"A refreshing blend of theological acumen, educational expertise, and pastoral sensitivity. . . . Wilhoit's writing is crisp, his arguments are clear, and his insights are profound. . . . [This book] deserves to be widely read, discussed, and appropriated into the life of the church."--Barry D. Jones, Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care
Spiritual formation is undoubtedly a timely and popular topic in our materialistic culture. Plenty of high-quality books have been published, including the works of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Yet most of these resources focus on the individual. James Wilhoit leads readers in a new direction by focusing on the impact that Christian community can have on spiritual development in Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered. Also unique to this treatment is its historical and ecumenical approach. Perhaps the most important metaphor throughout the text is that of a journey. Spiritual progress is not a destination; instead, it is a continuous process. Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered offers an introduction to spiritual formation set squarely in the local church. As such it is appropriate for professors and students (both undergraduate and graduate) but it is also helpful for church leaders and spirituality readers. Features that enhance this work include its brief chapters, sidebar content, and for further reading annotations.
"James Wilhoit has written a book of special urgency for our times. In it he addresses the central problem facing the contemporary church in the Western world and worldwide, the problem of how to routinely lead its members through a path of spiritual, moral, and personal transformation that brings them into authentic Christlikeness in every aspect of their lives. . . . Dr. Wilhoit, with a warm heart and a gentle and intelligent manner, helps us see, in great detail, what we can do to relocate spiritual transformation at the center of what we do in gathering as disciples of Jesus. He helps any serious person engage the project from where they are, discover what really works for Christlikeness and what doesn't, and assess outcomes realistically to make needed adjustments as they go."--Dallas Willard (from the foreword)
"James Wilhoit presents an exciting paradigm for spiritual transformation in the community of faith--God's setting for transformation. It is a seminal work that I trust will be taken seriously."--Larry Richards, distinguished educator, North American Professors of Christian Education, and author of Creative Bible Teaching
"Theologically grounded, educationally sound, and gracious in tone, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered is a robust response to Dallas Willard's challenge to the church to give greater attention to congregation-wide spiritual formation. Pastors and church teachers will appreciate this rich resource--well versed in the spiritual formation literature, with its summaries, stories, and practical steps--to guide and discern growth toward Christlikeness."--Klaus Issler, author of Wasting Time with God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God
"From the first stunning sentence in Wilhoit's book--'Spiritual formation is the task of the church'--to the last sentence of the book--'We belong together in our Father's home'--I was hooked. Wilhoit captures the journey and struggle of spiritual growth through the life and invitations of Jesus Christ. The breadth of biblical images used to describe transformation reveals the limits of quick-fix models and one-size-fits-all programmatics. Wilhoit offers a means for the church to provide an accessible pathway for growth in the ordinary events, relationships, and brokenness of our lives. This lovely work nourished my heart, instructed my mind, and opened my spirit to the Spirit of Christ."--Adele Calhoun, pastor of spiritual formation, Christ Church of Oak Brook, IL
"Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered is the mature fruit of a devout scholar. Here Jim Wilhoit weaves theory, passion, and practice together into a rich re-presentation of the gospel for the local church. He takes the discussion about spiritual formation an important step forward, shifting the emphasis from private pursuit to corporate culture. Sensitive to the seldom-noticed dangers along the path of growth toward Christlikeness, this book is loaded with wisdom for those who desire to facilitate communities of formation. Wilhoit's insights regarding anointed teaching, public testimony, the enlarging cross, and mutual confession are alone worth the price of the book."--Evan Howard, author of The Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality