Ervin Stutzman’s last day as executive director of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) is April 30. I would like to thank him for his years […]
Marlene Kropf is a retired professor and denominational minister who lives in Port Townsend, Washington, where she continues to offer spiritual direction and lead retreats and Celtic pilgrimages. She is a member of Portland (Oregon) Mennonite Church and serves on the steering committee of Mennonite Spiritual Directors Network. This post originally ran on the Mennonite Church USA blog.
It’s not unusual for people to come to a puzzling crossroad in their spiritual journey. After a few years or many years of following Christ, the juice dries up. Or questions begin to plague people when they try to pray, and they wonder if prayer really makes any difference at all.
For other Christians, the church becomes a disappointment. In some settings, spiritual leaders no longer provide the kind of nurture that keeps faith alive.
Spiritual direction is a ministry that is seeing resurgence across the church. Partly because our Mennonite seminaries continue to train fine spiritual directors but also because of growing spiritual hunger, more and more people are seeking out trained spiritual directors who can offer guidance for the ups and downs of the spiritual journey.
In Mennonite Church USA, a network of spiritual directors is tended by a voluntary steering committee. A list of trained Mennonite directors can be found online here. A geographical index helps people locate a director near them.
Spiritual directors are not counselors or therapists (though occasionally some are trained in both fields). Instead, spiritual directors offer prayerful listening as directees reflect on their faith journey. Directors ask gentle questions and pay attention to the Spirit’s guidance throughout the session. What is shared in direction sessions is confidential.
Usually people meet with a director once every 4-6 weeks for an hour-long session. Often the direction relationship continues indefinitely, though sometimes people meet for just a few sessions. Periodic evaluations help both the director and directee discern whether the relationship is fruitful.
If you are seeking a spiritual director, consider the following steps:
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