Thursday, July 1, 2010

Life Transformation or Spiritual Selfishness?

I came across this article about Life Transformation Groups via @DariusNamdaran.
As I said in my comment to the article:
Somewhat concerned that you make no mention of this resulting in serving those in need or helping the community. This causes me to question if this is real transformation. If its just about individuals "doing better" in their spiritual lives and does not move people from being selfish to selfless then it is no real transformation.
I think this opens up a wider issue about the nature of the modern "emergent" church. So much of it is about self rather than service which sets it apart from biblical Christianity. Earlier movements like the Oxford Group (not to be confused with the Oxford Movement) had a similar emphasis on personal transformation, but with a more outward look. Here are the four practices of the Oxford Group:
  1. The sharing of our sins and temptations with another Christian life given to God.
  2. Surrender our life past, present and future, into God's keeping and direction.
  3. Restitution to all whom we have wronged directly or indirectly.
  4. Listening for God's guidance, and carrying it out.
Note the interest in restitution and also the implicit service to others in number four. Incidentally Eric Liddell was a member of the Oxford Group and these practices had a great impact on his personal work as a teaching missionary and later his practice as an evangelist.

The rule of the Iona Community (a not dissimilar modern day group) has the following sections:
  1. Daily Prayer And Bible Reading.
  2. Sharing and Accounting For The Use Of Our Money.
  3. Planning and Accounting For The Use Of Our Time.
  4. Action for Justice And Peace In Society.
  5. Meeting with and Accounting to Each Other.
Surely a personal transformation has to include our relationship with money and relationships with other people? Anything else is not transformation at all.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Gordon

    I love your references to the Oxford group and the Iona community with reference to Life Transformation Groups (LTG).

    The article you are referring to is a challenge to men to practice a more rigorous approach to their Christian lives.

    The practice of LTG's is based on Niel Coles work:
    (There is a link to a PDF which gives this quote)

    To quote: "Only three tasks are to be accomplished:

    1) Sin is confessed to one another in mutual accountability.

    2) Scripture is read repetitively, in context, and in community.

    3) Souls are prayed for strategically, specifically, and continuously."

    There are ten questions that you agree to ask each other each week which include much of what you are proposing.

    Therefore, I am in agreement with you that its all about 'service' more than 'self'.

    Maybe this is one way to turn to Gods word and prayer on a regular basis. Praying for our neighbors is a good place to start serving our communities.

    I think the these groups have more similarities than differences to the Oxford Group and Iona than first impressions may give. Maybe I should have referenced the Niel Cole article.

    Such groups are often a precursor to real transformation in a community. We have seen it before, my hope is that we see it again.