Welcome to the Urban Spirituality course

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I.  Course Description
This course explores the development of a personal urban spirituality, as well as the skills of leading spiritual formation among the urban poor. The course includes a personal inventory of character, calling, and giftedness and addresses human development and family life in the slum context.

II.  Expanded Description slum ladies

Relationship to Rest of Program: Well developed inner spirituality and knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit and the ability to train others in areas of spirituality is a prerequisite for sustained ministry among the needy.  Life within high-stress urban contexts requires a transcendent source of hope, emotional and psychological balance, a centeredness in the love of God and expressing that love – all of which are undergirded by a spiritually disciplined life.

Disciplines: Candidates will be encouraged in disciplined habits that promote an urban spirituality through Modulely reading, study, response and practice of the classical spiritual disciplines.  They will develop an action plan (individually or with their spouse) for the next years of spiritual formation. The course outcomes involve a focus on both personal spirituality and the impartation of spirituality to others.  
Urban Poor Spirituality: This is also a course on urban poor spiritualities (a largely uncharted academic area) not a traditional course on classic Western or Catholic spiritual exercises (though these are a significant section of the course).  Because it is uncharted, the course participants themselves need to be encouraged through a story-telling approach to inject their knowledge of urban poor spirituality into the course processes. Urban poor spiritualities are very different from classical Western spiritualities or even much evangelical spirituality (See Cry of the Urban Poor chs 15,16 for anthropological reasons for this).   

Such urban poor spirituality revolves around the Holy Spirit in the community of faith (vs the individualism and quietness of the leisured classes).  It is noisy, emotional, involves frequent power encounters and healing of devastating emotional problems often taking many years, under authoritarian leadership.  Engaging these issues of urban poor spirituality and relating these cultural characteristics to ancient Western or more middle class traditions is critical.

On the other hand Pentecostal pastors from among the urban, the poor and the working classes will be expanding their understanding to see the whole field of spirituality as a critical element for long-term wholeness.  Classic spiritual disciplines are critical for their survival and also critical for middle class students who are entering urban poor ministry in the class to cope with the stresses of incarnational ministry (in this we draw from the emergent Protestant apostolic orders).

Spirituality from the Holy Spirit: Christian spirituality can be taught centred around doctrine, psychological approaches or the work of the Holy Spirit. Evangelical spirituality has always centred in movements of revival of the Holy Spirit vs. more psychological approaches derived from Catholicism or psychotherapy.  There are elements of each in this course. In this course, the class will seek to move into dimensions of the work of the Holy Spirit. Sensitive contrast of the diversity of doctrinal approaches to activity of the Spirit needs be done so that diverse traditions in the class are not offended.  One of the goals of this class is that each student can freely move in the power of the Spirit, hear his voice, and exercise appropriately their spiritual gifts, in ways that maintain harmony of the Spirit across the body of Christ. (Lecturers and supporting faculty need to be aware that this may also provoke some degree of spiritual warfare during this training.  It would be wise for this course to always be team taught by people both academically learned and practically experienced in these areas of releasing people from sin and bondages into the fullness of the work of the Spirit).

Classical Spirituality: Reflections on the continuity of building an intimate relationship with God in the context of the city, knowing the appropriate use and application of prayer and fasting, encountering and responding to spiritual conflict, exercising deliverance ministry, in-depth bible study, practising the presence of God, the exercise of spiritual gifts with an attitude of servanthood, and practising moral integrity and ethics.

Sprituality as God in Humanness: Self Awareness and Dealing with Pain: This is not a counseling course but it will also further screen candidates in areas of family, psychological, emotional and spiritual wholeness and enable pastoral care for problem  areas  compulsive sin, demonic possession, areas of bondage (this may in relationship to leadership, narrow doctrinal bondage, work expectations within their mission, family bondages, paranoias etc), and enable evaluation of the candidate's spiritual maturity potential to fulfil the outcomes required for the whole program. Facilitators will sit at least twice with each person during the first Module in a process of evaluation with them outside of the classroom time, based on some questionnaires they do and working with them on defining a program for spiritual growth. The introductory Module will facilitate them into a relationship with a spiritual director for the remainder of the year.

Parallel to this course for those going cross-culturally, is the requirement to go through psychological and medical prefield screening, as the basis of “confirmation to proceed” to the field.

Spirituality and Marriage: Issues of sustaining and developing a healthy marriage partnership in the midst of the stresses of urban ministry and poverty are briefly engaged in the light of contextual spirituality.  For single people, similarly, issues of developing a godly singleness are touched on.

A Framework for Growth: Critical application of the four seasons of Christian growth to ones own life and the lives of a selected group of people, ascertaining which season each person is in and how that contributes to their spiritual development and function within a ministry team or faith community.

Practicum: In the practical phase of the course above, students are invited, through spiritual direction, personal journaling and group interaction:


Retreats: Field Instructors will draw upon spiritual formation resources (see bibliography) and local retreat facilities to organize 1-2 day-long retreats. Students come to these retreats prepared to share out of their spiritual journals. These journals record responses to various Self-Examination Questions, Notes they have developed on Filipino (or Tamil or Maori) Spirituality or Slum Spirituality, and Reflections on Leadership of a small group in spiritual growth – personal life reflections that can contribute to the fashioning of a rich group life and enable students to appreciate how God is forming them through individual and interpersonal experience, nature, and the urban systems in which they live and work.

Related Readings

Learning Objectives

Program Level Outcomes
Part of this course (along with psych and medical testing) involves pre-field screening candidates in areas of family, psychological, emotional and spiritual wholeness, evaluating if the candidate has the potential for fulfilling the outcomes required for graduation from the whole program as a movement leader.  For those who receive an “affirmation to continue”, this involves designing a 2 year character formation plan with the candidate.  While this is to focus on positive character formation, it should also engage in defining long term solutions for  identified problem areas such as areas of compulsive sin, occult activity, areas of bondage (this may be in relationship to leadership expectations, narrow doctrinal bondage, work expectations within their mission, family bondages, paranoias, narcissistic tendencies or other psychological extremes etc). 

While the initial application to the program involves evaluation of academics, character references and potential leadership, it is inadequate for evaluating capacity to cope with the depths of poverty and cultural transition students will go through.  This level of screening cannot be done in the initial application to the program, as among other requirements it requires extensive time with students in community and ministry as a major component.  As part of the pastoral care requirements of the program, if it becomes evident a student does not have the capacities for extended involvement in living in such extreme conditions overseas, it is to the student’s advantage to make that decision earlier in the program, and encourage them into other career/learning options.  Such a decision will be made no later than a month prior to projected departure dates.
This is the only part of the whole program to specifically deal with family.  It requires the course facilitator visiting each family and working with them.  It should also result in candidates developing resource material for family seminars. 

The course outcomes involve a focus on both personal spirituality and the impartation of spirituality through a small group and in the church or mission.  This course runs parallel with the Building Faith Communities course, so these issues are covered in both courses.

IV.  Student Outcomes
(Measurement of outcomes will be a sampling derived from among the following).  By the end of this course, masters’ candidates will be expected to:

Cognitive “Head”
1.1   Understand the Biblical framework of the work of the Holy Spirit and various styles of spirituality from a holistic and contextual perspective.

1.2.  Have collaborated in and analysed processes of urban spirituality among the poor.

1.3. Articulate multiple dimensions of national spirituality and of slum spirituality

Affective “Heart”
2.1. Have identified personal styles of hearing God, areas of blockage to the work of the Holy Spirit in their own lives, are experiencing his presence and power, and have identified areas of primary gifting, calling and capacity.

Skills “Hands”
3.1.  Have developed a personal Lifestyle and Values and a plan for personal spiritual growth and exercise of spiritual disciplines in an ongoing relationship with a spiritual mentor.

3.2. Exercises ministry gifts in a team, in a way that encourages an urban poor faith community to  experience the direct presence of God.

3.3.  Understands  the seasons of growth each member of a small group has reached and can identify next steps in this season.

Action & Assignments


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