Spiritual Formation

Course Outline & Assessment Information


This class equips students in the process of spiritual formation as a life-long transforming and learning experience that emerges from our communion with Christ and forms the basis of Christian ministry. Spiritual formation involves the joyful sharing and participation in the life and love of the Father, Son and Spirit. All of our lives, individually and in communion together, are "in Christ".

"Spiritual Formation" presents both occasions for reflection and contemplation and practical help for students to develop their personal and congregational (spiritual community) spiritual lives. Spiritual formation is a relationship with the Father through the indwelling of the Son by the Spirit, resulting in a dynamic process of continuous, on-going development to reflect "the whole measure of the fullness of Christ". This formation of Christ in the individual is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit. For the purposes of this class, spiritual formation will include the following:

  • An exploration of the biblical basis of spiritual formation
  • Developing working definitions and descriptions of spiritual formation
  • Theological perspectives
  • Beginning a conversation with the voices of the christian past and present
  • Developing an understanding of the role of the spiritual disciplines and their implications for:
  • Personal and congregational (community) devotions:
Developing a healthy prayer life as the base for all ministry and personal growth and development
Transforming of the heart as the basis for transformation of life
Participating in regular spiritual reflection
Participating in corporate worship
  • Personal growth and development:
Developing a growing understanding of God and His Word
Developing the inner life, expressed in peace, joy and love
Developing a commitment to continuous learning
Developing an understanding of life and people; relationship skills
Developing and updating knowledge and ministry skills
  • Practical ministry (service):
Developing an accurate assessment of natural abilities and talents
Developing an awareness of personal spiritual gifts
Evidencing a service orientation in life and ministry
Maintaining balance and sustainability across the many demands of ministry
Developing realistic expectations and goals for self
  • The book of Philippians will be referenced to provide instruction in, models of, and reflections on spiritual formation.



This course seeks to extend the knowledge, awareness, understanding and application of students across a range of topics, ideas and concepts relating to spiritual formation. It approaches this task in the context of spiritual formation being the basis of all Christian ministry (service). While grounded in the biblical and theological understanding of the dynamic process of spiritual formation, the course therefore also includes practical elements in the process of spiritual formation that find expression in practical Christian service. The following outline gives some idea of the areas that can be explored in depth in this class:

Part 01 - Theological Foundations

Class 01 A Trinitarian Approach to Spiritual Formation
Class 02 Communion with Christ
Class 03 New Life in Christ

Part 02 - Spiritual Disciplines

Class 04 Spiritual Disciplines
Class 05 Prayer and Bible Study
Class 06 Worship
Class 07 Service
Class 08 Using One's Gifts in Service
Class 09 From Management to Mystery - Participating in the Ministry of Jesus Christ
Class 10 Stewardship, Balance & Sustainability
Class 11 Realistic Goals and Expectations
Class 12 Philippians
Class 13 Review and References

Texts and Supporting Materials

The texts prescribed for this class are:

Philippians (preferably use a modern English version, such as the New International Version (NIV), New King James Version (NKJV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, Hodder & Stoughton, any edition AFTER 1989. (Cover picture may differ between editions).

Other highly recommended (but not required) books are:

  • Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Harper & Row, 1954.
  • The Spirit of the Disciplines - Understanding How God Changes Lives - by Dallas Willard, Hodder and Stoughton, London, UK, 1988.
  • The Contemplative Pastor - Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction - by Eugene Peterson, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mi, USA, 19989.
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction - Discipleship in an Instant Society, by Eugene Peterson, Intervarsity Press, Downer Grove, Il, USA, 1980
  • Subversive Spirituality, by Eugene Peterson, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mi, USA, 1994, 1997
  • Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups - A Renovar√© Resource for Spiritual Renewal, edited by Richard J Foster and James B Smith.
  • Assigned readings available on the Spiritual Formation Website during the class.

To purchase these books, select the "Bookstore" option from the Student Services dropdown menu. Ambassador College of Christian Ministry partners with Amazon Books to provide fast, efficient service and delivery of your textbook needs worldwide.


The components of assessment for this class are all listed in this document for ease of access. You are encouraged to work through the class notes and readings before launching into the assessments. You do not need to submit the assessments in numerical order, but in most cases this will be the best way to approach it. The assessments are as follows:


Assessment 1: Book Report

Read a book and write a brief (max 800 words) book report. This can be the textbook for this class (Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline), or any of the recommended books, or a textbook for another class. It may be a book you have already read, although to maximize the benefits of the course, it would be preferable to read a new book, especially one connected with Spiritual Formation. Ideally, you will have made it at least to class three (Prayer and Bible Study) before beginning this assignment. For the purposes of this class, a book report would include:

  1. A summary of the book, identifying the author's main ideas,
  2. An analysis of these ideas (do you agree or disagree? why or why not?), and
  3. Your reflections on these ideas in the context of spiritual formation, both personally and in community.

Assessment 2: Self-Awareness Statement

Write a 500 word self-awareness statement, including an analysis of your talents and gifts, where you see your weaknesses, and where you feel best equipped to serve in the church. (You will need to refer to class 6. In Rick Warren's terms, what is your spiritual "SHAPE"?)


Assessment 3: Spiritual Journal

Keep a journal of your spiritual life during the time of this class. You may wish to record your prayer and Bible study experiences, class study experiences, and material you have studied. The journal is not just a diary, however. Most importantly, try to capture any particular insights, thoughts, prayers, ideas, or verses that especially caught your attention. Journal your involvement in corporate worship, in the context of spiritual formation. (This may be church services, small group meetings, youth ministry events or the like - but again, rather than just a diary of events, try to record particular lessons, insights, thoughts or moments you may wish to record for the future.) At the end of the class, please submit an example or portion (500 words) of the journal, along with any comments on the benefits (or otherwise) you found in such an exercise in terms of your spiritual formation.

Dates for Assessment

These are flexible.


More about the Lecturer, John McLean and the Assessor, Phillip Hopwood.

Grading System

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Class Notes - Conventions

As you work through the class notes, you'll have opportunities to complete exercises, reflect on particular points and take special note. These are clearly indicated, with relevant instructions alongside

How Long Do I Have to Complete the Class?

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