It is much easier to talk about spiritual formation than it is to adequately and succinctly define it. Here’s what other people have said about spiritual formation:

  • “Spirituality is a useful term to describe how, individually and collectively, we personally appropriate the traditional Christian beliefs about God, humanity and the world, and express them in terms of basic attitudes, life-style and activity.” Philip Sheldrake.
  • “The term spirituality refers to the Spirit at work in persons (1) within a culture, (2) in relation to a tradition, (3) in memory of Jesus Christ, (4) in the light of contemporary events, hopes, sufferings and promises, (5) in efforts to combine elements of action and contemplation, (6) with respect to spiritual gifts and community, (7) as expressed and authenticated in praxis.” Michael Downey.

As I use the term in my preaching and teaching, Christian Spiritual Formation refers to

  • That life-long process
  • Of willingly, diligently, consistently, and systematically
  • Yielding one’s entire self  (intellect, will, and emotions)
  • To the Holy Spirit of God
  • As He is revealed and released through the Word of God
  • In order to be transformed from the image of this fallen age
  • And into the image of Jesus Christ (the prototype human being)
  • To the honor and glory of God
  • And for the intentional benefit of other human beings

This definition seeks to achieve an appropriate harmony between the activity of God and that of human beings in the process of our transformation. It also seeks a harmonious balance between correct knowledge and appropriate action in our lives as a result of the process of Spiritual Formation.