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".

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
  • Personal and congregational (community) devotions
  • Personal growth and development
  • Practical ministry (service)



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 articles and supporting materials are supplied in the Class Resource Library.

Recommended Reading

  • 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.

These texts can be purchased from most online bookstores (we recommend Book Depository which offers free shipping) or from select Christian book retailers. 


The components of assessment for this class are all listed below. You are encouraged to work through the class notes and readings before launching into the assessments. Assessments must be submitted before the due dates outlined in the course syllabus you received upon registration. Do not submit more than one assessment before receiving feedback from your teacher. The assessments are as follows:


Assessment 1: Short Answer

Write a short answer for each question (word count in brackets)

  1. What is spiritual formation? (150 words)
  2. Choose a spiritual discipline - describe the discipline and its personal application. (200 words)

Assessment 2: Self-Awareness Statement

Write a 300 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 8. In Rick Warren's terms, what is your spiritual "SHAPE"?)


Assessment 3: Spiritual Journal

Keep a journal of your spiritual life during the semester. 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. Most importantly, try to capture any particular insights, thoughts, prayers, ideas, or verses that especially caught your attention. 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.


Assessment 4:Book Report

(500 words) Select a book from the list of texts for this class (it can be the textbook for this class, Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline) and write a review. Your report should include the following:

  1. A summary of what the author says, identifying the main ideas,
  2. An analysis of what the author says (including whether you agree or disagree)
  3. A reflection of what the author says in the context of spiritual formation, both personally and in community


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

Grading System

Check the "FAQ" option from the ABOUT dropdown menu.



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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



These should be emailed to info@ambascol.org



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