Receive. Reflect. Respond. Repeat.
Four simple words, but in them we find a pattern for growth and a template for development. For vitality and flourishing, the circle continues unbroken — a cycle that keeps guiding us in the direction of becoming our truest selves and discovering our good purpose. This is the task of spiritual formation both for individuals and communities. As people of faith, we undertake this important work accompanied by the Spirit of the One who makes all things new.
To begin in earnest we open our ourselves to receiving new information, to hearing other perspectives, to seeing with fresh eyes, and to recognizing previously unknown insight. Once we begin living into this openness, our minds and hearts clear space for reflection and inner dialogue. What are the implications of the new information? Why does my perspective differ or align with the other? How do I train my eyes to see the world and my situation afresh each day? What shall I do with new insights? By engaging the questions thoughtfully we prepare ourselves for responding and living into our reflections as opportunities arise in our lives.
Over time as we repeat the cycle in an ongoing and organic way, we discover that we have changed. We have grown. We have developed. We are increasingly mature and self-aware. We are being transformed.
As organizations and congregations this same cycle provides a framework for our transformation as bodies. Sometimes our systems are resistant to growth or stuck in a default pattern that needs interrupted in order to move forward. Sometimes outside events, internal crises, or volatile experiences press us to re-evaluate. Recognizing such situations may call us to engage this process. What are we being called to receive in this season? How do we feel about what we’ve received, and what are our reactions to and thoughts about these ideas? How might God be calling us to respond to what we have received and reflected upon?
Receive. Reflect. Respond. Repeat. Time spent doing this intentional work will transform our churches. As we seek to learn and listen and discern, we discover that purposeful change is possible and that God still has work for us to do in the world. We may, in fact, discover that by receiving (hearing) and reflecting (accepting), our response may yield a harvest far greater than we ever imagined.
Friends, we’ve got growing to do. May we do our part and trust God for the rest.
Mark 4:3-8, 20
3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. . . . 20 And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”