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Spiritual Formation Studies

The Study of Spiritual Formation

At Gordon-Conwell, we offer:

  • M.A. in Spiritual Formation (MASF)
  • Graduate Certificate of Spiritual Formation (GCSF) 
  • D.Min. in Spiritual Formation for Ministry Leaders (DMin)

What is Spiritual Formation?

Spiritual Formation is the study of the Holy Spirit’s initiation and enactment of lifelong transformation in believers: the Spirit both conforms us into the likeness of Jesus Christ and enables us to grow in our relationship with God, knowing his love at increasing depths and experiencing rich fellowship with him.

The study of Spiritual Formation at Gordon-Conwell is intentionally kaleidoscopic, taking an interdisciplinary approach that mines resources from biblical studies, theology, church history, the arts, literature, counseling, and spiritual direction. We endeavor to equip students with a spiritual toolbox filled with ministry principles, models, methods, and skills that they can put to use for a lifetime. With an emphasis on discovering one’s unique God-given design, we help students catch a clearer sense of their vocational and spiritual identity, discern their calling for the sake of the church, become equipped to persevere in the midst of challenges and obstacles, and grow in attentiveness to God. Students learn how to develop integrated models for ministry that engage the whole person and bring coherence between theology, spirituality, and practice.

At Gordon-Conwell we offer two degree programs and a graduate certificate in Spiritual Formation.

Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Formation

The Graduate Certificate of Spiritual Formation (GCSF) comprises six courses (18 credits) that provide flexibility to meet your unique needs. This certificate is the “core” of the M.A. in Spiritual Formation.

Designed for completion in one year or three summers, the GCSF is accessible to residential and low-residency students.

 


ACADEMICS

Four Core Courses

  • Spiritual Formation for Ministry
  • Dynamics of Spiritual Life
  • SF course in counseling (e.g. Ministering to Women in Pain, Cross-Cultural Counseling, etc.)
  • SF course in church history (e.g. Medieval Spirituality, Reformation Era Spirituality, etc.)


Two SF Electives*

  • Cross-Cultural Counseling
  • C.S. Lewis’ Life, Works, and Spirituality
  • Global Christian Spirituality & Leadership
  • Group Process
  • Medieval Spirituality
  • Ministering to Women in Pain
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Prayer
  • Reformation Era Spirituality
  • Spiritual Formation & the Arts
  • Spiritual Leadership

*These are examples of the types of courses offered in full Hamilton residency. Select courses will be offered in SSH residency and available online at a distance.

 



PRACTICUM

GCSF students are required to complete four personal retreats (for low-residency students, these may be in their local area) and two semesters of a supervised spiritual formation practicum through one of the following:

  • mentored ministry
  • a LifeStory Exegesis™ small group (for residential students)
  • a Pierce Center soul care group 
  • a discipling relationship through the Discipleship Experience Program
  • or a certificate in spiritual direction through programs such as Selah

 

START YOUR ONLINE APPLICATION

Please contact our Admissions Office for more information.

M.A. in Spiritual Formation

The Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation (MASF) is designed with flexibility to meet your unique needs. Comprising 20 courses (60 credits), the MASF is an interdisciplinary degree that invites students into a deeper relationship with God while grounding them in the Word and equipping them to lead others in Christian spiritual formation and soul care.

Designed for completion in two years, the MASF is accessible to residential and low-residency students.

ACADEMICS

  • 8 Concentration Courses in Spiritual Formation
  • 9 Core Courses from Bible, Theology, Counseling, and Ethics
  • 3 Course Electives

See our checklist of MASF degree requirements.



PRACTICUM

MASF students are required to complete four personal retreats (for low-residency students, these may be in their local area) and two semesters of a supervised spiritual formation practicum through one of the following:

  • mentored ministry
  • a LifeStory Exegesis™ small group (for residential students)
  • a Pierce Center soul care group 
  • a discipling relationship through the Discipleship Experience Program
  • or a certificate in spiritual direction through programs such as Selah

 

Start Your Online Application

Please contact our Admissions Office for more information.

D.Min. in Spiritual Formation

The Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Formation for Ministry Leaders seeks to equip pastors and ministry leaders to nurture their individual and corporate life with God by forming mentored learning communities that together study and engage in spiritual practices so as to transform ministers and ministries for a lifetime.

The curriculum for the D.Min. track in Spiritual Formation differs from the MASF and GCSF in both emphasis and format. Please consult the Doctor of Ministry Program for more information.

Start Your Online Application

Please contact our Admissions Office for more information.

Typical Student

Students studying Spiritual Formation come from a range of backgrounds — pastors and church staff, worship leaders, laity, college ministry staff, parachurch workers, psychotherapists, counselors, spiritual directors, artists, musicians, actors, retreat center, wilderness, and surfing ministry leaders — seeking to better discern the Holy Spirit and integrate spiritual formation into their current vocations.

Potential Careers in Spiritual Formation

  • Counseling
  • Leadership in congregational formation
  • Director of Spiritual Formation
  • Director of Discipleship
  • Corporate worship leader
  • Theology and the Arts
  • Wilderness, Camp, Conference, and Retreat Ministries
  • College ministry
  • Life coaching
  • Spiritual Director (additional training through our partner Selah)
  • Ph.D. or D.Min.

Spiritual Formation Faculty

Dr. Gwenfair Adams

Associate Professor of Church History & Director of the M.A. in Spiritual Formation

 

Dr. Mateus de Campos

Assistant Professor of New Testament & Director of Discipleship

 

Dr. David Currie

Professor of Practical Theology, Dean of the Doctor of Ministry and the Ockenga Institute

 

Dr. Gordon Isaac

Berkshire Professor of Church History and Advent Christian Studies

Dr. Stephen Macchi

Adjunct Professor and D.Min. Faculty Co-Mentor for Spiritual Formation; Director of Pierce Center for Disciple Building

 

Why Study With Us?

  • Established evangelical seminary. Gordon-Conwell has a robust history of upholding the core beliefs of the historic Protestant evangelical faith community and of maintaining academic excellence. 
  • Biblical and theological foundations. We teach how to shape the day-to-day Christian experience in light of formation models and principles found in the Scriptures.
  • Exciting breadth of models of Spiritual Formation. The church showcases a mosaic of diverse Christian approaches to spirituality that have animated worship and witness spanning two millennia. Students will be taught how to draw upon, assess, and adapt the wealth of the church’s stores in order to engage in spiritual formation practices today that are biblically and theologically grounded, historically aware, and culturally contextualized. We will explore the breadth of models, from Patristic to Pentecostal, Reformation to Revival, and many more through time and across the world.
  • Leading faculty. Our program is taught by distinguished scholars who are researching, authoring, directing, coaching, and/or serving in fields involving Spiritual Formation.
  • New England location. We’re located in the heart of Puritan, First Great Awakening, and Native American Awakening territory and where the first formally commissioned American missionaries left for other nations—strong influences in the history of spirituality.
  • Training in LifeStory Exegesis™. Using an innovative spiritual formation model developed at Gordon-Conwell, we help students find their unique place in the Great Story that the Scriptures proclaim and discover more about how God has designed them both spiritually and vocationally.
  • Experience in Crafting a Rule of Life.  Taught by Dr. Steve Macchia, author of Crafting a Rule of Life and Director of Gordon-Conwell’s Pierce Center for Disciple Building.
  • Multidisciplinary integrative approach. In addition to spiritual formation studies, we draw on faculty specializations in church history, biblical studies, theology, literary theory, counseling, and global Christianity.
  • Diverse specializations. Due to the interdisciplinary nature and flexibility of the program, there is significant room to tailor the degree concentration to work well with one’s particular ministry calling.
  • Transformation. We encourage personal transformation through personal retreats, formation groups, and opportunities for discipleship and spiritual direction. 
  • Praxis. We equip students with a plethora of ministry tools to persevere and flourish spiritually in the midst of life’s difficulties and to disciple others in spiritual formation.
  • Practicum opportunities. Through the Pierce Center for Disciple Building, the Discipleship Experience, Mentored Ministry, etc., students put spiritual formation into practice for themselves and for others.

Experience Spiritual Formation

OPPORTUNITIES FOR FULL RESIDENTS

Spiritual Formation is inherently communal. As a multi-denominational seminary, we invite students to participate in a variety of spiritually formative experiences both for their own sake and for the sake of others. On a given day during the school year, you can pray with Korean students at 6:00 a.m., join Anglican and Episcopalian students for morning prayer, gather with the whole campus for Chapel at 11:10 a.m. (on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), share a meal and meaningful conversation with fellow students and faculty over lunch, engage in prayer for the nations at 1 p.m., find yourself worshiping God for something new you learned in theology or exegesis class in the afternoon, meet with a Soul Care group (Pierce Center for Disciple-Building) or with your discipler (Disciple Experience) for an hour or so, and enjoy fellowship and friendship in the evening with others like you training to advance Christ’s Kingdom. 

  • The Pierce Center for Disciple Building provides students a dedicated space with an intentional community to mature in Christlike character and grow in intimacy with Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, for the glory of the Father. The Center trains and encourages students to engage in spiritually formative disciplines that shape habits of the heart in order to go deeper in their relationship with Christ. The Center invites students to participate in their Soul Care Groups, Soul Sabbaths, retreats, and training events, as well as access their practical resources. The Center regularly partners with Leadership Transformations, an organization qualified to provide additional training in Spiritual Direction through Selah.
  • The Discipleship Experience exists to guide students into a transformed identity in Christ, life with Christ, and mission for Christ, and to model for them how to guide others to do the same. As seminary often provides rapid growth in theological understanding and skill sets, the program comes alongside students outside the classroom to help develop their character and faith in Christ. The Discipleship Experience offers students a rich context for growth in Christlikeness through discipleship relationships.

More on the Discipline of Spiritual Formation

As believers, we are justified by faith alone, by Christ’s work alone, by grace alone. Spiritual Formation does not save us. Nevertheless, it is an important part of the Christian life, and is made possible by the atonement and resurrection of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit in accordance with his Word. It is done to the glory of the Father, for the joy of the Church, and as a witness to the World.

Throughout the history of the church, Christians have understood this transformative process in various ways, and they’ve engaged in a range of spiritual practices and habits to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in his work. At Gordon-Conwell, we seek to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of their many different approaches as we pursue a deeper understanding and imitation of Christ’s character, disciplines, and teachings. Located in the heart of Puritan and Great Awakening territory, we endeavor to continue the legacy of renewal for the church today. And as we seek to embody a community of global discipleship, we learn from brothers and sisters across the world.

Relevant Books By Our Faculty*

(*Please note, these books do not comprise a specific course reading list.)

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