The purpose of the Spiritual Formation Program
The Spiritual Formation Program at The College for Officer Training seeks to fulfill several of the aims of training as laid out in The International Orders and Regulations for the Training of Salvation Army Officers:
• To provide a disciplined Christian environment designed to foster personal growth and maturity, self-discipline, and acceptance of authority.
• To provide a program intended to promote the spiritual development of cadets.
What is spiritual formation?
“Spiritual formation is the process whereby we grow in our ability to pay attention, the way we help form what God is doing. It involves all the ways we are being formed in the image of Christ in our inner life and outer ministry.” (Jon Ackerman, Listening to God: Spiritual Formation in Congregations. The Alban Institute, 2001.)
The Spiritual Formation Program consists of the following elements:
• The Spiritual Formation Course.
• Chapel services three times a week at The College for Officer Training (required for cadets and staff; we invite DHQ staff to join us when they can; we have some joint chapels with Booth University College).
• Spiritual mentoring: cadets are assigned a spiritual mentor, whom they meet with monthly, to intentionally look at what God is doing in their lives and how they are growing spiritually.
• In-Sundays: twice a year with the TC and TPWM; twice a year with the CS and TSWM; Welcome Sunday, Commissioning Family Service; two to three times a year with The College for Officer Training staff.
• Special Occasions:
o In order to build up an ecumenical awareness, cadets attend one of the services for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity as well as the World Day of Prayer Service.
o In our chapel services we keep in mind the church year, observing Advent which culminates in our Candlelight Family Service. We intentionally experience Lent in our chapel services from Ash Wednesday through to Holy Week with daily chapels. We would likely have either a Seder experience or Tennebrae Service on Thursday of Holy Week.
o The week prior to Covenant Day we have daily “Covenant Chapels” where staff lead cadets through reflection on the Doctrines and the Undertakings for Salvation Army Officers. This culminates in Covenant Day.
• Personal Devotions: Cadets are given tools in the Spiritual Formation course to enrich their personal devotional life. This includes various examples of devotional material. Their own devotional life would be one area of conversation for spiritual mentoring.
Spiritual Formation Course
Integral to leadership in the Christian Church is the leader’s own spiritual formation. This course assists leaders to explore and practice spiritual disciplines which nurture one’s own personal spiritual life, and which honour the ecumenical and historical tradition of the Church. The course also explores how to integrate biblical values, rhythms, and spiritual practices within the Church, in order to assist in the formation of Christian spiritual communities.
Overall Course View
A 3 credit hour course, spread over the two years of training.
Year 1 – Exploration of the Spiritual Disciplines
Topics include: Praying Scripture, Solitude, Meditative Prayer, Centering Prayer, Fostering Intimacy with God, Simplicity, Fasting, Spiritual Retreats, Spiritual Journaling, Sabbath and Cultivating Spiritual Rhythms.
Year 2 – Cultivating Spiritual Life within Community & Preparing for Spiritual Leadership
Topics include: Spiritual Openness and Repentance, Transformative Teaching and Preaching, Responding and Growing as We Serve, Fostering Spiritual Relationships (Mentoring & Spiritual Directors), Spiritual Life and the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, Living and Teaching Holiness and Surrender, How Spiritual Type and Personality Effect our Formation, The Spiritual Life of the Corps Officer amidst Crisis and Transition, Establishing a Spiritual Formation Plan and Devotions for Pastors: Feeding the Fire Within.
- Barton, Ruth. Sacred Rhythms: Arranging our Lives for Spiritual Transformation. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.
- Faragher, Christine. Other Voices:Exploring the Contemplative in Salvationist Spirituality. Australia Southern Territory, The Salvation Army, 2010.
- Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.
- Street, Robert. Called to be God’s People. London, England: International Headquarters, 1999.
- Street, Robert. Holiness Unwrapped: To Be Like Jesus. Australia Eastern Territory, The Salvation Army, 2005.
- Webb, Geoff, and Kalie Webb. Authentic Holiness for Ordinary Christians. Australia Southern Territory, The Salvation Army, 2007.
- Wilhoit, James C. Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered: Growing in Christ through Community. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.
• What does a relationship with a spiritual mentor look like?
“It is assumed that the relationship will be spiritual. This is not meant to compartmentalize the person; nor does it mean that the entire life of the whole person is not of concern in the relationship. It simply means that the person’s relationship with life as it related to God will be the focus…”
A spiritual mentor is someone with whom “we can test where we are in the spiritual journey – to get a kind of navigational fix- someone with whom we can find solace in times of great stress, check out pastoral decisions, tap for new ideas or directions…”
• The benefits of a spiritual mentor
Generally, spiritual growth is more difficult if we attempt it on our own. We need support from other Christians in order to continue our spiritual growth.
The focus of this spiritual mentoring relationship includes:
1. accountability for spiritual disciplines.
2. a compassionate ear to help us clarify how God is acting in our life and how we might respond.
3. recommended resources that might be helpful, if this seems suitable.
4. prayer with us and for us.
• Possible questions to evoke conversation in meetings with a spiritual mentor:
What is God doing / saying through this event?
What is God asking of me / us in this relationship?
Is my life, as I live, a validation of my prayer as I pray it?
Is my prayer, as I pray it, an authentic challenge to my life as I live it?
• What are some dimensions of a spiritual mentor meeting?
2. Clarifying a person’s image of God.
3. Helping people clarify their experience.
9. Help through the desert and darkness.
The term “In-Sunday” includes days which were previously designated as “Spiritual Days.”
Presently, In-Sundays consist of the following:
• twice a year with the TC and TPWM.
• twice a year with the CS and TSWM.
• Welcome Sunday Family Service.
• Commissioning Family Service.
• two to three Sundays a year with The College for Officer Training staff.
Chapels are held three days a week. Although there are occasional variations in scheduling, due to special guests and observances, there is generally a themed approach to the various weekly chapels.
This is My Story
Field Practicum Sharing
Sessional / Staff Chapels
These chapels will be based on assigned texts from the lectionary, Words of Life, etc.
They will also reflect the Church Year.
The assigned leader will preach from the text as well as design a related service of worship. Creativity is encouraged. Musical support will be provided from The College for Officer Training community, cadets as well as staff.
Salvation Army Guests
Reflection on Salvation Army resources like Salvation Army Songs