Spiritual Formation is an important aspect of the Christian life. Each and every one of us is a spiritual creation, thus there is no way to escape spiritual formation, even if you are an unbeliever. However, if you are a believer, your relationship with Christ will hopefully grow more as time goes on from that initial acceptance and discovering who he is as your personal Savior and Lord. Growing in a relationship is the natural progression of any healthy, maturing relationship, this is especially true about your relationship with Christ. A key to spiritual formation is knowing you’re ready for it. Jumping full force in can possibly bring you further than closer. There is progression that happens and nothing will happen immediately overnight. You will not go to sleep one night having zero theological knowledge and waking 8 hours later with more insight than Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Luther, Augustine, Wesley, and Calvin (unless the Lord divinely anoints you with that gift). Having a foundational understanding of the Spiritual realm and the One who created it all is key to a successful spiritual journey. Your foundation must be firm before you build anything else. Your spiritual house is the most important structure you will build in this life. If your foundation falls apart everything else in life will follow suit.
Spiritual Formation can take place throughout many different avenues of our life. It can be formal or informal study, corporate or private, intentional religious practice or ordinary everyday life. As each person is created uniquely, so then each person’s spiritual formation is also unique. Below you can find a brief list of examples of the previously mentioned ways to deeper your spiritual walk. These are not the only options available, but ones I have personally found to be helpful and ones discovered through study and learning.
Formal: Higher Education (Bachelor, Master, Certificate), Training, Licensing, Certification, Ordination
Informal: Personal Education (Self-Taught), Conferences, Retreats, Bible Study Groups, Mentoring
Corporate: Worship, Fellowship, Volunteering (Community/Church), Small Groups, Mentoring (Mentee/Mentor)
Private: Study, Prayer, Worship, Giving, Solitude, Meditation, Journaling, Fasting, Communion (These are practices I find can correlate with the Religious Practices category, but these are done in private and maybe not necessarily shared with others, simply between you and God).
Religious Practice: Reading the Word, Journaling, Prayer, Meditation, Worship, Fasting, Service, Solitude, Giving, Communion
Everyday Life: Work, Family, Hobbies
My hope is that these examples give you ideas of how your personal spiritual formation plan and journey can develop. Your spiritual formation will be greatly served by including the spiritual disciplines into your daily life. Personally, I have taken the ideas given to me by spiritual leaders, peers, study, and experience to form my own. I am a firm believer in knowing yourself before you can know how to help yourself or others. This is where I think spiritual gifts, personality, love language, and strengths tests become beneficial. These services can give you such insight into yourself that you never knew you needed or wanted. They can provide clarity and a roadmap for how you function, which can greatly help you when figuring out your learning style and your spiritual development.
As this new year begins, I challenge you to prayerfully look for ways to grow your spiritual life in 2020. Take an idea from the lists above, create your own, do whatever it takes to grow closer to the heart of God and what He has for you.