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M.A. in Christian FormationHolistic Spiritual
and Ministry Formation

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Master of Arts in Christian Formation

The Master of Arts in Christian formation is designed to help you gain critical competencies in the study of the Bible, Christian theology and best practices for ministry, all while striving to build a stronger foundation for your own faith.

Degree Type

  • Master of Arts


  • On Campus
  • Online


  • Grand Rapids
  • Online

Credit Hours

  • 65


  • Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Communicate biblical
truth with clarity

As a ministry leader, you need to be prepared to navigate complex environments with grace and truth. The M.A. in Christian formation prepares you for this challenge. By integrating biblical interpretation with practical ministry training, this program teaches you to think deeply about the theology, history and the text of Scripture so that you can teach faithfully.

Through this program, you will learn how to interpret and apply Scripture from the English Bible texts, state a basic understanding of the foundations of Christian theology and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the values and principles necessary for wholehearted spiritual formation, both in yourself and in others. Your professors will lead you through rigorous course work that will help you communicate sound biblical truth with knowledge and clarity.


An M.A. in Christian formation will provide a wide range of opportunities for employment—whether you want to work in a church, para-church ministry, nonprofit or other Christian organization.


  • Pastoral ministry
  • Para-church ministry
  • Business management
  • Christian Publishing
  • Church planting
  • Spiritual Direction
  • D.Min. Studies
  • Youth ministry

Ministry Residency

Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is committed to serving Christ’s church by developing ministry leaders. Our Ministry Residency program is strategic and essential in this endeavor as it provides avenues for students to connect with ministry mentors and to serve in local churches and other ministry sites. Students put their classroom learning to practice, gain important ministry experience, and learn valuable lessons in this unique experience.

  • Select a ministry setting that fits with your career goals
  • Invest four semesters in the context you choose
  • Learn from a ministry mentor
  • Earn 8 credits toward your ministry degree


  • Church ministry
  • Higher education
  • International missions
  • Camp ministry
  • Teaching assistant
  • Research assistant


Of M.A. in Christian formation alumni surveyed reported being vocationally employed within six to 12 months of graduation. The additional 25% continued for further study beyond the M.A. in Christian formation degree.


Of M.A. in Christian formation students take classes part-time.


Of M.A. in Christian formation students achieved the highest outcome (i.e., making good progress in readiness for ministry) at their mid-point and exit assessments.

Course List and
Learning Outcomes

The M.A. Christian formation program consists of a core of Bible, theology and ministry courses. Yet, you also will select a ministry specialization, where you will focus your studies in a particular area of ministry.

Bible & Theology Core Courses

The Bible and theology core of the M.A. in Christian formation program consists of 32 credits. These courses will give you a foundational understanding of how to study the Bible and how to think theologically about life and ministry.


  • BBL-501 Biblical Hermeneutics: An introduction to the process of determining the original meaning and contemporary significance of biblical texts.
  • BBL-508 Biblical Theology: An integrated study of the central themes from the Old and New Testaments that comprise the grand narrative of Scripture.
  • Old Testament Bible Elective
  • New Testament Bible Elective
  • General Bible Elective


  • THE-501 Program Introduction Seminar: This course prepares students for the rigors of graduate scholarship by honing the skills of graduate research, reading and writing.
  • THE-540 Systematic Theology I: This course introduces and practices a metanarrative for doing theology. The biblical narratives and propositions are heard in the context of the story that begins with creation, is centered in Jesus’ first coming and reaches its culmination in the new heavens and earth.
  • THE-640 Systematic Theology II: This course continues our metanarrative theology by examining the Christian story of creation, fall, redemption and consummation, with special attention
    given to the nature and task of humanity, the distortion of the world through sin and the redemptive work and person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
  • THE-641 Systematic Theology III: This course will examine in detail the doctrine of salvation (soteriology), the church (ecclesiology), the basic elements of pastoral theology (internal and
    external call to the ministry, ordination, ministry of the word and sacraments, church discipline and pastoral spiritual formation) and the four last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell).
  • THE-676 Apologetics and Moral Issues in Christian Ministry: This course will help students preserve and steward their life and doctrine by evaluating the philosophical foundations of the Christian faith and various ethical problems encountered in pastoral care, spiritual direction, and Christian counseling.
  • Select one of:
    • THE-710 Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church: This course will examine the development of spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, meditation on Scripture, corporate worship and right use of the sacraments) in the church from the New Testament to 600 A.D. Early Christian understandings of the psychology of temptation, habituation to evil, personal conversion and spiritual discernment will also be investigated and their relevance to the contemporary practice of spiritual direction will be discussed.
    • Historical Theology Elective: THE-515, THE-516, THE-517 or THE-518

Ministry Leadership Core Courses

The specialization courses in the M.A. in Christian formation degree consist of 24 credit hours, providing you with both theoretical leadership frameworks and practical ministry experience.

  • MIN-500 Christian Spiritual Formation: An investigation into the meaning of biblical Christianity and its relationship to faith and practice within contemporary cultural contexts. Special attention is given to the corporate dimensions of spirituality and spiritual formation.
  • MIN-510 Organizational Leadership
  • MIN-543 Christian Formation in the Church
  • MIN-545 Teach and Learning for Christian Formation
  • MIN-560 Global Impact
  • MIN-711 Program Completion Seminar

Select either:

  • Ministry Residency sequence:
    • MIN-685 Ministry Residency I
    • MIN-686 Ministry Residency II
    • MIN-781 Ministry Residency III
    • MIN-782 Ministry Residency IV
  • Thesis Track
    • MIN-584 Thesis Readings: Ministry
    • MIN-797 Master’s Thesis
    • MIN Elective

Ministry Specializations

Student & Family Ministries

  • MIN-553 Sociology of Youth and Emerging Adulthood
  • MIN-641 Foundations for Ministry to Youth and Emerging Adults
  • One of the following:
    • COU-520 Child & Adolescent Counseling
    • COU-521 Marriage & Family Counseling

Small Group & Discipleship Ministries

  • MIN-630 Small Group Ministries
  • MIN-643 Educational Ministries for Adults
  • One of the following:
    • MIN-534 Evangelism/Discipleship Ministries
    • MIN-554 Theology of Women in Ministry
    • MIN-567 The Church’s Relationship to a PostChristian Culture
    • COU-532 Counseling Women through the Life Cycle
    • COU-612 Group Counseling Techniques

Intercultural Ministries

  • MIN-567 The Church’s Relationship to a PostChristian Culture
  • MIN-660 Cultural Intelligence
  • MIN-667 Urban and Local Development

Formation & Soul Care Ministries

  • COU-500 Counseling Philosophy
  • COU-610 Counseling Techniques
  • COU-521 Marriage & Family Counseling

Campus & Student Development Ministries

  • MIN-533 Sociology of Youth and Emerging Adulthood
  • MIN-518 Foundations of Student Development
  • COU-520 Child & Adolescent Counseling

Interdisciplinary Studies

Three course cluster from ministry disciplines (MIN and/or COU) selected with consultation of faculty adviser.

Program Learning Outcomes

With an emphasis on developing basic competencies essential to the study of the Bible and related theological literature, our Master of Arts in Christian formation curriculum and course work requirements prepare you to achieve seven learning outcomes.

Biblical Interpretation

Students will conduct basic biblical interpretation and application with reference to the English Bible texts.

Basic Understanding of Christian Theology

Students will state a basic understanding of the primary elements of Christian theology.

Personal Spiritual Formation

Students will demonstrate basic knowledge, values, and practices essential to personal spiritual formation.

Cultural Intelligence and Exegesis

Students will demonstrate basic competency in cultural intelligence and cultural exegesis.

Christian Philosophy

Students will demonstrate a distinctively Christian philosophy of spiritual formation that is informed by sound educational theory and best practices.

Effective Communication

Students will exhibit the knowledge and skills necessary for the effective communication of biblical truth.

Spiritual Discipleship

Students will demonstrate proficiency to direct people, resources and programs necessary to the effective spiritual formation of individuals and communities.

Want to Learn More About GRTS?

The diversity at GRTS has caused me to be slower to speak and quicker to listen. I’ve learned that my perspective is not always the majority, nor is it the correct one. I’ve appreciated that element to my education here.

Timothy Bassett (’19)


Our faculty are driven by uncompromising Christ-like values in everything they do, both inside and outside the classroom. Through their expertise and mentorship, you will be inspired to dig deeper and to grow as a follower of Jesus.

Related Programs

Grand Rapids Theological Seminary offers several programs designed to feed your spiritual formation. Take a look at some of the additional programs we offer.

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