Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
C. Raymond Holmes
Douglas R. Kilcher
A congregation's primary expectation of their pastor is his/her ability to provide competent guidance in spiritual formation. My education never offered me a class in spiritual formation and this deficiency has not been eliminated since my formal theological education. Therefore, I felt inept when I tried to provide spiritual guidance.
This study began first with the Bible and included literature on spiritual formation. The selected materials were summarized into seventeen lessons. The ii first eleven lessons explain the obstacles to spiritual formation, the holiness of God, and how Christians can experience holiness. The last six lessons explain the practical aspects of spiritual formation, such as Bible study, prayer, and journaling. Each lesson concludes with exercises to assist the reader to better understand and apply the lesson's concepts. Five people were selected to write their understanding and practice of spirituality before their study of these lessons. After completing the lessons, they again wrote their understanding and practice of spirituality. The difference in their responses indicates possible growth.
First, this study developed for me a clearer understanding and a more consistent practice of spirituality. Second, I believe I have developed an acceptable tool to assist my congregation in spiritual formation. Third, participants in this study have grown spiritually in the following ways. They can now explain spirituality more clearly and know how to develop the spiritual life. Two months after their study, their devotions were more consistent than before beginning these lessons. Fourth, I gained valuable experience in providing spiritual guidance.
Four conclusions resulted from this project. First, factors that stimulate spiritual growth are complex and defy both isolation and quantification. Claims for spiritual growth must ultimately be based on the participant's perception. Second, a direct relationship exists between the respondent's temperament and their spiritual development. Spiritual counselors must be able to adapt to different temperaments. Third, a prolonged study of spirituality appears to stimulate spiritual growth. Fourth, advanced spiritual growth lessons are needed. Additional lessons should include practical suggestions for continuing spiritual growth and explain how to live the contemplative life within society.
Dunavant, Delbert W., "Lessons On Spiritual Growth And A Pilot Test Of Their Effectiveness" (1988). Project Documents. 329.
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