Conversatio Divina

The Martin Institute May 16, 2024

Christian Formation Workshop 2024—A Crisis Among Us: The Problem of Christian Immaturity

The fundamental premise of the Martin Institute for Christianity and Culture is that knowledge of how to be conformed to Christ’s likeness is vitally important for our being conformed to Christlikeness. The Jesus way is a learning way (Matt 11:29). In light of this premise, the Martin Institute’s primary goal is to assist Christian individuals and organizations to deeply understand, intelligently communicate, and effectively implement biblically grounded, theologically robust, and psychologically realistic pathways of becoming more like Jesus for the good of the church and the world to whom we witness.

To that end, we recently convened the inaugural Martin Institute Christian Formation Workshop. Our theme was “A Crisis Among Us: The Problem of Christian Immaturity.” Over three days a cadre of biblical scholars, theologians, psychologists, philosophers, sociologists, and historians addressed three focal questions:

  • What degree of spiritual and moral maturity is expected of Christian persons and what is the value of such maturity?
  • What evidence do we have that Christians are failing to mature in ways that are reasonable to expect given the claims of Christianity?
  • To the degree that Christians struggle to mature, what are the main barriers to maturity, and what might be done to help Christians overcome these barriers?

The goal of the workshop was to gather, integrate, and refine multidisciplinary scholarship related to these questions and then bring this emerging scholarship into dialogue with pastors, ministry leaders, and spiritual formation practitioners from various churches and parachurch organizations. Our partner organizations included Renovaré, Vantagepoint3, Center for Christianity and Public Life, Dallas Willard Ministries, Leadership Transformations Inc., and the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

The workshop was co-organized by Steve Porter (Martin Institute Senior Research Fellow and Executive Director) and Rebecca DeYoung (Professor of Philosophy, Calvin University and Martin Institute Senior Fellow). Steve’s opening comments frame the workshop while Rebecca’s closing comments provide an overview of what was learned and the questions that linger. In the weeks to come we will release additional content from the workshop.