Whatever Happened to Spiritual Formation? (Part Two): Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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20 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I have been fortunate to have this type of mentoring and accountability in my life and ministry for a long time.
    Nothing…and I mean nothing…is more valuable than working with people who have been where you’re going.
    The accountability aspect is paramount…many of the issues we have in the church would be ameliorated by all pastors having someone to speak into their lives…

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    I would whole-heartedly agree. As I reflected on those who have been with me in my journey, I am astounded at the help (often practical) and the sound counsel I received. Those who choose to be “lone rangers” are missing out on so much…

  3. Michael says:

    I will add this…I meet with Duane at least once a week…and with pstrmike frequently as well.
    I’m 60 years old and have been in the ministry for almost 30 of those years…and those times with both are invaluable to my own spiritual formation and the ministry God me.
    You’re never too old…

  4. Josh says:

    Very little of this type of formal “guiding” in baptist life, and it is to our detriment. Each person is pretty much supposed to figure it out for himself, which usually means it doesn’t happen. I have mentors, but none of them would call themselves that.

  5. Duane Arnold says:


    I have wondered if the independent nature of some churches actually discourages some from the sort of “connection” required in spiritual direction… just a thought.

  6. Michael says:


    I saw the same thing for years in Calvary Chapel…you end up with pastors who are not only stuck spiritually, but don’t even know how to do a funeral or wedding…

  7. Xenia says:

    I am very thankful for Father G. He knows the worst about me but always thinks the best of me. Let me tell you, there’s been quite a few sins I would have committed except I knew I would have to confess them to God and Father G and that thought was unbearable.

  8. Michael says:


    Recapturing the rite of confession would go a long ways toward curing what ails us…

  9. Duane Arnold says:


    A good confessor is hard to find…

  10. Josh says:

    Duane – While there is no prohibition for “connection” in baptist churches, there is also no system. It is completely up to individuals to discover, and is therefore lacking. Many are probably in my situation and rely on former pastors or professors, but that is still limited.

    Michael – I will say that those things are covered in seminary. Baptists encourage seminary attendance.

  11. pstrmike says:

    Thanks Duane. Spiritual direction is a helpful piece in our spiritual formation and hasn’t received the exposure informing people of such a resource. In a basic sense, it is not much different than the discipleship model of Paul and Timothy that I learned back in the 70’s. To some degree, I am spiritually directing my congregation as their pastor.

    I have had some great mentors in my life. My friend Sam Lewis was helpful to me way back in my late teens, and we still connect periodically. Jim Frost was my professor in discipleship classes and contributed toward the foundation that I was establishing. In my doctoral work, MaryKate Morse has been a wonderful mentor and friend. Michael and I have mentored each other for years now; some of our conversations should have been podcasted, some, I am glad will never go beyond the two of us 😉

    I am planning on taking the necessary classes for my Spiritual Director certification at Portland Seminary. If all goes according to plan, I will be certified by this time next year.

  12. Duane Arnold says:


    It’s very interesting historically. The notion of confessors, spiritual directors, etc., was commonplace and accepted throughout the history of the Church. You think of Alexander and Athanasius, Ambrose and Augustine, etc.. Moreover, spiritual direction was “gender neutral” – think Julian of Norwich or Teresa of Avila. Thomas a’Kempis extolled it along with the Brethren of the Common life. It was accepted and practiced right up to the early 20th century when it fell out of favor, only to be discovered again in the 70s and 80s. I’ve often wondered what happened and why?

  13. pstrmike says:

    I’m currently reading Julia Gatta’s book “The Pastoral Art of the English Mystics,” which covers Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich and “The Cloud of Unknowing.” What is clear is that these people were involved in spiritual direction, and such context is really individual pastoral ministry.

  14. Duane Arnold says:


    Agreed! Again, I wonder why it fell out of favor? Was it the rise of celebrity preachers, or did it just seem foreign to modern sensibilities…

  15. Eric says:

    I’ve not usually had a mentor in a formal arrangement, but the pastors (and youth leaders, when I was younger) of my churches over the years have played that kind of role. That seems the best for us laypeople, while church leaders are best served by someone outside their context.

    Last week I moved house again. I’m living with a man whose wife recently left him (and as a result, he is taking his Christian faith seriously again). I came here wanting to live the ordinary Christian life, getting on with my work and research, but I find myself spending a lot of time listening, praying and reading the bible with a brother in need of that input (I’m not the only one here – a retired pastor friend is also helping him a lot).

  16. Duane Arnold says:


    You’re doing God’s work…

  17. j2theperson says:

    Finding a spiritual mentor seems pretty unobtainable right now. Between working and watching my children I feel so scattered; I can’t even picture myself getting organized enough to track down a mentor.

  18. Duane Arnold says:


    It is a difficulty, especially with the demands on your time. On the other hand, if you did find someone you could engage in journaling through the month – not extended, but the concerns of the day – and maybe meet up once a month for 15 minutes or half an hour, just to share. It could also be “time for you”, even if it was just a little…

  19. j2theperson says:

    That is a good idea, Duane, if I ever do find someone.
    In some respects I gave up ever even hoping for a mentor. When I was a child, I desperately wanted someone like that, and partly because of that, in my early 20s I actually ended up spending a year or so in an abusive discipleship church.

    I wonder if it’s harder for women to find those sorts of relationships. Plus I kind of have a sense that other women might find me intimidating or off-putting (but I could be wrong).

  20. Duane Arnold says:


    I’m really glad that you brought up two issues – gender and abusive relationships.

    As to the gender issue, it’s a tough one. I have been a spiritual director to women in the past (one is now in a convent), but there were some pretty hard and fast rules – such as meeting in public places, office door open, etc. I would like to say that I fully understand the “woman to woman” dynamic, but I can only say that I know it exists – but certainly not in all cases.

    There is also the potential for spiritually abusive scenarios, but the one key factor to look for is “does this person have my best interests at heart?” If there are any sort of “warning bells”, it’s advisable to back away from the relationship.

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