How Does Mission Relate to Spiritual Formation?

By Kenneth Berding Jul. 8, 2013 3:50 p.m. Christian Education, Church Life, Evangelism, Ministry and Leadership, Missions, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

The most recent issue of the Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care carried an article I wrote on the relationship between spiritual formation and mission.

I wrote this article with two groups in mind:  1) Those who are so task-oriented that they underemphasize the foundational role of spiritual life for the mission God has called them to do; 2) Those who are so focused on the inner life that they underemphasize the very positive role that involvement in ministry and mission has upon the spiritual life.

Here is an outline of the main points.  You’ll have to read the article itself for supporting Scripture, arguments, and explanation:[1]

The Process of Spiritual Formation Supports Mission

1.     The process of spiritual formation supports mission because God’s empowerment through his Spirit is critical not only for a holy life but also for the mission he has given each of us.

2.     The process of spiritual formation supports mission because meditating on the Scriptures and the gospel message (which is so central to spiritual formation) is foundational for mission.

3.     The process of spiritual formation supports mission because one’s perspective on the nature of the mission is clarified as one grows in Christlikeness.

4.     The process of spiritual formation supports mission because the person on a mission is upheld in his work as he experiences ongoing transformation.  Indeed, his ministry must be an overflow of his life in Christ.

5.     The process of spiritual formation supports mission because such qualities as love, boldness, and endurance are cultivated as one is spiritually formed.

6.     The process of spiritual formation supports mission because the power of example is so significant for doing mission.

Involvement in Mission Supports Spiritual Formation

1.     Involvement in mission supports spiritual formation because mission exposes our weakness and causes us to more humbly depend upon God and his power.

2.     Involvement in mission supports spiritual formation because mission regularly leads to hardship or suffering, and God works in our lives in the crucible of suffering.

3.     Involvement in mission supports spiritual formation because we are constantly reminded of our own salvation when we see others come to faith in Christ.

4.     Involvement in mission supports spiritual formation because it connects us to other Christians—some of whom may be very different from us—who not only receive from us but also spiritually give back to us.

5.     Involvement in mission supports spiritual formation because life on a mission is a training ground for spiritual faithfulness.

6.     Involvement in mission supports spiritual formation because we are constrained to do some perspective-taking on the mission.

7.     Involvement in mission supports spiritual formation because one of the results of mission is thanksgiving to God by all parties involved.

The Interpenetration of Spiritual Formation and Mission

Example passage #1:  2 Cor 1:3-12

Example passage #2:  Phil 4:10-14

An Intersecting Theme: Prayer



[1] Kenneth Berding, “At the Intersection of Mission and Spiritual Formation in the Letters of Paul,” Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, Vol. 6, No. 1 (2013), pp. 18-37.  The article can be purchased for 5 dollars at http://journals.biola.edu/sfj/volumes/6/issues/1/articles/18 or for 15 dollars the entire journal issue can be purchased (which includes other articles on the same topic) at http://journals.biola.edu/sfj/volumes/6/issues/1.

 

 

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