Form: Shaping Spirituality - In-form

Spiritual formation is something that seems to be something that comes up in conversation in popular Christianity each lent. For the next several posts, I wanted to share a study that I am doing here at the church called "Form: Shaping Spirituality". 

Each week the discussion takes on a different incarnation of the word "form". Since there are five weeks in the study, there are five "form" words - In-form, Pre-form, Con-form, Re-form, and Trans-form.

These are not random words but rather a set of words that describe a way of understanding spiritual formation that I have been pondering for a bit of time. 

Just like when we are born, when we start spiritual formation, we seek out a lot of information. This is a great thing as this is how we learn and build a understanding. The problem is that for many of us, this stage is seen not as the starting point but as the point of spiritual formation. It is as though we think spiritual formation is just a matter of gathering enough (or the right) information. And when we get enough information, then we are spiritual formed. 

This is almost like thinking that memorizing the instruction manual to the stove will make you a chef. Yes, we need to know how to use a stove to cook, but that is just the start. 

Clay Johnson’s book (which I am currently reading) is called the Information Diet (a promo video is here). The parallel he makes is that just as we have made food into something that is cheap and easy to consume, so too have we made information cheap and easy to consume. So when we eat junk food, we feel like we have eaten but really what we have eaten is not sustainable for the body.

As we unpack this metaphor a bit more, we can consume a lot of information about things spiritual and feel like we are getting deeper in our spirituality. So we engage in Bible studies and take sermon notes and listen to different teachers on all things Christian. We gain a lot of information but not all this information is sustainable to spiritual formation. 

Once we begin to identify and discover that information collection is only a starting point in spiritual formation, then we begin to move into "pre-form".