Recently, for the second year in a row, Tom and Sue Kimber and I spent a week at the Worldview Centre for Intercultual Studies campus in Launceston, where we taught a residential intensive subject entitled “Patterns of Spiritual Formation.” It is now one of the required courses for students undertaking study at MST.
And as was the case last year, it was a richly blessed and quite profound week. As we shared together on the last day, virtually every one of the 23 students who made the trip to Tasmania reflected on the unique, indeed profound ways in which God revealed Himself in fresh and transforming ways during our time together. No doubt a key element in the unique nature of this particular week is the setting itself; being physically away from home or the workplace, in a place of dedicated spiritual retreat, living together in community, sharing meals, playing games, interacting socially, talking late into the night around an open fire, praying for one another, and of course participating in a quite intense, learning environment, searching the Scriptures and reflecting on the ways in which the Spirit of God, through the Word and people of God, shapes the lives of His people.
For many of those who studied at MBI, or BCV in years gone by, such experiences of ‘community living and learning’ were actually normal. Sadly, perhaps, it is now actually quite a rare and precious opportunity, offering classes in a brief but nonetheless very meaningful ‘community life’ context. But the impact is significant. And we are so grateful to God for our partnership with Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ (WEC), and Worldview, enabling MST students to now benefit again from the availability of a live-in community learning environment.
One of the Core Values of MST describes our passionate commitment to the topic of “spiritual formation.”
Our prayer and hope is that every student … will be profoundly impacted in heart and soul; that they will experience not only spiritual growth, but spiritual renewal, and develop habits of the heart that will see them continue to grow more and more like Jesus throughout their lives.
Why do we view this as such an important part of our curriculum? Because in an era in which there is almost relentless pressure on people, including followers of Christ, to focus on performance, and external, outward appearances, the Scriptures remind us that “while men look at outward appearances, the Lord looks at the heart.”
In other words, God is about the transformation of His people. Not simply in mind, but in heart.