In Invitation to a Journey, Robert Mulholland, Jr. writes that spiritual formation is “the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others.” We are becoming more Christlike, not for ourselves but in order to serve God and our neighbor.
The Building Blocks of Faith describe four spiritual needs everyone has that are met in Christ. Addressing these needs helps faith to flourish in people of all ages. (If you are unfamiliar with the Building Blocks model, read more here. The Building Blocks can help you look at your own spiritual formation and discover areas where you might need to continue growing.
You might want to start by taking this Building Blocks-based self-assessment developed by Meadowlands Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Ancaster, Ontario. Then check out the resources and exercises below for each Building Block.
The Need to Belong
For our faith to grow, our deep need for belonging must be met. We need God’s Spirit and God’s people to help us know that we belong to God and that we belong in God’s family, the church. And we also need to create spaces for other people to belong. Read more about the need to belong.
In the classic book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning offers a strong view of belonging, especially in the introduction and in the dedication.
Making space for people from other cultures to belong requires cultural literacy. Check out the short guide Christians and Cultural Difference by David I. Smith and Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim for a helpful introduction.
Engaging God’s World by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. explores how a Reformed worldview can shape how Christians can engage with culture.
If someone asked you, “What is the Bible about?” or “Who is Jesus?”, how would you answer? Developing an understanding of the arc of God’s story and being able to communicate it is important. For a very simple version, check out A Gospel Summary for Kids. Try rewriting it in your own words through the lens of your adult understanding.
Ask yourself “Whose voices am I listening to?” Are you aware of the sources of your online reading or listening? How do you discern which voices to listen to? Are there any global voices in your listening?
Read the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicean Creed devotionally. Notice the use of the words “I” and “we.” Wrestle with each statement of belief for yourself.
The Need to Have Hope
For our faith to grow, we need to have a confident hope through Christ that God will keep God’s promises and that all things are working together for our salvation so that we might bless others. Read more about the need to have hope.
Read the book of Psalms (either all at once, or one psalm a day). Notice how when the psalmists write about distress, sorrow and pain, their writing also takes a turn toward hope in God’s everlasting love. David Taylor’s book Open and Unafraid is a good companion to your psalm-reading.
Engaging God’s World by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., includes a chapter on longing and hope, situating the idea of hope firmly in the biblical story.
N.T. Wright explores how our hope is intertwined with how we live today and is rooted in the resurrection in his book Surprised by Hope.
Keep your eyes open for “God sightings”: places in your life where you see God at work. Write each one on a sticky note and post it on a door or window. Notice how quickly the space fills with reminders that God is at work in your life.
In Calling All Years Good, authors Kathleen A. Calahan and Bonnie J. Miller-Mclemore explore how to strengthen our calling at all ages.
How was the early church so successful? How can we find our calling in this culture so we can be equipped for following Christ? Listen to this episode of the Equipped podcast with host Chris Brooks and his guest Jerry Sittser.
Engaging God’s World by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. includes a helpful chapter on vocation and calling that situates our call in God’s redemptive story.
If you’re unsure about your own calling, do some work on discovering your spiritual gifts.
Invite people to gather to talk about how they arrived at their current vocation (calling), how they approached any changes in vocation, and what their future vocation (calling) might look like. For an intergenerational flair, invite your church youth group to join you.
Act as a mentor to help a younger person explore their calling.
Looking for more ways to grow in faith?
Check out our Faith Practices Project—an accessible collection of resources that will encourage you to explore a deeper, more life-giving faith through the practices of sabbath, gratitude, generosity, hospitality, engaging Scripture, justice and mercy, listening, celebration, prayer, wonder, remembering, and service.