Resources to Lead Spiritual Formation
The term ‘Spiritual Formation’ is difficult to define. People describe ‘Spiritual Formation’ differently because we experience our connection to God in different ways. The heart of Spiritual Formation is about deepening your connection to God, who reaches out to us in love and grace.
Spiritual formation can happen in many different contexts: worship, theological reflection (wondering who God is), prayer, meditation, retreats, discernment, music, intentional listening, service, Bible study and more.
No matter what variety of Spiritual Formation you make a part of your life, when you take even a moment to become aware of where God might be at work right then and there, you connect with God. Our connection with God is how we experience life in all of its abundance and how we are continually transformed!
Why do we engage in spiritual formation during meetings?
As Presbyterians we tend to be task-oriented, wanting to jump right into the work at hand, but beginning meetings by intentionally investing a 15 to 20 minutes to center ourselves and reflect actually enhances and nurtures our work as team members. By centering our selves in God, we welcome God’s presence as we work together.
What does spiritual formation in a ministry team meeting look like?
While there is no one “right” way to engage in spiritual formation. There are, however, basic structures or formats that can be very helpful.
In this guide we’ve provided a structure in a template to be used as a worksheet or guide for you. What is important is that you are authentic to your own personality and spirituality by owning and making these few moments of spiritual formation authentically yours. Use and adapt this basic structure to reflect who YOU are and also the character of your team’s mission. The structure provides suggestions to choose from – you are not expected to do everything listed.
The format consists of these basic elements:
- Take away
Centering – This is a simple invitation to set aside the mundane or noise of our everyday life to become fully present with God and each other. Look at the examples in this guide for ideas about how to help your team get centered.
Prayer – Opening with prayer is an important corporate act that helps bond members of the team together and with God. Prayer can be a prepared reading, a responsive reading, it can be a hymn, or it can be a spontaneous conversation with God. It doesn’t have to be “flowery” – merely sincere. You may find the following prayer resources useful:
Inspiration – We are inspired when we take-in and are filled with the Holy Spirit. This life-giving energy sustains and empowers us to do God’s work. We can be inspired in many ways: scripture, music, artwork, photography, nature, or poetry. This intentional activity during team meetings is meant to inspire us individually and collectively as a team to do God’s work.
Reflection – This is an opportunity to ponder the meaning and mystery of the message that is revealed through the inspiration activity. God speaks to each of us in different ways and each of us derives special meaning from what we experience. Sharing might be through discussion in pairs or with the entire group. Reflection can also be a quiet, private, and personal experience just between the individual and God. No one is ever forced to share.
Take Away – The leader of the spiritual formation experience invites the group to simply identify something to “take away” for the remainder of the meeting and into our daily lives. This provides a transition into the meeting. You might consider ending with a brief prayer asking for guidance during the ensuing meeting.
How can or do I decide what scripture to use if I wanted to use it?
You may have a favorite passage that you wish to share – BUT consider its relevance to your team’s purpose and agenda as well as its length. You might also consider referring to a lectionary – and there are many to choose from, including the PCUSA lectionary. Here are two links to lectionaries for you to refer to. The first is the PCUSA lectionary. The second lectionary listed here happens to also provide reflection questions you might use as part of your spiritual formation exercise.
If your team is focused on a specific task or theme, you might consider using a topical index or concordance to identify related scripture. An on-line concordance allows you to type in a theme or topic and it will locate related scriptural passages for you. A useful on-line concordance that includes a variety of versions and translations can be found at:
What if my team members are shy and reluctant to share?
All of us have different comfort levels when exploring our spirituality. Inviting individuals to simply write down their thoughts on an index card or post-it note is one way to meaningfully engage in reflection without necessarily talking. Sometimes simply pairing up and sharing with one person is Iess intimidating than speaking in front of a group. A “safe” way of sharing is gathering the index cards into a pile and randomly drawing cards to read aloud. This allows a public yet anonymous sharing. Finally, don’t assume that nothing “happened” if the group or an individual is silent or “shy.” It is common that an individual is caught up in their thoughts and simply processing what is going on inside them, which is a meaningful outcome of the spiritual formation process.
I'm not very good at this sort of thing - where and how do I begin?
The template worksheets in this guide can help you organize a spiritual formation activity. Feel free to use the worksheet as an outline, flowchart or script during the meeting – no one will care if you use it. Several examples are also provided and you may customize them as you wish or use them as is. If you need some guidance or want someone to review your outline, consider contacting Carl Grant, (925) 250-5516 or Lauren Gully.
Where can I find additional resources?
Glad you asked. Here are some additional resources: