Today I attended a workshop on evangelism and church growth sponsored by the Texas Annual Conference Division of Evangelism and committee on small churches. Dr. George Hunter, professor of Evangelism and Church Growth was the speaker. He’s written piles of books, several of which I’ve read, and thought it beneficial to go and take some of my leaders with me.
In the midst of teaching mostly on evangelism, a question arose that allowed him to share some thoughts on spiritual formation. He warned that his opinions would likely be seen as heretical – I can see why, but still think they’re worth sharing.
1. The “daily bible reading” model of spiritual formation is vastly over rated. Not only has it not produced the fruit we’re looking for, but it presupposes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, high literacy rates, and the wealth and leisure necessary to owning and reading books – a modern and still localized possibility.
2. Memorization is more historic and works better to interiorize the Word and to incorporate it into all aspects of our lives.
3. Obedience precedes and leads to growth in faith. The “daily bible reading” model tends to value knowledge over obedience, and can even be a subsitute for obedience.