Spiritual Formation Core
Your seminary education should do more than just equip you with head knowledge. At Talbot, we believe that your time in seminary should also further your transformation into Christ’s likeness and deepen your relationship with God. It is out of this belief that Talbot’s Spiritual Formation Core (SFC) program was developed, requiring all Talbot students to take at least five spiritual formation courses in the duration of their program. These courses help you to further understand the new life believers have in Christ, and partner with the Holy Spirit in this transformation process.
The SFC program is comprised of faculty and students dedicated to deepening their experience of the New Covenant life in the Spirit on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is a community intent upon the life of prayer, openness to God's will in all things, desiring only what God by the Spirit would provide, and allowing his life to penetrate and fill our very own.
Required Course Progression
Students are required to take classes in a particular order during their initial semesters at Talbot. The courses are designed in this particular order for the program to have the most impact and must be taken in sequential order unless granted special permission from the SFC Assistant Director. These requirements are:
- Semester 1:
- TTSF 501 — Introduction to Spiritual Theology and Formation
- Semester 2:
- Semester 3:
- TTSF 504 — Spiritual Formation, Vocation, and the Disciplines
- Semester 4:
- TTSF 505 — Spiritual Direction (The second semester of TTSF 505 can be taken during either Semester 3 or Semester 4)
Each class has a retreat component, which allows students the opportunity to step back from the busyness of school and life and spend more uninterrupted time with the Lord and with others. In their first class (SF501), each cohort group spends a two-day retreat together at Hilltop Renewal Center in Idyllwild, Calif. This retreat gives cohort groups an opportunity to go deeper with the Lord and with one another in a beautiful mountainside setting. In the second class (SF503), cohorts meet on campus for a “Life Map” retreat, which helps students understand the way their life experiences have shaped their relationship with God and others. Finally, in SF504, cohort groups go back up to Hilltop for a final retreat together — this time, focused on their calling and experience of the spiritual formation core classes.
Small Group Cohorts
One of the goals of the SFC program is to provide a place of community for students at the start of their Talbot experience. Beginning with the introductory course and continuing throughout the entire program, students will meet in small group cohorts to discuss the content of the individual courses and the impact it is having on their own lives.
The cohort groups become a place for support, prayer and community within the Talbot academic environment. The goal is for the same cohort group to remain together throughout the duration of the SFC program. Not only do cohort groups meet weekly throughout the semester, they also take retreats together each semester of the program to more deeply consider the interaction of the course material with their individual stories, reflecting on God’s past work in their lives and his call upon their futures.
As part of the SFC program, students will take two semesters of spiritual direction. Spiritual direction is a centuries-old practice of one Christian helping another to see and pay attention to the work of God in that person’s life. As authors William Barry and William Connolly put it, spiritual direction is “help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship.” It is experiential in nature, and seeks to direct the person to greater intimacy with and responsiveness to God.
Spiritual direction at Talbot involves meeting with a trained spiritual director. The spiritual director and “directee” will meet four to six times over the course of each required semester. Individual sessions are 45 minutes in length and no more frequent than every other week.