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Spiritual Formation: we’ve already got a proven model, but do we want it?

Recently friends from a major publisher of Sunday school curriculum called me. They were researching trends in spiritual formation, they said, and they thought I might help them.

After a few warm-up questions, they got to the heart of the matter: "What would you recommend for spiritual formation in our time?"

"The monastery," I said.

There was a long pause.

"I'm serious," I said.

Another long pause. "You're going to have to unpack that for us," they finally said.

"It's a proven model," I pointed out, "a model that includes everything we know brings about transformation. What would happen to your life" (I was now turning the question on them) "if you lived in close geographical community and relationship with other people; if you lived in submission to authority; if you practiced silence and simplicity and discipline; if you regularly read the Bible and prayed and meditated on what you read; if you made study part of your life; and if you worked hard in some daily occupation, seeing your labor ...

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