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Christian Formation and Ministry

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M.A. in Christian Formation and Ministry


Requirements for the M.A. Degree

Core Courses

Ministry Concentrations

Bible, Theology, and Ministry

Church and Parachurch

Outdoor and Adventure Leadership

Student Development

Course Descriptions


Chair, Associate Professor Laura Barwegen

Graduate Program Coordinator, Price-LeBar Professor of Christian Formation & Ministry David Setran

Associate Professors Barrett McRay, Tom Schwanda

Visiting Assistant Professor Mimi Larson

Director of HoneyRock, Assistant Professor Rob Ribbe

HoneyRock Graduate Program and Global Initiatives Manager, Adjunct Instructor Muhia Karianjahi

Instructor and Internship Coordinator Daniel Haase


The Christian Formation and Ministry Department offers the M.A. degree in Christian Formation and Ministry. The purpose of the degree is to develop academically grounded, spiritually maturing, and practically skilled leaders who minister the Gospel and build up God's people in a constantly changing world. We seek to nurture wisdom and compassion in students who are becoming…

Academically grounded in that they…


*       Articulate a biblical, theological, historical, and philosophical perspective of formation and ministry.

*       Identify a theoretical framework for ministry context analysis.

*       Demonstrate an understanding of the educational, spiritual, and ministry practices by which people mature in Christ.


Spiritually maturing in that they…


*       Demonstrate a life of discipleship and spiritual growth as the foundation of effective ministry.

*       Identify one's gifts and calling, responding to areas of strength and challenge in preparation for serving the needs of the church and the world.

*       Respect every person, valuing the diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and traditions within the church.


Practically skilled in that they…


*       Minister and teach effectively, integrating theory and scripture into creative practice with integrity, humility, and grace.

*       Serve collaboratively and compassionately, balancing the needs of others with adequate self-care.

*       Demonstrate the necessary skills of a ministry practitioner/scholar: critical analysis; oral communication; written communication; program evaluation.

M.A. in Christian Formation and Ministry

The Master’s program in Christian Formation and Ministry prepares students to foster the development, growth, nurture, and wholeness of Christians in a wide array of ministry settings. Our department is convinced that the individual well prepared for ministry will possess a strong liberal arts foundation in ministry-relevant disciplines, a growing capacity to effectively link theory and practice in concrete ministry settings, and a purposeful participation in an ongoing process of personal spiritual formation. Through these various avenues, students work to develop an integrated philosophy of formation and ministry that is biblically and theologically grounded, academically informed, and relevant to the needs of a changing world.

The program is designed for the "reflective practitioner" because it promotes a continual dialogue between foundational principles and pressing ministry concerns. As such, it is useful for anyone interested in facilitating spiritual formation in others, particularly those working in church and parachurch contexts, student development settings, schools, camps, and the mission field. Because of the value placed upon collaboration and the richness and diversity of faculty and students, there is a significant emphasis on the development of a vibrant learning community. In addition, students participate in spiritual formation courses that facilitate personal and corporate spiritual and character development and the discernment of ministry calling in the context of this community.

While all of the courses are designed to reflect broad ministry concerns, students are encouraged to pursue their particular ministry interests throughout the program. Beyond the core requirements, students are required to select an area of ministry concentration. Students may choose a ministry concentration in Student Development; Church and Parachurch Ministry; Bible, Theology, and Ministry; or Outdoor and Adventure Leadership. Regardless of the chosen focus area, students will benefit from the combination of core ministry themes and more specialized courses in areas of personal interest.


Admission to the Christian Formation and Ministry graduate program is open both to those who are currently involved in ministry and to those who are preparing for future ministry. Admission does not require a specific undergraduate major or a prescribed set of courses, but students are expected to possess a basic knowledge of the Bible and proficiency in written and spoken English. Since this program is aimed at preparing students for Christian ministry, continued enrollment in the degree program requires successful candidacy approval, which occurs after admission and before 12 hours of coursework have been completed. During the candidacy approval process, CFM professors will evaluate the presence of essential ministry skills and dispositions, as well as the student's demonstration of a commitment to growth in Christian virtues. At the time of acceptance into the program, the department will notify the student if there are course deficiencies which need to be met.

Requirements for the M.A. Degree

Requirements for the Christian Formation and Ministry program leading to a Master of Arts degree consist of the successful completion of 42 semester hours. Students are required to complete 24 hours of core courses plus an additional 18 hours in a specified area of concentration.

Core Courses:

CFM 512 Bible in Ministry (2)

CFM 513 History and Philosophy of Ministry (4)

CFM 514 Ministry in Culture (2)

CFM 516 Teaching for Transformation (4)

CFM 517 Developmental Theory and Spiritual Formation (2)

CFM 518 Research Methods for Ministry (2)

CFM 521 Personal Spiritual Formation (2)

CFM 522 History and Traditions of Spiritual Formation (2)

Category I Bible TSR requirement (4)

CFM 683 Integrative Seminar (0)

CFM 691 Concentration Mentoring Group (0), registered each semester

CFM 693 Ministry Practicum (0)

CFM 692 Creative Project (2) OR CFM 698 Thesis/Applied Thesis (2)


As part of this 42-credit program, all graduate students are required to complete a theological studies requirement of 6 semester hours. For CFM students, this consists of CFM 512 plus a 4-hour course from the Category I listing in the Graduate School section of this catalog. Students are also required to complete a zero-credit Integrative Seminar (CFM 683), a zero-credit Mentoring Group in their area of concentration registered each semester (CFM 691), a zero-credit Ministry Practicum (CFM 693) and a two-credit capstone research project (CFM 692 or 698)

Up to eight hours of electives within a concentration may be taken through independent study courses. With the exception of zero-credit offerings, courses taken on a pass/fail basis may not be applied to the degree requirements. For courses offered only on a pass/fail basis, two hours of pass/fail credit may be applied to the degree with approval of the department chair.

Ministry Concentrations:

Bible, Theology, and Ministry Concentration:

The Bible, Theology, and Ministry concentration is designed for those who desire a more advanced grounding in biblical and theological studies while also developing a strong ministry foundation. Students in this concentration will develop an integrated understanding of the biblical narrative, biblical interpretation, Christian theology, and church history while also developing a ministry philosophy, learning critical ministry skills, and deepening their engagement with personal spiritual formation.

Biblical Studies:

BITH 566 Foundations for Biblical Interpretation (counts as TSR requirement) (4)

Theological Studies: (choose 4 hours)

BITH 638 Old Testament Theology (4)

BITH 648 New Testament Theology (4)

BITH 565 Christian Theology (4)

BITH 567 Theology of the Church (2) See BITH 382 (2)

BITH 561 Theological Anthropology (2)

BITH 558 Topics in Advanced Biblical and Theological Studies (2 or 4)

Christian History: (choose 4 hours)

BITH 576 History of Christianity to 1900 (4)

BITH 581 The Reformation (4)

BITH 687 Seminar in American Christianity and Historical Theology (2 or 4)

BITH 653 Historical Theology: Ancient (2)

BITH 654 Historical Theology: Medieval (2)

BITH 571 Introduction to the History of Christianity (2)

BITH Elective (4)

Open Elective (4)

Bible, Theology, and Ministry Final Project (CFM 692 or 698) (2)

Church and Parachurch Concentration:

The Church and Parachurch concentration is designed for those who are involved or interested in church and parachurch ministries in any setting. The core courses of this program are relevant to all ministry contexts, providing a solid foundation in biblical and theological reflection, ministry philosophy, practical skills, and personal spiritual formation. Beyond the core courses, students can tailor much of the program to their unique needs and interests, selecting a combination of courses that will best equip them for fruitful ministry.

CFM 523 Ministry Leadership and Organization (4)

CFM 534 Care and Counsel in Ministry (2)

Church and Parachurch Final Project (CFM 692 or 698) (2)

Electives – 10 hours in ministry-related courses (up to 8 hours can be taken from other graduate departments or other concentrations)


Outdoor and Adventure Leadership Concentration:

The Outdoor and Adventure Leadership (OAL) concentration is designed for current camp, adventure, and outdoor ministry professionals, as well as those looking for excellent training to launch them into the field. Students in this concentration will live and study at HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center of Leadership Development of Wheaton College, taking modular intensive courses with faculty at HoneyRock combined with tele-conferenced courses with faculty from the Wheaton Graduate School campus. To complete the OAL concentration, students will complete 18 hours of credits that will include the following courses:

CFM 565 Temporary Communities and the Church (4)

CFM 661 Foundations of Experiential Education (4)

CFM 662 Theology and Practice of Outdoor Adventure Leadership (4)

CFM 663 Leadership Development in Outdoor Adventure Leadership (4)

Outdoor and Adventure Leadership Final Project (CFM 692 or 698) (2)

Student Development Concentration:

The Student Development concentration is designed for those seeking to influence the lives of college students. This concentration will connect you to current research that will challenge you to think critically about collegiate learning, form collaborative partnerships across the institution, and develop a personal philosophy of student development within the higher education context.

CFM 641 College and Young Adult Ministry (4)

CFM 534 Care and Counsel in Ministry (2)

CFM 532 Discipleship (2)

CFM 545 Student Development Leadership and Organization (4)

CFM 546 Facilitating Collegiate Learning (4)

Student Development Final Project (CFM 692 or 698) (2)

Christian Formation and Ministry Courses (CFM)

CFM 512. Bible in Ministry. This course acquaints students with the formative nature and power of Scripture. It explores the principles and practices of using Scripture in ministry through reading, study, devotion, and meditation in personal, small groups and teaching, and related ministries of the church. (2)

CFM 513. History and Philosophy of Ministry. Helps students become more informed and effective ministers through the analysis of ministry and educational philosophies that have guided the church throughout its history. Provides a framework within which to formulate a biblically and historically informed philosophy of ministry.

CFM 514. Ministry in Culture. Explores foundational cultural issues from a Christian, socio-cultural perspective. Provides opportunities for students to cultivate theory and practice of ministry in the multicultural American society, as well as the Church around the world. (2)

CFM 516. Teaching for Transformation. Promotes Christian growth through educational planning and evaluation. Methods of teaching, curriculum design, and character of the teacher are considered.

CFM 517. Developmental Theory and Spiritual Formation. An introduction to biblical, historical, and theological understandings of the nature of persons and the integration of relevant psychological and sociological understandings of human development. In addition, students will be encouraged to consider the application of these foundations to the contemporary work of Christian formation and ministry. (2)

CFM 518. Research Methods for Ministry. An introduction to the theory and practice of research methodologies as they relate to Christian formation and ministry. (2)

CFM 521. Personal Spiritual Formation. An introduction to personal spiritual formation, including spiritual health and the practice of spiritual disciplines. Includes an off-site weekend retreat. Fee: $30 (2)

CFM 522. History and Traditions of Spiritual Formation. This course traces some of the dominant themes of Christian spirituality. Through biblical, theological, and historical study, we will examine how various individuals and movements have experienced and sought to nurture their relationship with the Triune God. Particular attention is paid to developing the skills of discernment for reading these primary sources. (2)

CFM 523. Ministry Leadership and Organization. Introduction to issues of ministry leadership, including organizational theory, ethics, conflict management, and personal concerns for integrity and spiritual health.

CFM 532. Discipleship. This course examines the biblical and historical models and principles for the life-long process of making disciples in a changing culture. Built on the foundation of spiritual formation and mentoring, students will be challenged to grow as disciples so that they might also equip and encourage others to grow in following Jesus. (2)

CFM 533. Prayer. Provides a theory-based examination of prayer, especially within the historic evangelical faith. (2)

CFM 534. Care and Counsel in Ministry. An introduction to the basic concepts and skills involved in care and counsel within ministry contexts including an overview of the historic ministry of soul care, biblical foundations for care in ministry, major categories of human suffering, and rudimentary person-to-person helping skills. This course is designed to enable those in ministry to help individuals and families understand and deal with contemporary issues—e.g., divorce, grief, suicide, conflict, etc. (2)

CFM 535. Advanced Curriculum Development for Ministry. This course focuses on advanced curriculum design and development for ministry purposes, and the roles of learning environments and experiences in facilitating spiritual growth. Includes practical components integral to these issues. Prerequisite: CFM 516 (2)

CFM 536x. Worship and Spirituality. See CE 345. (4)

CFM 542x. Ministry Research and Evaluation. (See CE 462). (2)

CFM 545. Student Development Leadership and Organization. An introduction and overview of the administration and organization of College Student Affairs with an emphasis on its historical and philosophical foundations, its basic documents and leadership strategies and issues. Staff selection, training, supervision, policy development, and program implementation and evaluation are addressed.

CFM 546. Facilitating Collegiate Learning. The college student experience must be built upon learning opportunities throughout the entire systems (i.e., academic and social) and within all facets of higher education. No department or entity is exempt from the opportunities to impact student learning and development. This course is designed to explore and equip students for these opportunities via understanding the student learning paradigm and its application to higher education practice.

CFM 564. Adventure Challenge Education. An introduction to the principles and practices of experiential education. This course applies theories and principles of leadership, spiritual development and experiential education to adventure challenge programs utilizing ropes courses, team initiatives, climbing, and other outdoor adventure activities. Students will apply learning by developing, leading and evaluating short term (1/2-day to 3-day) adventure education experiences for a variety of groups. Coursework is to be integrated with practical experience and will conclude with a creative project. Course offered in a modular format each May at HoneyRock.

CFM 565. Temporary Communities and the Church. This course explores the mission and nature of the Church and how the temporary system can serve its renewal and development. Students examine historical and theological expressions for the church, including the church/parachurch dynamic. They study biblical principles and the practices of renewal, hospitality, and service.

CFM 611. Ministry with Families. An examination of the nature of marital and family relationships in preparation for students in ministry to understand these dynamics in their own families, in the families of those to whom they minister, and the impact of these on their ability to be effective ministers. The course concludes with a consideration of church as the family of God. (2)

CFM 612. Ministry with Children and Families. This course examines the nature of family relationships and the spirituality of children in light of biblical, theological, and developmental perspectives. The course is intended to equip ministry students to understand these dynamics in their own families, in the families of those to whom they minister, and the impact of these on their ability to be effective ministers. The course also includes a consideration of church as the family of God.

CFM 621. Ministry with Children. Examines the nature and spirituality of children in light of biblical, theological, and developmental perspectives. Analyzes current ministry practices in light of cultural trends. Also focuses on the faith experiences of children.

CFM 631x. Youth Ministry. (See CE 335).

CFM 641. College and Young Adult Ministry. Explores the theories and practices of ministry directed toward college students and young adults. Emphasizes the developmental and cultural dynamics of the young adult years and the practical implications of a biblical philosophy of discipleship for identity development, character education, worldview construction, and spiritual formation. The course is relevant for anyone ministering to college students and/or young adults in the local church or in a college/university context.

CFM 651. Adult Ministries. Examines the principles and methods of adult ministry in the church with particular attention given to non-formal education. Explores the nature of defining, developing, and evaluating educational experiences in non-formal settings with an eye for their unique ministry contributions. (2)

CFM 661. Foundations of Experiential Education. Foundations of Experiential Education introduces the principles and practices of experiential education in outdoor settings. Students will apply principles of experiential learning, spiritual development and leadership to outdoor programs utilizing group processes, adventure courses, and a wilderness expedition.

CFM 662. Theology and Practice of Outdoor Adventure Leadership. This course is the foundational overview of the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Concentration of the Wheaton Graduate School. It is designed to equip students personally, spiritually and communally for a life of leadership and ministry in outdoor related ministries by helping students to develop personal vision, ministry skills, interpersonal competence, and a ministry philosophy. This course is offered in a modular format at HoneyRock.

CFM 663. Leadership Development in Outdoor Adventure Leadership. The outdoor and adventure ministry context is an excellent laboratory for equipping leaders for the church and society worldwide. This course is designed to help students develop principles and competencies to enhance their own leadership practice and to cultivate an approach to ministry that facilitates leadership development in those who serve and are served in the adventure ministry setting. The course will explore the integration of personal leadership, vision, and understanding as well as facilitating change in organizations and groups. Offered in a modular format at HoneyRock.

CFM 664. Wilderness Programming and Leadership. This course emphasizes the uniqueness of the wilderness classroom and teaches students to utilize extensive wilderness expeditions to draw others to Christ and develop them into whole and effective people. The course covers program models and planning processes, various outdoor and leadership skills needed for wilderness ministry, and how God uses silence, creation, and group problem-solving to develop disciples. It is offered almost entirely in the wilderness classroom and as an extended expedition during multiple times and at multiple sites each year. This course is offered through HoneyRock.

CFM 683. Integrative Seminar. Integrates the various courses of the CFM program into a unified whole. The Integrative Seminar fosters reflection on the academic, spiritual, and practical aspects of the degree while also assisting in plans for future growth and development in these areas. Includes a summative case study evaluation. Prerequisite: All CFM core courses must be completed or in process. Fee: $150. (0)

CFM 691. Concentration Mentoring Group. Within each concentration of the CFM masters program, students will meet in a small mentoring group to discuss their academic progress, spiritual formation, and development of practical ministry skills. Taken every semester, repeatable.(0)

CFM 692. Creative Project. Prerequisite: Dept. approval of student's Final Project Proposal. (2)

CFM 693. Ministry Practicum. Provides students the opportunity to participate in a ministry context, integrating the theories learned in the classroom with the practices of ministry. Includes a summative assignment in which students consider the links between ministry principles, personal formation, and practical skills. (0)

CFM 694. Current Issues in Christian Formation and Ministry. Provides opportunity for advanced students to study collectively some topic or concept in greater depth, or to explore a specialized topic and its relationship to an understanding and practice of Christian Formation and Ministry. Topics will vary and will be determined by department faculty members. (2 or 4)

CFM 695. Independent Study. Focuses on field or library research according to individual interests and competencies in Christian Formation and Ministry. (1-4)

CFM 696. Internship. Provides advanced students the opportunity to have a better understanding of ministry theory and practice by working and studying alongside a competent, authorized professional in Christian ministry. Includes a summative paper or reflection and analysis of the learning that occurred and its significance for future ministry (due after the internship). Prerequisite: Internship application approval. (2-4)

CFM 698. Applied Thesis/Thesis. Prerequisite: Dept. approval of student's Final Project Proposal. (2)

CFM 699. Final Project Continuation. (0)

Revision Date: June 1, 2017



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