Online Study

Study Description

Over the last forty-five years, Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth has become one of the most beloved of all modern spiritual writings and has helped thousands of Christians experience a deeper, freer, and more satisfying spiritual life.

This summer, we will read, discuss, and apply Foster’s insights as we seek together the liberation and transformation that come from attuning ourselves to the Holy Spirit by means of the disciplines.

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  • Length: 10 sessions
  • Teacher: The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bailes
  • Leader's Guide: Discussion questions are available for small group leaders.
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1. Meditation

Spiritual disciplines are not a program for self-improvement or a means to take control of our spiritual growth. Rather, the disciplines make us available to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. In this session, we discuss the discipline of meditation: the ability to hear God's voice and obey his word.

2. Prayer

A Christian, the Bible tells us, is one who has the Spirit of Christ, one who now addresses God as "Abba, Father." And so the life of every saint is invariably founded upon a habit of prayer. But for many, prayer remains difficult and discouraging. In this session, we discuss how to grow in this vital discipline.

3. Fasting

Jesus tells his disciples, "And when you fast...." The phrase makes clear an expectation that his disciples would fast as a regular habit, yet for many Christians today, fasting plays little role in our spiritual life. In this session, we discuss what Foster says about fasting and its importance to our life in Christ.

4. Study

Study is not something we think of as essential to the spiritual life. Yet Foster includes it in his list of spiritual disciplines, saying that without study, "we will not be free." In this session, we explore what Foster means and what study is good for the well-being of our soul.

5. Simplicity

Soren Kierkegaard once said, "Purity of heart is to will one thing." But when so many desires compete for our attention, how can we possibly will one thing? To this end, Foster invites us to the discipline of simplicity, and in this session, we discuss what simplicity is and how to cultivate it in our lives.

6. Solitude

All around us, people feel lonely and isolated, which they seek to cure by surrounding themselves with more people and more activity. Foster suggests a different solution. What we really need, he claims, is solitude and silence, and this week we examine how cultivating this discipline changes us.

7. Submission and Service

"Don't insist on your own opinions. Submit yourself to the wishes of others. Don't think about your own needs but how you can serve the needs of others." These ideals are easy to approve, but difficult to live by. Hence why Foster leads us to the disciplines of submission and service, for therein we experience great freedom.

8. Confession

Bonhoeffer once described the practice of confession as "the most profound kind of humiliation." Foster agrees and calls confession one of the essential disciplines of the spiritual life. In this session, we discuss why and how we should confess our sins to one another.

9. Worship

Theologians agree that humans are worshiping creatures. Men and women were created so that, in the words of James Torrance, “through human lips the heavens might declare the glory of God.” Worship is vital to Christian life, but what does it mean to be a good worshiper, and how can we become better worshipers?

10. Guidance and Celebration

We conclude Foster's book with a discussion of guidance and celebration, two disciplines that bookend the occasional and continuous Christian life. Some disciplines, like guidance, are needed at specific times of decision, and others, like celebration, ought to characterize the whole of our spiritual life at all times.

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We invite ordinary people to know Jesus Christ and become like Him for the sake of the world.

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