4 Ways the Culture Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

For much of the late 20th Century and all of the early 21st Century, an increasing number of people have described themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.”Even if that trend left the church at some disadvantage in speaking to the needs of a growing segment of the population, the development was a welcome one. It was also a wake up call to a church that had allowed an important dimension of its experience to slip to the margins of its life.The church’s failure to do that work, howev … [Read more...]

4 Ways the Church Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

The journey into God that transforms us and leads us into deeper connection with God lies at the heart of spiritual formation. Formation creates a space for that encounter to occur, and it nurtures the practice and virtues that makes that journey possible.But it is also widely misunderstood, even by churches.In looking back over decades of attention to the task of formation, here is a brief outline of four models for spiritual formation that are important elements of the experience, but … [Read more...]

5 Keys to Surviving Spiritually as a Leader in the Church

Over the last three years, my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Fowler has invited me to speak to his leadership class about the spiritual challenges that a leader in the church faces.It is generous of him.  A deeply thoughtful scholar and practitioner, he hardly needs me to remind his class of the spiritual challenges that attend the task of providing leadership for the church.  But I’ve appreciated the invitation and the event has become something of a spiritual exercise for me. … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Age without Getting Old

Sometime ago, a friend who had just celebrated his 84th birthday observed, “You know, when I was young, I thought I knew what being in my eighties would be all about.  But now that I am well into the experience, I realize that I don’t know at all.  Oh, sure, I have aches and pains that I didn’t experience in the past and I move more slowly.  But inside, life feels much as it did in my thirties and forties.”Thanks to his observation, I found myself musing about the experience of aging.  Here a … [Read more...]

From Beneficiary to Benefactor: Turning the Corner in the Third Generation

Last week’s blog was devoted to a question for leaders: “Are you a founder, an inheritor, or a beneficiary?”Based on some reading that I did some years ago in The Harvard Business Review, I suggested many enterprises (religious enterprises included) fail in the third generation, because their leaders treat the institutions and organizations that have been entrusted to their care as an entitlement. What are the characteristics of a third generation leader who avoids that temptation and becom … [Read more...]

Seven Things the Holy Spirit Might Be Trying to Tell You

For many of us it can be hard to believe that the Holy Spirit speaks in a way that is real or helpful.That struggle can be traced to a number of factors: We live in a culture that doesn’t expect God to “show up.”  When we do talk about the work of the Holy Spirit, we use rarified, impenetrable, stained-glass language.  And most of what we expect to hear in listening to the Spirit is couched in such pious jargon that we find it hard to believe that any of it applies directly to us.I’ve com … [Read more...]

What do you do with doubt?

What do you do with doubt?The answers to that question are as varied as the history of doubt itself.Some people celebrate the contribution that doubt makes and consider it the hallmark of intellectual maturity.  Halfway through a hefty volume on the history of doubt, Jennifer Hecht cites an old Zen maxim: "Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening."  On that reading of things, doubt is the engine of enlightenment and insight.At the other end … [Read more...]

Rare Prayer: Cries of Lament

According to Rebekah Ann Eklund a “lament is a persistent cry for salvation to the God who promises to save, a prayer that in a situation of suffering or sin,” is lifted “in the confident hope that this God hears and responds to cries, and acts now and in the future to make whole.”  “Lament,” she notes, “calls upon God to be true to God’s own character and to keep God’s own promises, with respect to humanity, Israel, and the church.”Eklund’s book (and the dissertation on which her book is bas … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X