Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Shawna Lafreniere, PhD
Ken Evers-Hood, DMin
Transformation into the image of Jesus is central to Christianity. However, many who claim Christ and are active in their local churches fall short of reflecting his character. This dissertation suggests that a contributing factor for such disparity lies in the reality that many Evangelicals embrace certain beliefs that create barriers to spiritual formation. It then identifies and examines three of the most prominent beliefs, all stemming from a truncated gospel. The first is a belief in an angry God. The second, a fixation on entrance into heaven as the goal of Christianity. The third is a distorted perspective of discipleship that focuses on belief and behavior rather than transformation.
After a summary and evaluation of available discipleship and formation resources, a robust (non-truncated) gospel is proposed, upon which a healthy spiritual formation process can be built. The goal of this process is twofold. First, it must help the disciple embrace that there is no limit to God’s goodness towards them. Second, it must free the disciple of non-kingdom habits that bind them to a lesser life. A supportive curriculum, which includes awakening desire, knowing oneself as God’s beloved, embracing the true self and releasing the false self, and living a life of love, is proposed to achieve these goals.
Though clear goals and supportive curriculum are critical, the environment in which people learn is equally important. As such, an environment that is accessible, integrated in the local church, and takes into consideration brain science and physiological resistance to change is examined and proposed. This study concludes with the proposal and implementation of a practical artifact that takes participants on a year- long spiritual formation journey. Initial results have been fruitful and are noted.
Van Vliet, Ken, "The Identification of and Solution to Commonly Held Evangelical Beliefs and Perspectives That Create Barriers to Spiritual Formation" (2019). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 299.