Spiritual Formation

Northeastern Seminary is committed to the personal and spiritual growth of every seminarian. Through an innovative and integrative Personal and Spiritual Formation curriculum, students are exposed to the rich resources and disciplines of formative Christian spirituality. The fundamental objectives of the Seminary include the spiritual as well as the academic preparation of candidates for pastoral and lay ministry.


  • Incoming classes begin with a spiritual retreat
  • An All-Seminary Retreat is held once each year
  • Each master's student participates in a faith sharing group directed by a trained spiritual facilitator who mentors a group of six to nine students
  • Readings in formative spirituality and scripture study are integrated into the Core curriculum
  • A weekly personal spiritual formation segment or chapel service is held during the Core curriculum
  • Intentional growth reflection sessions, led by a certified spiritual director, are a part of each Core course
  • Master's students take courses covering spiritual and pastoral formation plus other elective courses
  • Faith sharing group experiences are incorporated into the field education curriculum
  • D.Min. students embrace formative change through the spiritual formation learning that is woven into each course
  • A regular rhythm of retreat experiences developed as encounters with God strengthens D.Min. students


The spiritual formation program curriculum at the Seminary is developed around the following basic assumptions:

  • God is always active
  • God desires to be in intimate relationship with each of God's children
  • The basis for all Christian life and ministry is the lived experience of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; a nurtured and continuing experience of direct communication with God is of major importance for those who engage in Christian ministry
  • There are spiritual practices that help a person notice and respond to God's overtures for relationship; these include, but are not limited to, contemplative prayer, meditation on Scripture, worship, sacraments, fasting, retreat, interpersonal relationships, and guided reflection on everyday living
  • Healthy spiritual formation does not automatically occur in the context of a seminary education; the seminary that takes responsibility for providing appropriate structures for its students' spiritual development meets their needs more completely and does a better job of accomplishing its own goal of preparing people for Christian ministry
  • Healthy spiritual formation best occurs in the context of Christian community

Adapted from Forster Freeman, Readiness for Ministry through Spiritual Direction. The Alban Institute, 1986.


Northeastern seeks to nurture in each of its students an ongoing personal relationship with the triune God that manifests itself in certain specific behaviors or personal characteristics. While not limited to any given list, these personal attributes, or characteristics, include (as adapted from Freeman):

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In relationship to God:

  • A personal awareness of being loved by God
  • A deepening acceptance and love of God
  • A growing confidence in God's active presence in the world and one's own life

In relationship to others:

  • A deepening acceptance and love of others
  • A capacity and propensity for compassion
  • A freedom to receive and give love
  • Concern for and ability to relate openly with other people, especially in reference to one's Christian faith and life

In relationship to self:

  • A capacity to allow God the freedom to be God
  • A recognition of how the Bible addresses one's own life and the lives of other persons and groups
  • An ability to be in touch with one's feelings and to identify and express them appropriately
  • Creativity, imagination, humor, and freedom of spirit, as characteristics of one's ministerial style
  • A sense of confidence and courage in taking stands for convictions, in both religious and secular communities, and even in the face of opposition
  • Progress in the development of a disciplined prayer and worship life that provides personal nourishment and ministry with others

In relationship to the Christian ministry:

  • A sense of conviction of one's call by God to Christian ministry, and a sense of the arena of one's specific form of ministry
  • An ability to hold things loosely and invest oneself passionately