Personal Spiritual Formation (PSF)

PSF 511NE, 512NE, 513NE, 514NE (Core courses for 92-credit M.Div. and 52-credit M.A.)

Introduction to Personal and Spiritual Formation

Credits: 0.5 for each course (2 credits total)

Interwoven throughout the period of the NES Core curriculum, these courses are designed to provide a theological, historical, and practical introduction to the resources and disciplines of formative Christian spirituality. In addition to exposure to classical materials through integrated readings in the Core curriculum, students will participate outside of class in a faith-sharing practicum, chapel programs, seminary retreats, and an individual formative assessment process.

[Prerequisite: see BHT511—514NE] [Corequisite: must be taken with BHT 511NE, 512NE, 513NE, 514NE]



Pastoral Formation

Credits: 3

Building on a foundation of the central pastoral acts of prayer, Scripture reading, and spiritual direction, this course seeks to assist the student in the development of a method for ongoing theological reflection in ministry. Among the issues explored are the spiritual and theological foundations of pastoral work, the discovery of a pastoral identity, the meaning of ordination, and the office and functions of the pastor.



Spiritual Formation

Credits: 3

What is spiritual formation? What makes spiritual formation distinctly Christian in relation to other religious and ideological spiritualities in our world? What dynamics are involved in Christian spiritual formation? This course seeks to address such questions and to be both formational and informational as it does so.

First, students will be guided in developing an appraisal framework that is truly holistic as well as conducive to and compatible with the Christian revelation. This appraisal framework, based on the Formative Spirituality of Adrian van Kaam, will provide students with specific perspectives by which to reflect upon human experiences in order to discern various dynamics of spiritual formation. Second, students will be guided through a survey of classic Christian texts from a variety of Christian traditions throughout history in order to deepen their appreciation for the rich and varied ways, unique and communal, in which people have experienced knowing the Holy Trinity. Third, this course will engage students in several classic spiritual practices throughout the course, including: Scripture reading, reading Christian devotional texts, prayer, journaling, and retreat. Through these and other means, students will nurture their attentiveness to the presence and work of God in their everyday lives, thus complementing the seminary experience of learning “about” God with the experience of growing in their attentiveness to and their love for God.



Exploring Personal and Spiritual Faith Development

Credits: 3

Faith will be explored from a life cycle, developmental perspective, from infancy through senior adulthood. Autobiographical, theological, and theoretical perspectives will be examined. Students will narrate/map their own faith journeys. Strategies for facilitating faith development in the church setting will be discussed.



The Use of Scripture in Meditation and Prayer     

Credits: 3

The use of Scripture in meditation and prayer is key to both a close relationship with Jesus Christ and to a faithful ministry. John Wesley considered meditation upon Scripture and prayer like the air we breathe. He used Lectio Divina and journaling as the means by which he traced the movements of God in his life in order to “walk according to the Spirit.” The student will learn about and experience Lectio Divina, other prayer forms, and journaling in the course. Students will learn about the rich spiritualities which influenced Wesley and his life of prayer and ministry. Offered on demand.



Introduction to Spiritual Direction

Cedits: 3

Spiritual direction is one milieu in which we find another person of faith who will invite us to pay attention to our experiences and responses to God’s action in our daily lives. This course will provide a basic introduction to spiritual direction as well as an experiential understanding of what it is, what it is not, its benefits, and differences between it and pastoral counseling or clinical therapy. It will address the history and practice of spiritual direction as well as its place in 21st century spirituality.



Social Justice and Spirituality

Credits: 3

This course is a study of the intersection of faith and social justice and relationship of the first two great commandments. Students will study relevant spiritual writings that include application to social justice and peacemaking. Included are readings by Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Gustavo Gutierrez, Teresa of Avila, and others. The disciplines including prayer, simplicity, confession, and worship will be studied in relation to the Christian call to mission and creating social justice. Students will explore practical ways to live out the call of Jesus to worship God and love their neighbor. 



Calling and Vocation

Credits: 3

This course will provide students with an opportunity to explore the relationships between spiritual formation, personality, and leadership. Students will benefit from standard personality and leadership assessment tools to gain insights into their own personality and leadership style. In addition, students will enhance their understanding of the biblical foundation of leadership and the significance of spiritual formation for today’s Christian leaders. The expected outcomes of this course will be a well-developed theology of ministry within the context of the individuals’ personality, spiritual giftedness and leadership style. Students will develop an informed sense of calling to their unique place in the Kingdom of God and will begin to consider a strategy of continuous personal growth to enhance their effectiveness in ministry for years to come.



20 Centuries of Christian Faithfulness: A Global Survey

Credits: 3

What do Christian solitaries in the Egyptian desert, mothers of rebellious teenagers, monks in community in the mountains of France, missionaries to Japan, and charismatic worshipers in a megachurch all have in common? They all provide a glimpse of people seeking to follow Christ faithfully in their different geographic and cultural contexts. This course surveys the myriad ways in which Christians across the globe have found themselves redeemed and enlivened by the Spirit of God, and celebrates the diverse expressions of our shared Christian faith. 

Students will engage art, music, film, stories, and various texts in order to explore both the diversity and commonalities of the ways people seek to live as faithful Christians, and will reflect on the ways in which their cultural and historic situatedness influences their own expressions of faithfulness.



Independent Study in Personal Spiritual Formation

Credits: 0.5—3

Through guided studies and spiritual readings, the student is given the opportunity to investigate additional or assigned areas of personal spiritual formation—current and historical.

[Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]



M.A. Thesis in Personal and Spiritual Formation

Credits: 3

This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of personal and spiritual formation. Students wishing to pursue thesis work must file a written petition with academic services formally requesting this degree completion method prior to registering for the course. (Students who have not completed the thesis project by the end of the semester will automatically be registered for RES 799NE-Continuation of Registration for Master’s Thesis, and charged a $250 fee every subsequent semester until the completion of the master’s thesis.)