Spiritual formation

The Mid-Faith Crisis: Introducing Evangelicals to the Dark Night of the Soul

Author
Thomas Sweeney M.A.
Abstract
The mid-faith crisis is a qualitative shift in our faith experience as God weans us of the spiritual delights lavished upon us in the initial stages of faith and leads us on an inner journey of awareness, repentance, and surrender. This typically occurs in middle age and often in the midst of successful ministry, so it is often misdiagnosed as falling away from faith rather than progressing in faith. Such strong medicine is necessary because it addresses a serious affliction: the false self which has smuggled itself unseen into the Christian life and forms the great obstacle between us and God as well as us and those around us. Through the mid-faith crisis, God invites us to lay aside the false self and its tools for navigating life, accept who we really are, and to grow ever more into our identity as the beloved of the Father. While the mid-faith crisis is divinely initiated and sustained, there is room for human participation in the work.
This research portfolio explores the author’s own mid-faith crisis, proposes a model for the phenomenon and reports the results of an action research project to develop and deliver a curriculum that introduces conservative Evangelicals to the mid-faith crisis. It concludes by identifying further potential development of the model and the curriculum.

The Baptized Community: Community Formation as Seen through Anglican Baptismal Ecclesiology
and the Liturgical Practice of Morning Prayer

Author
Kyle Norman D.Min.
Abstract
Beginning with The Book of Common Prayer, the first version of which was published in 1549, Anglicans have mediated their spirituality through participation in a common spiritual life. This is to say, formation toward Christlikeness is not to be understood as an individualized process whereby the individual grows in Christlikeness in an isolated and privatized manner. Rather, formation toward Christlikeness is a Spirit-led process that primarily occurs within the community of faith. The baptismal community is the very context of Christlike formation. This portfolio looks at communal formation through three, integrated components. Firstly, communal formation, along with its various components and nuances, will be described through an appeal to the Anglican baptismal liturgy. Secondly, scenes from the author’s own autobiography will serve to illustrate how communal formation may be practically experienced. Lastly, the author’s own research into the practice of Morning Prayer will highlight the importance of shared liturgy within communal formation. The portfolio argues that one is not formed individually, rather one is called to participate in the formation of the community. This is seen as occurring through immersion in shared liturgy, embodied action, and evangelistic mission.

Developing a Strategy of Spiritual Enhancement for Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Guy, Arkansas

Author
Timothy R Brewer
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to develop a strategy to enhance the spiritual health of Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Guy, Arkansas (MOBC). The project director explored the demographics of Guy, Arkansas, and the surrounding communities; analyzed the historical profile of MOBC; proposed a working definition of "spiritual health" by exploring existing models of spiritual health enhancement; developed a spiritual health enhancement strategy for MOBC; and presented the strategy to MOBC. The project director utilized a strategy model for this project.

The strategy was completed by meeting four goals for this project. The project director (1) explored the demographics surrounding MOBC, (2) examined existing models of spiritual health enhancement, (3) led a team in developing a spiritual health enhancement strategy for MOBC, and (4) presented the spiritual health enhancement strategy model to the congregation of MOBC for approval and endorsement.

Building a Discipleship Culture for the Re-Missioning of Millersville Brethren in Christ Church

Author
Christopher John Freet
Abstract
Reports of disciple-making movements and church-planting movements continue to grow and gain steam around the globe. Interestingly, very few movements have been recorded in the Western Church setting. An aspect of global church movements entails the utilization of easily reproducible systems and structures while equipping new disciples to carryout Jesus’ disciple-making call in the world. One tool that is used in these movements is the Discovery Bible Study method. Relying on this tool and implementing it within the discipleship process of Millersville Brethren in Christ Church in an attempt to build a culture of disciple-making discipleship has proved to have the opposite effect in the life of the church. Disciple-making in the Western Church context needs to be contextualized to its local context, patient in its approach, with an understanding that discipleship can and must take place in and through various modes and methods. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the discipleship process.

Towards a Reformed Evangelical Program of Spiritual Formation at Ryle Seminary, Ottawa

Author
Shaun Minett Turner D.Min.
Abstract
In this research portfolio the author seeks to articulate a form of reformed-evangelical spiritual formation and apply it to ministry formation training in both military and civilian ministry training contexts. The author sees spiritual formation as stripping off the old self and putting on the new self by looking to Jesus. Research is presented which shows that this formation often leads to greater resilience in ministry and life, as well as an increased awareness of, and dependence on, God’s sovereign grace, leading to a deeper sense of discerning God’s voice every day. The author used three parts: a personal spiritual autobiography, a model of spiritual formation in the reformed-evangelical tradition, and a field research project using appreciative inquiry to develop an integrated spiritual formation program at a reformed-evangelical seminary in Ottawa, Canada. The author was successful in using an appreciative approach to engage the students of the Seminary to design a program that was accepted by an expert panel of school administration, denominational leadership, and student leadership. This research portfolio provides both a practical model of spiritual formation in the reformed-evangelical tradition and a means of tailoring this model, through appreciative inquiry, to specific contexts.

Forgiveness: The Heart of God

Author
Marcia C. King D.Min.
Abstract
Painful forgiveness issues often exist within families, even within the church. To understand what the Bible, theologians, and social scientists say about forgiveness, the story of Joseph and the Parable of the Prodigal Son were exegeted. The pastoral aspects of forgiveness were explored utilizing an ethnographic approach of, observations, a survey, and one-on-one interviews. The results of this project is a five-hour course, "Forgiveness: The Heart of God," which emphasizes the transformational power of Christ in forgiveness. The last class concludes with a Eucharistic prayer retreat for generational and inner healing.
Painful forgiveness issues often exist within families, even within the church.

Strengthening Pastoral Identity in Army Chaplains: The Effect of Spiritual Mentoring on Mentors as a Way to Develop Pastoral Identity

Author
Douglas Ball
Abstract
Army Chaplains are in a struggle between various identities within in a system that reinforces and rewards those identities outside the historic pastoral role. This thesis explores how spiritual mentoring can foster, maintain, and revitalize pastoral identity in mid-level chaplains serving as mentors. The author defines and explains pastoral identity; shows that spiritual mentoring is a biblical and necessary aspect of pastoral ministry; and explores the possibility of strengthening pastoral identity in Army chaplains through spiritual mentoring. However, unlike most approaches to spiritual mentoring for pastoral formation, the goal of this project was not primarily the formation of the mentee, but rather the formation of the mentor. Chaplains who serve as mentors are engaging in a historically pastoral activity which will clarify and strengthen their own pastoral identity. The project engaged mid-level and junior chaplains in short-term spiritual mentoring relationships and measured indicators of pastoral identity through a sequential mixed methods approach (pre-surveys, post-surveys, and interviews). Overall, both quantitative and qualitative data supports spiritual mentoring as a method for identity change and formation within the Army Chaplain Corps.

Finding Peace in Union with Christ through the Practice of Contemplation

Author
Gary W Brouwers
Abstract
Believers in Jesus exist in a powerful unsion with the ecodn person of the Trinity. Through this union, believers have access to everything that Jesus is, including the ability to expereince peace regardless of circumstances. This thesis examinded how a growing awreness of one's union with Jesus affects one's experience of anxiety. Using a mixed method phenomenological study, 46 participants spent increasingly longer periods of time contemplating on thier union with Christ. Anxiety levels were tested using pretexts and posttests of Beck's Anxiety Indicator (BAI). Participants kept records of their experiences using Likert-style scales as well as written journals. Data from BAI, the individual records, and a focus group were triangulated and compared. The results indicated that anxiety levels were reduced in 63 percent of participants. In addition , the data revealed common themes among the experiences of the participants, including strong expressions of God's love, continuing effects of peace beyond the period of contemplation and an appreciation for the structure and accountability of the project. In addition, most participants reported experiences of frustration and confusion as they attempted to spend time in contemplation.

FROM ASHES RISE AGAIN: SPIRITUAL IDENTITY BASED RESILIENCY

Author
Charles Christopher Mason D.Min.
Abstract
The focus of this project was to consider the question of how to build and maintain resiliency. While the project was developed and implemented for chaplains in a health care system, the principles of spiritual identity based resiliency may be an answer for others looking for ways to be more resilient. Spiritual identity based resiliency at its core is a focus on understanding one’s personal value, meaning and purpose as a way to cope and be resilient in stressful and anxious situations. The project was designed to inform participants of the importance of orienting their lives on the basis of their spiritual identity, this is the means of being able to manage external and internal influential pressures that distort or confuse understanding of value, meaning and purpose. The result of a lack of focus on value, meaning and purpose is a lack of resiliency and may eventually lead to burnout.

Resiliency-Based Spiritual Support: A Preventative Approach Empowering Spiritual Resiliency in Clinical Pastoral Education Students at Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina

Author
Michael Gross
Abstract
Resiliency-Based Spiritual Support: A Preventative Approach was designed to empower a minister's spiritual resiliency practices. These practices allow him/her to courageously navigate the seasons of ministry and bounce back from stressful experiences. The six-week curriculum intervention for clinical pastoral education participants involved control and intervention groups. It focused on five spiritual resiliency themes (community, hope, sound of the genuine, meditation, stewardship) and related spiritual resiliency practices. Research methods included quantitative and qualitative instruments. Post-training evaluation scores evidenced participants were empowered by a greater understanding of the biblical/theological foundations and exploration of practices. Participants did recommend spiritual resiliency training for clergy.
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