I'm currently reading "Foundations of Spiritual Formation," which is a book about the theological necessity of community in moving toward spiritual growth. The first half reads like a theological journal, so it's not necessarily "easy reading," but I've found it to be a pretty good book. 

The chapter by Gordon Johnston, one of my Hebrew professors at Dallas Seminary, is particularly helpful in understanding the importance of community to spiritual formation in the Old Testament. However, Dr. Johnston also draws application for today by quoting the great theologian of the 20th century, Paul Simon. 

"The loneliest people in the world are those that cannot share their loneliness, through fear, pride, or anger. The ache builds walls, fear populates their dreams, and pride is the jailor of the soul." 

The point is: the greatest obstacle to growing in community is us. Churches can have exceptional strategies for connecting individuals. Groups can have well-trained leaders, a well thought-out curriculum, and all the other dynamics of healthy group-life; but if a person does not want to grow spiritually with a group of others, there isn't any help for them. 

Our fear, pride, and anger prevent us from the type of true intimacy and community that are necessary to our spiritual growth. Leadership, curriculum, and other dynamics are important. But if you don't want invest what it takes to grow, you won't. 


Paul Pettit said...

Thanks for the brief review of our work, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Chris. Hope you enjoy the rest of the book.