Brian McLaren in his book, Finding our way again : the return of the ancient practice (Thomas Nelson, 2008) employs ‘going to the gym’ as a metaphor of spiritual life. I found this a helpful way of looking at spiritual practices: reading the Bible, prayer, fasting, meditation, sacred meals, observing the Sabatah, liturgy etc. When we go to a gym we tend to gravitate towards the equipment we enjoy using or believe gives us the best results. Likewise spiritually we gravitate towards those spiritual practices that we prefer. McLaren suggests from time to time it would be beneficial to experiment with other less familiar spiritual practices, not in a legalistic way, but as a way of connecting more deeply with God. Furthermore regular exercise enables us to do things which were previously impossible. McLaren points out this is true spiritually as well.
Another area where I particularly enjoyed McLaren’s teaching was in understanding how change comes to the church. Historically change happens outside the church and is gradually accepted into the church. McLaren is often asked, “Is it better to try to reform our existing faith communities that have lost their way, or simply to leave and start new ones? Do we work for reformation and renewal on the one hand, or for revolution and refounding on the other? His answer is, “both”. Since both are necessary for the church to change. I found McLaren’s explanations a helpful way to understand church history.