Author Topic: Developing A Spiritual Formation Study Group  (Read 4075 times)

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Offline Bishop Sandi

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Developing A Spiritual Formation Study Group
« on: January 20, 2011, 11:39:21 »
One of the things we are experiencing in the 21st century church (see Bishop Don's artitle on the Church of the 21st Century) is a falling away from a desire for real connection with God, for understanding of Scripture, for growth as a disciple of Christ.  One of the ways to combat this is to form a Spiritual Formation Study Group in your church or if you don't have a church, in your locality by meeting in a central location.

I make no promises, but I can tell you that I have done this and I have watched those who participated come way more spiritually mature and more capable and willing of helping others on their walk with Christ. 

One of the first things needful is prayer.  It is imperative that we as ministers seek the Lord for direction as to if, how and where to start such a group.

The second needful attibute for the minister is to acknowledge THEY aren't as close to God as they could be, and to have a desire to learn and grow along with those who attend.

Once you have received direction and/or confirmation from the Lord, the first thing you need to do is find or create a program of study.  "Companions in Christ" from Cokesbury, a United Methodist publication, is strangely enough, very good.  Other programs can be accessed by looking at the Christianity Today website and entering "spiritual formation studies"....a listing of programs of study that are available will pull up from many sources.  You can then contact the companies for overviews and theological stances compatible with yours.  Or you can write your own.

Once all this has been determined, you will want to select the days and times you will hold this session.  Once a week is enough because these cause deeper thought and introspection than normal Bible Studies.  I would suggest doing 1 group at a time.  Then one or two from that group can share leading for a group that moves on from that point into yet deeper study and you can start a new group with new people.

A good format is to have just a simple 10-15 minute greeting time as people arrive, where they can speak to each other or get something to drink.

I always lit a pillar candle in the room to signify Christ's presence among us.  The gentle glow tends to add warmth and is a constant reminder of the light of Christ's love.

Begin with a prayer inviting the Spirit to lead and guide and touch each participant including the leader.  Then delve into the study giving each participant the opportunity to share in discussion.  Do not push sharing as on some occasions, some may want to just take in everything.  There will be deeper involvement on the part of most participants as they get used to each other and deeper into the study.

Close with prayer requests and perhaps a hymn and prayer that summarizes all the requests.  Perhaps you will want to have snacks after.

When the group has reached its final session, we always planned a "love feast", where we began with each member washing another member's feet, starting with the leader washing someone's feet as a sign of servanthood.  Then we proceeded to have just a short celebration time for all we had learned.  Shared prayer requests, prayed and took part in the feast. 

THE FEAST?  Each member brought something: nuts, fruit, cheese and crackers, soup, salad, desert, side dish, and then I provided/church provided the main meat dish.  And we enjoyed the fellowship.




Offline Chaplain Cheryl

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Re: Developing A Spiritual Formation Study Group
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2011, 11:55:29 »
I like this thanks for sharing....
IHS
Chaplain Cheryl
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Offline Bishop Sandi

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Re: Developing A Spiritual Formation Study Group
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 12:46:36 »
You're so welcome!

rmartinez

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Re: Developing A Spiritual Formation Study Group
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 13:57:06 »
This is so true, I am glad it was shared.

Offline Bishop Sandi

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Re: Developing A Spiritual Formation Study Group
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 14:34:21 »
Thanks.  Hope its useful someday!

Offline lee85529

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Re: Developing A Spiritual Formation Study Group
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2012, 23:24:43 »
This is so awesome.