In continuing our spiritual formation ministry strategy at Faith, we recognized the need for a comprehensive “pathway” for groups and individuals to follow in keeping with our 5 Environemnts for Transformtion. We envisioned a useful “tool” for spiritual growth… no matter where you are on your spiritual journey. Offering a defined discipleship pathway in the church setting has always been a challenge given the organic nature of growth and formation. As soon as we assign prescribed steps or a working “formula” we lose the essence of the mysterious process of “becoming” that we cannot fully understand nor can we predict the outcome. Having said that, however, it will take an intentionality on our part to engage our body, mind and heart within these environments for any change to occur. Christ is not formed in us in a haphazard way given the distraction of our days. So we partner with the Holy Spirit and his creative work in us, using these tools to keep our hearts open and receptive to that end.
With that in mind, “The Intentional Journey” was developed as an internet tool which for those seeking the next step in their spiritual journey. It is best pursued in community and although it has specifically embedded practices particular to Faith Assembly they can be converted to your own locality.
A word of caution as we begin our journey. In the Christian life our temptation- always- is to try to control spiritual reality. We like “tools” that promote and bring about the kind of change the Gospel promises. The danger in all this is that we try to harness, manipulate or manage spiritual reality through mechanical means. This is the danger of such a “tool” as Intentional Journey. Our formation in Christ by its very nature, however, is not something we control; it involves a mysterious partnership with God that it is a God-initiated, God-guided process which we cannot control or bring to fruition by our own wisdom or our own striving.
All that to say, the danger is our predisposition to want to follow a “map or tool”…instead of Jesus himself.
Further, “maps,” such as this and the many other “discipleship plans” that we have used in our “pursuit” of God, can become ways of avoiding being relational. But God, by his very nature, is relational, and he will have none of it. In reality, God pursues us in a living, interactive, relational way. Real transformation into Christlikeness happens in this kind of deeply-help friendship with Jesus. We have to face that there are no shortcuts in relationships. They only flourish over the long haul, with much messiness, and without formulas. They can never be minimized, overly-simplified or computerized.
We have to ask ourselves the question: Do we really believe we have a living Christ, or just a map of Christ?
The good news is…Once we recognize that God is more interested in relationship with us than we are with him, what we can do…and what this Pathway is for…is train our heats to be open, receptive and attentive to God’s initiative in our lives. By placing ourselves in environments that create space for God to do what only he can do, we cooperate with God’s Spirit in bringing about real change.
Spiritual transformation is a rich and deeply personal…lived experience. At times it may seem slow and inefficient to submit to the gradual process of real transformation. It may challenge and frustrate us to have to wait on God for the work that only he can do in us. By making space for God in our lives, however, through real-life practices, relationships and experiences we grow in love — incarnating the presence of Christ in our world.
May this tool be a faithful companion on your journey.