A Spiritual Formation Workbook - Revised edition: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth

A Spiritual Formation Workbook - Revised edition: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth

by James Bryan Smith, Richard J. Foster


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A Spiritual Formation Workbook - Revised edition: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth by James Bryan Smith, Richard J. Foster

This beginning workbook for Spiritual Formation Groups features guidelines for starting a group, study plans for the first nine sessions, and a questionnaire that helps map the way ahead. Based upon six major dimensions of the spiritual life found in the life of Christ and Christian tradition: The Contemplative Tradition - The Holiness Tradition - The Charismatic Tradition - The Social Justice Tradition - The Evangelical Tradition - and The Incarnational Tradition, this workbook program provides all the necessary ingredients to start and maintain a Spiritual Formation Group.

Successfully used by thousands of Spiritual Formation Group participants, A Spiritual Formation Workbook has been completely revised to correlate with Richard J. Foster's Streams of Living Water. Its new and updated exercises and teachings offer fresh perspectives on Christian faith and practice.

Christian in perspective and ecumenical in breadth, RENOVARÉ (from the Latin, meaning "to renew") is an effort committed to the renewal of the Church. Founded by bestselling writer Richard J. Foster, RENOVARÉ provides individual churches with a balanced, practical, effective small-group strategy for spiritual growth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062516268
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/06/2007
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 157,597
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.28(d)

About the Author

James Bryan Smith is assistant professor of practical theology and chaplain at Friends University.

Lynda L. Graybeal has worked with Richard Foster on his writing projects for over a dozen years and with RENOVARÉ since its inception.

Richard J. Foster is the bestselling author of Celebration of Discipline, Prayer, Streams of Living Water, and other books.

Richard J. Foster is the author of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, Life with God, and Prayer, which was Christianity Today's Book of the Year and the winner of the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He is the founder of Renovaré, an organization and a movement committed to the renewal of the church of Jesus Christ in all its multifaceted expressions, and the editor of The Life with God Bible.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Starting a Group

Since you are reading this workbook, we know that you have caught the vision of a mobilized Church going out into the world and making "disciples of all nations," permanently changing that world for the better (Matt. 28:19b). While the Church has spread organically around the world, on an individual level it seems to be failing to "make disciples." About this, philosopher and writer Dallas Willard says, "Our existing churches and denominations do not have active, well-designed, intently pursued plans to accomplish [fulfilling the Great Commission] in their members.... [Y]ou will not find any widely influential element of our church leadership that has a plan-not a vague wish or dream, but a plan for implementing all phases of the Great Commission" (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 167).

We at Renovaré believe that the strategy presented here — Spiritual Formation Groups where Christians meet to learn the Six Traditions of the Church, to do the related disciplines, to hold each other accountable, and to encourage one another — makes disciples. And incorporating the Renovaré materials into an existing group or starting a Spiritual Formation Group is much easier than you might think.

The following guidelines will help you put a group together.

Working With An Existing Group

If you are already meeting in a small group not formally affiliated with a church (or affiliated with a church but independently guided) and would like to see this material used, begin by praying about the idea. Trust God to guide you for the right time to approach theleader or (if you are the leader) the members and ask if they would like to try out a nine-session Spiritual Formation Group. If the leader or group answers no, relax and thank God that you are in a small group where you can have fellowship and companionship in your Christian walk. If the answer is yes, thank God for the opening and ask the leader if you can help get the materials together; if you are the leader, start making plans for the first session. (Alternatively, you could simply integrate individual aspects of this program into your existing structure and format.)

Starting A New Group

Starting a new group is a little more complicated, but we hope the following guidelines will help you. Again, begin by asking the Lord for guidance. If the answer is no, continue to pray for a door to open that will bring other opportunities for spiritual growth into your life. If the answer is yes, thank God for his faithfulness in providing spiritual nurture for you and start working through the following steps.

Involve Your Church Staff

If you want to start a group in your own church, the expertise and encouragement of the pastor or priest and other leaders will be invaluable. They are responsible for the spiritual health of "the flock" and are therefore very concerned that members take part in helpful programs. We suggest that you ask them to look over this workbook and any other Renovare materials you may have.

Doing this is not merely a common courtesy; it is essential if the plan is to have a positive effect on your church. The pastoral staff is ultimately responsible for the programming of the local church. This is in no way an obstacle; rather, it is an opportunity. If church leaders endorse the start-up of your Spiritual Formation Group — and possibly other groups —y ou will have taken a major step toward your goal.

If possible, arrange a time when you can sit down and discuss the program with the pastor or priest and other leaders, after they have had a chance to look over your materials. Should they voice concerns or point out potential problems, discuss them thoroughly. They may have small-group plans that do not currently include Spiritual Formation Groups. Try not to leave the meeting before reaching a consensus.

Remember, your task is to get permission to start a Spiritual Formation Group. We have yet to hear of such a request being denied. Most clergy and staff who have become acquainted with the program not only have allowed groups to start but have endorsed them (and sometimes have been involved themselves).

Having gotten permission to begin a group, you are off to a great start. Of course, if you are starting a group not affiliated with a church, you can skip this step and go directly to the next one.

Find One Other Person

The next step is to find at least one other person who wants to form a group. Perhaps you have a close friend, a person at your church who might like to be in a group of this kind. Arrange a time to explain the Spiritual Formation Group and answer any questions (see "The First Meeting" and "Basic Answers to Basic Questions," below). The general rule is this: be enthusiastic but not pushy. Your eagerness to start a group is invaluable. A positive attitude is infectious, and others will be drawn by your excitement alone. But keep in mind that the group will not be for everyone. At this point you are looking for a person who wants to be a part of a group that will challenge him or her.

Once you have found a partner, you have actually established a group. Although many Spiritual Formation Groups involve only two people, you may wish to include others-perhaps friends drawn by your excitement or people who are merely curious. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone will feel comfortable in a Spiritual Formation Group. Do not be surprised if ultimately some participants choose not to commit to the group. If you want to invite others, go on to the next step.

Invite Others to join You

Do you know other people who would like to be in a Spiritual Formation Group? We have learned through experience that many people would like to be in this kind of small group but have never been invited. The following approaches are effective in finding people who are interested:

Put an announcement in the church newsletter andlor bulletin.Ask the pastoral staff if you may put a notice in the next issue of the church newsletter and/or in the bulletin. Feel free to use the following wording as a guide:

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A Spiritual Formation Workbook - Revised edition: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
JeffNC More than 1 year ago
If you want to be more involved with family and friends in your Christian faith this book provides a great guidline to do so.
Karl41 More than 1 year ago
I am in the middle of getting ready to use the book for group discussion for people over 65 in small groups of no more than 10 people. The book will be very useful for discussion and helping the group members to discuss their spiritually to improve life quality. I am unable to say much more about the book until we have had some group session and than I will be able to evalutate the outcome.