Tom Buursma served as a church planting missionary in the Philippines for four-and-a-half years before enrolling at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS). After his first year at seminary, Buursma said the highlight was his Formation for Ministry (FFM) group.
“I deeply love and appreciate each member of my group,” he said. “My number one goal for my time of study at Calvin seminary is to learn to know God and love him more. Sharing our lives, dreams, and fears within our FFM group has deeply impacted who I am and my love for God.”
Each FFM group is made up of seven to 10 students in the M. Div. or M.A. degree programs, as well as a CTS faculty or staff member or a local pastor.
Throughout the program, students become aware of their own spiritual formation as they share faith stories and calling stories and discuss the spiritual mentors who have impacted their lives. They learn to become self-aware so they can relate effectively to others. They learn to become spiritually aware by bringing personal ministry experiences to the group for theological reflection.
Formation for Ministry has been an important addition to the formation of students and the curriculum at CTS.
Paul Ward recently left CTS to take a position as worship pastor at a large church in Seaside, Ore. He wrote to his FFM group: “As I begin to think about a new seminary to transfer to in the Portland area this coming fall, I find myself hoping and praying that there will be an FFM group similar to ours. I highly doubt whether I will find anything like it again.”
About the Author
Pat Zandstra is the formation for ministry specialist at Calvin Theological Seminary.