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We believe that classes are one of the primary ways we are spiritually developed. In order for that to happen, we have developed two categories of classes that focus on spiritual formation. Spiritual formation refers to that astounding Spirit-directed process by which God transforms a person into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It is a Biblical command (Romans 12.1-2) that we become like Christ, and the active agent in the transformation process is the Holy Spirit, who regenerates, enlightens, motivates, and empowers believers to grow in Christlikeness. It is a time-intensive process that defies instant solutions and short-term strategies. It is a collaborative process that requires both God's grace and the believer’s cooperation and engagement. It is a holistic process that involves the entire person, including one’s physical, cognitive, affective, and relational dimensions. Finally, it is a transformative process that results in a substantial realignment of a person's perceptions, values, and behavior.
The Spiritual Formation ministry of Neighborhood Church exists for the purpose of facilitating the work of spiritual formation in the lives those who call Neighborhood their home. While the Spirit alone can produce spiritual growth in the believer, we are responsible to create specific educational/transformative venues where it can take place. Toward that end, we make use of classes, retreats, workshops and other venues to help believer's encounter God and acquire the information and skills they need to grow. We have adopted nine “Core Discipleship Values” that we hope to see developed in everyone at Neighborhood Church and are incorporated into our Core Classes as well as our Speciality Classes.
We are working to see that every believer:
I. Loves God
- Dwells in Christ
- Walks in Freedom
- Gives Generously
II. Loves Others
- Prioritizes Others
- Honors Others
- Stays Reconciled with Others
III. Serves the World
- Thinks with a “Kingdom” Mindset
- Ministers Effectively
- Demonstrates Power
Finally, here are some key philosophical commitments that serve as the foundation for our Spiritual Formation ministry:
- The spiritual formation of his people is the passion of God’s heart and the end to which humanity is called. Philippians 3.12-14; Romans 8.28-29.
- Spiritual formation is an essential ingredient in the biblical gospel and it’s neglect is a critical issue facing the church today. It is not an elective but an inherent part of the core curriculum for true discipleship. Matthew 5-7.
- Spiritual formation is the normal expectation of all believers, not just a select few. Luke 6.40.
- It is the individual, not the church, who must assume primary responsibility for one’s spiritual formation. The church serves the individual by providing formative opportunities but must be careful not to hijack the process and co-opt individual initiative. Philippians 2.12; 2 Corinthians 13.5.
- Spiritual formation involves a mysterious collusion of God’s sovereign work and our intelligent engagement. Philippians 2.12-13; 1 Corinthians 9.24-27.
- Spiritual formation is a gradual, time-intensive process that defies simplistic programs and instantaneous results. 2 Corinthians 3.18; Galatians 4.19.
- Spiritual formation requires community. Because God is a community, we cannot grow into his image apart from regular, intensive, and sustained involvement with other Christ followers in which our jealousies, irritations and resentments are confronted and the virtues of forbearance, love and forgiveness are given regular opportunities to be practiced. Ephesians 4.1-3; Colossians 3.12-14.
- Genuine spiritual formation will eventuate in demonstrable and measurable behavioral change, particularly in the area of loving others. Thus, our primary metric for gauging spiritual growth must be one’s “love quotient,” not one’s biblical knowledge or theological acumen. 1 John 3.7-20; Romans 13.8-10.
- Spiritual formation is prerequisite to spiritual leadership. Authentic spiritual authority necessarily flows out of spiritual life. Thus, spiritual formation is not ancillary but central to leadership development. Matthew 7.15-20; 1 Timothy 5.22.