Spiritual direction is as old as the Christian faith. Today there is an ever growing demand for this ministry, despite the decline in membership of the institutional Church. The Bible has always had a privileged place in the director's toolkit and has been mined as a resource in different ways. It has been a source of wisdom; it has provided material for prayer and reflection; it has encouraged those just beginning in prayer and those for whom prayer has run dry; it has challenged belief and behaviour in the struggle to discern God's will and set boundaries for orthodoxy in Christian experience. With that all this in mind, the author suggests that spiritual direction is t just for individuals but for the flourishing of the Church as a whole. There is evidence of a loosening of the links between Christian orthodoxy and the practice of spiritual direction. It is also often perceived as a private and individualistic pursuit. The author therefore asks how the Bible challenges this interpretation of a key but often unackwledged ministry in the Church, and how it may help the whole Church to own spiritual direction and thereby benefit the wider world.
Elizabeth Hoare is Tutor for Spiritual Formation at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and has been giving and receiving spiritual direction for over 25 years. She is the author of Spirituality and Remembering (Grove Books 1996), What is Celtic Christianity? (Grove Books 2008), Nurturing the Spirit of a Child (Grove Books 2009) and the chapter on Anglican Spirituality in The Blackwell Companion to Anglicanism (Wiley-Blackwell 2013).