Spiritual Formation, Making It Stick! (Pt. 3)

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Recognizing the spiritual needs of culture reveals the great need, in Christian schools, for a more focused approach to "spiritual formation" necessary. Planning how to make spiritual formation" integral to the curriculum then is paramount. Making "spiritual formation" stick, however, becomes the challenge!

Deuteronomy six offers so much to consider, so many lessons, and also the promises of God. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." The "Shema" is actually more than just these famous words. It forms a unified three part message: Love the Lord our God; blessing comes through obedience; and committing to that obedience is required.

Jesus thought it important enough to stress it himself. (Mark 12:29-31) In addition to loving God as the "greatest commandment" he says, "The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Here is the foundation of that which we have come to call a "Christian worldview."

Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, the important Christian thinker of the last half of the twentieth century defines the "Christian worldview" as: "seeing and understanding God the Creator and His creation i.e., man and the world-primarily through the lens of God's special revelation, the Holy Scriptures, and secondarily through God's natural revelation in creation as interpreted by human reason and reconciled by and with Scripture, for the purpose of believing and behaving in accord with God's will and, thereby, glorifying God with one's mind and life, both now and in eternity."

Now considering the "Shema," words of Jesus, and definition of Dr. Henry designing curriculum which provides "sticking power" should be quite clear, design course work to include these ideas. Of course those doing the designing and teaching must model the "Christian worldview" for their students. Worldview demands "integrity" and at the highest level! Finding teaching professionals of the highest quality demands a means by which to sift through the candidates which come your way, a plan sufficient for the task, a mechanism to cut through the facade.

From my point of view there are three questions I suggest asking when interviewing prospective teachers.

1. Do you have the gift of teaching?
2. Has God called you to teach?
3. Can you provide examples, confirmation of this gift and calling?

A "No" answer on any of these questions terminates an interview. In my mind you can't acquire, learn, or discover the gift, calling, or confirmation.

Without emphasis on worldview, "spiritual formation" Christendom will experience great loss. "Spiritual formation" is the "core business," the reason for Christian education. In fact we should find intriguing and come to believe that which Dr. Allen Guelzo describes as "…a transcendent meaning to learning, that the love of learning is indeed akin to the desire for God." It should be no surprise that Christian schools find no cultural consensus, but Christian school leadership and faculties should arrive at consensus on "Christian formation" for the sake of a future for Christian school students and for Christian education!