Over the past year, I’ve spent a good bit of my time thinking about the nature of evangelical and Baptist spirituality. In the coming months, I will probably share some of my reflections here and there on this blog. I’m not certain of what will ultimately comes from these musings, besides (I hope) my own spiritual growth and some material to pass on to my students and church members.
One of the more interesting books I’ve read recently is Missional Spirituality: Embodying God’s Love from the Inside Out (IVP, 2011). The authors, Roger Helland and Len Hjalmarson, are Canadian evangelical leaders. Furthermore, Helland is a Baptist and Hjalmarson is a Mennonite, so these two brothers are uniquely positioned to think about missional spirituality from the perspective of low church, free church, baptistic evangelicals. While I don’t agree with all of their conclusions or emphases, I have found them to be helpful conversation partners as I have been pondering the relationship between spirituality and mission.
As I was thinking of the best way to mention Missional Spirituality on this blog, I came across a helpful summary of the book by Scot McKnight. What follows is not a bulleted list excerpted from Helland and Hjalmarson, but rather McKnight’s summary of the emphases put forward in Missional Spirituality.
1) Practicing union with Christ: abiding in Christ is what discipleship is all about. Focus on John 15:1-17.
2) Practicing obedience: “the spiritual life is the surrendered life.”
3) Practicing humility.
4) Practicing missio reading and prayer. Not just prayer that fosters intimacy but prayer that fosters love for others, the Jesus Creed.
5) Practicing worship. The problem is defective views of God; we need an expansive sense of God’s grandeur and majesty and glory.
6) Practicing enchantment. Attentiveness to God’s handiwork.
7) Practicing Christ-mindedness.
8) Practicing faith-thinking. This is about theological reflection to learn to think our way into the goodness and glory of God and what God is doing in this world. Theological imagination can be developed.
9) Practicing gratitude.
10) Then a series on “From all your strength”: practicing treasure-talents-time, loving God from our treasure, loving God from our talents, and loving God from our time.
11) Practicing loving your neighbor: by practicing presence, by practicing refuge, and by practicing hospitality.
While I would perhaps tease out some of the details differently than the authors of Missional Spirituality (and McKnight), I think this list is a helpful starting place. I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Missional Spirituality and give it a close read.