It is important for our pastors to be growing spiritually so they in turn can lead their congregations toward a life of spiritual vitality. Our focus is on the interior life of the leader and how we can purposely and intentionally seek to cooperate with the work of the Spirit of God in our individual and communal formation so that we are learning how to easily and routinely live as Jesus would if he was living our lives. The goal is ease of obedience: not trying hard to be something we know perfectly well we’re not, but actually becoming someone who is being transformed into the likeness of Christ. We believe that significant and purposeful times of solitude and silence are crucial to facilitate this authentic spiritual growth. To this end, we are happy to provide spiritual formation retreats for your church or region. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Kent Carlson.
The process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others. —Robert Mulholland
Spiritual transformation is the process by which Christ is formed in us …for the glory of God, for the abundance of our own lives, and for the sake of others. (Galatians 4:19; Romans 8:29; Romans 12:1, 2) The possibility that human beings can be transformed to such an extent that they image Christ is central to the message of the gospel and therefore it is central to the mission of the Church. Spiritual transformation in the lives of redeemed people is a testimony to the power of the Gospel and it results in an increasing capacity to discern and do the will of God. (Romans 12:2) —Ruth Haley Barton
First, spiritual formation is the holistic work of God in a believer’s life whereby systematic change renders the individual continually closer to the image and actions of Jesus Christ. And second, the change or transformation that occurs in a believer’s life happens best in the context of authentic, Christian community and is entirely oriented as service towards God and others. —Paul Pettit, Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ
Christian spiritual formation is the process of being conformed into the image of Christ, through a relationship of intimacy with God, by the power of the Spirit, in order to live a good and beautiful life of faith, hope, love, joy, and peace—a life that will be a blessing to oneself and to others and will glorify God now and for all eternity. —James Bryan Smith
Spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself. . . . In the degree to which spiritual formation in Christ is successful, the outer life of the individual becomes a natural expression or outflow of the character and teachings of Jesus. . . . It is focused entirely on Jesus. Its goal is an obedience or conformity to Christ that arises out of an inner transformation accomplished through purposive interaction with the grace of God in Christ. Obedience is an essential outcome of Christian spiritual formation. . . . [But] external manifestation of “Christlikeness” is not. . .the focus of the process. . . [but] “that Christ be formed within you” is the external watchword of Christian spiritual formation. —Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart
The goal of discipleship is ease of obedience. —Dallas Willard
In Spiritual Formation we are aiming at a character and life that is so shaped that the deeds of Christ routinely and easily come from what is inside. —Dallas Willard
From this, we can come to a working definition:
To be spiritually formed into the likeness of Christ is to be transformed in such a way that we routinely and easily live as Jesus would if he was living our lives.