What is Christian Spiritual Formation?
“I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands”(Ezekiel 36:26-27, MSG).
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12)– St. Paul
“Spiritual formation is an intentional Christian practice of focusing on Jesus as a believer desiring to become more like him. This requires a goal to develop the interior life of the individual (Mainly our Hearts & Renewing our Mind ). A growing towards maturity that leads to Christian devoutness which has it roots in the ancient practices found in the early Christian church.”
Formation is what trains and allows us to understand and recognize the culture of the Kingdom of heaven. That is what formation does. It does not give us a ‘pass’ to get in to heaven, so to speak; formation actually makes us citizens of this Kingdom. Like any country, our heavenly nation has its own language (Scripture), customs, idioms (ways of speaking about things), and its own context for viewing everything in this life, and the next. This is only accomplished in the Church, because the Church is the earthly embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven. Like any embassy, that territory belongs to the homeland.
Christian formation is not simply becoming accustomed to a Christian way of doing things. Christian formation is transformative not legalistic, and requires attention to the interior life. Cultivating attentiveness in the spirit, stillness in the heart in order to listen to the Holy Spirit while still discerning the spirits; these all take work, guidance and experience.
Emmaus Abbey Process for Christian Formation:
An introduction to the JOURNEY TO JESUS
Journey to Jesus (J2J) is an Ancient‐Future process of evangelism and spiritual formation connected with the worship and fellowship of believers. This process invites you into conversion, Christian discipleship, spiritual formation and incorporation into the full life of the local community of Jesus’ followers, the church. The origin of the Journey to Jesus is very old going all the way back to the ancient church. The full current adaptation of this converting process is explained in the book Journey to Jesus: The Worship, Evangelism & Nurture Mission of the Church (Abingdon, 2001), Dr. Robert Webber.
The Journey to Jesus unfolds organically in a simple spiritual path of four deepening walks called the rites of passage.
- The Rite of Conversion
- The Rite of Covenant
- The Rite of Baptism
- The Continuous Rites: Holy Eucharist and Finding and Releasing Your gifts.
Each walk of the journey is guided by a book of Scripture meditation. At the end of each part there is a rite of passage or transition into the next level of spiritual formation. The journey begins with “Follow Me!” the first book of Scripture readings that leads us into following Jesus. This part ends with the Rite of Conversion that takes place in the worship of a local body of believers.
The second phase of the journey is called “Be My Disciple!” – a Scripture study that teaches us how to be spiritually formed into a disciple of Jesus as we become part of his body, participate in worship and learn how to pray the Scripture. This part of the journey culminates in the Rite of Covenant, a rite that takes place in the worship of the church.
In the third phase of the journey, we are guided by “Walk In The Spirit!” This Scripture meditation leads us into a deeper understanding of the conflict between good and evil in our own lives. These meditations equip us to become spiritual soldiers of God’s will. When we are ready, we submit to the rite of baptism and enter into the fullness of our identity with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The final phase of our journey is ordered by “Find Your Gift!” – a Scripture meditation that helps us find our place in the life of the community of believers. In this study, we discover those gifts given to us by God, which we use within the church for the benefit of others.
In the worship of the church, we are nourished by the Eucharist or communion, the continuous rite of our relationship to God.
Welcome to the journey!
Fr. Brett Travis
All Books can be purchased through the Emmaus Abbey bookstore:
Books for the JOURNEY TO JESUS Series:
1) Follow Me!
2) Be My Disciple!
3) Walk in the Spirit!
4) Find Your Gift!
How does one accomplish formation?
Just as a physical body cannot be formed without effort and activity, so the soul cannot be formed by being idle or distracted.
Take the ancient Christian saying, Lex orandi lex credendi
Literally: The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief
Effectively translated: How you pray is how you believe. Perhaps the most formative activity for new Christians is worship. The experience of worship is where new Christians ‘learn the ropes’ so to speak. They learn what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. They learn their liturgical ‘parts’, even in non-liturgical churches. Everyone learns quickly when the pastor wants you to say ‘Amen!’
What would the Spiritual Formation process look like in general at a minimum?
Christian formation must first entail a conversion, faith in Christ and Baptismal teaching.
Attending weekly worship and partaking of the sacraments of the church
Understanding of Scripture and Bible reading
Learning to pray and lamenting in prayer
Helping in service to others
Bible Verses on Renovation of the Heart
“I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me” (Psalm 16:7).
“Take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… Grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me… The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:10, 12).
“God is the strength of my heart” (Psalm 73:26).
“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way” (Psalm 142:3).
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5).
“Above all else, guard your heart” (Proverbs 4:23).
“The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being” (Proverbs 20:27).
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit” (Proverbs 16:18-19).
“Follow the ways of your heart” (Ecclesiastes 11:9).
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward a man according to his conduct” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).
“You will…find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV).
“I will… give you a new heart and a desire to be faithful” (Ezekiel 36:26).
“I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands” (Ezekiel 36:26-27, MSG).
“The LORD… forms the spirit of man within” (Zechariah 12:1).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
“For out of the heart come evil…” (Matthew 15:9).
“The Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6).
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
“[Jesus said] ‘The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life’” (John 6:63).
“He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22).
“The conscience is like a law written in the human heart” (Romans 2:15, CEV).
“He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5, NLT).
“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10).
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
“May… God… give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).
“He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17).
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1).
“Stand firm then…with the breastplate of righteousness in place” (Ephesians 6:14).
“Plant your roots in Christ” (Colossians 2:7, CEV).
“Set your hearts on things above” (Colossians 3:1).