As a pastor it's easy to believe that everyone cares about spiritual formation as much as I do. In a community group years ago, I remember rambling on about something our church was beginning and something I, as a pastor at the church, really wanted everyone to understand. I was very excited about it and shared with this group how important all of this was going to be for them. Afterward, as my wife and I recapped the night, she gently said to me, "Chris, you need to remember that you care more about the church than anyone else."

She was right. I care about the word "missional," and how often a person interacts with his coworkers about faith. I care about church attendance, reactions to sermon series, and how a person defines "the gospel." But most people don't. They care about their kids, their families, their jobs, and their bills. They care about life. And this realization is how Dallas Willard saved my ministry.

Willard didn't write many books intended for pastors, but most pastors have read his books. He wrote about life–the vast area in which God is working–of which "church ministry" is just a small subset. For example, after a long chapter describing the curriculum for Christlikeness in The Divine Conspiracy, Willard took just over one page for, "Some Practical Points About Implementation—Especially for Pastors" (pg. 371). The final chapter of Renovation of the Heart is, "Spiritual Formation in the Local Congregation," and is just 20 pages of his 257 page book. Willard's words were not just for pastors—and not even just for Christians—they were for all of life; our mundane and ever-important life.

He wrote:

"Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message, or ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.
Already a Leadership Journal subscriber?
or for full digital access.
Read These Next
See Our Latest