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To be more holistically formed in the Christian faith, undergraduate students will be guided into regular engagement with the “least of these,” trusting they will encounter God, and with the hope that students will be shaped more fully into the image of Christ. The goal of this doctoral project is to propose a more holistic spiritual formation curriculum for the students of MidAmerica Nazarene University. While continuing the standard spiritual formation elements, (chapel, small groups, retreats), adding the requirement for students to serve the least of these will cultivate a more integrated, comprehensive spiritual formation curriculum. This thesis took place at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas.

Through examination of the writings of John Chrysostom, John Wesley, and Jürgen Moltmann, a theological impetus develops for guiding students into regular engagement with the poor. In addition to theological considerations, a review of the historical roots of the Church of the Nazarene, as one of advocacy for the poor, substantiates service to the least of these as a faithful expression of the mission of the denomination. To support the goal of holistic spiritual formation, a review of the ideologies of bell hooks leads to reflection on the ethical complexities of obligatory service to the disenfranchised. Finally, the results of a case study provide insight into the spiritually formative nature of engagement with the least of these.

The doctoral project concludes that mandating service to the least of these would provide a more holistic plan of spiritual formation for the students of MidAmerica Nazarene University. However, the possible relegation of the poor to the position of consumable good for the formation of college students requires further thought and exploration prior to the full implementation of the proposed curriculum as currently designed.

Content Reader: Tony Jones, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Jones, Anthony

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MidAmerica Nazarene University (Olathe, Kan.); Spiritual formation; Church work with the poor


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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