Posted by: whereintheworldismike | December 18, 2014

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Formation Pt. 1

Selfie NRTThis is a selfie of MJ and I at Narita Airport waiting for our flight back home during our last trip to Japan (Nov-Dec 2014). I love when we can travel together though our responsibilities often lead us in separate directions. I will be sharing on the subject of “spiritual formation and the Holy Spirit” in the next few posts. Some of the content is from my book Exponential Culture.

In these posts, I will endeavor to establish a theological foundation for spiritual formation that transforms the character, and results in greater influence and resultant evangelistic fruitfulness. Once that is established, I will expand to treat in more detail areas related to emotional, relational, and ethical formation in the disciple of Christ.

This is the age Jesus spoke of when he said, “Many who were first shall be last and many who were last shall be first” (Mt. 19:30). While the great missionary sending Church in North America consists of 80% churches that are declining or plateaued,[1] and many are forced to cut missions budgets and staff, African church planters are working in Europe and pastor some of the largest churches there.[2]

Millions are trusting Christ at the threat of their lives in the Middle East as a result of gracious signs and wonders, dreams and visions from Almighty God.[3] Many more—and in some cases the perpetrators—are believing Christ as they receive desperately-needed relief goods or directly witness supernatural love from those they previously had hated in the name of their god.

Finally, a Sri Lankan church multiplication movement leader in his own land travels to Japan to teach some of the leading pastors of the established traditional church in Japan which often resembles the American Church of the early twentieth century. The average stay in the Japanese Church for new believers is only 2.8 years and then they often “disappear.”[4]

Spiritual formation that results in greater sanctification leading to greater intimacy with God, and spiritual fruitfulness is included in the Lord’s Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20). However, this has been sorely neglected in most churches in developed countries especially, and is reflected in decreasing societal influence and a corresponding declining “spiritual birthrate.”

[1] Eymann, Dan. “Turnaround Church Ministry: Causes of Decline and Changes Needed for Turnaround” in Great Commission Research Journal Vol. 3, Issue 2. Pages 146-160. (2012)

[2] Jenkins, Phillip. The Next Christendom: the coming of global Christianity. (2011)

[3] Rosenberg, Joel C. Inside the Revolution. (2009)

[4] Kikuo Matsunaga.”Theological Education in Japan” in Preparing for Witness in Context, ed. by Jean Stoner. P.299. (1991)


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