Posted by: Philip Rushton | October 4, 2016

Apprenticeship Series: Invitation to a Journey of Spiritual Formation

Hi Readers,

I’ve been on a bit of a break from writing these last few weeks while focusing in on my doctoral studies.  I’m excited to begin to share some of the insights and resources I have encountered as we begin a new ministry season at Longview Community Church.

Those of you who have frequented the blog know that one of the authors I have been spending a lot of time with is Dallas Willard.  Willard is like a contemporary C.S. Lewis in a lot of ways.  He has a profound way of communicating what the heart of the Christian faith is all about.  He emphasizes that the good news of the gospel is not simply about what happens after we die, but what life can start to be like now.  The Great Commission does not read, “go into the world and make converts who have a ticket to heaven.”  Instead it reads, “go into the world and make disciples who learn to obey all that I have commanded.”  Willard believes we miss out on a fuller and deeper life by ignoring Jesus’ call to discipleship.  One of my favorite quotes of his reads:

Our usual ‘gospels’ are in their effects – dare we say it – a standing invitation to omit God from the course of daily existence . . . it is good to know that when I die all will be well, but is there any good news for life? If I had to choose, I would rather have a car that runs than good insurance on one that doesn’t. Can I not have both?

The only problem with Willard is that he can be a hard read.  As a philosophy professor, he often speaks at a level that is hard to connect with.  Those of you who suffered through my course on his book The Divine Conspiracy, can attest to that.

downloadThat is why I am grateful for the work of James Bryan Smith.  Smith was mentored by Willard and spent time developing a year long curriculum of spiritual formation based on the Divine Conspiracy. Smith takes these big ideas and makes them accessible and slows down the process.  He also integrates reading and thinking with weekly spiritual practices that are meant to help us embody these ideas.  Book knowledge can only get us so far.  Spiritual formation requires a more holistic enterprise.  I wouldn’t want a surgeon to operate on me if he/she had only read a book about how to do it.  It is in the practicing of spirituality that we grow closer to God.

If you are free Wednesday evening we will be starting up the Apprenticeship series this week (Oct 5) at 6:45 pm in the Journey Room at church.  Come at 6 for simple supper if it works with your schedule.

Looking forward to sharing this journey of spiritual formation with others!

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