The Model for Spiritual Formation
What is the first thing we think about when it comes to spiritual formation? Many may picture an individual seeking the Lord in isolation. While this picture portrays one aspect of spiritual growth, it does not tell the whole story. At Northwest Bible Church we believe spiritual growth happens in community as we intentionally engage in small groups and conversations that provide a platform for spiritual transformation. In small groups and casual conversations, we can support and encourage one another to grow deeper with God. In a society that often puts more stock in knowing your mind, we at Northwest Bible Church affirm that God’s Word has the final say. (Jn. 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Casual conversation can open many doors to telling our stories in real and natural ways. When catching up with friends, be intentional in sharing how God’s Word has impacted you lately. If your friend does not know Jesus, or you encounter an opportunity to speak to a stranger, use this conversation to open dialogue about God’s work in your life. As we are transparent, recognizing that “[Christ’s] power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9) others will see God’s love and power in our humility and desperate dependence on Jesus.
When meeting with a small group of friends, it is good to focus fellowship around the teaching of Scripture, praise, and the worship of God’s goodness and grace. There are several ways we can engage in this as a group.
One way is to read a selection from Read+Listen+Respond and answer the questions that go along with it. Then, share your stories of spiritual growth and faith with your small group.
Another way is a discipline that Christians have practiced together for 1,500 years, called lectio divina, or ‘sacred reading.’ Select a passage for the group to read aloud and choose a person to read the passage.
The exercise consists of:
- Silence – Before the passage is read take time to quiet your heart. Focus on the nearness of God, and let your thoughts settle.
- Reading – Read the passage of Scripture aloud, slowly and deliberately. What is a word or phrase that the Holy Spirit is highlighting for you? What is God saying to your heart?
- Meditation – Read the passage again. Is there a teaching, conviction, encouragement, or correction the Lord is speaking to you through this passage?
- Prayer – Read the passage a third time, listening for any further direction. Take time to respond in prayer. What feelings have been stirred in you? Where are you resistant? How does it apply to the various aspects of your life?
- Contemplation – Allow time for the word to sink in deeply. Yield to God’s leading. How will you live differently because of this word?
Encourage the group to share what the Lord has laid on their hearts. Close the time by offering a short prayer, thanking God for the ways He speaks through His Word.