Exploring Spirituality in the Intimate, Personal and at the Margins - Bruce Hindmarsh on the Future of Spiritual Formation
Bruce Hindmarsh (Regent College) considers the prospects and areas for growth in the future of spiritual formation. Interviewed by Steve Porter (CCT Associate Director).
Bruce, you mentioned the fragmentation that is involved in our culture, and coming out of a overly cognitive or behavioristic form of Christianity. If those are places where the Evangelical church is maybe coming out of, what’s ahead of us? I mean, do you see kind of new or places where there’s still room for growth? And do you see a sense of what the next kind of hurdle is for folks on this?
I think there’s two areas where I think we might think about it. I do think we’re seeing and will see increasing fragmentation. And even the whole notion of sort of what the Evangelical tradition represents and what Evangelicalism is. I think we are seeing an increasing fragmenting of identity that is just part of the repitity, the mobility, and the fragmentation of society generally.
And I think the two areas where I would think would be most promising, one is areas of activity that are not fundamentally programmatic. And it’s not simply a matter of how do we gather resources to take a new initiative, to plan, to gather resources, to implement, evaluate, and repeat. You know, and that kind of model of resourcefulness. It’s not that we don’t need good institutions doing good things, but I think the whole sphere of the freedom to act personally, even in the midst of institutional life.
And we’re talking a little bit about C.S. Lewis because of the anniversary. And I just think of the importance of the friendships, the hidden history of friendship of the Inklings. The hidden history of friendship as the source of fruitfulness of great enterprises. And, often, sort of behind these initiatives are just people acting in the freedom of their own persons to reach out in friendship, in hospitality.
The second area I would think for us to be attentive to is the margins. I think so often renewal comes, you know, not necessarily from the leadership of the pastor who comes off the mountain with a great vision, but it may be the youth group. I think about in the early modern world how many renewal movements began among young people. You know, there’s a death in the community the young people gather to pray.
And then the sense of spiritual concern spreads through the whole community. So I think it’s good for us to be attentive. God is at work, he is building his kingdom. Where is it happening? But I think in the area of the intimate, of the personal, even the private sphere, and on the margins might be places to look. [rhythmic instrumental music]