More extensive use of the Word of God
More involvement from laity.
Love practiced in every day life
Love practiced in Controversy
Theological education that molds preachers and not just gives them knowledge.
Sermons should focus on producing faith and fruit in the hearers rather than a preacher’s intellect.
These though have three central focuses of Spener as well:
- Centrality of Scripture (spoiler alert: a Covenant Affirmation hundreds of years later)
- Priesthood of all believers which requires active participation from the church laity.
So Spener writes this article, and of course wants to put actions to words. So practically, Spener creates Conventicles–what we would call today ‘small groups’. In these small groups, Spener creates quite a ruckus among clergy who felt that Spener was a church-splitter. Also, the clergy felt threatened that Spener was trying to take jobs and give them to laity. But even though the clergy felt threatened, Spener was convicted that this was right and it was an immediate success because of the genuine care for the spiritual health of the people in the conventicles. In essence, Spener says “experience will take the place of content”.
Flash forward to the modern day Evangelical Covenant Church. How are we continuing to live into our pietist roots? For the past year (give or take) Covenant Congregations have met in their own Conventicles (perhaps they should be called “Covenant-icles”?) for what is called the Covenant Community Bible Experience . These small groups met to study the Word of God, as a priesthood of all believers.
In closing, I leave you with this quote from Pia Desideria and pray this for you and your Congregation/Conventicle/Family/Life:
“If we succeed in getting the people to seek eagerly and diligently in the book of life for their joy, their spiritual life will be wonderfully strengthened and they will become different people”
-Philipp Jakob Spener, Pia Desideria p.91
May we continue to live into this calling of Piety today, tomorrow, and the days to come, and may we continue to eagerly seek together as we are strengthened and changed into different people by the Holy Spirit.
If you’re interested in reading Spener’s Pia Desideria: Spener.Pia Desideria
Photo Credit: https://alchetron.com/Philipp-Spener-1074165-W