Several years ago at Spring Arbor University, I sat “at the feet” of Richard Foster, spiritual formation giant and author of Celebration of Disciplines, as he reminisced about a lifetime of work attempting to restore the Western Church to the vision of discipleship taught by Jesus. He said something I will never forget, “I’m giving up on the United States and concentrating on South Korea, where people are hungry for Jesus.”
Last night at Friends University, I listened to his son Nathan quote another recent comment by his father: “Spiritual Formation is now trendy, but if we don’t provide people with something of substance, this window will pass.” Nathan then went on to say, “People in my generation and below seeking God often find church irrelevant to their soul.”
This followed a day when the Christ Memorial Church Apprentice team brought our model of the Apprentice of Jesus program to a room full of excited and passionate people from churches around the country who are eager to bring “something of substance” to their congretation. We had asked for prayers from our church, from its staff, from Apprentices in the congregation, and from Apprentices who were traveling to the conference and praying at the very time of our presentation. The Holy Spirit was again ahead of us in that room empowering us to bring inspiration and commitment to helping people defeat their false narratives, recognize their identity as one in whom Christ dwells and delights, understand the power and security of living in the unshakable kingdom, and move out of their comfort zones to transform the world one person at a time.
They know, as I know, that if we are strong, if we persevere, if we are authentic, and if we are committed to the vision that James Bryan Smith (channeling Dallas Willard and Richard Foster and many others) shares in the Good and Beautiful books, we can continue fanning the flames of renewal, even reform, in the American church and develop a body of Christ-followers in a churches which will be relevant to all generations of people seeking God.