COHORT GATHERING ONE:
Spiritual Formation 101: Welcome to the Journey
This introductory session invites participants to the community and orients them to the experience of spiritual formation. The session will begin with spiritual practice and community building. An overview of courses, expectations, and opportunities will be provided and an environment of spiritual openness and support established. Creating an atmosphere of holistic learning, spiritual friendship, and prayer will be identified as the context for the journey ahead. Questions, clarifications, and sharing of participants’ hopes and expectations will be encouraged.
Who is God? Landscapes of the Divine
God is the center of the spiritual journey. Encountering God is the intent of all prayer and spiritual practice. This course is designed to help participants examine God concepts and experiences. Damaging God images will be identified and discussed. Personal discernment in a context of diverse cultural, theological, and spiritual landscapes will be a primary course element. Deepening relationship with the Divine and developing skills for companioning others in their journey with God are priority course outcomes.
COHORT GATHERING TWO:
Who are We? Landscapes of the Human Soul
Spirituality is the capacity for relationship with God. The possibility and longing for union with the divine is the “God seed” planted in each person. Human potential to individually and communally incarnate this “divine indwelling” is the focus of this course. Jesus’ life and teachings will provide the template for awakening to the “True Self” and embracing our identity as God’s beloved. The course will examine spiritual diversity, the need for psychological awareness and maturity, the body as instrument of Spirit, and nurturing the soul through encounters with nature. Fostering communities based in the unique worth of all persons will be a primary outcome of companioning individuals and groups with humility, awe, and care.
The Spiritual Life of Jesus: Journey of the Beloved
The person and patterns of Christ are the basis for Christian spiritual formation. This module will explore diverse Christological perspectives. Participants will engage in prayerful discernment of their personal understanding and relationship with Jesus. Yielding the self into God for formation and transformation will be embraced as the “Jesus Way” of being shaped into union with the Divine. Jesus’ journey as God’s beloved will serve as a guide for holistic discipleship and deep grounding in God. Key spiritual practices will integrate Christ’s rhythms of contemplative prayer and compassionate mission. A key objective will be preparation to support others in encountering Christ as companion, healer, and embodiment of God’s shalom.
COHORT GATHERING THREE:
Formation and Transformation: Diverse Spiritual Journeys
Human transformation from the false culturally formed self to the spiritually formed, true/beloved self will be explored in this unit. Stages of spiritual and faith development will be identified and specific formation needs for children, youth, young adults, second half and last third of life addressed. Intercultural, interfaith and gender dimensions will be incorporated. Symbols and models for transformation will include the mystics’ journey based on Christ’s life, Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, spiral dynamics, stages of psycho-spiritual consciousness, the labyrinth, Community of Christ worshiper’s path/temple spiral, and others. Companioning on the journey of transformation will be understood as “healing of the spirit” and restoring the wholeness of God’s shalom to persons and communities.
Contemplation and Action: Doing Mission the Jesus Way
Jesus’ life of compassionate peacemaking was grounded in spiritual attention and practice. Spirit anoints Christ for his mission of proclaiming and embodying God’s shalom. Christ’s mission draws us inward toward divine encounter and impels us outward to incarnate God’s vision in the world. This course examines the inherent link between the inner work of spiritual formation and the outer work of transforming the creation into God’s reign of justice and wholeness. Participants will be introduced to spiritual formation as a transformative and countercultural life stance/missional practice. Acquiring skills for “holy listening” among marginalized and disenfranchised persons in the church and community will be a key learning outcome for this module.
COHORT GATHERING FOUR:
Christian Spiritual Formation: Mystics, Movements, and Mission
The intent of this module is to provide an overview of Christian spirituality through the unfolding stories of key spiritual teachers and leaders. A broad stroke view of important mystics and movements from the desert fathers and mothers through the Christian Reformation and post-reformation to present eras will be included. (Restoration spirituality’s place in history will be identified, but Community of Christ spirituality is reviewed in a separate module.) This unit, focused on history and story, integrates with the unit on prayer and practices of Christian spiritual formation.
Christian Spiritual Formation: Prayers and Practices of the Tradition
This course focuses on the prayers and spiritual practices of significant mystics, teachers, and leaders identified in the module on Christian spiritual formation history. Participants will be immersed in the prayers and practices of those who have shaped spiritual formation in the pattern of Christ. Spiritual attention and receptivity leading to discerned compassionate response will be taught and experienced as the interconnected rhythm of Christ’s life and Christian spirituality. Participants will discern a rule of life incorporating daily contemplative disciplines with active compassionate disciplines. Beginning skills for facilitating spiritual practices with individuals and groups will be introduced.
COHORT GATHERING FIVE:
Community of Christ Spirituality
Community of Christ is rooted in mystical experience and grounded in spiritual principles of revelation, prophetic vision, and the sacredness of creation. This course will look at Restoration history through a spiritual lens identifying God’s formative movements and divine purposes in its unfolding. Unique gifts, identity ambiguities, and shadow elements will be explored along with enduring principles, mission initiatives, and the prophetic vision of God’s shalom. The importance of deepening discipleship and faithful response to divine call through spiritual formation and discernment will be a primary emphasis.
Deep Listening: The Heart of Spiritual Formation Ministries
Skillful, compassionate listening is the foundation of spiritual formation ministries. In this unit participants will learn the art of paying deep attention to the spiritual questions and yearnings of others. The meaning of “holy listening” and “contemplative presence” will be explored and experienced. Discernment as a Christ-modeled way of orienting one’s life toward God through spiritual attention and deep listening will be a core component. Principles and models of discernment, facilitating discernment processes, and discernment as essential to authentic discipleship and mission are among course topics.
COHORT GATHERING SIX:
Applied Spiritual Formation: Practices, Ministries, and Skills
This practicum oriented module focuses on acquiring skills for practicing and facilitating a variety of spiritual formation disciplines and ministries. Participants will become personally familiar with core spiritual disciplines and have opportunity to practice communication and facilitation skills for supporting others. One-on-one spiritual companioning, facilitation of Covenant Discipleship Groups or other formation communities, retreat planning and facilitating, spiritual formation in worship and congregational life, fostering spiritual development in diverse ages/stages and settings will be among ministry skills addressed.
Spiritual Formation: Callings, Ethics, and Strategies for the Ongoing Journey
This final course allows participants to process and integrate experiences from the Spiritual Formation Ministries program. Examining personal spiritual growth and discerning a sense of call to specific dimensions of spiritual formation ministries will be significant objectives. Expectations for Christ-like relationships, strict ethical standards, healthy boundaries, ongoing personal formation and learning, and loving humility as spiritual companion rather than “expert” will be emphasized. Steps and strategies for collaborating with congregational and/or mission center leaders and other church programs/initiatives in implementing specific spiritual formation ministries will be identified and discussed.