I’ve been enriched in the past few weeks by an emerging structure for spiritual formation called Church of Two.
Church of Two – and you can read more about it at the CO2 Blog or Lk10resources.com – provides a rhythm for listening to God and others. It revolves around two spiritual practices: contemplation (listening to God) and transparency (sharing one’s heart at a deep level and listening to others do the same).
In short, two people journey together over the course of a few weeks. They connect to each other daily (sometimes briefly, other times for longer). When they connect they “check in” by sharing the state of their heart with each other (e.g., happy, sad, scared, anxious, excited, etc. or a combination of several). Each person listens to the other with an ear toward how God might be at work in the midst of their feelings and experiences.
This Church of Two also shares about how they have been listening to God and what they’ve been hearing. The other person serves as a partner to help discern whether or not what’s being heard is really coming from God or somewhere else (like one’s own ingenuity or the forces of evil).
Sometimes the Church of Two takes time to sit and listen to God together. The group might take time to listen, for instance, about persisting anxiety in one participant’s life.
Church of Two participants also begin the experience thinking and looking for others with whom they might link up. At the end of the few weeks, they branch out and start the Church of Two experience with others.
I’ve had the privilege of participating in Church of Two with Hobby Chapin, my co-worker Ryan Porche, and Paul McMullen over the last six weeks. Hobby, in particular, has been a mentor to me in listening to God and blogs regularly about his experiences here.
The benefits of Church of Two are immense: it has helped me stay in touch with myself much better; I’m learning to listen to others at a deeper level; I’m learning to listen to God and discern what I’m hearing in times of stillness; I’m learning to have times of stillness – period; it’s a great tool for discernment and decision making; it has helped me to connect to old friends on deeper levels; I’ve seen others, like Micah Lewis, use it as a connecting point for disconnected friends who are searching for God.
More than anything, Church of Two has helped me feel like I am in a real relationship with God because of its inherent reciprocity: I share with God, and God shares with me – just like in any other healthy relationship.
Right now I’m wrestling with several questions about how to integrate the practices of Church of Two into my life and ministry:
- What is the relationship of Church of Two to the spiritual practice of reading Scripture?
- What is the relationship of Church of Two to the spiritual practice of confession?
- What is the relationship of Church of Two to the spiritual practice of petitionary prayer?
- How do we integrate the practices of Church of Two with other structures of spiritual formation in our community – particularly the rhythms of Scripture reading, confession and prayer for the disconnected that takes place in our formation groups?
- Previous question from a different angle: are the Church of Two and Neil Cole’s Life Transformation Group models for spiritual formation mutually exclusive or can they integrate?
- What accountability mechanisms exist for discernment in relation to what people hear when they listen?
- Is Church of Two best suited as a “seasonal” spiritual practice or a regular part of my spiritual diet?
If you want a helpful two-page description of Church of Two, you can find one here.
I’d encourage you to give it a whirl if you’re looking to inject some life into your relationships with God and other people.