Nathan Edwards D.Min.
The purpose of this project was to discover effective ministry methods for cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of followers of Jesus to nurture stronger affections of love, delight, and desire for God.
The author built the theological basis of the project from both Old Testament and New Testament passages that describe the role of affections such as love, delight, and desire, as well as anger and sadness in the lives of God’s people.
Jonathan Edwards, especially the Religious Affections, was part of the key literature the author drew from, looking also at a brief theological history around the theme of affections leading up to Edwards, with special attention on the Puritans. The author considered more recent spiritual formation literature regarding affections and spiritual disciples that nurture them in light of Edwards’s legacy.
The author conducted field research with ten participants around a series of eight meetings, utilizing a combination of biblically-based teaching curriculum and practical experiences of spiritual disciplines. Some adjustments were made for the COVID-19 health crisis.
The author identified meditating on God’s creation and candid spiritual conversations between followers of Jesus as the two most consistently effective disciplines for nurturing spiritual affections. Fasting also had a notable impact, especially associated with protracted time focused exclusively on God. The responses to biblical meditation, including scripture memorization and lectio divina, had a mixed reception from different participants. Participant responses highlight the importance of building the believer’s affection for God on God’s love for the believer and of finding expressions of adoration appropriate to the believer. The author concluded with some suggestions for implementing spiritual disciplines in the author’s congregation.