Spiritual Life Inventory
By Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief last week’s Practice in triads (15–20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
Were you able to spend time in prayerful reflection of your personality and development?
Was there any new insight gleaned from the Spirit as to your particular wiring and season of the journey?
Read this overview
The whole notion of a journey with stages is not exactly as linear as it sounds. It is, after all, a metaphor, so eventually it breaks down. You don’t simply move progressively from point A to point B. You visit and revisit locations on the journey, move forward and backward, but the journey is going somewhere—you grow, become more mature, more capable, better equipped.
And sometimes you regress. Get lost. Confront a wall. The journey of discipleship is complicated and complex. This paradigm of stages can apply to your entire life journey of discipleship, or to nuanced aspects of your discipleship journey.
Meaning: Your entire journey has stages, but so does your journey with generosity, or forgiveness, or prayer. Thus, we are often paradoxical people who advance radically in one aspect of the journey while we are elsewhere mired in infancy. Discipleship is a narrow road replete with peaks, valleys, and spiraling labyrinthine tangles.
Sometimes a simple marker—you are here—can be as effective as a detailed map.
Work through this discussion question (10 minutes)
What are some areas of felt dichotomy or contrast in your stage of the discipleship journey? (For example: Is intimacy with God easy while generosity remains elusive? Is love for your enemies a given but lust a regular obstacle?)
Discuss the coming week’s Practice (10 minutes)
Frustrating though it may be, the journey of discipleship doesn’t translate perfectly to a chart, graph, or metaphor. Life is too complex, discipleship too profound. Even so, the authors of the New Testament and writers throughout church history have understood discipleship to broadly unfold in stages.
Lending language and imagery to these stages is an imperfect but helpful tool in understanding the journey and how to travel it well. One such tool is called a Spiritual Life Inventory.
Step 1: Take the Spiritual Life Inventory
Janet O. Hagberg and Robert Guelich have designed a Spiritual Life Inventory test based on their book The Critical Journey. (Note: The PDF is not digitally responsive, so we recommend printing it out and tallying your results by hand.)
Work your way through the test. (If you want to go through the questions as a Community tonight, do so and share any insights or questions that come up along the way.)
Step 2: Explore, Consider, and Reflect On Your Test Results
Once you’ve completed the test, calculated the totals, and charted your graph, spend some time with your results and the corresponding material at the end of the PDF. Some of the following questions might be helpful:
What is your Home Stage?
How do your test results resonate (or how do they not resonate) with your experience?
Are your test results surprising and/or revelatory?
Work through these discussion questions before you call it a night (5–10 minutes)
1. Typically, Stage Theory impacts individuals pretty differently. Do you find yourself comforted and informed by your stage, or desperate for clear instructions—a way forward?
2. Assume for a moment that your place in The Three Ways (Illumination, Purgation, Union) and on the Spiritual Life Inventory is pretty accurate. How can you embrace the uniqueness of your stage of apprenticeship?