Graduate Christian Fellowship – Formation In and Out of the Academy

Formation In and Out of the Academy
or How we come to be the people we are (or hope to be)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dear Friends,
I’d like to start by restating the vision of this campus ministry:

The Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) seeks to challenge, mentor, and enable students to think, work, and live as Christian disciples in the academy and in their professions. Rooted in the confession that all truth is in Christ, we seek a radical Christian discipleship in all of life.

Some questions need to be asked regularly, and answered almost daily. This Thursday’s GCF discussion is a case in point. It will be a continuation of a conversation we had last September, and it’s a theme we pick up, in one form or another, near the beginning of pretty much every academic year. The questions aren’t inherently complex, but being easy to ask and understand doesn’t make them simple to answer:

  • What are the most significant influences shaping your life at this point?
  • Particularly in terms of faith formation, over the coming months, what kind of growth would you like to see in your ability to “think, work, and live as Christian disciples”?
  • What individual or collective discipleship practices can we deliberately cultivate that could help move you (or us) in that direction?

Last September we got through the first question (and some related themes) pretty thoroughly, but ran out of time to really dig into the last two. That’s our goal for this Thursday. Our discussion will be a creative effort to stimulate our collective imagination. In order for it to be as fruitful as possible, I’m going to include the specific questions that will frame the conversation, as well as a few biblical texts that make it clear this is a deeply biblical concern.

Last week we asked the question “What are you hoping for?” In a very real sense, this week’s discussion is an attempt to articulate more fully what we as a campus ministry are hoping for, and how we’re going to get there. I trust that many of you will be able to join us.


General formation:

  • What situations, people, influences, events, places etc. have been most significant in shaping who you are today?
  • How many of these were specifically intended to be formative in that way?

Academic formation:

  • Describe as thoroughly as possible the various aspects of your undergraduate and graduate educational formation.
  • What were some of the intended (or unintended) outcomes? (e.g. knowledge, skills, perspectives, habits, attitudes, aspirations, core values, character traits, lifestyle, income, etc.
  • What are the primary means by which this formation happens? (e.g. places, activities, tasks, communities, events, etc.)

Faith formation:

  • In a similar way, what has been most significant in shaping your faith?
  • What currently has the greatest impact on your faith?
  • How much of this is intentional and how much is incidental? Do you think about it?

Cultivating discipleship practices

  • If you were to identify some specific goals or intended outcomes with regard to your faith development in the coming year, what might those be? (see list above, under academic outcomes) In biblical language, what fruit do we want to see (and bear)?
  • Identify several personal priorities for yourself, and several collective goals we might aspire to as a community.
  • What practices, events, communities etc. would be most significant in achieving these outcomes?
  • Can we define some specific things that we as a community can / will / want to do this year to support each other toward more fruitful discipleship, both individually and collectively?


Some biblical texts to reflect on:

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
(Gen 1:26-7)

So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
(Jer 18:3-6)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Rom 12:1-2)

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
(Eph 2:10)

Upcoming GCF Events:

Thurs Sept 27
Bible Study: Overview of Romans
with Brian Walsh

Thurs Oct 4
Film: “Where Do We Go Now?” (2011)

Thurs Oct 11
Engaging Community Ministries – An Exploration

Tuesdays, 7:22 am
“Wine Before Breakfast”
a weekly Eucharist service in the Wycliffe College Chapel,
followed by breakfast in the chaplain’s office