Implementing A Spiritual Formation Program In The North Miami Seventh-day Adventist Church
Spiritual Formation--Seventh-day Adventists; North Miami Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church (Miami
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AbstractProblem From 1986 to 2005, the North Miami Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church has never been exposed to spiritual formation. The poor inadequate knowledge of church members as to how to practice the presence of God on a daily basis and the lack of numerical and spiritual growth, along with the unfulfilled goals of the founding members of the church, called for special and immediate action. The purpose of this project was to develop and implement a spiritual formation program in the church and address this deep spiritual need that had not been met over the years. Method A nine-month process in two stages began with an assessment of spiritual needs of the congregation and a review of church history. A group of twenty church members was exposed to a significant number of specific seminars on spirituality and was introduced to the concept of practicing the presence of God through the use of spiritual disciplines. Time of reflection on God’s presence in their personal history, along with weekly meetings which involved prayer, spiritual topics, spiritual disciplines, discussions and a specific program to follow during every week took the participants on a new journey of Christian life. All of these along with a special spiritual inventory, ten days of prayer and fasting for the Holy Spirit, and direct involvement in two evangelistic crusades were meant to teach and train the participants in the biblical practices of spiritual growth and to help them develop an authentic and permanent relationship with God. Results At the conclusion of the spiritual formation program of the nine-month time period, the church had witnessed positive changes. A new spiritual mindset seems to characterize an increasing number of members. Based upon the evaluation process and personal testimonies, all participants seemed to have experienced new ideas in their relationship with God. Their understanding on the meaning and importance of spirituality has improved considerably, and their determination to continue the process of spiritual formation is remarkable. Since the program began, to its completion, twenty-eight persons were baptized in the church and two were added by profession of faith. This number is very close to the number of baptisms over the previous ten years. A seven year decline in church membership had been reversed. Conclusions The project was effective in attaining an important level of understanding of spirituality and in achieving a personal involvement in the process of spiritual formation. It is evident that the spiritual formation program brought about a new spiritual atmosphere in the church. A number of church members testify to spiritual growth in their lives that perhaps otherwise could not take place. The process of change that took place at North Miami Beach SDA Church with the twenty participants in the program has the potential to spread over the entire congregation and may also serve as a model to other local churches wishing to develop a relationship with God that is genuine, biblical, permanent and rewarding.