The Church and the Forming of Character

- posted by Len Thompson

James Wilhoit in his book Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered : Growing in Christ through Community asserts that the church should be very concerned about the character formation of each member of the congregation, "Spiritual Formation is the task of the church. Period. It represents neither an interesting, optional pursuit by the church nor an insignificant category in the job description of the Body of Christ. Spiritual formation is at the heart of its whole purpose for existence. “

He presents a compelling case for approaching our faith "as if the church mattered." I heartily recommend his book to church leaders and pastors because it Wilhoit, a faculty member at Wheaton College, is right then the staff at Urban Sanctuary ought to be run off their feet in providing instruction or mentoring in spiritual practices such as prayer and other spiritual habits. C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity boils all of the church's activities down to one thing. 

 This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden— that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 199. 

There is a whole lot more to being the church than listening to a worship band on a Sunday or even a great sermon. The church exists to help its members change so that each person becomes a reflection of Jesus in their actions, character, desires and passion. How is your church doing in this central element. Can we help? Please give us a call or email if you would like to check out some of the resources we can provide to help your church do the one thing that matters well.

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