arrived as grandchildren and I was needed to help raise them….extra work…caregiving a disabled husband. I fall asleep exhausted with a prayer at night…but I do truly believe God sends our experiences and duties for our sanctification. And I feel my Savior's pleasure with this.
    Whereas, when I get anxious reading about spiritual exercises and other such things, like counting rosaries and meditating…I feel His displeasure in my heart. Simple prayers and daily duties…time honored and so elegant. My father was a Naval officer, so the concept attracts me…but I believe it is the old Christian teaching.

    November 12, 2014 at 2:12 PM Reply

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