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The yearning and restlessness of our souls drive us toward God. This hunger and homesickness is the beginning of spiritual formation, according to James C. Wilhoit. In Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered, Wilhoit takes a unique approach to the topic. Whereas most books focus on the individual's spiritual transformation, this one intentionally concentrates on how the local church itself is the seedbed of spiritual growth and how the process is a community effort. This book's short chapters, sidebar material, and concluding prayers fit well with readers' busy lives without sacrificing quality and depth of content.
The title of this tightly woven, consistently challenging meditation on Christian spiritual formation serves notice that this book is going to be more than another self-help manual. Indeed, Wheaton College professor Wilhoit, author of The Christian Educator's Handbook on Spiritual Formation, asserts that although developing "Christlikeness" in its members is the church's main job, many congregations have either abandoned old practices without developing new ones or have relied on stratagems instead of on God's grace. Because he views spiritual growth as a lifelong process, Wilhoit delineates a communal perspective on responding to Jesus' invitation to love God and neighbor, emphasizing shared practice and learning. His "four pillars of formation" include receiving, or being open to God's grace; remembering, or understanding who we are and why we were created; responding in service to neighbors and the world; and building relationships in the context of community. In alternating chapters, Wilhoit gives readers theological and biblical foundations for each principle, then suggests a set of practices. While it would be easy to get lost in the sober volume, this skilled writer uses many pedagogical tools to keep his audience focused. Clearly written from an evangelical perspective, this cogent and passionate book deserves to have wide appeal. (Feb.)
James C. Wilhoit (PhD, Northwestern University) is the Scripture Press Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College, where he has taught for more than twenty years. His previous publications include The Christian Educator's Handbook on Spiritual Formation.
1. Formation through the Ordinary
2. Curriculum for Christlikeness
3. Formation by Grace for the Broken and Thirsty
4. To Foster Receiving in Community
5. Foundations of Remembering: Letting the Cross Grow Larger
6. To Foster Remembering in Community
7. Foundations of Responding: Love and Service to God and Others.
8. To Foster Responding in Community
9. Foundations of Relating: Spiritually Enriching Relationships of Love and Service
10. To Foster Relating in Community
Appendix: Assessment Questions