By Dr. Stan Smith, Associate Executive Director

Impact!Spiritual transformation—what is that? Wikipedia provides two definitions:

  • Pargament says that “at its heart, spiritual transformation refers to a fundamental change in the place of the sacred or the character of the sacred in the life of the individual. Spiritual transformation can be understood in terms of new configurations of strivings.” [1]
  • Paloutzian says that “spiritual transformation constitutes a change in the meaning system that a person holds as a basis for self-definition, the interpretation of life, and overarching purposes and ultimate concerns.” [2]

Scripture talks, in Romans 12:1-2, of the renewing of our mind that leads to transformation of all of our lives.

But what does that look like in reality?

It has been my privilege to serve as Transitional Pastor for The Bridge Fellowship in Reading. This is a wonderful congregation with a strong leadership base. Our theme is “Connecting our Community with Christ.” The leaders have done so through a variety of engaging activities. Almost every month we offer a free movie night at the church. In August we will offer a free car wash and free yard sale for our immediate neighborhood. Members donate household items and then they are offered free to anyone in our community. Earlier this year we hosted a health fair, and our missions team assisted a crisis pregnancy center and a sister church plus carried groceries to customers’ cars at a local grocery store. All these activities were seeking to allow the presence of Christ in the lives of the members at The Bridge connect with the lives of those in our community. This has also been lived out through small groups, Bible Studies and special retreats and outings for youth along with men and women. Many are sharing their spiritual stories with friends and family.

The personal level of spiritual transformation really came home during a recent baptism. The tradition at The Bridge is to ask each person being baptized to share his or her testimony while standing in the baptistery. What a powerful moment! One of the youth talked about how he struggled with anger and was finding in Christ power to deal with that. Another shared a journey of poor choices in life but that now through Christ she was able to have a peaceful life and a warm loving home.

I ask the candidates to write out their testimonies in advance so I can review the testimonies with them. One of the gentlemen being baptized that day shared his testimony about being active in church and then wandering away and now coming to a strong faith commitment to follow Christ—the part of his testimony we had reviewed. Then, standing in the baptistery speaking his testimony, he paused and then turned to me and said, “Sorry, Pastor, but I feel led to go off script!” He then shared that during the wandering-away time, he became addicted to alcohol. He went on to say how he had been set free from that addiction and what was missing in life was filled by Jesus Christ.

You know, there are some really good definitions out there for spiritual transformation. But the greatest definition really isn’t a definition at all—it is our story: “Once I was lost but now am found; I was blind but now I see!”

As the Baptist Resource Network, we exist to glorify God by fostering spiritual transformation of persons and communities with the Gospel. Please write and tell us your story of spiritual transformation!

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  1.  Kenneth I. Pargament. (2006). The meaning of spiritual transformation. In Joan D. Koss-Chioino & Philip Hefner (Eds.), Spiritual transformation and healing: Anthropological, theological, neuroscientific, and clinical perspectives (pp. 10-39), Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. ISBN 0-7591-0867-6
  2. Raymond F. Paloutzian. (2005). Religious conversion and spiritual transformation: A meaning-system analysis. In Raymond F. Paloutzian & Crystal L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 331-347), New York: Guilford. ISBN 1-57230-922-9