i was reading scot mcknight’s the jesus creed last night in my cozy bed in our 15th century home, and the section was talking about spiritual formation. so it’s on my mind a bit today. this morning, liesl and i were sitting amidst about 11,000 british teenagers in the largest tent i have ever seen in my life. this event, these 11,000 teenagers (even even moreso, the organizers of the event), are a slightly different tribe than liesl and i come from. they’re charismatics — but, good charismatics (the we’ve got the spirit, but we still engage the world kind, not the we’ve got the spirit, and we’re withdrawing from the world kind). in fact, i never hear american charismatics talk about justice like this. but i digress.
we were sitting there in singing time, and there was a time when the band stopped playing, and the 11,000 teenagers kept singing. and liesl was singing along with all the voice she had, and the whole thing sounded so beautiful. and it struck me, liesl was being spiritual formed by this experience.
so often, as a curriculum guy, i tend to think of formation as something one does, or maybe pursues. i don’t tend to think of formation as something that happens. not that singing a christian song is necessarily formative for liesl. but something about singing a worship song with 11,000 other teenagers, all of whom are british and very “other” than her (which she clearly feels), but sensing that she is connected to these british charismatic teenagers in some way, that she is one of them. and this experience — being here — will form her (spiritually). i expect she will remember that moment last night when all the power in that massive tent went out, but everyone kept singing, even notching it up a bit. and this will all become part of her journey, part of her story.
sure, she’s stoked about going to london this weekend. but i’m pretty excited about seeing her in this parallel universe (british, charismatic).
oh, and did i mention it’s freezing cold, and i only have shorts and t-shirts? doh.
11 thoughts on “the spiritual formation of “being there””
i have been pondering spiritual formation a lot lately and i think that we are ‘formed’ by far more than we ever realize. i had to stop listening to christian radio and watching 24 hour news programs because they were truly affecting my formation.
we pulled our kids out of ‘christian school’ for the same reason. they were being ‘formed’ into (and by) really ugly christians who looked very little like jesus.
the formative years we have with children are why youth ministry is so important (like you didn’t know that…) and that is why being intentional with formation, instead of indoctrination is necessary. indoctrination creates an unsustainable christian life – only legalism can sustain it. but formation creates a foundation of it’s own – and that can be carried into adult life in a way that indoctrination can’t.
anyway – i’m so thrilled you’re sharing this with liesl – it will truly change her life forever!
There are some great example of North American Charismatics involved in preaching justice. Maybe not the streotypical charicature of ones most think of, but I’d say on par with the rest of the evangelical community.
I have experienced something very similar in Salvador, Brasil. Worshiping in another language along side brothers and sisters from another nation has been a large part of my spiritual formation.
What an incredible thing for a Dad to have a front row seat for!
Dave Rahn talks about something very similar. He’s got this weird phrase that comes out… withnessing. I think it’s a pretty powerful tool.
“I tend to think of formation as something one does, or maybe pursues. I don’t tend to think of formation as something that happens.”
This is one of the most intelligent and thought provoking things I have ever read on your blog. Thanks for thinking and sharing.
Great stuff Marko, but maybe you should be asking why the experience wasn’t notably formative for yourself?
Prov. 27v6a :-)
Hey, I feel ya on the shirts and shorts thing. I am in Germany for 20 days and have been here for 6 already. I had to buy some new cloths here because it is freezing! Crazy Europe, I heard we just missed the heat wave!
john, ya ninny. who said i didn’t find it formative? for starters, it’s amazingly formative to watch your kids being spiritually formed!
if you got this far down the comments, may be worth reading some more from tim h on the subject
sorry, link failed last time http://www.aboutlife.com/timhughes/love_came_down