“What kind of consulting does your group do?” she asked across the table at the wedding reception.
I’m not great at answering questions like that. But I’m improving. “Most recently, we helped a school evaluate its spiritual formation process.”
“What do you mean by spiritual formation?” she asked.
I tried to remember the definition I formed a few months ago: Spiritual formation happens when a community holds beliefs about what it means to be spiritually healthy that they use to develop and implement a process intended to foster those beliefs and that spiritual health in others.
A few days after that conversation, I realized that Psalm 24 is a simple example of how one leader, David, looked at what it meant to be spiritually healthy.
He starts with a statement about God. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” For David, being spiritually healthy means acknowledging the existence of a creator with current authority.
Then David asks what kind of person can be in the presence of this God. And answers that it’s a person with clean hands (actions), a pure heart, a mind that doesn’t turn to idols, and honest speech.
So being spiritually healthy extends to integrity in each aspect of life.
And then David says, that Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. So being spiritually healthy includes seeking God.
And David indicates that God will be responsive, with blessing.
So, for David, spiritually healthy people acknowledge that there is a knowable, seekable God, and take steps to have integrity in all parts of their lives, and experience interaction with that God.
A formation process will teach that picture (which David does by writing a song that captures it) and will identify ways to live out seeking, cleaning, and focusing.
And a group with a different picture of being spiritually healthy will have a different formation process.