You have landed on the GROW section where you will discover more information about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and what it means to grow organically in your faith.
Q:: Are you trying to promote organic gardening or some back to nature philosophy? Will I have to become a vegan or vegetarian?
A:: As the author of the book, I can assure you that although I grew up on a farm and enjoy growing things, the primary objective of the book is to help you grow in your spiritual life through a relationship with Jesus Christ that is natural and organic. While I like to eat my veggies, I like to BBQ a good steak now and then as well!
Q:: Is spiritual formation a buzz-word for something else, like something sinister or new age?
A:: Spiritual formation is just another way of saying discipleship more accurately. We become disciples of Jesus Christ through repentance and faith. This causes a spiritual transformation to occur as the Holy Spirit regenerates us, and indwells us. We can then begin to truly grow in our faith as we become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Becoming like Jesus–that is what real organic spiritual formation is all about. It is not something new, it is something as old as the New Testament!
Q:: Are you suggesting that we start some new organic movement or denomination? Aren’t there enough of those already?
A:: I agree there are plenty of movements and denominations. I am not against them, in fact I am a denominational leader in the US myself. However, I am suggesting a return to a more biblical and Gospel-centered approach to following Jesus. That is the organic part, and it does not require a bureaucratic organizational structure. It is as simple as the words of Jesus, “Follow me.” And while it is simple, it is not simplistic.
Q:: What do you mean by organic discipleship, or organic spiritual formation?
A:: Organic discipleship is a Gospel-centered and Jesus-centered approach to following Christ. While affirming the authority of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, I suggest that spiritual growth occurs best by first beginning on the journey with Jesus and exploring the very organic, dusty sandals, hands-on living, dirt behind your fingernails walk with Christ. A person will develop theologically and doctrinally as they walk with Jesus through all the pages of the New Testament. Here is my working definition:
ORGANIC SPIRITUAL FORMATION:: = The natural growth that occurs when authentic faith in Jesus Christ is merged with intentional alignment to the principles of Scripture and empowered by the Holy Spirit, while living with and serving others.
Q:: What are the basic components of organic discipleship/spiritual formation?
A:: Following Jesus begins with genuine faith, and develops through life and community. The book develops these themes – here is a start:
FAITH:: Authentic faith in Jesus Christ is the primary component of organic spiritual formation. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the predominant theme of the New Testament and a subject Jesus often addressed. Yet faith is not the same thing as certainty, and there remain many mysteries about faith that must be explored and dealt with by followers of Jesus. Jesus referred to faith as a seed, and seeds are meant to sprout and grow.
LIFE:: A seed can appear to be a dead and lifeless thing until it sprouts to life. To produce organic spiritual formation requires a life committed to Jesus Christ—that sprouting seed of faith going from death to life. This leads to obedience to his Word. It is impossible to do this in our own strength. No one was capable of total obedience under the Old Testament law and no one can earn salvation by obeying rules assembled from New Testament texts. Growth occurs as we align ourselves with Scripture by consciously receiving the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
COMMUNITY:: More apples exist in a single seed than there are seeds in an apple. Seeds multiply. So does living faith. In order for spiritual formation to occur, our faith and life must be lived out in a community environment. The Great Commandment involves loving the Lord first and loving our neighbor as ourselves. If faith does not work while living with others, and if it does not compel us to serve others, then we will not witness significant spiritual growth. I invite you to explore these topics in detail in the book.
Q:: What does the research show about the state of discipleship in the American church today?
A:: I obtained permission from Willow Creek to show the results of the Reveal Study, and reproduce a few of their charts in my book. The Reveal Study has been a decade long process of measuring spiritual growth and what creates effective discipleship. Not surprisingly, the research showed that the number one predictor of spiritual growth was a person’s knowledge of and application of biblical content. While church attendance, commitment, and a host of other factors may be important, they are not the primary reasons why a person develops spiritually. In fact, it is possible for those things to actually become a hindrance to our walk with Christ.
In addition, the research showed that there are stages of spiritual growth that lead toward the ideal of becoming “Christ-Centered.” The following chart shows the journey (process) from exploring Christ — what we might have called an inquirer, or seeker a few years ago–to becoming what I call a Jesus-centered person. Such a person is often referred to as “a fully developed follower of Christ.”