Thoughts on Contemplation and Planning

contemplation listening prayer mentors planning spiritual formation thoughts Apr 06, 2022

Blog by Alan Fadling

I’m grateful for mentors in my life who have pressed me to think deeply about how our life of prayer intersects with our active life of work and ministry. It is too easy to emphasize one and neglect the other.


I’m grateful for an emphasis on spiritual formation that has grown over the last few decades in the church. I’ve noticed, though, that sometimes talk about spiritual formation changes our thinking without changing our modus operandi. Sometimes the boundary between our personal experience of spiritual formation and the way we lead, strategize, or plan seems rather non-porous.


A porous approach to spiritual formation in leadership planning meetings, for example, might include practices such as corporate listening prayer, biblical reflection, intercession, and thanksgiving. There would be more than just a brief devotional to start the gathering. Rather, a more significant and intentional space would be made to experience God in community before we engage the work of God together.


I’ve found that my own experience of spiritual transformation began at the personal level, but that the actual way I did ministry changed very little at first. I taught spiritual formation ideas but led in a fairly non-formational way. Soon, I experienced spiritual formation as part of a community—a shared experience of spiritual transformation that extended the process further but still wasn’t really impacting my actual methods of planning, leading events, and strategizing.


The dynamics of transformation took awhile to soak down into the ways and means of my planning and implementation of ministry. It is possible to affirm the idea and value of spiritual formation without it actually changing how we do things.


For Reflection:

In ministry or leadership teams you direct or participate in, how much time is spent together actually practicing things like prayer and scripture reflection in community? To what degree do these practices season your everyday work of planning, decision-making, and goal-setting?


Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash