A Guide to Protestant Theology and Practice
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Among the smiling faces in church on Sunday mornings are those who long for deeper, more genuine relationships within their local congregations--active, intentional relationships that nurture the soul, foster spiritual growth, and move past surface pleasantries into the real joys and heartaches of life. In a society that is increasingly fragmented, they are looking for a place to simply belong--to come home to other people and to God.
Pastors and lay leaders may use the increasingly popular language of spiritual formation and spiritual practices, yet they struggle to germinate a culture of honest conversation about the life of faith. Drawing on decades of experience in spiritual direction, congregational ministry, and seminary teaching, this book offers a clear and rich introduction to the theology and practice of spiritual companioning in the Protestant tradition. Angela Reed, Richard Osmer, and Marcus Smucker explore the topic in a biblically based and historically informed manner and give practical help for cultivating spiritual relationships in congregations and beyond, using stories throughout to illustrate key ideas. Spiritual Companioning will be of interest to seminary professors and students as well as pastors and lay leaders. Study materials are included.
1. Spiritual Companioning as Presence
2. Spiritual Companioning in the Congregation
3. Spiritual Companioning in Spiritual Direction
4. Spiritual Companioning in Small Groups
5. Spiritual Companioning in Everyday Life
6. Spiritual Companioning and the Journey of Life
7. Spiritual Companioning for Leaders
"Everyone who ventures into a church today is looking for more than simply an hour of spiritual entertainment. From the depths of their souls rises a yearning to be part of a truly spiritual community, to be knit together with other seekers of holiness. This book unfolds how it can happen."
Craig Barnes, president, Princeton Theological Seminary
"The authors of this book have rightly discerned that life, church, and community are about relationships. They have outlined those crucial phases of life where companionship is desperately needed. Writing in a personal and passionate way, these sensitive authors offer insight and guidance for modern, growing disciples."
Ben Campbell Johnson, professor emeritus, Christian spirituality, Columbia Theological Seminary
"Spiritual Companioning offers a comprehensive, well-rounded exploration of the ways spiritual guidance can become an animating vision for healthy congregations and their leaders. Carefully and clearly written, with exercises at the end of each chapter that are designed to inspire contemplative reflection on personal and congregational dimensions of faith formation, this book could be a stimulating guidebook for discussions among pastors and lay leaders, in Christian formation committees, or in seminary classrooms. Readers will be inspired by the clarity and simplicity of this vision, which is nothing less than a return to the pulsing heart of the gospel: loving God, neighbor, and self."
Marlene Kropf, professor emerita of spiritual formation and worship, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
2016 Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center (MIDWC) Book Award
"In an inspired move, the authors take the skills and sensibilities of spiritual direction and apply them more broadly to other areas of congregational relationships, such as small groups, informal conversations, everyday life, and development over the lifespan. The result is a comprehensive vision of how spiritual companioning can flower in congregational life. The beauty of their approach is that readers do not need to know anything about spiritual direction to imagine ways of practicing spiritual companionship in their own lives and contexts. . . . Their artful way of rooting spiritual companioning in the Protestant rather than the Catholic tradition demonstrates that as rich as the Catholic tradition of spirituality is, the Protestant tradition has its own intriguing resources for enlivening congregations. . . . The authors, practical theologians all, write passionately about the communal, relational nature of the church and the communal nature of the Trinity. They successfully skirt the individualistic approach that is sometimes found in books on Christian spirituality, and they make a compelling, winsome case for why spiritual companioning is a gift for the church."
"Drawing on the experience and expertise of three seasoned professors with Baptist, Mennonite, and Presbyterian backgrounds, Spiritual Companioning successfully blends sound biblical theology, contemporary research, and accessible biblical, historical, and modern case studies. . . . Each chapter ends with exercises and suggestions for introducing or enhancing spiritual companioning relationships in faith-based contexts. . . . For those interested in further reading, each chapter suggests further resources available. . . . Spiritual formation leaders, both professional and lay, will be eager to read and apply this introductory resource. . . . The authors have contributed a valuable text for Christian leaders who desire to explore ministries of spiritual companionship from a Protestant perspective."
Angela D. Wisdom,
Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care
"Much of what I have read in spiritual formation is dependent upon Catholic traditions and perspectives. It is refreshing to read a volume that intentionally offers a uniquely Protestant perspective. . . . I found the book to be very readable and helpful. There is ample theological and biblical support, a wealth of practical application and personal sharing of insights from the authors' Anabaptist and American experience. If, like me, your readings in spirituality have been primarily Catholic and/or European, I recommend this book as an excellent expression of the unique considerations of the American Anabaptist approach to spiritual formation and companionship."
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