Spiritual exercises

The road less traveled : pilgrimage and spiritual formation among younger Christians

Author
Nick J. Works
Abstract
"For hundreds of years pilgrimages were a vibrant expression of Christian spirituality. Following the Protestant Reformation pilgrimage as a spiritual discipline began to cease among protestants. In the last 50 years pilgrimage has made a cultural and religious resurgence in American life both religious and secular. At the same time younger Christians began to disconnect from the church in larger and larger numbers. These younger Christians became more mobile and travel much more often than older Christians. Pilgrimage as a spiritual discipline may be a spiritual practice that was attractive to younger Christians under the age of 40 that allowed them to practice their faith and remain engaged in their faith community. This study examined the religious travel practices of one United Methodist congregation to determine if younger Christians found pilgrimage practices as a suitable spiritual discipline." -- Leaf [2].

ArtReach : a creative spiritual exploration for queer Christians

Author
Mark E. Parsons II
Abstract
"For decades, the church has debated the issue of homosexuality. While the "who's in and who's out" battles continue, queer Christians find themselves with few resources that address their unique spiritual experiences. The author argues that through creativity, queer Christians can know and experience God and self more profoundly. After exploring the spiritual abuse of queer Christians, the significance of coming out, and the need for a queer Christian spirituality, the paper discusses the development, implementation, and evaluation of ArtReach, a four-week creative spiritual exploration for queer Christians that moves the conversation from apologetics to celebrating spirituality and sexuality." -- Leaf [2].

Silence and solitude : being fully present to god, self, and others in a distracted world

Author
Gregory S. McVey
Abstract
"With relentless distraction and preoccupation, the current cultural environment suffers from a certain kind of attention deficit disorder in which individuals are rarely "all there." People often find themselves going in a hundred directions. Without the ability for sustained focus, they struggle to remain fully present to the things that matter most. This loss of attentiveness can result in a devastating loss of connectedness (i.e., being fully present) to what God is doing, to the condition of one's self, and to how we are connected to others. To test this hypothesis, silence is introduced using disciplines such as solitude, meditation, and spiritual journaling. To fulfill the goal of the project, Soldiers and Civilians from the United States Army Cyber Command and United States Army Chaplain School and Center completed a seven-day devotional (including fasting from social media). Also, surveys and personal interviews were conducted to gain feedback. The project concludes the practice of silence, solitude, journaling, and fasting from social media does bring about an increase in spiritual growth and connectedness." -- Leaf [2].

KINDLING DELIGHT IN GOD: MINISTERING TO THE SPIRITUAL AFFECTIONS IN A SMALL RURAL CHURCH

Author
Nathan Edwards D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to discover effective ministry methods for cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of followers of Jesus to nurture stronger affections of love, delight, and desire for God.

The author built the theological basis of the project from both Old Testament and New Testament passages that describe the role of affections such as love, delight, and desire, as well as anger and sadness in the lives of God’s people.

Jonathan Edwards, especially the Religious Affections, was part of the key literature the author drew from, looking also at a brief theological history around the theme of affections leading up to Edwards, with special attention on the Puritans. The author considered more recent spiritual formation literature regarding affections and spiritual disciples that nurture them in light of Edwards’s legacy.

The author conducted field research with ten participants around a series of eight meetings, utilizing a combination of biblically-based teaching curriculum and practical experiences of spiritual disciplines. Some adjustments were made for the COVID-19 health crisis.

The author identified meditating on God’s creation and candid spiritual conversations between followers of Jesus as the two most consistently effective disciplines for nurturing spiritual affections. Fasting also had a notable impact, especially associated with protracted time focused exclusively on God. The responses to biblical meditation, including scripture memorization and lectio divina, had a mixed reception from different participants. Participant responses highlight the importance of building the believer’s affection for God on God’s love for the believer and of finding expressions of adoration appropriate to the believer. The author concluded with some suggestions for implementing spiritual disciplines in the author’s congregation.

Knowing God through Spiritual Practices and Spiritual Direction

Author
Regina B. Proctor D.Min.
Abstract
Knowing God through Spiritual Practices and Spiritual Direction sought to determine if using traditional spiritual practices, including lectio divina, silence, Centering Prayer, journaling with word and image, along with spiritual direction sessions, would create theosis, a deeper union with God, and keep people from leaving church. This project used action and qualitative method research through pre- and post-project questionnaires, an observation during a one-day retreat, and select reflections from spiritual direction sessions. The data collected suggested a more in-depth explanation of theosis and ongoing experience with the spiritual practices was needed to help participants experience a deeper union with God.

Examining the Spiritual Growth in Korean Immigrant Christians at Holy Cross International United Methodist Church Through a Set of Spiritual Formation Retreats

Author
Yoon-Seok Choi D.Min.
Abstract
This project examines the spiritual growth of Korean immigrant Christians through a set of spiritual formation retreats. The key concept of the retreats is to cultivate well-balanced spiritual life for Korean Christians. With three retreat participants, the researcher is seeking a tangible foundation for accomplishing a deepened spiritual life. While the Korean churches strived to achieve quantitative growth in a short time, they relatively did not pay much attention to the spiritual realm in thousands of years of Christian history. Marjorie J. Thompson provides a well-balanced spiritual formation retreat tool with her book “Soul Feast.” This book is used for the main tool for the intervention. Soul Feast contains ten sessions of spiritual formation themes including the spiritual thirst followed by reading the Word, prayer, common worship, worth of Sabbath, self-emptying, brief information of spiritual direction, hospitality, and making rule of life. The researcher facilitates the retreats for the participants so that they can experience a broaden realm of spiritual practice tradition. With pre and post in-depth interviews, the research examines the differences of each individual participant’s spiritual life practices. By interpreting the results, the researcher tries to find the positive factors as well as limitations found in the intervention.

The Knowledge of God and the Knowledge of Self: Exploring Spiritual Formation via Discernment and the MBTI

Author
Christopher Andrew Walker D.Min.
Abstract
In this Research Portfolio, the author explores spiritual formation through growing in the knowledge of God and in the knowledge of self. The specific avenue for exploring growing in the knowledge of God is discernment, and the specific avenue for exploring growing in the knowledge of self is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. The Spiritual Autobiography tells the story of the author’s personal journey of spiritual formation through the various revelations about God and self that the Lord has brought to his life. The Model of Spiritual Formation theorizes that growing in the knowledge of self can help us to hear from and know God better through discernment, thus aiding in our spiritual formation. The Research Project tested one aspect of the Model with a small group of congregants from Meadow Brook Church in Leamington, ON, and demonstrated an effective process of discernment for the participants. The conclusion of this Research Portfolio is that growing in the knowledge of self can help us to grow in the knowledge of God, which will aid us in our spiritual formation.

Deep Roots in Christ: An Exploration of Spiritual Formation Through Habits in College Ministry

Author
John L Miller IV D.Min.
Abstract
In this Research Portfolio, the author examines the role of habits and rituals in spiritual formation. The specific focus of the work is on the potential impact of ancient spiritual practices in the lives of contemporary students at an undergraduate institution. The author presents this topic through three primary movements. First, the author explores aspects of his personal spiritual journey through an autobiographical chapter. These reflections introduce the author’s call to ministry and share some foundational thoughts on spiritual formation as both key turning points and habits that ignite and sustain such experiences. Second, the author develops an organic framework for spiritual formation through habits focused on the image of a healthy tree. The model builds upon John Wesley’s Means of Grace and James K.A. Smith’s work on habits. Finally, the author reports on a research project where he invites current undergraduate students at Houghton College to participate in the practice of Lectio Divina to better understand the potential impact of habits on spiritual formation with contemporary college students. The research suggests that habits and ancient spiritual practices are indeed reliable pathways to experiencing God’s love for the contemporary undergraduate student.

A THIRTY-ONE DAY SPIRITUAL GROWTH EXERCISE AT SYRACUSE ALLIANCE CHURCH TO HELP CHRISTIANS KNOW AND EXPRESS THE LOVE OF GOD

Author
Brian Rathbun D.Min.
Abstract
The “Love One Another Spiritual Growth Exercise” was developed because it was essential at Syracuse Alliance Church in Syracuse, New York to develop the Great Commandment environment in order for the church to more effectively fulfill the Great Commission.

The Love One Another Spiritual Growth Exercise was developed to focus the people of the church for thirty-one consecutive days on loving God with all their being and expressing their love for God by loving others as themselves. A series of five messages from 1 John was preached over five consecutive Sunday mornings. Thirty-one “Love One Another” devotionals were developed and then distributed daily. People were challenged to memorize one key Love One Another scripture verse per week for five weeks. They were asked to make one brief journal entry per week for five weeks to reflect on what God was teaching them about loving Him and others.

At the end of the exercise three Focus Groups, a women’s group, a men’s group, and an elders group, were convened to gather feedback on the impact of the project. The feedback from these groups indicated that the exercise engaged a large percentage of people in the church and helped them take a step to enhance the Great Commandment environment. The Focus Groups provided valuable information for how to improve the various aspects of the exercise and proved invaluable for the development and implementation of any spiritual growth exercise at any church.

Leading a congregation to spiritual rest through a ministry of daily devotions and journaling

Author
Samuel Park
Abstract
This project sought to bring an ethic of spiritual rest based on biblical concepts of Sabbath and abiding in Jesus to a busy, overworked congregation in the suburbs of New York City through the practical exercise of daily devotions and reflective journal writing. Various teams were organized to produce a forty-day devotional and use it as the basis for journaling throughout Lent. Survey responses and interviews show that the experience of a majority of people who were on this contemplative journey found a sense of rest, peace and God’s purpose in their lives.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]
Subscribe to Spiritual exercises