This summer, Ed, Matt (our summer student) and I are going to be reading and discussing Reimagining Spiritual Formation. It’s a different kind of book. It’s not a how-to guide. It’s a journal of a week in the life of a relatively new church. What I like about this book: it takes a non-anti approach. It’s not bashing the church. While it grapples with issues of how spiritual formation and Kingdom living takes place today, it’s not about criticizing the mainstream evangelical church. It’s refreshing in its humility. It’s also pretty real. Some quotes so far:
It seems to me that our post-industrial times require us to ask new questions, questions people 100 years ago would never have thought needed asking…We join with the many people, professional and lay, who have suggested in writings, conversations, prayers, and pleadings that the Christian church has not lived up to its potential or calling in the post-industrialized world, but that it could… The question that haunts me is not, “Do people like our church?” but “Is there any real formation happening?”… Could it be that the “Good News” Jesus talked about was less a call to believe in the things that happened to him or would happen to and through him than an invitation into Kingdom life?… I had said, on more than one occasion, that I didn’t think I would be able to stay Christian in any useful sense over the next 50 years if I continued with the expression of Christianity I was currently living – pretty disconcerting stuff for a pastor… We are trying to live a life that is candid and authentic. We are not interested in living a fulfilled version of our current lives, we are seeking to become something else, something more.
These quotes don’t do justice to what I’ve read so far. It’s easy to identify problems. Reimagining doesn’t waste a lot of time doing that. It’s focused more on describing how they are trying to enter into Kingdom life in their setting. There’s some powerful stuff in this book. It’s helping me as I begin to think about my leadership over the next year in my current post. If you want to go deeper, but you’re tired of approaches that just bash the church, then I encourage you to get this book. I think you’ll find it engaging and thought-provoking. I’m looking forward to the discussion.