Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship

Overview

The Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship is a non-degree program designed to train students in the transformative work of Christian formation and discipleship. The Certificate in Spiritual Formation is designed for:

  • Persons who desire training in biblical and theological studies, in spiritual formation, and in discipleship
  • Persons who feel called to spiritual-formation ministry in the church or parachurch settings
  • Professionals who desire formational experiences and training in an academic environment

The certificate is focused on expanding biblical and theological knowledge, deepening awareness of God and self, integrating life experiences, and enhancing Christ-like spiritual practices so that students can demonstrate characteristics of Jesus in their vocational contexts. Our understanding of spiritual formation involves the intersection of Scripture, theology, psychology, and social-cultural factors. The focus of our curriculum, therefore, is on developing awareness, increasing empathy and compassion skills, and building distinct spiritual practices that promote authentic Christian discipleship.

Program Objectives

The Spiritual Formation and Discipleship Certificate will:

  • Develop the student's capacity for theological reflection regarding the psychological and socio-cultural dynamics that are at play in becoming transformative agents of Christ’s love
  • Equip students to develop habits of authentic disciplines that center on thinking and living in Christ's presence
  • Foster socio-cultural awareness and relational skills that cultivates maturity into God’s fullness
  • Offer tools for cultivating and communicating authentic Christian discipleship

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Describe, critically and constructively, the biblical, theological, socio-cultural, and psychological dimensions of living in Christ’s presence
  • Demonstrate the reflection and integration of lived experiences with an understanding of God and the scriptures
  • Implement new understandings and lived experiences into spiritual and relational practices that result in personal transformation and can be integrated into discipleship relationships
  • Identify and evaluate their own spiritual formation journey of conforming to the image of Christ, and develop tools for guiding the journey of others as disciples of Jesus

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to the Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship program must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5. In addition, applicants must complete the following to be considered for admission to the program:

  • Submit Portland Seminary application form and application fee
  • Submit one official transcript from each college/university attended
  • Resumé
  • Personal mission statement and statement of faith
  • Three letters of reference (as specified in admissions materials)
  • An interview

†Applicants who do not hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university may apply to the university but will be required to submit additional documentation to be considered for admission.

Transfer Credit

Transfer of up to 12 hours credit is allowed toward the Certificate in Spiritual Formation program from ATS accredited graduate schools, as appropriate to the curriculum. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer. In addition, only courses taken elsewhere within 10 years of the date of matriculation to the Certificate in Spiritual Formation program will be considered for transfer. Transferability of credits earned at this institution and transferred to another is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the registrar's office for information on eligibility of transfer credit.

Residence Requirements

Residence, as described in this section of the catalog, does not refer to the time a student spends on campus. It refers to the portion of a degree program that students are required to earn with Portland Seminary, as compared to transfer credits and credit applied as advanced standing. With regard to the Certificate in Spiritual Formation program, students are required to complete half of the certificate (12 semester hours) directly with Portland Seminary. A leave of absence is valid for up to one year, after which the student must reapply to the program. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the certificate.

Course Requirements

The Certificate in Spiritual Formation program is generally two years in length with 24 semester hours of coursework required as a minimum for graduation. Of the total hours required for the degree, 12 are in biblical and theological foundations courses, and 12 are in spiritual formation courses.

Graduation Requirements

In order to receive the Certificate in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship students must:

● Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 24 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
● Successfully complete each milestone
● Successfully pass candidacy
● Be recommended by the seminary faculty for graduation from Portland Seminary of George Fox University

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Curriculum Plan

Choose two of the following:
Required sequence: BIST 501 and 503; BIST 502 and 504
Introduces students to the literature of the Old Testament in its socio-historical, literary, and theological contexts with particular interest in spiritual formation and Christian practice.
Introduces students to the literature of the New Testament in its socio-historical, literary, and theological contexts with particular interest in spiritual formation and Christian practice.
Building on the skills and knowledge of BIST 501, this course introduces more advanced exegetical methods through a variety of Old Testament texts. Special attention will be paid to major theological themes such as holiness, justice, theodicy, divine presence and absence, worship, trauma and how these themes are applicable to today's communities of faith. Prerequisite: BIST 501.
Building on the skills and knowledge of BIST 502, this course engages students with the nature of interpretation (hermeneutics) as well as methods and tools that support interpretation (exegesis). Special emphasis will be placed on key moral and theological concerns today and how a variety of viewpoints, methods, and approaches help the reader of the Bible move from ancient text to modern life. Important topics related to the canon will also be included such as the inspiration, authority, and composition of the Bible. Prerequisite: BIST 502.
Choose two of the following:
Required sequence: CHTH 507 and 509; CHTH 508 and 510
Covers the development of Christianity and Christian theology from the end of the apostolic period through the 16th century. Examines the expansion of the Church, the evolvement of Christian institutions and practice, the conflicts that confronted the Church from within and without, the reform of the Church, and the theological development of doctrines such as the soteriology, Trinity, Christology, grace and free will, and theology of the cross.
This course takes a constructive theological approach, integrating Christian doctrine and contemporary theologies in the church. It builds upon the student’s engagement with historical development of theology, focusing on the Trinity and key considerations in atonement and pneumatology. The principal goal is to reflect upon the normative sources for theology, with a view toward equipping students to engage their own denomination's theological development.
This course examines how Christianity developed in North America from the 15th to the 21st centuries. Special attention will be paid to the role of evangelicalism in American churches, the creative ways that Americans contextualize Christianity, and the contributions that American religious innovators make to global theological conversations.
An introduction to the origins, histories, myths, and basic tenets of other religious traditions in the world and how Christians might engage them in meaningful interaction. Involving a research project and on site visits, a concerted effort will be made to show the common humanity of the people who follow other religions. Co-learners will guard against viewing people from other religions as the "excluded other” by understanding commonalities and celebrating differences.
Complete the following:
Provides an opportunity for students to develop self-awareness in the context of their Christian faith and preparation for ministry. It equips students to reflect critically and constructively on their mission and vision, personal spiritual histories, and the strengths, weaknesses, and spirituality of their personality types.
Gives students opportunities to explore images of God portrayed in the Scriptures and in the mystical traditions of the Church. Students compare these images and traditions to those that have shaped their own thoughts, emotions, and actions. Students are able to inform, strengthen, and transform their images and experiences.
Provides an opportunity for students to develop deeper and more satisfying prayer lives in the context of a global environment. As the essential relational discipline of the Christian journey, prayer is examined and experienced in its diverse ecclesial, ethnic, and cultural forms as found in Scripture, Christian history, and the Church.
Introduces students to some of the classic disciplines and practices of the spiritual life, including self-examination and confession, keeping Sabbath, simplicity, justice and compassion, and embodiment. These spiritual practices are explored in order to become aware of and engage the presence of God in one’s life.
Complete the following:
Gives students the opportunity in a seminar format to come to a deeper awareness of who they are and why they do what they do. Through practices and tools such as centering prayer, the enneagram, and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, students will become healthier servant leaders through an intentional formation of their identities. (Note: it is required that students take both SFAD 551 and SFAD 552).
Gives students the opportunity in a seminar format to come to a deeper awareness of who they are and why they do what they do. Through practices and tools such as centering prayer, the enneagram, and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, students will become healthier servant leaders through an intentional formation of their identities. (Note: it is required that students take both SFAD 551 and SFAD 552).
A small group of students study a specially selected topic with a professor in a seminar format. (Note: students are required to take both SFAD 555 and 565).
A small group of students study a specially selected topic with a professor in a seminar format. (Note: students are required to take both SFAD 555 and 565).