Spiritual Formation Across the Lifespan
PSYC 210 – D05
One may wonder what spiritual formation is and how it happens. Spiritual formation is the way in which you are formed spiritually by learning about and having faith in God throughout your life. It is important that Spiritual formation occurs throughout the lifespan so that we may develop a deep relationship with Christ. James Fowler has developed 6 stages of faith that appropriately explain one’s spiritual formation throughout their life. Spiritual formation can begin to develop in young children and may still be forming, or possibly decreasing, throughout old age. Many occurrences in life can lead to the enhancement of spiritual formation, while there are also times that negative life experiences can decrease one’s assurance in the Lord. Many things, even not knowing what to do to get that spark back with the Lord, can cause hitting a bump in the road of one’s spiritual journey. However, in the Bible the Lord shows many ways to stay on track and keep growing in Him. The development of Spiritual formation and growth throughout the lifespan is rewarding, peaceful and most of all, what the Lord wants everyone to experience.
Spiritual formation occurs throughout the lifespan, starting at a very young age and can continue through old age. How far one is willing to go to be formed spiritually is up to them. There are many obstacles in life that may prevent one from growing spiritually; however, there are also many occurrences in life that further spiritual formation. One of the most important things that someone can experience in life is spiritual formation, and there are many ways that it may happen. Spiritual formation is “the process of spiritual shaping and growth” (MacArthur, 2012). Children can start being formed spiritually at an early age. Attending Sunday school, having a parent read Bible stories or sing Bible songs with them, and hearing about the mighty works of God can all assist in a child’s spiritual growth. Assistance is necessary for a child to begin their spiritual journey. “From an early age, children have significant learning and interpretative capacities” (Scott, 2004) which makes them extremely open to taking in what they see and hear. (In her journal article, Faith Formation Across the Generations, Mariette Martineau explains, “We are not formed or fashioned into a people in isolation” (Martineau, 2007). We need assistance in taking the spiritual journey. A child cannot begin to know God if the Word is never introduced to them. “Children grow in their understanding of discipleship as they listen to their parents or other adults talk about the challenges of being a person of justice” (Martineau, 2007). When a child is involved in church at an early age, memoirs are put into place through relationships and also through teaching (Morgenthaler, Keiser, & Larson, 2014). These memories “will shape faith formation and draw the child closer to Jesus Christ (Morgenthaler, Keiser, & Larson, 2014). Spiritual formation starts here.
James Fowler introduced the theory on the 6 stages of faith. In his theory he explains the journey, through the lifespan, of spiritual formation. It is a very important theory to understand when it comes to spiritual formation across the lifespan. He introduces stage one as an imaginative stage, usually from ages 2-7, where beliefs are formed and the child is very easily persuaded. Negative teachings during this stage could be very damaging to a child’s mind and could harm their spiritual journey. The second stage in Fowler’s theory is when a child starts to understand more clearly the real meaning behind the teachings. The fairy-tale like beliefs start to become more realistic and they are exchanged for more life like situations. The meaning behind right and wrong starts to be understood and a...
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