Spiritual Formation in the Desert


Summer in Phoenix tends to be one of the most difficult times of the year for many in our congregation. The oppressive heat that keeps us indoors, the loneliness of everyone traveling at different times, the disruption of our schedules in work, school, etc. The schedules that we rely on and the patterns that we built often become disrupted as we try to make it in the summer. In this season, many of the usual streams we rely on seem to dry up.

The summer has often been expressed as the most challenging spiritual time for us, to the point that when summer “ends” in the beginning of August we are returning to normalcy more exhausted, chaotic, and frantic than when we began. As our lives become more hectic -we feel distance from ourselves. As our Table Groups end, we feel disconnected from others and lonely. As we travel and change our normal rhythms, some of us feel distance and disconnection from Jesus.

For many of us, the summer is our “Desert” season of the year – the season where we feel the furthest from God, from others, and from ourselves.

This gives us an opportunity to “press in” to the Desert and follow Jesus’ invitation to encounter Him there. Jesus is no stranger to the Desert – His ministry was confirmed there, and He often withdrew there to connect with His Father. In Jesus’ invitation to follow Him into the Desert, we find ways to connect with Him, others, and ourselves.

Traditionally, we have offered book groups as a means of staying connected and continuing to grow, but this year we are offering something different – Spiritual Formation groups. The emphasis this year will be placed on practicing and walking in the ways Jesus has offered us. 

Side note: (any and all book clubs are encouraged on a individual basis – feel free to reach out and encourage others to join if desired)


We will call the Spiritual Formation offerings in the summer “Streams in the Desert”. The hope is that they provide a pathway for a “fresh drink” of Jesus in a dry time. Some streams will be available to all Beloved Community at a regular interval, while others will be offered to specific Groups.

All Church Streams – As Table Groups and other normal rhythms break for the summer we will put a greater focus on the “Streams in the Desert” already present. Prayer, Worship, fellowship and serving the most vulnerable.

  • Daily Beloved Discord
    • Daily meditations by John Delhouseye 
  • Prayer 
    • Prayer channel on Discord 
    • Thursdays 7am Centering Prayer in the Gibert Garden
    • Sunday Morning 9:15 prayer
    • June 2nd – 6th – Youth camp starts
      • Special prayer and send off during service
  • Worship, Food, Fellowship and Service 
    • Start with the Heart outreach heat relief events for those experiencing homelessness in our community. Starts in June – every Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday 
    • Sunday mornings at 10 am – Beatitudes Series  – June 16th – August 4th
    • Juneteenth BBQ and fellowship – June 19th
    • VBS – July 10th – 12th 

Specific Group Streams

The specific group streams will revolve around adopting specific spiritual disciplines, both as a unique person and as a group. Below you will find the proposed groups arranged into “one discipline of abstinence + one discipline of partaking”. This is to balance and experience the fuller life of being open and available to the love of Jesus.

  • Group 1: Fasting*** + Feasting (Celebration)
  • Group 2: Sabbath + Service
  • Group 3: Simplicity + Gratitude (Giving)
  • Group 4: Solitude (Silence) + Fellowship
  • Group 5: Bible Study + Meditation (Prayer) & Visio Divina/Lectio Divina
  • Group 6: Anonymity (Secrecy) + Guidance

Spiritual disciplines that were left off on purpose – Worship, Sacrifice (These are experienced in community).

***Fasting would need to be carefully considered. Many people struggle with body image issues, eating disorders, etc. that might make fasting difficult to do. We can discuss further.

How it will work:

  • Those interested in signing up would do so in June. James Holdren can make the groups based on expressed interest. 

  • Groups would shoot to be no larger than 15 people (We can do 2 of each set of disciplines if need be). 
  • Kickoff would be at the end of June, with the groups starting in July. Each week in July the groups would:
    • Communicate on Group Discord Channels
    • Practice the Discipline personally
    • Practice the Discipline communally with their group
    • Share with one another what they are learning

After July, we would collect feedback from people about how it went.


  • Announce on stage June 2nd
    • Discord and App
  • Sign Up through June
    • Train in June
  • Launch in July
    • Groups meet through July
  • End First Week of August
    • Collect Feedback In August

Lastly we encourage Bless Rhythms with the community throughout.

Bless rhythms are rhythms of intentionality that bless others. We encourage targeting 4 groups of people. Target people who are in Beloved Community as a means of intentional connections working through the B.L.E.S.S. Acronym 

  1. Those who are like you
  2. Those who are not like you
  3. Those who are Believers 
  4. Those who are non Believers 

B – BLESS – Be a blessing in one way shape or form to someone 

L – LISTEN – spend time intentionally listening to someone over phone or face to face text message etc 

E – EAT – schedule a meal, lunch breakfast dinner, at your home park restaurant etc,

S – SPEAK – Speak the gospel and proclaim truth via phone convo, text message , face to face etc,

S – SABBATH – Intentional rhythm of rest and reflection