A New Community
The experience of tectonic movement in my life and spirit is becoming more common. For many months now, I’ve been sharing my journey and the deep interior work of the Holy Spirit in my life. As I conceived of this work, celebrated it and gave thanks for it I unconsciously thought of this work as a largely singular practice. My experiences of the Triune God have become so deeply personal; there was an element to it that seemed to be just me and God. Even though the Academy for Spiritual Formation experience has been anything but a singular experience, the place and power of that covenantal community experience hadn’t filtered down through the layers of my life to nurture the depth of my faith.
I’ve come to learn that involvement in an intentional covenantal community is vital to spiritual formation. There is no such thing as the solitary spiritual life. I’ve also learned that even in the desert hermitages of the early aesthetic movement there was an intentional, supportive and spiritual community. The extraordinary experiences of healing, grace and transformation that I’ve had would have had no meaning without the movements of prayer, conversation, worship, accountability, table fellowship, joy, laughter and tears that mark the life of the Academy Community that has been drawn together by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brought each of us to the Academy experience. We all came with different expectations, different experiences, different hurts, different biases and different desires and yet this grand group of diversity has become a means of God’s unique grace for each one of us. We have become a covenant community.
This is having a truly amazing impact on my conception of the church as a Community of Faith. I’m moving beyond a 30 year old paradigm of the church as simply a functional and organic reality. For most of my life I’ve known the power of the community of faith as a force for ministry and God’s reign of love and mercy. Through ministry teams, service projects and hands on community outreach I’ve seen lives changed in some powerful ways. By the great, powerful and reconciling work of the Holy Spirit, the church is drawn together not as an institutional reality but as a living, breathing body of believers. The Body of Christ is called to a work of transformation and yet, this transformation work must be rooted first in the Body’s experience of the transforming work of grace in its life and the life of its members.
Through an intentional and covenantal commitment to prayer, accountability to God and one another, worship, study and growth we become spiritually formed. This work is not solitary it is necessarily the work of the community. The work of intentional covenant community doesn’t supplant the work of mission and evangelism;
Strength in numbers is not simply a formula for mission. It is the life blood of a covenant community intent on being spiritually formed.