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The Blind Spot of the Spiritual Formation Movement

Listening to a sermon is a spiritual discipline that needs to be learned.

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The lost discipline of listening

Eight years ago I bought a Toyota Camry that has served me well in my daily commute to work. But I have discovered one downside: after several close calls, I've learned when changing lanes that I can check all my mirrors carefully and still miss a car that's right beside me. My car has a large blind spot.

I have had a similar experience with a movement I much appreciate: the spiritual formation movement. Books on spiritual formation speak my language. I'm a pastor who wants to see people grow into strong disciples of Jesus Christ. Disciplines of any sort appeal to me—spiritual disciplines in particular. That's why as much as I respect those who have written on spiritual formation, I was surprised to find that they have a large blind spot: their view of preaching.

Read books on spiritual formation and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who lists listening to the preaching of God's Word as a first-order spiritual discipline. Granted, the writers typically ...

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Displaying 1–5 of 6 comments

Alan Rathbun

December 02, 2008  10:02am

Sounds great... now how do we train people to listen? :)

Lee Eclov

November 24, 2008  7:32pm

Brian, Right on! It isn't only that the spiritual formation movement doesn't consider preaching a spiritual discipline; they do not usually think of preaching at all. Nor do they ever help us think how to preach with a special bent toward spiritual formation. In one sense, of course, all biblical preaching is spiritual formation, but there is a soul-sense that some preaching has that contributes much more significantly to the shaping of souls that even biblical sermons which lack it. Thanks for this.

Pastor Richard

November 24, 2008  12:18pm

wow what an enlighting subject it has set me stright as a pastor of the gospel of Jesus Christ. it has helped me a lot helped me focus my message better God Bless You Keep up the good work that you are doing

Bill White

November 24, 2008  11:05am

I'm a bit embarrassed that this is the first time the thought has ever occurred to me of listening to biblical preaching as a spiritual discipline. Thank you for this great contribution to the body of literature out there on spiritual disciplines. I hope this becomes more standard in that literature, because it has indeed been a real oversight.

Richard Doebler

November 24, 2008  9:03am

Just as people can listen to sermons for the wrong reasons, we pastors can preach for the wrong reasons: to be entertaining, to gain favor with people by appealing to their natural desires, to impress people with our great knowledge, or to fulfill an obligation (part of our job description). There may be other deceptive motivations for preachers as well. If these times when people will not accept sound doctrine but rather seek to satisfy their own desires (2 Tim 4:3), it should be noted that they have co-conspirators: "a great number of teachers [who will] say what their itching ears want to hear."

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