Is the Average Church a Center for Spiritual Transformation?

Spiritual Transformation- The message of the Gospel, the mission of the church
One of the great mysteries of my life as a pastor’s kid was the fact that many of the adults in my church—some of whom had been attending for many years—were just not changing. I wondered, How can someone go to church year after year, read the Bible, listen to sermons—and remain selfish, stuck in their ways, and spiritually lifeless?  And then as the years went by, I sometimes wondered the same thing about myself!

I have spent years listening to people reflect on their spiritual journeys and have discovered that this experience is not unusual. A Barna Research Group study published in January found that almost half (46%) of self-identified Christians said they are not experiencing transformation as a result of being involved in their church.

For over ten years, we have focused intentionally on guiding clergy and Christian leaders in understanding that the best thing they bring to leadership is their own transforming selves. We are now ready to take the next step: equipping those leaders to effectively guide their churches and/or ministries to become centers of spiritual transformation.

The Transforming Church™ initiative includes two key elements:

  1. the Transforming Church network—an affiliation of pastors and ministry leaders committed to leading their churches and organizations in becoming communities of spiritual transformation; and
  2. the new Leading a Transforming Church two-year program—all new content and process designed to equip leaders to guide their communities in becoming centers of spiritual transformation

To support the Transforming Church initiative we are launching a three-year campaign. Your gift now will help us with the content development, staffing and piloting process needed to call forth communities of spiritual transformation in this new way.

We believe every church should be a center of spiritual transformation. Click here to learn more and partner with us as we seek to equip leaders to cultivate communities of spiritual transformation in their settings.


Ruth Haley Barton, D.D | Founder

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Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founder and chief essence officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest.
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I’m thrilled with what the Transforming Center is doing. God used your book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership to transform me last summer during my Sabbatical. Thank You for the work that you are doing. I’ve even take my Youth pastor and Worship leader through it. We can’t contribute right now. Times are still really tough financially, but we do believe in you and the work you are doing.

Thank you for letting us know that our work has been meaningful you and that you believe in what we’re doing! It’s such a blessing to be blessed by our friends as we take the next step on our journey of responding to God’s call.

The average church (as I define it – mainline Protestant medium sized – Sunday services and youth groups, small groups, service projects etc. scattered throughout the week) is NOT a center for spiritual transformation. Far from it in fact. . . .

Mary Koepke Fields


What is so exciting is that there are leaders gathered right now who are committed to change the culture of their communities so that we can answer yes! Please lift up the leaders in the Leading a Transforming Church program, and share what we are doing with others.

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