The week before last, the staff of Campus Outreach Greenville participated in our annual seminary class taught by Dr. Lowe, so now I would like to share some of the things I learned. The title of the class was "Spiritual Formation: An Ecological Approach to Christian Growth in Community," which basically in layman’s terms means the study of the interactions and relationships in Christian community and how they lead to growth. In this class we learned that a Christian's spiritual development is rooted in three areas: God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people. God’s Word is one of the legs we stand on throughout our journey towards Christ and being like Him. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 talks about how every Christian receives and accepts the word of God, believing and trusting in it for guidance like a light in darkness. Spiritual growth in the Bible looks like seeking to reflect the lifestyle Christ exemplified for us. The second part of this is God’s Spirit, His presence that allows and enables us to reflect the image in which we were created. The power of the Spirit in us is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and as Christians it is important for us to remember this and live in light of it (1 Cor 6:14, 2 Tim 1:7). Before we become Christians, there is a separation between us and God due to our sin; through Christ and His blood we now have reconciliation with the Father and can communicate with Him by means of the Holy Spirit. Once a right relationship is re-established, we have a new identity, one that is not tainted by sin anymore. We are now, in Christ’s eyes, viewed as saints: accepted, loved, cleansed, and redeemed (1 Cor 1:2, 6:11). After we are justified in Christ, we begin the process of sanctification, which is active obedience to God. This obedience of faith is what triggers and grows the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
The last, often overlooked pillar of our spiritual development is community. Humans interact through a web of relationships with positive and negative influences. Everything God has made is interconnected, including space, nature, life, the spiritual, the physical. It all goes together. Even the way God has designed things to grow and reach maturity is related. Our growth is developmental. As with all created things, there is a process from infant to young adult to full adult to elder. This also is how God reveals Himself to us and grows us--in developmental ways. His revelations match the recipient, progressively revealed in relation to the capacity a person receives them. The divine model of how Christ taught and how God revealed Himself is how we should communicate to others. Being aware of how people learn information and applying that to how we relate and share with them is essential to evangelize and disciple people in love.
All of this that I learned and much more that was taught has greatly affected my perspective on engaging college students and trusting the process of growth that God has put in place in my life and in the lives of others.