Posted in church, Empowerment, Spiritual Formation

The Proof in the Pudding

I have been of the contention that it is only through sound spiritual formation (not to be confused with religious formation) that people can be empowered to become spiritually mature and through which we can bear witness to the effortlessness of authentic discipleship.  Now I have proof that it works.


Discipleship by Accident (but not really)

My first “official” role at the Newman Center (Catholic Campus Ministry) and my first “official” foray into lay ministry was as the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) Coordinator.  My job was to provide the process through which interested adults could become formal members of the Catholic Church.  From the beginning….I accomplished this task in a non-traditional way (go figure!).  Instead of providing a program grounded in religious formation (doctrine, dogma, catechism), I provided a program firmly rooted in spiritual formation.  My reasoning was that if you didn’t know God and you didn’t know yourself, what good was a bunch of knowledge about rules?  As such, the focus of this process was the rich tradition of spiritual practices that were part of the Christian tradition – Lectio Divina, Imagination/Contemplation, Mantra prayer, etc. etc. etc.  What we ended up with at the end of the 9 month process was a group of empowered individuals, excited and enthusiastically ready to use their gifts in service to God and to the world.   They had come to know God intimately and personally, in coming to know God they had come to know themselves, and in doing so, had come to identify their own unique gifts and how they were being called to share them in the world.  In a process that nationally has an abysmal retention rate of only 30%, the Newman Center’s 70% retention rate showed me that the approach we had chosen worked.  Today I thank my experience with the RCIA (and Fr. Jeff VandenHeuvel for assigning me to this ministry) for being the foundation upon which I have established my post-Institutional ministry work, and I am continually awed by the results.

The Ministry Team has Already been Formed

So, as I stand on the brink of accepting more fully my call to be “priest/ess” and to acknowledging that what I have been doing (since leaving professional employment in the Catholic Church) is and always has been “church” and wondering exactly what that might mean and what that might look like, I find that the “ministry team” has already been formed.  Standing ready and right in front of my eyes is a group of men and women who have courageously followed the path of sound spiritual formation, and who are apparently chomping at the bit to put their formation to work.  (who knew?!)  When I first dared to share this discernment in the world, my email inbox was full of inquiries, “How can I help?  You will need children’s programs and that is my gift.  We would like to offer relationship classes. Can I help with presiding?”   YIKES!  I hadn’t even mentioned the word “church” and I have a mob of people who have been fully formed ( in my opinion) and are ready to step into their own unique giftedness to help others find the peaceful contentment, joy, compassion and personal empowerment that they have all found through a 3-4 year process of sound spiritual formation.  Ha…..I knew it….this stuff works!

What tools have you discovered to help you know God, to know yourself and to empower you to share your gifts in service to love for the betterman of humankind?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries


I am a trained, professional Spiritual Director, Author and Hands-on Healer. I offer services, programs and classes that empower you to hear the voice of the Divine that speaks from within you. It is the voice of the Divine that leads us to our highest truth, to the discovery and cultivation of our gifts and to a life of Authentic Freedom where we know contentment, compassion and joy. Your truth will set you free!

5 thoughts on “The Proof in the Pudding

  1. You wrote: “……people who have been fully formed ( in my opinion) and are ready to step into their own unique giftedness to help others find the peaceful contentment, joy, compassion and personal empowerment that they have all found through a 3-4 year process of sound spiritual formation.”

    So, what do you base your opinion of “fully formed” on? What is “ready”? What kinds of “3-4 year process”es have they been through?

    For my part, a missing piece of the puzzle in ALL organized religions is how people are selected, and self-select for and away from using their gifts in THAT setting. In my experience, there are gate-keepers (both people and policies) that filter out some of the best people and fail to stop some people who are simply inapproriately motivated…if you know what I mean.

    You also asked: “What tools have you discovered to help you know God, to know yourself and to empower you to share your gifts in service to love for the betterment of humankind?”

    There are these rooms I’ve been in, where people come together…flawed, imperfect beings, with the explicit purpose to help themselves by helping each other. There isn’t dogma….just a few suggestions, and the examples set by those around us, and those who came before. Oh, and a bunch of tools….

    1. Jessi,
      Please send me a personal email to : as I would really welcome your thoughts, observations, etc. on Gatekeepers and people inappropriately placed in ministerial roles! My goal in this process has always been humility…and I know I have so much to learn from the experiences and observations of others!!!!!

      Now…to answer your questions (as best as I can anyway). 1) I mispoke in using the word “fully formed.” We are never really fully formed are we? Perhaps I should have chosen….”formed as best as they can be for now….and ready, willing and able to step into a more public ministerial role. 2) the formation? These are men and women who for the past 4 years have journeyed through the curriculum I have developed in Adult Spiritual Formation, who have worked with me one-on-one in Spiritual Direction, and who have prayed together in community. These are all folks who are not interested in the prolification of dogma, but are interested in the spiritual journey and want others to experience the same benefits they have experienced. They are also individually coming to an awareness of their own unique gifts and passions and how they are called to help others find healing and empowerment through the sharing of their gifts. Sounds a little like the early disciples to me! 🙂

      Not exactly sure where this is all going, but sincerely open to hearing Divine guidance in this…..including the voice of God spoken through readers such as yourself! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, reflections, etc.


    1. To my knowledge, few if any RCIA facilitators are using RCIA as a vehicle for spiritual formation. Unfortunately, I do not have any data to support that either way. I do know there was a shift a few years back that re-emphasized the use of the Catechism as the primary text for the RCIA and that a “Baltimore Catechism” type text was developed for this purpose. I also know that tools for “Spiritual Formation” are not part of the training for RCIA Coordinators. I learned these tools separate from my RCIA-specific training.

      1. I can vouch for the new catachism being the foundation of the RCIA program, at least where I am. I am lucky to be guided by a deacon who is a smart, intellectually curious type, and so my individual experience is much richer than that, but it does not really qualify as what I would consider “spiritual formation”. It is still all about dogma, even though the teacher makes space for questioning and thinking things through….thinking it through ISN’T actually reaching for God. My best thinking has very little in common with God’s plan…well, except that I’m loved even though I keep trying what has never worked well before.

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