The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith, by Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A Gelich
The spiritual life of faith is a journey which can be seen in 6 (or 7) stages. Each comes after the other, and it may take many years to move through one particular stage. Typically, a person has a “home” stage at any given time in his life. However, he may revert back to previous stages for a short time depending on circumstances. In the first stage, “The Recognition of God,” new Christians must deal with a sense of God’s enormity and their own frailty and finitude. When a person then becomes part of a community, he enters “The Life of Discipleship” where he is open to learning about God, doctrine, faith and the church. When a person learns, then, about himself and his gifts, he is ready to enter stage three, “The Productive Life.” Here, a person is quite involved in serving the community through is unique gifting. This, however, tends to lead to burnout and a crisis of faith. Then, the person enters “The Journey Inward” where one seeks authentic relationship of intimacy with God. “The Wall” describes the increased intensity of this struggle. For those who find such intimacy, “The Journey Outward” allows a person to serve others vocationally with a more relaxed posture, confident in God’s grace. Finally, “The Life of Love” is an adventurous time of surrender to God’s grace, and a willingness to serve him with very little self-awareness.
What a terrific paradigm! I found myself seeing all kinds of patterns in the journeys I have witnessed in others. This book will allow the reader to understand how people who are in different places in the journey value different things in their spiritual life. Some strongly desire small community groups, while others see little need for them. Some strongly desire deep theologically-driven sermons while others prefer soothing, comforting sermons. They are in different places on the journey. This little paradigm is helpfully explained, and the stages are compared and contrasted in helpful ways to make it easy to learn and digest.
“Because [ordained clergy] are deemed close to God, we feel God should respond to our requests. Substituting our own will for God’s has become our weakness. How painful for us to realize that we, the leaders of the flock, also have to go through the Wall.” p.118.