Spiritual formation

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

Nick J. Works
"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

Mark E. Parsons II
"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

Gregory S. McVey
"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].


Deborah Ruth Zeni MD D.Min.
This thesis research work on best practices of preaching arose out of the researcher’s passion for providing catechists with the means of nurturing a ‘falling-in-love’ with God experience for young children through proclaiming gospel as encounter.
Based on evidence that catechists lack formation in best practices of preaching, the researcher designed and implemented an educational initiative in a multi-site, multi-participant intensive formation program. The researcher used a homiletic grounded in the Paschal Mystery, which located God’s gratuitous and gracious actions on humanity’s behalf as the focus of preaching—giving gospel-power—to any form of preaching carried out during the study.
Within a unique form of pastoral ministry called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), employing a qualitative methodology, a constructivist epistemology, and a field-based action research design, the researcher effectively utilized various educational approaches to develop and assess participant competence in preaching using a comprehensive assessment program, and iteratively improving their learning and teaching preaching praxis using program evaluation tools.
The research shows that the curriculum successfully demonstrated that the comprehensive preaching model, which integrated five best practices of preaching for proclaiming the Word with children into the study’s conceptual framework, worked to develop the competence of catechists as preachers of the Good News. Additionally, the research showed that the intervention enabled and empowered the participants to find their preaching voice to speak of God acting mercifully, giving everything, loving unconditionally in the here and now as they experienced God doing in the scriptures.
As such, five best practices of preaching can be used as an effective framework for formation of catechists and educators for teaching preaching as encounter with children and sharing in a happening of grace through the proclamation of the Word.

Formed in the presence of God : the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps and classical spiritual formation

Kenneth D. Gillespie
"This project seeks to address a problem in how the US Army currently develops spiritual fitness. Spiritual fitness is recognized as a key component of Soldier and family readiness, but existing programs fail to adequately address spiritual fitness. US Army chaplains are best positioned to correct this deficiency. The training program offered as part of this project seeks to determine whether training on spiritual formation disciplines classic to the Christian tradition will enable US Army chaplains to feel more confident and competent to address spiritual fitness among Soldiers and families and whether or not it will inspire US Army chaplains to develop and offer similar training from within their own spiritual formation traditions." -- Leaf [2].

Transformational discipleship that leads to church growth

Dewaine L. Frazer
"Ministry on Purpose (M.O.P.) is the name of a new leadership team created to bring vitality to the mission of the First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Montclair, New Jersey. This initiative led to transformational discipleship and church growth. Ministry on Purpose worked on four significant areas of the church: vision and mission, worship, community engagement, and the training of members. Through a careful six-week study on the life of Christ, one-on-one interviews, surveys, innovation, and most importantly prayer, the congregation has been changed. The church has experienced spiritual and numerical growth and is excited about where God will lead next." -- Leaf [2].


Nathan Edwards D.Min.
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.

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

Yoon-Seok Choi D.Min.
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.

A study of critical care nurses' listening behavior through the application of the quality listening model

D Clare Biedenharn D.Min.
Listening is a quality indicator in patient-centered care. Working within the paradigm of the Quaker listening model, as described by activist and educator Parker J. Palmer and others, the intentional use of a spiritually based therapeutic listening model is an effective tool used by the Registered Nurse (RN) in working with patients and their families in making decisions in critical care settings. This project seeks to gauge the outcome of intentional use of this proven and effective model by the RN as both a tool for improving patient care as well as personal spiritual awareness measured through the Daily Religious Experience Scale.


Lawrence Bowlin D.Min.
The paper begins with an extensive survey of the Biblical call to watchfulness in the Old and New Testaments showing not only that it is a recurring theme in Scripture but that it is a foundational theme in the context of spiritual warfare from Genesis chapter three through Revelation chapter twenty, for as long as God’s people live in a fallen world.
This theme is also plainly manifested throughout Church history and particularly so in the writings of the English Puritans. One would be hard pressed to find a single Puritan author who did not address this topic and that repeatedly as a matter of life or death in terms of one’s spirituality and the healthiness of a church overall. This project highlights some of the more prominent Puritan authors in how they exhorted their people to watch over their own hearts, to watch over their brothers in love, and to humbly receive the watchful care of their church elders.
The call to watchfulness is then evaluated today in light of contemporary spiritual renewal movements and the reclamation of the spiritual disciplines, in the context of Christian counseling, and in church growth literature, all of which touch on this theme of watchfulness and seem to be moving in a direction of greater accountability in the normal Christian life.
This project attempts to integrate the findings from these Scriptural, theological historical, and contemporary elements into a new model of ministry designed to equip the members of a church with the necessary tools to watch over their brothers’ hearts in addition to their own and to humbly receive the watchful care and correction of Christ’s undershepherds. These tools are in the form of sermons, scripts, and seminars.
Subscribe to Spiritual formation