Spiritual Formation

What is Christian Spiritual Formation?

As our relationship with Jesus deepens, His Spirit works within us to grow us in Christlikeness. This is the Biblical framework of spiritual formation (or transformation) – to literally be “formed” into the likeness of Jesus, so that the nature of Christ becomes the natural expression of our whole selves affecting not only our minds but also our hearts, souls, spirits and bodies.

Spiritual formation is not an optional extra in the Christian journey, authentic Christian discipleship and spiritual formation are closely linked.

“Spiritual formation is for everyone. Just as there is an ‘outer you’ that is being formed and shaped all the time, like it or not, by accident or on purpose, so there is an ‘inner you’. You have a spirit. And it’s constantly being shaped and tugged at: by what you hear and watch and say and read and think and experience. Everyone is being spiritually formed all the time. Whether they want to or not. Whether they’re Christian or not. The question isn’t if someone will sign up for spiritual formation; it’s just who and what our spirits will be formed by.”

John Ortberg

Is Spiritual Formation Biblical?
With so many false “spiritualities” around today, it is imperative that we remain on a truly Christian path. As evangelical Christians, we should hold firmly to Scripture so that we are not misled. It therefore follows that the process of spiritual formation will be clearly evident in God’s word.

The apostle Paul says:

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” Romans 8:29

“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pangs of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Isn’t Spiritual Formation just another name for self-centred navel gazing?
The primary goal of the spiritual formation process is to draw nearer to God in Christ, thus focussing less and less on self. Authentic Christian spiritual formation should bear the abundant spiritual fruit of both godly character and a life poured out in love for God and others.


“Spiritual Formation is the process by which God forms Christ’s character in believers by the ministry of the Spirit, in the context of community, and in accordance with Biblical standards. This process involves the transformation of the whole person in desires, thoughts, behaviours, and styles of relating with God and others. Such life change is manifest in a growing love for God and others—a dying to self and living for Christ.”

Dallas Theological Seminary

(Spiritual Formation Department)