Vygotsky, has brought many new insights to the world of education that can be applied to one’s spiritual growth. The foundational premise of Vygotsky’s concept of development is that the formation of the mind or cognition is dependent on the social context in which an individual lives.
Vygotsky’s sociocultural approach to developmentalism.
The following insights can be gleaned from his writings and it is posited that a integrated application of his developmental principles form a solid foundation for one’s spiritual growth, sustainable ministry and continued attendance to the things of God.
Spiritual growth begins outside the individual. Spiritual growth is not simply an internal process, but is partially an acquisition from the community of faith in which the individual engages. While spirituality is often perceived as an individual or personal quality, it also has a social or cooperate dimension. Most ministers would agree that Scripture asserts one’s belonging to God’s community, the church but its application to one’s personal spiritual growth is uncertain. This dichotomy is expressed by many who preach the need for the church but view the ‘real work’ of spiritual growth taking place privately. Both must be held as true if spiritual growth is to occur within one’s ministry context.
Spiritual growth is holistic. To ensure that one is able to sustain their ministry and guard against burnout requires one to view themselves in a holistic manner. Spiritual growth is not the result of a single factor, but of multiple factors, both individual and social, which coalesce within the individual. Application of a single devotional method or community form does not allow one’s developmental areas to mature. Vygotsky brings a new perspective on the interaction of one’s physical and mental processes that is closer to the Hebrew understanding of knowledge requiring truth to be related to one’s being not merely the presence of rational proofs.
Spiritual growth is not a linear or unidirectional process. Vygotsky’s use of zones of development, rather than linear stages of advancement, adds a new approach to our understanding of spiritual growth. Instead of viewing maturity as a linear process that has some end goal growth and maturity may be seen as the complete integration of one’s developmental zones. Spiritual growth would require relationships conducive to advancing faith.
Teachers and deliberate instruction are essential for spiritual growth. According to Vygotsky, development does not occur on its own; it requires a socio-historical impetus, which for him was education, specifically schooling or intentional instruction. Intentional and unintentional instruction by the church contributes to the spiritual growth of all its members. This is instruction by a more mature member of the faith community is required for an individual to reach their formative potential. In the Church Vygotsky’s approach requires the church to function as a family, wherein the more mature members are placed in a learning context with younger members of the faith community. This is in contrast to the role assumed in many larger churches were management and organization is the main requirements of the pastor. To remain in ministry for the long term requires the Pastor to listen to elders and be teachable by their experience.
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