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Download e-book Connecting with God: A Spiritual Formation Guide (Renovare Spiritual Formation Guides)

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It shows how your personality affects relationships, personal growth, and vocational preferences. The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system used for spiritual formation. But it also helps you discover a path toward wholeness. Enneagram wisdom can lead to deeper compassion for others and deeper intimacy with God. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Making room for God is indispensable to spiritual vitality. Through these regular practices, we come to experience Jesus' loving presence and supernatural power and open ourselves to the Spirit's transforming work. But making room for God is challenging in a world characterized by hurry and hyperstimulation.

Yet those who seek after God with intention and perseverance find him. In finding him, we also discover soul-rest and abundant living.

Spiritual Formation

Historically, there are two types of Christian practices that make room for God. These are practices of abstinence and practices of engagement. They function together like breathing: inhaling and exhaling, emptying and filling.

We need both for our spiritual life. Practices of abstinence include solitude, silence, sabbath, simplicity, secrecy, sacrifice, fasting, and chastity. But in practices of abstinence we intentionally withdraw or do without. In practices of engagement we commit to certain practices and habits individually and in community. These include practices of meditation, prayer, worship, fellowship, hospitality, celebration, service, confession, and submission.

We develop these habits in order that Christ may be more fully formed in us for the sake of others. There are many other rich practices that can help you make room for God. A Spiritual Director may also be helpful in the discernment process. Ordinarily the practices of silence and solitude are paired together. Through them we disengage from external noise and the responsibilities of human relationships. Through them we quiet the internal noise of our minds and hearts. Decluttering internally and externally helps us to be more fully present to God.

Being more fully present, we can hear better and respond to the Holy Spirit's still, small voice. It pairs well with silence and solitude.

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But the benefits of occasional unplugging are substantial. At our SPE retreat two summers ago, I forgot my phone charger and, over the weekend, forgot all about my phone. This unintentional blessing created a realization in me that I am too dependent on my personal devices. That time without my phone was distraction-free, focused, engaging, and worshipful. I entered more easily into prayer, conversation, and even helpfulness in our shared kitchen.

Yet the rhythm of sabbath is actually an invitation to stop ministry activity. We stop to remember our identity and find our rest in Christ alone. Like many of us, Pastor Mary Hulst is both drawn to and resistant to sabbath observance. The draw to a morning of one more cup of tea, a longer time of prayer. A morning when my heart can listen to Jesus. After being part of the SVP [Spiritual Vitality Project] and having the gift of a sabbatical with excellent conferences I was able to attend , I have realized the importance of silence and solitude and sabbath keeping.

I will also be taking a more concrete day off during the week. And I will continue checking in with my spiritual director to ensure I stay on track with those things I have promised to do to enhance my walk with God and my ministry effectiveness. We know God through his two amazing and beautiful books: his Word and world.

Meditation is the practice of paying careful attention to both. Enlivened by the Holy Spirit, we come to discover every aspect of creation as a means to know God. We begin to listen to the words of Scripture differently, not as information, but as formation and relationship. We ponder the life and teachings of Jesus, the Word Incarnate, so we may live more fully alive as he promised.


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Prayer is both communication and communion with God. There are many different prayer forms. We share with God our praises, thanks, confessions, and needs. Both are important. In our tradition, prayer has always been a significant prelude to our ministry activity. But prayer is so much more. And prayer is the means to that end. Some time ago that changed, and I started beginning each workday with a half-hour walk instead.

During that time, I seek to listen to God and pray, both for specific leaders and members in the congregation, but also just in general for the church. I think this practice has helped the day as a whole be less hectic, and I trust it also helps me to be following God better than simply blazing ahead with work he may not be leading me to do.

God eagerly desires our friendship, wholeness, and maturity. He delights in our formation and growth into the loving person he destines us to be. For this reason, he gifts us with his Holy Spirit to companion, guide and transform us. God promises human accompaniment and support on our journeys as well. These companions in Christ help us in a variety of ways. They provide safe space for sharing our deepest longings, hurts, doubts, and dreams.

For Individuals and Groups

They assist us with exploring, reflecting, discerning, and applying. They point us toward practices of grace which lead to freedom, wholeness, and joy. Different kinds of support are needed for the particular circumstances and changing seasons of our lives. We encourage you to ask God's guidance in this pursuit. Also, refer to the spiritual companion's chart to help discern what kind of relationship might best support you at this time.

Finding a good fit is important to a soul nourishing relationship. To draw from the wisdom, experience, and character of a seasoned pastor as well as from classic pastoral wisdom. To enable the pastor to live out his or her pastoral calling with integrity and faithfulness. To pay attention to and respond to the Spirit's personal communication to the pastor, to grow in intimacy with God, and to live out the consequences of that relationship.

Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore.

Baker Books Spiritual Formation Collection (6 vols.) | Logos Bible Software

CRC regional pastors. Family systems theory influencing personal and congregational health. See Generation to Generation. Scripture; Christian spiritual writings; spiritual practices; liturgical, sacramental, confessional traditions; Christian images and symbols; spiritual giants; Enneagram. Pastoral Mentor. These have been people who saw some gift or potential in me.

In ministry, however, I have taken the difficult but imperative step of seeking out mentors for myself. After failing in some small ways, as we all do, God humbled me enough to enable me to recognize that I was not the spiritual leader who others saw, nor was I yet the spiritual leader who God was making me to be: I needed a mentor. I am a better pastor today because he has not simply given me information about ministry, but rather he has shown me a life that is worth imitating.

This, for me, has been the most powerful part of his influence in my life—and that imitable example both enables and challenges me to mentor others. Regional Pastor. In my widespread geographical region, we have been blessed with Sustaining Pastoral Excellence grants, which have allowed us to gather together, nourish friendships, foster understanding, wonder theologically, and sustain healthy ministry.

And grassroots ministering of one another goes far beyond anything I could ever hope to accomplish on my own. I'm not suggesting it is always easy, but, like other areas of ministry, regional pastoring has often been filled with unforeseen blessings: encouragement, support, vulnerability, laughter, and cherished collegiality, to name a few. Spiritual Director. She was perceptive, gracious, and never judgmental. I learned to be gracious to myself in the rigors of ministry, and her insights into my life proved invaluable.

I will continue with periodic check-in visits. They are God-ordained, and I should have done this 20 years ago as an aid to my ministry. Pastoral ministry is a privilege rich with blessings. As pastors, we see firsthand lives healed and transformed.