The Spiritual Formation program equips you to be an insightful spiritual leader through the development of the skills and theological understanding needed for your unique ministry context. Rigorous individual courses and full degree programs, including field education and capstone experiences, are designed to help you become the person God calls you to be, while outcomes-focused, formational education, will prepare you to live and lead in a wide array of vocations.

The habits, attitudes, and skills you will develop in the Spiritual Formation program include the:

  • Growth in formative dispositions in imitation of Christ 
  • Understanding of a variety a resources for and experiences of classic Christian spiritual practices (e.g. communal worship, scripture meditation, retreat, journaling, service, Sabbath, spiritual direction, etc.)
  • Ability to theologically reflect on and articulate the relationship between human and Christian spirituality
  • Skill in assessing the formational impact of personal and communal events, traditions, and dispositions in nurturing or hindering spiritual formation
  • The ability to both appreciate distinctions between and see the unity in diverse forms of Christian spirituality across times and cultures

Course Descriptions

Great Conversation | 18 Credits

BHT 521 | Being in the Story | 3 Credits

The entire biblical story or metanarrative stretching from creation to eschaton articulates a vision of God’s intentions for this world, beginning with creation, and continuing after the fall, as the Creator works through Israel, Jesus, and the church for the world’s redemption, until that day when there will be a new heaven and new earth, in which righteousness dwells. This narrative vision of the missio Dei provides a non-negotiable framework within which we live out our faith.

A clear understanding of this biblical vision is of great value for interpreting individual biblical texts, especially for those engaged in pastoral leadership, which typically involves interpreting Scripture in various contexts. Without a solid grasp of the foundational biblical vision of reality we are in danger of (mis)reading Scripture in light of our own contemporary assumptions. This course, therefore, aims to help Christian leaders grasp the basic contours of the overarching story the Scriptures tell, with a focus on exploring the logic of salvation as holistic—for the whole person, and even the entire created order.

BHT 522 | Being in the Word | 3 Credits

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are crucial to the life and ministry of all followers of Christ. They are central to the preaching and teaching ministry of the church. Furthermore, the Scriptures undergird our ethics at work and home. They reveal to us the nature of God, what it means to be fully human, and our role in the mission of God. But in order for Scripture to play the formative role that it is designed to play, we must know these Scriptures well. Moreover, to know these Scriptures well we must understand the context in which they were composed. This is true not only of the popular books of the Bible, but also for the parts of the Bible that are often ignored.  This class will the introduce students to the Bible in all its complex and multifaceted glory. Students will gain an understanding of the major sections of the Bible (the Torah, the histories, the Psalter, the Prophets, The Gospels, the Letters of Paul, etc). They will discern the major themes in these texts and their relevance for ministry in the 21st century. They will also discuss issues of authorship, setting, and the major interpretative approaches to these texts throughout church history. The goal is to open up the whole Bible as a resource for ministry and spiritual formation.

BHT 523 | Being Human | 3 Credits

What does the fact that God became incarnate as a human being in Jesus Christ reveal about God’s priorities for what it means for us to be human persons? What do the Christian scriptures and the historic church have to say about what it means to be human? How do we nurture and attend to our basic human qualities in imitation of our Lord Christ?

This course will lead students through an exploration of what Christianity has to uniquely contribute to the conversation of what it means to “be human.” It will assist students in developing a framework for discerning and integrating formational insights from various fields of study that contribute to human flourishing, emphasizing that to do so is to attend to and cooperate with the redemptive work of the Holy Trinity. It will also provide students with opportunities to explore and reflect on classic Christian practices of nurturing attentiveness to and cooperation with God’s work in their own lives and in the world at large.

BHT 524 | Being Christian | 3 Credits

Reflecting on the formative era of the Christian church, this course takes up the conversation about what it means to be and to become Christian. Much like today, the early church found itself in a religiously plural context, which shaped the development of Christian identity. In this course, students will consider how Scripture, context, and spirituality shaped early Christian communities, the formation of doctrine through early church councils, and the ways in which these conversations continue to shape the church throughout the world today.

BHT 525 | Being Church | 3 Credits

In this course students enter into the ongoing conversation on the nature of God’s restorative grace in human life, with a particular focus on the church as the people of God. Through a focus on the theological perspectives of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations and the Great Awakening, the course moves toward contemporary understandings and application of such questions as how people come into a restored relationship with God and what it means to be to people of God in today’s world.

BHT 526 | Being Mission | 3 Credits

Dietrich Bonhoeffer posed a question to the church of the early twentieth century:  “Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” This perennial question shaped Bonhoeffer’s ecclesiology and understanding of church mission.  This same question provides the course framework for exploring God’s call to the church from the nineteenth century through our time.  The course is organized around conversations focused on the relationship of historical theology, church mission, and culture.

Reflections on current trends, and exploration for application to student church context are a central theme of the course.  Within these course conversations are topics that are revisited in each century and unit of study. These themes include: racial and gender identity, social change movements, the relationships of worship and service, spirituality, ecumenism, and church leadership.  Strategies for understanding these historical theological themes include reading primary texts that bring “alive” the conversations that were occurring during these time periods. Emphasis is on critical analysis and interpretation of the central Christological question, and application to contemporary church mission.

Spiritual Formation | 18 Credits

PSF 612 | Spiritual Formation | 3 Credits

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.

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. Students will also 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. 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.

PSF 615 | Exploring Personal and Spiritual Faith Development | 3 Credits

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.

PSF 623 | Social Justice and Spirituality | 3 Credits

This course is a study of the intersection of faith and social justice and the relationship between 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.

PSF 633 | World Religions and Human Spirituality | 3 Credits

This course explores the global character of the church and the practice of ministry in the multifaith and multicultural context of contemporary society. Attention is given to the wide diversity of religious traditions present in the potential ministry settings and considers how the church can serve with faithfulness and respect in a religiously pluralistic culture. Students will have the opportunity to develop their theological convictions in dialog with other religious traditions and gain skills in interfaith engagement as an expression of their Christian discipleship.

PSF 654 | Christian Faith: A Global Survey | 3 Credits

What do Christian solitaries in the Egyptian desert, mothers of rebellious teenagers, monks in a 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.

PSF 737 | Practicum in Formation Leadership | 3 Credits

This is a course that focuses on the development of skills related to the formational leadership of small groups (e.g. Bible studies, communal prayer), facilitation of personal and group retreats, and developing formation modalities of other types of communal Christian formation. Students will study common dynamics of such formation settings, and will both engage as participants in and give leadership to various types of communal formation gatherings, building competencies in assessment and the nurturing of holistic Christian formation.

Additional Courses | 8 Credits

Integrative Capstone | 2 Credits

In the capstone course for the program, you will complete a final portfolio project and presentation on the integration of faith and your vocation. You will:

  1. Identify vocational next steps beyond the program and evaluate ways in which learning in the program has prepared you to live out this vocation.
  2. Identify ways in which those called to this vocation can contribute to imparting wholeness to the world.
  3. Identify one major question of ethics and justice that you anticipate may arise in the regular practice of ministry and how this issue might be considered in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  4. In a church setting, among friends and family, with neighbors, or in the community or workplace, design and present a project that summarizes the learning from the program and the connection to life and ministry.

Contextual Ministry | 6 Credits

Field education courses provide the student with hands-on professional training from capable practitioners and educators. Students will develop professional understanding and competence in ministry. Each course provides time for on-site training, personal and peer-reflection, and classroom instruction. Personal and spiritual formation is a continuing aspect of field education.

Students also preparing for spiritual direction ministry may substitute PSF 731-734 (see catalog for course descriptions).

Total Credits: 44

*Course selections must meet requirements for graduation. You will choose courses through academic advising.