Wednesday, September 14, 2005

formational environments initial reflections

I posted yesterday asking the question: what has formed us spiritually?. I’m really appreciating the comments. We had a church Board meeting last night, and we finished the meeting by asking each other the question. It was a great discussion and confirmed for me why I am at Opawa. The values of journey and spiritual growth that radiate from the church Board are great.

And I got passionate. Wouldn’t it be great to be part of a church known in the city for forming people spiritually. Go there and you’ll grow.

Two initial reflections on the comments and feedback I’ve been getting.

1) The importance of hard times. Some strands of Christianity invite you to leave your problems at the door, or offer you a good-times Jesus. Yet if people are saying that hard times are part of spiritual formation, what does that do for the need for truth telling in our church environments.

2) No-one has mentioned sermons yet. But then I thought about the influence of people, who I often first met through their preaching. So preaching becomes the meeting of a person and being shaped by their passion, rather than imparting information.

Update. When I thought about my key people who had influenced me, i realised that almost all of them had spoken/preached/taught to me at some time. Their influence was mainly through the time they gave me and their gift mix which spoke to my gift mix. But their influence was magnified and increased because of things they said.

Posted by steve at 10:36 AM

9 Comments

  1. Sunday sermons have had little obvious impact in terms of my learning and formation – I ended up building an audio library of lectures / sermons by key people, e.g. in my early years I listened a lot to Martyn Lloyd-Jones, others have included Eugene Peterson, James Houston, Stanley Grenz, Walter Brueggemann etc.

    Books were also a “life-line” given my poor experience of sermons.

    Comment by Paul Fromont — September 14, 2005 @ 12:09 pm

  2. Paul
    Now i’m concerned I’ve given the wrong impression.

    When I thought about my key people who had influenced me, i realised that almost all of them had spoken/preached/taught to me at some time. their influence was mainly through the time they gave me and their gift mix which spoke to my gift mix. But their influence was magnified and increased because of things they said.

    The fact that you were able to name the names of key “speakers” shows that spoken words can be formative, but that it is not the speaking that is intrinsically powerful, but other factors – depth, credibility, vision, passion. This of course, validates my prejudices about preaching – that it is not about information sharing – but accessing someone else’s narrative. :)
    steve

    Comment by steve — September 14, 2005 @ 1:15 pm

  3. Steve,

    The idea of preaching as accessing narrative interests me. If you’re interested, could you please elaborate on your ideas?

    I guess I see the need for a two-pronged approach: accessing the tradition’s narrative (through scripture and history) and also the narrative of the preacher – a mentor figure whom one respects and wishes to emulate in some fashion.

    Comment by Craig — September 14, 2005 @ 2:54 pm

  4. Sorry to concern you mate ;-)

    Information sharing is important, but it’s more about how I’m moved, inspired, how my perspective is enlarged, how my prayerlife is enriched and deepened; how I’m resourced and nourished by others.

    If that’s something of what you mean by “accessing someone else’s narrative” then we’re on the same page. When I say “people” I include teachers, friends and conversations with them etc, people who’ve encouraged me, inspired me, supported me, listened to me, motivated me to learn and to continue learning, trusted me….etc.

    Words are formative for me…

    Comment by Paul Fromont — September 14, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

  5. I know that I have been convicted, spoken to, challenged, inspired by sermons but the problem is that I can’t remember any of them that did that to be able to name them! That offends me as a preacher but that’s the truth. But as a preacher I can tell you plenty of texts that have spoken and effected me.

    Comment by Andrew — September 14, 2005 @ 10:41 pm

  6. Andrew.. your comments speak volumes to me… I, too, have heard some great sermons and, I, too, cannot remember a single one…
    Yet, I do remember wrestling with a text as I tried to prepare to teach (or preach) and how that changed me… now, if we can just get others involved in wrestling with the text before hand???? Just thinking out loud….

    Comment by Patrick — September 15, 2005 @ 1:13 am

  7. For many years, I would have been devestated at the news that people could not remember a preacher’s sermon.

    But then I sat down and applied that criteria to life;
    i have read many great blog posts
    i have had many conversations
    i have had lots of great meals.

    and i can’t remember them individually either. That doesn’t mean they were not important. They certainly shaped me.

    is preaching like that?

    Comment by steve — September 15, 2005 @ 7:57 am

  8. Thought out loud: are you an aural learner Steve?Or a visual one? Do these things influence us?

    Is there a correlation between what flicks your switch in the learning arena and your spiritual formation…

    Comment by Randall — September 17, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

  9. Oops – wrong email address above in case anybody wanted it…

    Comment by Randall — September 17, 2005 @ 1:00 pm

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