Intentional Continual Faith Development

Over the last several years I have pondered over themes relative to spiritual growth and faith development.

These ponderings brought me to ask about the influences which foster spiritual growth.  In my experience, I have noted that spiritual growth occurs along the axis of information and transformation. I define information as being comprised of thinking, reasoning, reading and intellectualizing.  I think these are indispensable disciplines but I also have witnessed their inadequacy to produce spiritual growth unless they are paired with transformation.  I define transformation as the experiential part of our development.  If information is the “talk the talk”, then transformation is the “walk the walk”.    It is the praxis of knowledge.

A few years back when I was asked to teach a class at the Pepperdine University lectures, I developed the following Jo-Hari window.  It is a fairly common way to display two intersecting ideas with comparisons and observations to be made regarding how certain blends of the two approaches are manifested in faith development.

The informational component is displayed in the vertical line with the numbers one through ten.  One being the least and ten being the greatest.  The transformational component is along the horizontal line.   I have inserted a brief description of each quadrant and the result of that particular blend of information/transformation.

Give it a look and I’ll make a few more observations below.

FaithImpScale

Quadrant one is at the bottom left side of the grid.  It is lowest on the scale for both information and transformation.  It is a place we all find ourselves in at times.  We become lethargic, and feel stuck in our faith.  We are especially vulnerable to shallow thinking and quick solutions to faith development when we are in this quad.  We feel the discontent and can become open to anything that promises change.  In my opinion, this where a lot of America finds themselves today.  They are seeking spirituality out of a void of information and without a willingness to transform and submit their lives to behavioral changes.

Quadrant two is the bottom right side of the grid.  Low on  information but high on transformation, this group is in motion as opposed those in quadrant one who are stuck.   Quad two people are usually frequent attendees of rallies and concerts and highly charged events.  They like lots of music, they buy the T-shirts and the key-chains.   (Nothing wrong with this, I might add….it’s just that these are not adequate in and of themselves to bring about sustained spiritual growth.)

Quadrant three is the top left side of the grid.  High on information but low on transformation.  They have book, chapter and verse….and that’s not a bad thing per se, but they might not be personally a person who necessarily possesses the fruit of the Spirit….Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.  They lean toward legalism, have low tolerance of those who hold different views and are generally on edge as protectors of the faith and set others on edge accordingly.

Quadrant four in the top right hand side is high on information and high on transformation as well.   This group approaches Bible study with anticipation that God is continuing to sculpt and shape their life.  They enjoy engaging the texts of the Bible and discussing their views with others.  They also understand that information is verified and substantiated by application.  They are anxious to know the way of Christ but are equally anxious to go the way of Christ.

Faith development does not seem to permanently reside in any one of the four quadrants exclusively.  There are times when I find myself residing in each of the quadrants.  An important exercise for me is to look at the chart occasionally and ask, “where am I right now?”. The next step is to explore what it will take to move to a healthier place.

My advice:

Be intentional and be continual in your faith development.

Seek a variety of ways to increase your potential for growth.

Consider the effect of prayer, meditation, fasting, sacrificial giving, service to others, spiritual journaling etc. as ways to open the way to increased spiritual growth.

The world awaits the coming of a transformed & informed people who follow the God who shows the Way.

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About Gary Cleveland

An old chunk of coal waiting to become a diamond some day. I spend the bulk of my time focused on spiritual development. I teach, preach and stand by the hurting and wounded. I believe our heavenly Father offers us daily opportunities to discover who we are and what we can yet become. I serve as a bringer of good news in and around the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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