Spiritual formation workshops provide faith tools
Editor’s note: Reprinted from the April issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here. Also in this issue: Impact of students’ faith felt in nearby churches Blessed to compete: Lopes integrate faith
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
Call it Monday school.
Kelsie Doan, who conceived, created and now teaches Grand Canyon University’s new spiritual formation workshops, says the Monday afternoon sessions in the Prayer Chapel are like “a cooking class, not a cooking show. You’re going to come and get your hands dirty and work, and then you’re going to leave with practical tools to grow in your faith.”
The Spiritual Formation Coordinator for the Office of Spiritual Life got the idea at the start of the pandemic. “When everyone was pivoting and thinking how we could do better, I felt like the Lord and I had some conversations,” she remembered.
Doan had found value during seminary opportunities and nonprofit work in spiritual practices that she describes as “what we see Jesus do.”
Assisted by other members of the Spiritual Life team, she used those experiences to write a workbook for students to use and construct nine weekly lessons plus a retreat each semester. The workshops began in the spring semester last year and have caught on this year with students. Derrek Sterken is one of them.
“I love ’em,” he said. “Spiritual formation is so important in college because that’s where the foundation starts. It’s so hard to get into the outside world and form new disciplines. It’s so important that college students can form them now.”
Worship Manager Jared Ulrich considers the workshops a “huge win” for the Office of Spiritual Life: “It’s deep. It’s hitting a need.”
Topics have included straightforward teaching, such as “How to Study the Bible” and “How to Grow Your Faith.” But particularly timely were two sessions on prayer and worship in the midst of suffering – conveniently on the schedule right after the war in Ukraine began.
Doan is comfortable speaking to a group.
“I’ve been on stages a lot and love it, and I love to teach,” she said. “God’s been kind to give me a job where I can teach a lot.” He also has injected her with a healthy dose of passion for teaching His Word.
“We have to be intentional about our growth,” she said. “It’s not just to become moral, good people or behavior modification, it’s really about heart-level change. And that happens when we do these practices and are partnered with the Holy Spirit.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].