Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Spiritual Formation Sequence

I forgot yesterday that I had not written about the spiritual formation sequence in our curriculum.  I'll treat them today all together.

1. Pastor, Church, and World
2. Cultural Contexts of Ministry
3. Bible as Scripture
4. Introduction to Theology
5. Global Christian History
6. Missional Church
7. Congregational Leadership
8. Christian Worship
9. Christian Proclamation
10. Congregational Spiritual Formation
11. Congregational Relationships

And now our spiritual formation sequence.

I'm again proud of many aspects of the spiritual formation sequence of the Wesley curriculum.

1. For one, there is a spiritual formation course every core semester.  The idea is that your heart is growing at the same time your head and hands are.

2. Second, these courses include affective, formational activities.  They are not simply learning about spiritual formation.  Every other week involves doing some act of spirituality.

3. Thirdly, the course sequence is not narrowly focused on individualistic spiritual disciplines like so many think of spiritual formation.  The overall sequence is meant to model an actual process of change.  The sequence was the brain child of Keith Drury.  I was there when in about a minute, maybe less, he spun out the entire course list, titles and all.

So here is the sequence:

1. Change and Transformation
The idea of this course is that a person investigate the basic process of how individuals change.  I like the fact that this course does not assume that everyone changes the same way or that if you want to become spiritual, you have to pull this level, tap your head three times and, ding, you're there.

The course currently also uses Bobby Clinton's The Making of a Leader.  Much of this book annoys me, because in contrast to what I said in the last paragraph, he has a very narrow sense of how leaders develop.  Nevertheless, if we ignore his rigidity, throw out his sense that "It's Tuesday, I must be having an integrity check," he does capture the key elements that are part of a leader's development.

2. Self-Awareness and Appraisal
The next two courses are quite logical.  The first assesses where you are.  The next asks where you are going.  I'm happy that this second course assesses a person's personality, involves an assessment of strengths and weaknesses, and involves an individual 360.  It also has a more balanced sense of spiritual gifts than you often find out there (in other words, the same rigidity is out there with regard to spiritual gift tests that is out there with regard to Clinton's leadership development theory.

3. Goal Setting and Accountability
So the next question is where we are headed.  The element of accountability is very important for the Wesleyan tradition, and this course has an element that looks at Wesley's class system.

4. Mentoring and Spiritual Direction
Many of us think spiritual formation is a matter of going it alone.  Apparently, God does not usually work this way but most of the time works on us through others.  This course is not about mentoring others, but about being mentored.  For half of the class, the students submit to the mentoring of someone else.  For the second half, students submit to a spiritual director.

5. Personal and Corporate Spiritual Disciplines
This course is the one that everyone thinks is what spiritual formation is.  I like the way it has turned out to involve not only the study of a discipline each each but the practice of it, including a 6 hour retreat they are to go on in the course.  I also like the fact that it not only thinks of individual disciplines but corporate ones like worship and service as well.

6. Recovery and Deliverance
This is the last of the spiritual formation sequence and the only one that is not yet written.  The idea behind it, however, is to arrive at the goal.  The spirit of the times is to think only of progress--"It's all about the journey."  But do we, can we never actually arrive anywhere?  The Wesleyan tradition certainly believes so.

So in my mind, this course should cover a variety of things, ranging from 12 step type things and recovery/deliverance from additions to spiritual warfare and deliverance from spiritual oppression.  A good dose of Wesleyan optimism.

1 comment:

FrGregACCA said...

More resources: "Divine Energy" by (Fr.) Jon Braun

"Hostage to the Devil" by Malachi Martin

"People of the Lie" by Scott Peck

Was there something on a sacrament-centered lifestyle in any of this? I may have missed that...

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