What I’m Doing – Can You Help?

Have you ever noticed those lists of the most searched words on Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo? Apparently in 2022 the most searched word on Google was “wordle.” I wonder if the folks doing those searches are looking for … well, I haven’t played the game, I do know folks who play it, so I would be searching for the best way to play the game, or for “hints” on how to play it for the best results.

And that gets me to wondering what would the “Religious Word Search Engine,” or the “Church Word Search Engine” show us as the most searched terms.  Assuming of course such search engines exist. Maybe they do, but I am yet aware of them.

Let me offer my suggestions – “discipleship,” “formation,” and “discipling.”

I hear those words a lot in conversations (and sermons) about congregations and perceived “needs” of congregational members.

In fact, I almost fear they have become “buzzwords” and so overused they begin to lose meaning and folk want all talk and discussion of such to be dropped and for us to move on to more important things.

I still think they are not just important words but important and essential activities for individuals and congregations.

So, that is what has launched me on my most recent research project.

While I hear a lot of talk about discipleship and the need for intentional work in formation and discipling, I also see many congregations are at a loss on how to be intentional and consistent in such efforts.

There is material available and I have begun to explore some resources that are available and have been reported to offer us methods and structures for this work.

On my reading table there are nine books all claiming to offer direction in individual and group spiritual formation. 

I am starting by reading the nine books. Not “working” through them and doing the reflections and exercises they might suggest, but getting an overview of the content and methods in each.  I will return later to do the work each presents.

Five of the books come from Renovare. I have a lot of respect for all I see and read that Renovare publishes online and in print.  If you are not familiar with Renovare, go to your favorite search engine and do some exploration.

The four of the books have the subtitle, A Spiritual Formation Guide. They are titled, Connecting with God, Learning from Jesus, Prayer and Worship, and Living the Mission. The fifth book is A Spiritual Formation Workbook.

The other four books are all authored by James Bryan Smith who is director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation at Friends University and has a long standing involvement in the work of Renovare. Part of that involvement was his authoring the above mentioned A Spiritual Formation Workbook.

Smith’s other four books are, The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows, The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ, The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love, and The Good and Beautiful You: Discovering the Person Jesus Created You to Be

Of course, there is other material available. For example, to name only a few, Experiencing God, Disciple: Becoming Disciples Through Bible Study, and Education for Ministry

Now – How can you help?

I would love to hear if you have used any of these resources and what value you see in them.  Were they helpful or not? Did you use them in an individual or group setting? Would you recommend them and to whom?

Additionally, what other resources do you have experience with that addresses discipleship and formation?

Please feel free to leave a comment on the blog post or email me your thoughts.

As I spend time with these resources and others, I look forward to posting what I discover.


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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