American Theologian James Fowler wrote a book called "Stages of Faith" which identified a human faith development process. This link Stages of Faith through psychologycharts.com gives you a visual perspective of the process. I find this document extremely helpful with understanding mine and others spiritual journey.
There Is No Right Stage
Everyone is at a different spot on their spiritual journey. Key words their faith journey, not yours. Truth comes from many experiences and stages. It's important we acknowledge and value people where they are at. Sometimes it can be frustrating when we do not see other people questioning or thinking in similar ways about faith. But that's the beauty of faith development. It's a personal process that every individual dictates. As a welcoming community we need to be supportive of where others are and the belief systems they have. Dialogue is an excellent tool to gain understanding and needs to be used with respect in an essence of knowledge seeking not for the purpose of changing others. It's also important not to push others into a faith crisis. People will move on in their own time, and the pushing more than likely will cause a greater division rather than openness.
Individual growth is personal and happens differently for each person. These changes occurring deep within us or in our own understandings often leave us feeling alone. Churches in particular have a history of struggling to help individuals in this process. Contentions with what has been taught in church or the bible can cause individuals to be quiet for fear of being outcast or judged. Lack of communication and transparency heightens these fears. I want to assure you there are some churches who will assist in helping you work through your changing belief system without judgement. So be courageous and openly and honestly talk with others about your questioning.
Stage 5 - Focus On Community
I want to draw attention to Stage 5. It states truth can be found from many different experiences and begins to put more credibility in the aspect of community rather than individualism. The stage also identifies people gaining an understanding of life being full of mystery, removing the fear of individuals from having to have the right answers.
I find the idea of our community being the driving force behind our faith compelling. Living in community with others being the key aspect of faith. What this means is truly living out discipleship must be in conjunction with a community. It is in community where our faith grows and we respond in compassionate ways to assist others. Our focus changes from ourselves to the community, those around me that are continually in my presence.
Where Are YOU At?
I choose to live out my faith journey with Community of Christ. The emphasis on community and holding up the worth of all people speaks to who I am and what I feel God is about in this world.
How are you living out your faith journey? What stage of faith are you in? What communities are important for you? Who is driving you to a deeper faith connection? How does your community reflect you beliefs?
Thank you for all those reading and following along! Please share a question of faith you have with someone in your community. If you are uncomfortable with that please go to the contact us page and I will be happy to talk with you.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting. They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation. They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ or Midlands Mission Center. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.