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5 Stars Out Of 5
Connecting Spiritual Growth, Leadership, and Spiritual Direction
September 3, 2014
As a small group leader, I found the author's perspective on the connections among spiritual growth, leadership, and spiritual direction to be exceedingly helpful. It helped that I was already familiar with the research and results of the "Reveal" study, but it was not a prerequisite to understanding the author's premise (she identified the results that tied in to her material). I appreciate the adjustments in leadership style, spiritual direction, and community style that Caliguire recommends for each phase of spiritual growth. I think her recommendations are very appropriate and helpful. What surprised me most about the book is the way in which I am able to apply what I learned to my own spiritual development as an individual. It enables me to be informed about the type of leadership, community, and spiritual direction I need and should be seeking out for my own continuing growth.
Note: I am acquainted with the author of the book, and I have sat under her teaching. The opinion expressed here is my own, based on my personal reading of the book. I was not solicited by the author or the publisher to provide a review of the book. I purchased a copy of the book for my own edification and enjoyment because I was interested in the topic and I value the insights the author has to offer.
Mindy Caliguire is the founder of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase "soul health" in the body of Christ. Mindy serves as a frequent speaker and leadership consultant, working with local churches and national organizations and she contributes to Leadership and Conversations journals. Her latest book "Stir: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships" is about doing church life together; Learning Together, Journeying Together, and Following Together.
Each of these "together movements" is a STAGE that Mindy dives into - each one leading into and feeding the next. For Mindy, she sees not just the church, but all of Christianity as a shared experience that works best when each of us is vulnerable and open to inviting others in.
I would add that this book seems more directed at pastors and church leaders - in that it gives support for church "structure." Not that it could not be read by a small group or even an individual, but... it seems almost "missing the mark" that a book about "togetherness" is not experienced by a larger group (does that make sense?). I think this book would work great for small group curriculum and hopefully that is something that Zondervan is thinking about.
This subject is certainly in the author's wheel house and she writes with a very knowledgeable and comforting voice.
Thank you to Zondervan for this review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
In STIR, Mindy Caliguire advocates for a change in local churches to support discipleship transformation through relationships rather than programs. Caligure describes three stages in spiritual transformation: 1) Learning together, 2) Journeying together, and 3) Following together. When believers begin their spiritual walk with Christ, they need highly directive relationships with other believers who are farther along than them, but as they move from stage one, to two, and to three, they begin to need highly discerning relationships. Many churches experience little discipleship because they attempt to aid believers' transformation by throwing programs and curriculum at them. Rather, churches need to reset their approach and cast vision for intentional relationships that foster growth. Caliguire not only gives instruction for how to identify which stage people are in, but she also gives practical advice for how to be the one directing and discerning in these relationships.
While reading this book, it became as much of a devotional read to me as it was informative. During one of the chapters, the Holy Spirit connected with my heart that I've been in a season for the past year and a half that I hadn't realized. Personally, it's made me pray more for close friends to truly share my life and heart with. I also appreciate that Caliguire emphasizes the need for growth and transformative discipleship to take place our entire lives. Mature believers need relationships that keep them going just as much as new believers do. From the perspective of a Discipleship Pastor, this has caused me to ask the question, "In the discipleship structure of our church, how can we make it less about curriculum and more about connecting people in Christ-centered relationships?".
This book is a quick read and good for getting the conversation started. It would be a great book to give to lay leaders (or staff) who are involved in leading any sort of community groups in your church, such as small group leaders.