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East Asia School of Theology (EAST)

LMC 557A Leading Change in Spiritual-Formation Communities

23 Feb; 9, 23 Mar, 2013


Course description

Spiritual formation is the task of the church. Christian spiritual formation may be understood as a three-stranded process of person-in-formation (Christ-likeness in the inner being), persons-in-community formation (becoming a people of God), and persons-in-mission formation (being missional for Kingdom expansion). The biblical, theological and psychosocial aspects will be developed. The approach to faith formation is never individualistic but communal. The contemporary discipleship and faith formation models will be examined. A Christian spiritual formation paradigm which includes the role of the faith community, and spiritual-formation elements will be introduced. Leadership to effect transition to spiritual-formation communities will be considered in the context of local faith communities. This is a 2 credits course.


The expected general outcome of this course is that students will demonstration deeper understanding of spiritual formation, spiritual formative elements in the context of their faith communities, and nurturing spiritual formation communities (SFC).

By the end of the course it is hoped that students will specifically demonstrate:

1.      An enlarged knowledge base:

a.       The biblical and theological basis of spiritual formation.

b.      The nature of spiritual development

c.       The nurture of spiritual development

d.      The role of faith communities in spiritual development.

2.      The capacity to discern effective formative elements in the context of their faith communities.

3.      A deeper understanding of the dynamics of spiritual formation communities


Course Structure

The course is divided into three segments:

1.      Pre-campus preparation

2.      On-campus component

3.      Post-campus reflecting, assimilating and synthesizing.


1.      Pre-campus preparation

a.       Complete your personal goals for attending this course (p. PAGEREF goal \h 9)

b.      Reading at least 240 pages of the recommended texts and the course reader (480 pages of reading for those doing it for 4 credits).

c.       Preparing a 5-8 minutes presentation of the formative elements that are present in the students’ faith community and their effectiveness.


2.      On-campus component

The on-campus component will be held over three Saturdays at the EAST campus. As this is a compact concise course, all students are expected to attend all three Saturday sessions. The following is a guide to the content of the on-campus component. However, there is scope for some flexibility based on the developing class dynamics and needs.


a.      23 February 2013



Recommended reading

9.30am – 12.30 p.m.

The Nature of Spiritual Formation (1)

Wilhoit 2008, chapter 1-3; (A Call to Spiritual Formation 2009; Porter 2008; Grannell 1985; in course reader)

2.00 -5.30 p.m.

The Nature of Spiritual Formation (2)



b.      9 March 2013



Recommended reading

9.30am – 12.30 p.m.

Spiritual Formation Elements

Wilhoit 2008, chapter 4-6; (Averbeck 2008; Lovelace 1973; Johnson 2001; in course reader)

2.00 -5.30 p.m.

Spiritual Formation Communities



c.       23 March 2013



Recommended reading

9.30am – 12.30 p.m.

Leading Change in Spiritual Formation Communities (1)

Wilhoit 2008, chapter 7-10; (Houston 2011; Book Symposium; in course reader)

2.00 -5.30 p.m.

Leading Change in Spiritual Formation Communities (2)

Sum up



3.      Post-campus reflecting, assimilating and synthesizing

The book review and research paper are to help students reflect, assimilate and synthesize their perception of leading change in spiritual formation communities. See the details below.

Course assessment

Attendance and active participating in the learning process is assumed.

Formal assessment will be based on the following:








Book review



Research paper






1.      Reading

Students are to read at least 250 pages of the recommended readings which include the recommended texts and the articles in the course reader provided (480 pages of reading for those doing it for 4 credits).


2.      Presentation - Formative Activities in My Faith Community

a.       Identify the formative activities in your current/last ministry community. In place of current/last ministry community, church currently attending is acceptable.  Please do not use EAST for this exercise. Examine and reflect critically about how effective these activities are in helping spiritual development of the members of the community. These formative activities may be examined in the following categories

                                                  i.      Introduction to and overview of the Bible

                                                ii.      Basics of Christian belief

                                              iii.      Christian worship and prayer

                                              iv.      Christian worldview and ethics

                                                v.      The life and ministry of the church

                                              vi.      The life and health of the family

                                            vii.      Spiritual gifts and Christian services

                                          viii.      Evangelism, social concerns and world mission

b.      Prepare a 5-8 minutes (maximum) presentation on “Formative Activities in My Faith Community”

                                                  i.      Introduce the community to the class

                                                ii.      Identified the key formative activities

                                              iii.      Examine the effectiveness of these activities

                                              iv.      Suggestions to improve the effectiveness

c.       Lead the class into a plenary discussion based on your discussion above (15 minutes)

d.      After the discussion, revise your notes and submit a one page summary (maximum) to Dr Alex Tang by email attachment.

Due date: 30 March 2013


3.      Book review

Write a two page review of Wilhoit, James C., 2008. Spiritual Formation as if Church Mattered, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. Review to be written using font Times Roman 12, spacing 1.5 and following the Turabian Author-Date format. Submission is by email attachment. Printed hardcopy not required. (Two book reviews for those doing it for 4 credits. The second book should be from the selected reading list). See appendix A for book review guideline.

Date due: 25 April 2013


4.      Research paper

Complete a research project on a topic, theory, issue, concept or practice related to this course. The student should decide on their topic by the end of the classes and discuss with Dr. Alex Tang.

a.   This research process is developed in the following way:

-identify a problem/topic/issue. It must be related to spiritual formation communities.

-read up on the problem/topic/issue

-develop a thesis/abstract/outline/solution and framework

-read more and reflect on readings

-start writing

b.   This research paper should not be more than 4,000 words [about 10-12 pages] excluding the reference list (Those doing it for 4 credits, research paper should not be more than 6,000 words [about 13-15 pages] excluding the reference list).

c.   It is expected that the student will follow the Chicago Turabian Author-Date format. Footnotes are expected.

Due date: 25 April 2013

5.      Reflection

Complete your personal reflection and submit with your research paper. (Note: This will not be formally assessed. The 5% is for submission of the completed review only.)

Due date: 25 April 2013


Submission of assignments

Students should submit all assignments on time. Late assignments will receive grade reduction. No assignment that is more than 10 days late will be accepted unless the student has received an extension from the Dr Alex Tang.

•           Email (preferred): A soft copy of your assignments should be emailed to draltang@yahoo.com. Acknowledgement of receipt of assignment will normally be sent within 72 hours.

•           Submit as hard-copy: please send by mail to Dr Alex Tang, Johor Specialist Hospital, 39B, Jalan Abdul Samad, 80100 Johor Baru. It is recommended that you register your item. Let me know by email or sms when you have posted your assignment.

In all cases, ensure that you keep a copy of your submitted assignments in case your copies are lost in transit in cyperspace or the mail.


Selected Reading List

This list is by no means exhaustive but it contains literature for the course and resources for further reading.


Essential reading

Wilhoit, James C. 2008. Spiritual formation as if the church mattered: Growing in Christ through community. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Andrews, Alan, ed. 2010. The kingdom life: A practical theology of discipleship and spiritual formation. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Petit, Paul, ed. 2008. Foundations of spiritual formation: A community approach to becoming like Christ. P. Petit. Grand Rapids, MI: Kruger.


Recommended reading

Anderson, Keith R., and Randy D. Reese. 1999. Spiritual mentoring: A guide for seeking and giving direction. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Anderson, Ray S. 2006. An emergent theology for emerging churches. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Astley, J., and L. Francis, eds. 1992. Christian perspectives on faith development. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Banks, Robert. 1994. Paul’s idea of community: The early house churches in their cultural setting. Rev. ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

Bass, Diana Butler. 2002. Strength for the journey: A pilgrimage of faith in community. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

———. 2004. The practicing congregation: Imagining a new old church. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute.

———. 2006. Christianity for the rest of us: How the neighborhood church is transforming the faith. New York: Harper One.

Bass, Dorothy C., ed. 1997. Practicing our faith: A way of life for a searching people. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

———. 2000. Receiving the day: Christian practices for opening the gift of time. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Carlson, Kent, and Mike Lueken. 2011. Renovation of the church: What happens when a seeker church discovers spiritual formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Everist, Norma C. 2002. The Church as learning community: A comprehensive guide to Christian education. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Foster, C. R. 1994. Educating congregations: The future of Christian education. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Foster, Richard J. 1989. Celebration of discipline: The path to spiritual growth. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

———. 1998. Streams of living water: Celebrating the great traditions of Christian faith. New York: HarperCollins.

Fowler, James. 1995. Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. New York: HarperCollins.

Frost, Michael, and Alan Hirsch. 2003. The shaping of things to come: Innovation and mission for the 21st-century church. Erina, New South Wales: Strand.

Guder, Darrell L., ed. 1998. Missional church: A vision for the sending of the church in North America. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Hawkins, G. L., and C. Parkinson. 2007. Reveal: Where are you? The answer will transform your church. Barrington, IL: Willow Creek Resources.

———. 2008. Follow me: What’s next for you? Barrington, IL: Willow Creek Resources.

———. 2011. Move: What 1,000 churches reveal about spiritual growth. Barrington, IL: Willow Creek Association.

Herrington, J., M. Bonem, and J. H. Furr. 2000. Leading congregational change: A practical guide for the transformational journey. New York: Jossey‑Bass.

Johnson, Suzanne. 1989. Christian spiritual formation in the church and classroom. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Kline, Peter, and Bernard Saunders. 1993. Ten steps to a learning organization. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Great River Books.

Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner, eds. 2004. Christian reflections on the leadership challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Loder, James E. 1989. The transforming moment. 2nd ed. Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers and Howard.

———. 1998. The logic of the spirit: Human development in theological perspective. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Osmer, Richard Robert. 2005. The teaching ministry of congregations. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Peterson, Eugene H. 1996. Take and read: Spiritual reading, an annotated list. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

———. 1997. Subversive spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI.: William B. Eerdmans.

———. 2005. Christ plays in ten thousand places: A conversation in spiritual theology. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

———. 2006. Eat this book: A conversation in the art of spiritual reading. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

———. 2007. The Jesus way: A conversation on the ways that Jesus is the way. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

———. 2008. Tell it slant: A conversation on the language of Jesus in his stories and prayers. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

———. 2010. Practice resurrection: A conversation on growing up in Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Reed, Angela H. 2011. Quest for spiritual community: Reclaiming spiritual guidance for contemporary congregations. New York: T&T Clark International.

Schwarz, Christian A. 2000. Natural church development: A guide to eight essential qualities of healthy churches. 4th ed. Emmelsbüll, Germany: ChurchSmart Resources.

Volf, Miroslav. 1998. After our likeness: The Church as the image of the Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Willard, Dallas. 1988. The spirit of the disciplines: Understanding how God changes lives. New York: HarperCollins.

———. 1998. The divine conspiracy: Rediscovering our hidden life in God. New York: HarperCollins.

———. 1999. Hearing God: Developing a conversational relationship with God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

———. 2002. Renovation of the heart: Putting on the character of Christ. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

———. 2006. The great omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s essential teachings on discipleship. New York: HarperCollins.


Internet sources

Kerka, S. 1995. The learning organization: Myth or reality? http://www.cete.org/ acve/docgen.asp?tbl=archive&ID=A028 (accessed February 25, 2006).

Lausanne Theology Working Group. 2009. A statement on the prosperity gospel. The Lausanne Movement. http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/all/twg/ 1099-a-statement-on-the-prosperity-gospel.html (accessed July 23, 2010).


Course Reader

(The files are available on my online Google Drive [Google Docs]. Please send me an email at draltang@yahoo.com and I will enable your access).

A call to spiritual formation.2009. http://acalltospiritualformation.info/default.aspx (accessed July 20, 2009).

Averbeck, Richard E. 2008. Spirit, community, and mission: A biblical theology for spiritual formation. Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 1, no. 1: 27–53.

Book Symposium. 2011. Renovation of the church: What happens when a seeker church discovers spiritual formation, Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 4, no. 2: 204-251

Grannell, Andrew. 1985. The Paradox of Formation and Transformation. Religious Education 80, no. 3: 384-398.

Houston, James. 2011. The future of spiritual formation. Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 4, no. 2: 131-139.

Johnson, Suzanne. 2001. Christian spiritual formation in an age of “whatever.” Review and Expositor 93, no. 3: 309–32.

Lovelace, Richard. 1973. The sanctification gap. Theology Today 29, no. 4: 363–69.

Porter, Steve L. 2008. Sanctification in a new key: Relieving evangelical anxieties over spiritual formation. Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 1, no. 2: 129–48.


Leading Change in Spiritual Formation Communities (EAST) 2013

Personal Goals


[Prayerfully think about the proposed direction of this course, especially the objectives, then complete the following and hand it to Dr Alex Tang on 23 April 2013. You might want to keep a copy for yourself.]


My personal goals for this course are (try to be as specific as possible)







Concerns/contexts/questions I would particularly like to see addressed in the course are:











Name__________________________________  Date_____________________


Leading Change in Spiritual Formation Communities (EAST) 2013

Personal Reflection

Name__________________________                                              Date______________

Take some time to review this course. Take some time to reflect. A course is not about gaining grades but learning. Write brief comments you feel to be appropriate on the following topic:

1.      Think about the structure and content of the course. Read again your personal goals for the course. To what extend have you your goals being met?




2.      The main impression I gain form this course is….




3.      As a result of this course, I have been challenged in my life/ministry in attitudes, actions etc to ….



4.      Write a brief self-assessment on your involvement in this course..take into count such as your attitude, openness to new ideas, the amount of work you have done, understanding the course content, etc.




5.      Any other comments you may wish to make about the course?





Contact me

Dr Alex Tang

Associate Professor of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, Monash University Malaysia, Senior Consultant Paediatrician, Johor Specialist Hospital, Director, Spiritual Formation Institute, Director, Kairos Spiritual Formation Ministries,

email: draltang@yahoo.com | website: www.kairos2.com |Blog: www.draltang01.blogspot.com  | Facebook: www.facebook.com/dr.alex.tang | Twitter: www.twitter.com/alexthtang


Appendix A: Writing a Book Review

A book review is not the same thing as a book report, which simply summarizes the content of a book. When writing a book review, you not only report on the content of the book but also assess its strengths and weaknesses. Students sometimes feel unqualified to write a book review; after all, the author of the book is a professional [historian]. However, even if you cannot write from the same level of experience and knowledge as the author, you can write an effective review if you understand what the assignment requires. In writing a review you do not just relate whether or not you liked the book; you also tell your readers why you liked or disliked it. It is not enough to say, "This book is interesting"; you need to explain why it is interesting. Similarly, it is not enough to report that you disliked a book; you must explain your reaction. Did you find the book unconvincing because the author did not supply enough evidence to support his or her assertions? Or did you disagree with the book's underlying assumptions?

To understand your own reaction to the book, you need to read it carefully and critically.

As a critical reader, you are not passive; you should ask questions of the book and note reactions as you read. Your book review then discusses those questions and reactions. Though there is no "correct" way to structure a review, the following is one possible approach.

•           Summarize the book and relate the author's main point, or thesis. (Somewhere early in the paper, identify the author briefly.) [One paragraph]

•           Describe the author's viewpoint and purpose for writing; note any aspects of the author's background that are important for understanding the book. [One paragraph]

•           Note the most important evidence the author presents to support his or her thesis.  [One or two paragraphs]

•           Evaluate the author's use of evidence, and describe how he or she deals with counter evidence. [One paragraph]

•           Is the book's argument convincing? If so why, if not, why not. Cite examples from the text. [One paragraph]

•           Compare this book with other books or articles you have read on the same subject. [One paragraph]

•           Conclude with a final evaluation of the book. You might discuss who would find this book useful and why. [One paragraph]

NOTE: "Critical" does not mean negative; skeptical does not mean cynical. If a book is well written and presents an original thesis supported by convincing evidence, say so.

A good book review does not have to be negative; it does have to be fair and analytical.


Adapted from “How to Write Book Reviews for Michael Kucher’s Classes at UWT.”

http://courses.washington.edu/tande/book_reviews.htm, accessed 12 May 2006







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