Spiritual Formation: How APU Helps Students Grow

by Tobin Perry

Spiritual formation isn’t a secondary part of the student experience at Azusa Pacific University—it’s a driving component of what makes the campus community unique. The motto, God First, has guided the university since 1899, and its work to help students grow spiritually is a critical part of keeping that commitment.

“Our unique educational philosophy is that we view Christian higher education as a means to advance God’s work in the world,” said Coba Canales, Ed.D., dean of spiritual life at APU. “The experience that we desire for every student is that they would develop intellectually in a way that reflects the mind of Christ and prepares them for Christ-centered engagement with the world.”

Why Your Faith Journey Matters at APU

APU takes seriously the holistic development of its students—helping them to grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Canales noted that APU does this in an effort to help students love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The Bible makes it clear that learning to grow in Christ-likeness is a central goal for every life. A person’s pursuit of that goal shouldn’t take a pause during their college years! In fact, college can provide a powerful opportunity to engage in focused spiritual formation.

Most people grow spiritually during periods of their lives when they’re introduced to new experiences (which happens frequently in college). Learning to engage those experiences from a God-honoring perspective can help students become more like Christ in their own lives.

How APU Helps Students Grow

APU provides students with different environments that encourage spiritual formation, allowing the university to partner with students in their spiritual journeys. They include:

  • Chapel APU requires every student to attend chapel three times a week. It’s a critical part of the university’s commitment to supporting students as they explore and deepen their faith. Attending chapel builds a consistent rhythm for corporate worship and creates a sense of community among APU students, faculty, and staff. The school offers a variety of chapel experiences to help students find the right opportunity to fit their spiritual needs.
  • SoulQuest: Graduate, professional, and nontraditional undergraduate students can take advantage of APU’s SoulQuest ministry to help them integrate their spiritual journey with their prospective careers. The program provides every student an opportunity for “a personal point of encounter with Jesus Christ and His call to them.”
  • Campus Ministry: APU’s campus ministry team is ready to pray for students, encourage them toward spiritual maturity, offer pastoral care, and provide opportunities for discipleship-focused relationships.
  • Center for Student Action: This center exists to inform APU students about—and provide them with—responsible and transformational service opportunities, both locally and globally. The center sends more than 300 students, faculty, staff, and alumni out into the world each year to help meet the needs of their communities.

The Goal of APU’s Spiritual Formation

Ultimately, APU hopes that its students will have meaningful encounters with Christ at the university that will inspire them to live out their Christian calling as part of their vocational and personal lives. Canales said that, as students pursue opportunities for spiritual formation, they’ll find encouragement, a loving community, a refined sense of purpose, deeper convictions, and greater alignment with the will of God.

“There are immeasurable benefits for those who choose to actively pursue the life of discipleship, while there are also challenges that come with this commitment,” Canales noted. “At APU, those benefits and challenges are mitigated through the fact we are a community which has decidedly purposed to keep Christ central to everything we do.”

Want to learn more about how APU invests in the holistic development of its students? Explore APU’s Student Affairs website for more information.