1. God is at work. The primary and initial stimulus for spiritual formation and discipleship is God’s active and intentional work in creation through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of his Son Jesus Christ, and the continued activity of the Holy Spirit. We partner with his already and ongoing work. Thus, our definition of Spiritual Formation and Discipleship centers on what he does: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit working as one to produce the life of Christ in us, for us, others and his glory.
2. Our primary source for instruction in this work is the Bible. The Bible is not just a book, but rather the revealed Word of God whereby he invites us to know him and the new life he offers. Simply put, there is no better catalyst for growth in any stage of our journey with God than personal time with Him through reading the Bible, prayer, reflection, and obedience.
3. Spiritual formation and discipleship requires disciplines, commitment, sacrifice, and reflection. There is no pathway to healthy physical living without choices that both take on good disciplines and take off unhealthy disciplines. There is no pathway to healthy living in Jesus without healthy spiritual habits. These habits are not the goal, but the means of growth. As we mature different disciplines take center stage for particular seasons of our lives.
4. Because we are created in the image of a triune, relational God, spiritual formation happens through relationships. Healthy living in Jesus involves loving one another (others who know Jesus) and loving our neighbors (those who don’t know Jesus, the poor, the widow, the orphan). Our individual spiritual formation is a part of a much larger picture of God restoring the world’s relationship to him. He is forming a people for his name and his glory.
5. Spiritual formation and discipleship has a vision beyond itself, a vision for both outreach (loving those who don’t know Jesus) and for reproduction (discipling others, not just growing ourselves). God is committed to our growth because he wants us, and the world, to know his son Jesus. A gospel-centered understanding of spiritual formation always involves revealing Jesus to the world who doesn’t know him.
6. Spiritual formation and discipleship are both hindered by busyness. Busyness offers us an alternative source of identity and instruction on healthy living. As children of a God of Sabbath rest, we are committed to living and modeling a counter-cultural way of life, one that demonstrates God is our source of life and Lord of our schedules. Keeping Sabbath disciplines us to remember that God is in charge.
7. God produces spiritual formation in all areas of life; it is not exclusive to Sunday worship, or to vocational ministers. It is for every day, everybody, everywhere. God created the whole word, and sent his son to be the incarnate, fleshly example of His love. What each of us does all week long matters to God. Whether our work is public or quiet, physical or intellectual, at a desk, in a kitchen, or at a computer, God uses our whole life for our spiritual formation.
8. Often God produces spiritual formation and discipleship through hardship, difficulty, dark nights of the soul, and persecution. To grow a physical muscle we push it, stretch it, exercise it. God does this with our spiritual muscles too. We must not forget that difficult seasons (where we may even doubt God like Job or Jeremiah) are a part of our journey with Jesus, not separate from him.
9. Spiritual formation and discipleship happens along a life-cycle paradigm that is best understood in four stages: child — youth – adult — elder. We grow physically over time, with many different factors contributing to our healthy living. As a follower of Jesus we are to grow as well, to mature through taking seriously our life of faith. Physically being a child is a wonder, but we want our children to grow. There’s nothing wrong with being 5, or 8, or 12, but we don’t want our children to remain five-year-olds. As brothers and sisters following Jesus together we want to spur each other to ‘Grow Up’ in Jesus.
10. Our primary goal as a spiritual formation and discipleship staff team is to produce healthy Jesus followers at every stage of someone’s spiritual development. Health happens physically as someone learns to eat, exercise, rest, love, and breathe. We think these five areas illustrate what true spiritual health looks like. Click on the ‘Healthy Living’ section for an introduction to those five areas.