Introduction: An Unexpected Problem with Paul
As she read the book of Galatians, Elaine Heath, usually a pioneer in new ways of doing church, was surprised to find herself identifying with traditionalists. Paul’s words in Galatians caused her to realize that she needed to broaden her view of God—and she believes Galatians holds much wisdom for today’s Christians as we try to navigate rapid cultural shifts.
Chapter 1: Loving the Tradition Behind the Tradition
How did Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ on the Damascus road completely change his understanding of God? Chapter 1 addresses how Jesus’ revelations to Paul completely tore apart what Paul thought he knew about God: Paul came to understand that God offers salvation to all people, not just the Jews.
Chapter 2: Opening Ourselves to God
How does God speak to people today? Chapter 2 discusses the importance of discernment in recognizing when God speaks, briefly traces the influence of the modern Pentecostal movement, and explores what might happen if we open ourselves to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership.
Chapter 3: Authority, Discernment, Call
How did Paul determine whether he could trust the revelations he received from Christ? Chapter 3 highlights methods of discernment for Paul and for Christians today.
Chapter 4: When Systems Change
What can the church do when facing a huge systems change? Chapter 4 touches on accessibility to information, resistance to hierarchy, the decline of the traditional church, and emergence Christianity—and how all of these factors are changing our understanding of the meaning and purpose of church.
Chapter 5: Responding to Anxiety in the System
Chapter 5 stresses the importance of churches moving toward a contemplative stance—showing up to God and neighbor, paying attention to what is going on, cooperating with God, and releasing the outcome to God. Centered leaders are vital to remind anxious congregants that they are God’s beloved children.
Chapter 6: Guided by the Spirit
Chapter 6 considers how communities of faith can nimbly and daily follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. This chapter describes the kind of leaders needed to help congregations through systems change, emphasizing the importance of scripture and solid teaching and preaching.
Chapter 7: Fulfilling the Law of Christ
The strongest quality a congregation can exhibit in its community is to love well—within and beyond the walls of the church. Chapter 7 tells how bearing one another’s burdens—showing compassion toward, praying for, and helping one another—can help churches move out of anxiety about change.
Epilogue: A Letter to the Church
Elaine Heath concludes with a letter to the church, urging faith communities to remember that God’s love is for everyone, ministry is everyone’s work, God is with us, and we can trust God to take care of our anxieties as we follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership into the future.
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for those who hunger for deep spiritual experience . . .The Academy for Spiritual Formation offers a place for spiritually hungry pilgrims, both clergy and lay, to find rest and renewal. A ministry of The Upper Room, the Academy offers Two-Year or Five-Day experiences. During the Two-Year Academy, pilgrims gather at a retreat center for five days every three months over the course of two years (a total of 40 days) to worship, study, pray, fellowship, and learn. The Five-Day Academy, a modified version of the Two-Year experience, invites pilgrims to gather for five days of spiritual learning and worship.
Trained faculty in the subjects of Christian Spirituality, Spiritual Leadership, and Contemplative Prayer lead each session of The Academy. Author and theologian Elaine A. Heath has served as faculty for The Academy for over fifteen years.
The Academy’s commitment to an authentic spirituality promotes balance, inner and outer peace, holy living and just living— God’s shalom. Theologically, the focus is Trinitarian, celebrating the Creator’s blessing, delighting in the companionship of Christ, and witnessing to the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives, churches, and the world.
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