The Centre for Spiritual Formation in Higher Education is a group of Trinity Western University scholars who seek to explore the theory and practice of spiritual formation within the context of higher education.  The approach of the institute is holistic and promotes an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach.  Spiritual formation, for the purpose of a maturing relationship with Jesus Christ, is one of TWU’s stated learning outcomes. The goal will be to inform the practice of Christian formation on TWU’s campus, contribute to the larger body of knowledge, and support leadership in this this important area.

Rob Rhea, Ph.D. - Director


Gary Thomas: "Spiritual Formation in the Key Relationships of our Lives"

Author, Sacred Pathways, Sacred Influence, Sacred Marriage, Sacred Parenting, Authentic Faith, and Holy Available.

Gary Thomas is the author of several books including Sacred Marriage, Sacred Parenting, Sacred Pathways and Authentic Faith. He also teaches at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. His books and his ministry focus on spiritual formation: how we can integrate Scripture, church history, and the time-tested wisdom of the Christian classics to transform our modern experience. Gary’s speaking ministry has led him to speak across the United States, in four different countries, and on numerous national television and radio programs, including Focus on the Family and Family Life Today. He lives with his wife and children in Bellingham, Washington.

  • Questions Engaged: “What if God didn’t put us in one another’s lives to make us happy or successful, but to make us holy?” What is the role of teachers and mentors in the spiritual formation of students? What is the role of students in the spiritual formation of teachers and mentors? What is the role of colleagues in one another’s spiritual formation?

Pastor Bruxy Cavey: "Spiritual Formation in the 21st Century Church"

Teaching Pastor, The Meeting House, Toronto, ON; Author, The End of Religion

Bruxy Cavey is the Teaching Pastor of The Meeting House - a church for people who aren’t into church. This multi-site community in the Greater Toronto Area shares the same teaching and vision: to create safe places for spiritual seekers to ask questions and develop thoughtful faith. Bruxy’s accessible style, historical rigor, and refreshing candor make him a popular guest on television and radio programs and at universities across Canada. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario with his wife, Nina and three daughters, Chelsea Chanelle and Maya, and their lovable dog Toby.

  • Questions engaged: “What are the unique challenges with regards to the spiritual formation of people in a post-Christian culture?” What challenges should teachers and mentors be aware of as they seek to engage their students in the process of spiritual formation? What movements or opportunities exist today that weren’t there in a more ‘Christian’ culture? How we can work toward forming a genuine relationship with God instead of just promoting, or even just deconstructing, organized religion?

Dr. Scot McKnight: "Spiritual Formation and the Gospel"

Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University; Author, The Jesus Creed, A Community Called Atonement, and Embracing Grace.

Scot McKnight is a widely-recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. He is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois). A popular and witty speaker, Dr. McKnight has given interviews on radios across the nation, has appeared on television, and is regularly asked to speak in local churches and educational events throughout the USA and in Denmark and South Africa. Dr. McKnight obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Nottingham (1986). Scot is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society for New Testament Studies. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the award-winning The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others (Paraclete, 2004), which won the Christianity Today book of the year for Christian Living. Recent books include Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us (Paraclete, 2005).

Questions Engaged: “How does our view of the gospel (what it is, what’s included in it) affect our approach to or understanding of spiritual formation?” In what ways has the gospel been misrepresented, what is a better understanding of the gospel, and how might that change our understanding of and approach to spiritual formation? In what ways can teachers and mentors help students get a bigger picture of the gospel and their part in it?


Barry Taylor: "Spiritual Formation and Culture"

Artist-in-Residence, Brehm Centre, Fuller Theological Seminary; Author, Entertainment Theology, A Matrix of Meanings (with Craig Detweiler)

Barry has served at Fuller Seminary in a number of capacities. On finishing his PhD at Fuller, he worked initially for the Brehm Center as co-director for the Reel Spirituality Institute and also began teaching theology and culture classes on music, film, pop culture and contemporary theology as an adjunct professor. Currently, he works as the Brehm Center's Artist in Residence, continuing his teaching and work with students, as well as serving as an Advisor and guide to the Brehm Center as it has undergone a re-envisioning and branding process. In addition to his work at Fuller, Barry serves as associate rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills and teaches advertising and consumer culture at the Art Center College of Design's School of Advertising. A talented song writer, he has composed music for movie soundtracks and has produced his own music CDs. Barry travels globally, speaking on a wide variety of issues related to the intersections of theology and contemporary culture. He coauthored A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture and A Heretic's Guide to Eternity. His latest book, Entertainment Theology: New Edge Spirituality in a Digital Democracy, was published in 2008.

Questions Engaged: “How does contemporary culture inform or challenge our understanding of and approach to spiritual formation?” In particular, how do teachers and mentors learn to exegete the culture, and then equip their students to exegete the culture, in a way that contributes to true Christian formation? What particular challenges make spiritual formation more difficult? What particular opportunities provide greater potential for true biblical formation?


Camille Pauley, M.A.: "Spiritual Formation and Social Justice"

Co-founder, President, Vice-Chair of the Board, Healing the Culture

Mrs. Pauley is the founder of Being With© and Compatior Institute©. In 1993, she co-founded the Center for Life Principles and served as its Director until 2003. She was Director of Education for Human Life of Washington from 1993 to 2003. Mrs. Pauley has trained hundreds of speakers for the pro-life movement, spoken for thousands of audiences, designed several retreat programs for adults and teenagers, guest-hosted several radio and television programs, co-produced five video series, and published dozens of articles. Founded in 2003 by Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. and Camille Pauley, Healing the Culture is a nonprofit educational organization which seeks to build a pro-life culture by inspiring individuals to uphold the intrinsic dignity of every human person, and by helping them to live for deeper meaning and purpose. To remedy the contemporary “culture of death,” Healing the Culture trains teachers, pastors, religious educators, counsellors, medical professionals, political leaders, and other persons of influence to cultivate healthier notions of these terms among their constituencies.

Questions Engaged: “How does our attitude and actions regarding issues of social justice and human dignity contribute to our spiritual formation?” In particular, how can educators and mentors contribute to the formation of convictions that lead to social action for justice in their personal and public callings?