What do you say when someone asks you: "How's your church going?"
I always get a little nervous around that question. Sometimes it's because I think I am not doing as well at my job as I should be. Sometimes I wonder if this is pastor talk for "How big is your church?" Which in turn can be pastor talk for "How important are you, and can I gain status by hanging around you?"
But there are other ways of thinking about the question. When we hear the phrase spiritual formation, we usually think about individual lives. That's not a bad thing; Paul says he labors and struggles "to present everyone mature in Christ."
However, Paul wasn't writing to an individual at the time. Most of the New Testament books are letters to congregations; to corporate bodies; to groups, not individuals. They do the work of spiritual formation: they diagnose malformation and prescribe remedies. Their primary target is not an individual or two but the church.
Paul is exasperated that the congregation at Galatia has deserted ...1