Christian higher education has a distinctive role in the kingdom of God and in the academy. More than simply educating students in a Christian environment, “sponsors of strongly Christian colleges and universities have tried to imagine a more excellent way’” (Plantinga, 2002, p. 123). They believe, as Holmes (1987) suggested, “education has to do with the making of persons, Christian education with the making of Christian persons” (p. 25). Recognizing the sacred nature of their mission and seeking to permeate Christ through every aspect of education, Christian educators endeavor to spiritually develop students for the kingdom of God; thus, they believe the process of spiritual formation is central to the mission of Christian institutions. As the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU, 2011) affirmed, “The intentional mission of Christ-centered institutions to encourage the spiritual formation of students is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our member institutions” (p. v). Developing effective, coherent programs that spiritually form students is a continuing concern among Christian higher education institutions. However, there are many challenges facing these institutions as they work to effectively reach their goal of spiritually forming students.
Many Christian higher education institutions consider spiritual formation central to their mission (CCCU, 2011). While Christian institutions employ various means to foster the spiritual formation of their students, scholars have emphasized the need for greater emphasis on spiritual development, believing that college plays a significant role in many aspects of student development—identity, character, a...
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...ion institutions and consider how such a model might shape all aspects of curriculum development (i.e. curricular and cocurricular), and inform policies and practices to help institutions reach their goals.
The present paper examines the problem of conceptualizing a robust model of Christian spiritual formation for Christian higher education institutions. The goal is to discuss the key issues related to forming such a model and the components that must be present in a coherent curriculum designed to foster spiritual formation. In addition to the historical development of Christian higher education institutions in America, the theoretical underpinnings of spiritual formation, including theological issues and developmental theories, will be discussed. The paper will also present a statement of a research purpose and discussion of the significance of such a study.
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