My Toyota Camry has served me well in my 40 minute commute to work, but after several close calls, I have discovered one downside: My car has a large blind spot.

I have had a similar experience with the spiritual formation movement, which I much appreciate. Books on spiritual formation speak my language. I'm a pastor who wants to see people grow into strong disciples of Jesus Christ. Disciplines of any sort appeal to me, and spiritual disciplines in particular. That's why as much as I respect those who have written on spiritual formation, I one day came to the realization that they have a blind spot: their view of preaching.

Read books on spiritual formation and you will be hard-pressed to find listening to the preaching of God's Word mentioned as a first-order spiritual discipline in its own right. The writers I have surveyed typically mention listening to preaching in passing under the broad discipline of studying the Word, if they mention it at all. The writers usually are not attempting to provide an exhaustive list of spiritual disciplines. If asked, I'm sure they would unanimously say listening to preaching is a spiritual discipline.

Contrast the low priority of hearing sermons in the contemporary canon of spiritual formation with the importance it has among the early church's spiritual disciplines in Acts 2:42-47. It begins: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer" (italics mine).

In addition, the importance that the apostles placed on preaching (in passages like Acts 6:1-4; 1 Tim 4:13; 5:17; 2 Tim. 4:1-3) suggests that, in their view, listening to preaching was a first-order spiritual discipline.

Granted, Acts 2 describes a period when the church ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

November
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Christianity Today
The Blind Spot of the Spiritual Formation Movement
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

September 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.