By Will Truesdell and Marc Papai

Spiritual Formation and Mission Six Hour Workshop

Overview of the Training Day

Morning Session:  Biblical and Theological Foundations: (3 hours with break)

  • Need/Vision
  • Theology/Scripture

Lunch (1 hour)

Afternoon Session:  Integrating Formation and Mission (3 hours with break)

  • Case Study
  • Foundational Principles
  • Practical Steps
  • Implementation Plan

Morning Session: Biblical and Theological Foundations

In the outline below, we have included time allocations, discussion questions, and links to resource documents such as Bible passages and handouts. Feel free to make adjustments for the needs of your specific team.

Introduction 15 min (9-9:15)

Morning prayer

Objectives (see the overview page here)

Plan for the day    

Need and Vision 45 min (9:15 - 10:00)

Suggestions for interaction for the trainer

Show video clip from Lord of the Rings - Boromir and Aragorn with the ring and Frodo (Parth Galen)

  1. How do the two responses to the ring differ?
  2. What seem to be the assumptions that underlie those differences?
  3. What are the results of those responses?
  4. How do you think character is formed, and in your experience, what relationship does it have to mission? 
  5. What are examples in your experience of the connection of character formation and the mission of God? 
  6. What are your core beliefs about God and how does that affect your mission?

Break 20 min (10:00-10:20)

Manuscript “Focused” Study 90 min (approx)  (10:20 - 12:00)

We have provided a link to the manuscript for Luke 1:5-38; The discussion questions listed below focus on verses 26-38 which is the story of Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth and Mary-Luke 1.pdf

Duscussion Question and Points to Emphasize

1.     How does Gabriel describe certify his mission to Zechariah (1:11-25)? And to Mary (26-38)?

a.     Sent from God

b.     With a specific mission announcing what God will do

c.     Authorized by his “standing in the presence of God” – this is the source of all authority in mission (that we are “in the presence” [lit. “before the face”] connects our formation before the Lord and the mission on which we are sent.

2.     What is the significance of this greeting to Mary, a teenage girl from a very small town?  ?  (cf. The Message paraphrase: “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you”)  What do they tell us about God?

a.     Fear—this cannot be

b.     Wonder – why would God look on me, a teenage girl?

c.     The beginning of many prophets’ call; and certainly Jesus call into public ministry: “You are my beloved Son”

d.     “highly favored” – the posture of God toward her, and by extension to us

e.     These texts confront us with both the majesty and the tenderness of God

3.     In what ways do these encounters with Gabriel/God affect Mary and Zechariah?  How do they shape your own view of your mission as Christ’s follower?

4.     How does Mary’s first response to Gabriel’s prophecy differ from Zechariah’s first response?  Why?

a.     Faith it would seem; the prophecy as God’s action is fulfilled in each case, but Zechariah is unable to rejoice fully in it, unable for a long time to “magnify the Lord” the way Mary is able to in her subsequent song.

5.     Look at v.38; unpack together what Mary’s response is, and how it is significant in the life of a missional Christian.

6.     How does the conception, gestation and birth of Jesus by Mary typify all mission?

a.     We encounter the Holy Spirit, we give our Yes, we recognize that we are willing and necessary but have no more control over the development of what God is doing than Mary does in consciously forming the Son of God in her womb, and then at the appointed time bringing Jesus life into the world.

7.     In what ways are you cultivating a life of being before God’s face, of being in His presence?

Review the major theological foundations from this text:

1.     Mission is initiated and carried out by God through the agency of His Holy Spirit

2.     Mission begins in the formation of those who stand in God’s presence, who enjoy his favor, who have walked in humility and trust.

3.     Formation and mission are inextricably linked.   Faith is the response of a willing heart that allows us to enter in fully to the mission God has given us

4.     We all are given a mission; but our consent follows exactly as Mary’s, the first disciple: I am the Lord’s servant-let it be done to as you have said.


Other Possible Scriptures:

If time is available, consider the lives/calls of Peter (Luke 5), Jeremiah (Jer. 1), Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Stephen (Acts 6) in small groups. 

  1. What do you notice about the relationship of spiritual formation and mission in each?

Summary questions

  1. What does formation without mission look like? What are its hazards?
  2. What does mission look like without formation?  What are the pitfalls there?

Afternoon Session: Integrating a Life of Spiritual Formation in an Activist Mission

New Student Outreach Case Study 45 min (1:00-1:45)

NSO Case Study.pdf

  • Individually read the case study and consider the questions below. (15 min)
  • Groups then discuss the questions. (15 min)

 Individual Questions:

  • What do you notice about the spiritual lives of the staff and students in mission? 
  • What do you think they are missing? 
  • What could you envision them doing to change things for the better?

Large Group Debrief (10-15 minutes)

  • Use focus questions above to interact in LG and pull out key themes.
  • Write these down on newsprint or some visible place.

Teaching -  Integrating Formation and Mission 45 minutes (1:45-2:30)

Introduction (5 minutes)

Mission and Spiritual Formation, as we have seen in the Scriptures, are inextricably linked.  We can’t have one healthy and growing without the other. In our mission, we are by nature a young, activist organization.  We hire and train for action, for mission, for movement. So, in our context, we need to ask the question:

  • How do we effectively foster depth of spiritual formation as we engage in the mission? 
  • Share a story related to this if you can.

Small Group Exploration (20 minutes)

Let’s explore this in a hands on way to start. Answer the question:  What do we think are the key spiritual formation needs in a missionally-focused ministry?

  • Have small groups (or if less # of people, individuals) work on this first, using newsprint or some reporting method the whole group can see, then report to larger group (e.g. post newsprint, and have large group look them over).
  • e.g. - possible answers:
    • dependence on God - hearing God, obedience,
    • living/giving out of abundance of God’s love and provision - to love others well.
    • rhythm and rest
    • humility - living within limits, developing good partnerships, fasting & prayer,
    • celebration/worship/joy
  •  Notice patterns of answers that emerge. 
  • Have whole group choose the top 5 key SF needs.

Large Group Teaching (20 minutes)

The “top 5” list represents this group’s discernment about what we need to stay healthy and have both mission and formation integrated well. The question we want to engage with next is HOW we can move towards meeting these needs. Classically, with mission communities, the way this has been worked out is through developing a “rule of life.” An example of a “rule” is InterVarsity’s statement of faith. This is a “rule” of faith, which helps guide us as a community to remain true to orthodox beliefs and not stray from the center. 

In the same way, a rule of life is a collection of practices that help to keep us at the center of both spiritual depth and active mission.  A good rule will positively help foster depth and obedience to our calling, and negatively will help us to avoid pitfalls along the journey that are specific to our context. The needs we outlined just now illustrate the “goals” of the rule that we could develop. For example, if a core need is for us to have continual dependence on God in our practical work.  The rule then will have practices that help us to actually live this way:  individually it could mean beginning each day with a time of “declaring dependence” on God through listening prayer for the day. For a team it could mean setting aside every Monday morning as a team to fast, and have a 1 hour prayer call for the needs of the week. 

HANDOUT:  Essential disciplines for an IVCF Staff member

This handout outlines what seasoned staff have determined are essential spiritual disciplines that are needed to help us stay healthy and focused in mission. Skim it (3 min) and share what you are observing about this list and how it connects with the formation needs that we’ve developed so far. After the break, we will gather again to work on the beginnings of a rule of life by centering in on what key practices we need for the best integration of formation and mission in the context of our ministry right now. Core Spiritual Disciplines for Healthy Ministry.pdf

BREAK 20 minutes (2:30-2:50)

Implementation: 1 Hour approx. (2:50-3:50)

For the next hour or so, our main goal is to identify - both individually and for our team(s) - what are the 1-2 key practices for our “rule of life” that we need to implement to help us stay balanced in formation and mission so that our work reflects the true calling God has given to us, in the context of our current season of ministry. 

Process - do the following in 2 “rounds” for individual and team consideration:

  • First, consider the season of ministry that is ahead of you/your team.  What are the specific needs that you/your team can anticipate for this season (e.g. consider the list we made previously)? 
    • example: Beginning of 2nd semester - our team needs renewed vision, belief and stamina to keep on inviting new people to places of conversion, and caution against weariness (after Urbana) where our joy is rooted in Jesus.
  • Based on this, and our discussion so far, what are 1 or 2  practice(s) you can implement that would foster depth and help you avoid pitfalls? 
    • example:  Our team will begin weekly phone calls to 1)share our prayer needs personally and for the week in ministry, 2)pray and 3)share stories of joy rooted in Jesus from the past week. 
  • How will you implement these?  Work on a concrete and specific plan to actually “do” this.
    • example: At next area team meeting, I will share the vision for this, invite our team to commit to this practice, and put it in our google calendar.
  • How will you develop accountability for this?
    • example: The calendaring of this is the accountability. 

Debrief & Conclusion 10-15 min (3:50-4:00)


  • Share what practices you/team came up with and why.
  • Invite larger group to comment, ask questions, and give feedback to help sharpen final idea.


  • We’ve worked hard today to unpack what it looks like to live with spiritual formation and mission integrated in a centered and balanced way, so that the ministry God has given us is one that displays health, movement, obedience and growth.
  • The process we navigated through helped us to identify key practices that will help us in that journey.
  • Doing these things will produce new fruit in your ministry. 
  • But the larger picture is how we will take the snapshot of today and turn it into an ongoing video of how we do ministry.  The goal is not to simply come up with good practices, but it is to develop the kind of life that lives in this way.  When we live this way, we will often be asking the questions about depth and pitfalls, adjusting along the way as our situation changes, and finding the center so our roots can grow deeper and our fruit can grow more abundant.  Hopefully this training gives you some starting points, and will help you and your team to engage with these concepts more and more in practice.