Spiritual Formation Academy

by Pastor Mike Lueken

It’s fun to live in the information age.  For as long as I can remember, I have loved history.  I remember as a kid being mesmerized by a two volume set of books by Winston Churchill on World War II.  More recently, I spent a year or so immersed in the NASA moon expeditions of the 1960’s.  Currently, I am reading about the Watergate scandal of the early 70’s.  Because of the internet, I can do more than just read about it.  I can listen to Nixon’s secretly taped phone conversations and meetings.  The information age makes it possible to actually sit in “Tricky Dick’s” office while he meets with his advisers.  It’s amazing.

But our high-tech age also breeds inaction in us.  We become trained in learning without acting and reading without responding.  We read about unspeakable hardships in some remote corner of the world and respond by exiting out of that web page and logging into ESPN’s website or signing onto Facebook.  Our hearts and minds and emotions and will become trained to hear without doing anything about what we have heard.

One of the chief concerns of our spiritual lives is to listen to God’s call to apprenticeship to Jesus but never do anything to actually live as an apprentice of His.  We are especially at risk of this at Oak Hills.  We like to talk about spiritual formation and the possibility of transformation.  But talking about it can never replace taking action to realize it.  Reading about spiritual formation is no substitute for concrete action steps in the direction of maturity in Christ.

So one of our challenges as a church is to find practical ways of helping people move forward in their pursuit of spiritual transformation.  The Spiritual Formation Academy exists for this purpose.  It is a two year process of weekend retreats, readings, and experiences in a community of others who are intentional about spiritual formation.  It is a concrete way for hungry people to move beyond words and thoughts about spiritual formation, and into action.  We recently completed our first academy with approximately 20 people completing the entire two year journey.  Their feedback has encouraged us to start another one in January of 2011.

Part of the uniqueness of the academy is that it requires a higher level of commitment than a typical church event or program.  As such, it is important that those who decide to participate understand the expectations.  We are planning to have three academy orientation meetings this fall.  The dates are Nov. 2, Nov. 20, or, Dec. 5.  We are asking those interested in the academy plan on attending one of these orientation meetings.  They will last about an hour with plenty of time allotted for questions about the experience.  Right now, we have about 35 people who have expressed an interest in the next academy.  We’re very excited about how God might use this to continue to teach us about life in His kingdom.  Contact Susie at susie.worthington@oakhills.org or 983-0182 x42 for more info.

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