Master of Arts in Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership

Master of Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership (CSFL) is designed as a personal growth, academic and professional program for both lay people and people in professional ministry. You will receive the tools and resources for developing a framework for spiritual formation, while building a stronger theological foundation.

As an intensive, integrative program within the Apprentice Institute for Christian spiritual formation at Friends University, you will have the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in the field of Christian spiritual formation. Distinguished faculty members researching and authoring in the field include James Bryan Smith, Scot McKnight, Jan Johnson, Keith Matthews, Keas Keasler, A.J. Swoboda, J.R. Briggs, Tim Keel, and Deb Hirsch.

The CSFL is a 33-credit program that follows a hybrid design (18 credits online, 15 credits via residency) and is founded on the teachings of Dallas Willard, and James Bryan Smith’s Triangle of Transformation. The curriculum is delivered through cohort groups of students who progress through the degree requirements sequentially, which includes online coursework, retreats, seminars and workshops.

Learning Environment

This program is committed to a high Christology within an orthodox theological framework. We strive to encourage formation into a Christ-centered way of life, with a view to cultivate spiritual habits and virtues. Our faculty and instructors have high respect for our common heritage and ancient Christian tradition.

It’s not all head knowledge with us. You will experience a program with academic rigor and excellence, yet practical and experiential at all levels of instruction. Each student will have access to a spiritual director during residency, and on an ongoing basis throughout the entire program.

One of the greatest components of the CSFL program is the relationships. The closed cohort format facilitates a deep sense of community and accountability. Students don’t just learn together – they “do life” together. This happens through a variety of approaches, including on-site retreats, small groups, conference events and online discussion forums.

This program is designed to fit into your life, but will require significant time in your weekly schedule. You will learn the dynamics of the Online Learning Community and the systems needed for success in the program. We are accepting applications for Cohort 5, which begins in August of 2020.

Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership Degree Brochure

Friends University Testimonial

My understanding of spirituality, how I practice my life, and how I move into the world around me has been shaped and formed in so many good ways through the CSFL program at Friends. I’m learning how to walk into a room like a leader even when I’m not in charge and that true ministry is not something we do, it’s an overflow of life with God in his kingdom.

Emily P. Freeman, author of The Next Right Thing and CSFL graduate


  • Demonstrate a deeper understanding of Christian spiritual formation through rhythms and practices leading to a Christ-centered, with-God life.
  • Demonstrate an approach to building vibrant, sustainable spiritual formation in various ministry contexts.
  • Demonstrate the ability to cultivate community with people from various backgrounds through real, long-term relationships.
Friends University Testimonial

Not only does the Master’s in Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership program take seriously our dire need for deeper discipleship practices, as a bi-vocational pastor, I can also attest that it delivers high-level instruction combined with exceptional value and a realistic pace that can fit even into a busy schedule. This was the program I was waiting for.

Neal Whitlow, bi-vocational pastor and CSFL graduate

Course Requirements

View the courses required for a Master’s degree in Master of Arts in Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership.

View Course Catalog

Career Options

A degree in Master of Arts in Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership can be used in more ways than you may think. Take a look at some of the potential careers that can result from this area of study.

Learn More

Graduate Student Career Development Plan

The path to your future career starts long before graduation. Learn what steps you need to take along the way to put you a step ahead.

Read More

Featured Faculty

JR Briggs

JR Briggs

  • Guest Instructor
  • B.A., Taylor University; M.A., Biblical Theological Seminary
John Comer

John M Comer

  • Guest Lecturer
  • B.A. Calvary Chapel Bible College; M.A. Western Seminary
Emily Freeman

Emily Freeman

  • Residency Lecturer
  • B.S. University of North Carolina Greensboro; M.A. Friends University
Paul Hill

Paul Hill

  • Adjunct Professor of the Holy Scriptures
  • B.S. Manhattan Christian College; M.S. Friends University; M.A. Johnson University
Jan Johnson

Jan Johnson

  • Adjunct Professor of Christian Spiritual Formation
  • B.A., Ozark Christian College; D. Min., Graduate Theological Foundation
Keas Keasler

Keas Keasler

  • Assistant Professor of Christian Spiritual Formation; Program Director of Christian Spiritual Formation
  • Christian and Liberal Studies
  • B.A., Baylor University; M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary
Tim Keel

Tim Keel

  • Adjunct Professor of Theology
  • B.F.A., University of Kansas; M.Div., Denver Seminary
Keith Matthews

Dr. Keith Matthews

  • Guest Instructor
  • B.A., California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; M. Div., Fuller Theological Seminary; D. Min., Fuller Theological Seminary
Scot McKnight

Dr. Scot McKnight

  • Guest Instructor
  • B.A., Cornerstone University; M.A., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Ph.D., University of Nottingham
Jim Smith

Dr. Jim Smith

  • Associate Professor of Religion; Dallas Willard Chair for Christian Spiritual Formation
  • Christian and Liberal Studies
  • B.A., Friends University; M.Div., Yale University Divinity School; D.Min., Fuller Theological Seminary
AJ Swoboda

Dr. AJ Swoboda

  • Adjunct Professor of Church History
  • B.A., Eugene Bible College; M.A., Portland Seminary; Ph.D., University of Birmingham