What is Spiritual Formation and How is it Done?

June 16, 1999
Spiritual Formation Conference - Trinity International University Bannockburn Institute

When we speak of spiritual formation we're talking about the formation of the spirit, and the spirit is the will or the heart and by extension the character. That lives in our bodies. One reason why the idea of spiritual transformation merely through being preached at and teached at doesn't work is because it does not involve the body in the process of transformation. One of the ironies of this whole area is that every spiritual discipline is a bodily behavior. You have to involve the body in spiritual formation because that's where we live. Spiritual formation in Christ transforms your embodied will.

 

Presented by the Bannockburn Institute of Trinity International University at their 1999 Spiritual Formation Conference.

Resources

What is Spiritual Formation and How is it Done?

Dallas begins this thorough overview of spiritual formation by quoting 1 Timothy 4:7-8, "exercise thyself unto godliness," along with other passages that emphasize that we have an active role in becoming godly men and women. The Holy Spirit doesn't do it for us, and Dallas clearly outlines how we are to do our part. 

What is Spiritual Formation and How is it Done?

Dallas begins this thorough overview of spiritual formation by quoting 1 Timothy 4:7-8, "exercise thyself unto godliness," along with other passages that emphasize that we have an active role in becoming godly men and women. He then defines spiritual formation, explains how it works and what it is not. The Holy Spirit doesn't do it for us, and Dallas clearly outlines how we are to do our part. 

There are many spiritualities offered by our world today. All of them intend to address the deepest needs of identity, righteousness and power.  Cultural spirituality doesn't give us a sense that we are meant to be children of the heavenly father with a life that transcends anything that can be found in human culture.

There is real danger of spirituality becoming a field of expertise of academic competence. If spiritual formation merely becomes a new label to what we are already doing it will leave us where we are and the issue of deep inner transformation will remain untouched.

An even greater dangers is that we as evangelicals will not understand our need for genuine repentance. 

When we speak of spiritual formation we're talking about the formation of the spirit, and the spirit is the will or the heart and by extension the character. That lives in our bodies. One reason why the idea of spiritual transformation merely through being preached at and teached at doesn't work is because it does not involve the body in the process of transformation. One of the ironies of this whole area is that every spiritual discipline is a bodily behavior. You have to involve the body in spiritual formation because that's where we live. Spiritual formation in Christ transforms your embodied will.

Spiritual formation is the process through which Christ is formed in us and we take on the Faith of Christ. (Faith OF Christ, not just IN Christ)