The Spiritual Formation Movement

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.

How Widespread Has the Spiritual Formation Become? Read our list of ministries that are involved with it.

See our database of articles on Spiritual Formation.

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Those who are teaching "spiritual formation" believe we cannot be "deep" Christians without it.

Spiritual Formation Proponents

Dallas Willard Comments on Spiritual Formation

"The more advanced they are in the process of spiritual formation, the greater and more pervasive will be their spirituality."

"[F]rom the viewpoint of those responsible to lead in Christ's program of making students from all ethnic groupings, immersing them in the reality of the triune name, and teaching them to do all things he has commanded us (Matt. 28:19-28), Christian spiritual formation is simply indispensable."—from Idaho Springs Inquiries Concerning Spiritual Formation

"Sometimes we think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit. Once again. That's essential. We can't evade it--formation by the Holy Spirit. But now I have to say something that may be challenging for you to think about: Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit. None without the Holy Spirit. But there's always more involved. And here again we run into the problems of passivity over against activity. Here lies the deepest challenge to the very idea obedience to Christ in our times. We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake ...There has to be method." from Spiritual Formation, What is it and How is it Done? by Dallas Willard

Rick Warren on Spiritual Formation

"From time to time God has raised up a parachurch movement to reemphasize a neglected purpose of the church... The Discipleship. Spiritual Formation Movement. A reemphasis on developing believers to full maturity has been the focus ... authors such as ... Richard Foster and Dallas Willard have underscored the importance of building up Christians and establishing personal spiritual disciplines.... [this] movement has a valid message for the church...[it] has given the body a wake-up call. —Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 126.

Ruth Haley Barton on Spiritual Formation
Former Associate Director of Spiritual Formation at
Willow Creek Community Church

"A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers." "Beyond Words: Experience God's presence in silence and solitude "

"I sought out a spiritual director, someone well versed in the ways of the soul ... eventually this wise woman said to me, ... "What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.' ... I decided to accept this invitation to move beyond my addiction to words."

Youth Specialties on Spiritual Formation

In 1996, two Christian organizations, Youth Specialties and San Francisco Theological Seminary (Presbyterian Church, USA), teamed together to develop an approach to youth ministry that incorporates contemplative practices. In 1997, the Project received a grant from the Lilly Endowment to test a "spiritual formation model."

Richard Foster
Author of the Spiritual Formation Bible

"By now enough water has gone under the Christian Spiritual Formation bridge that we can give some assessment of where we have come and what yet needs to be done. When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term "Spiritual Formation" was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction. And more." Spiritual Formation, A Pastoral Letter by Richard Foster

Larry Crabb

"The next reformation is due. It will focus on what it means to know God with a power that changes who we are and how we relate. I predict the Spiritual Formation Forum will play a vital role in the Spirit's next great movement." Larry Crabb, The Association of Christian Counselors

Willow Creek Association

"The Practice offers Saturday morning meetings which provide a rhythm of worship, teaching on a particular spiritual discipline and time to experience or "practice" that discipline. This practice time allows participants to get a fuller understanding of how to incorporate the discipline in their daily lives." Spiritual Formation at Willow Creek

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