The Center for Spiritual Formation is committed to the radical notion that we can be transformed by God to be more like Jesus for the sake of others. But our transformation is not a DIY project! It is God, and God alone, who changes us. At the Center, you will learn simple ways to practice spiritual rhythms that fit your lifestyle. These practices bring us into the presence of God so that God can change us to be and to bear God’s good news in the world. 

Formational Community 2018-2020

The Formational Community is a two-year experience designed to deepen your life in God for the sake of others.


What is involved in this experience?
As a participant of this experience, you will gather with 72 men and women on retreat every quarter to learn how to cultivate spiritual rhythms in your everyday, ordinary life. Weekend retreats include engaging lectures from seasoned leaders, conversations around tables with your companion group, and time alone to practice and process God’s personal invitations to you in your spiritual journey. 


Each retreat begins with a light meal on Friday evening (6-9pm) and concludes on Saturday afternoon (9am-3pm, lunch included). The retreats are held at Open Door and do not include an overnight stay. Between retreats, you will gather twice with your assigned companion group to share how God has been encountering you in your spiritual journey. Groups are structured around guidelines that encourage spiritual listening to one another and to God.


Our veteran teachers practice what they teach and know what it means to live a life of faith in the world. You will hear stories from their personal lives and their ministries. Their teaching is vulnerable and real and always intersects with ordinary life. It is enhanced by writings from a rich and diverse collection of Christian authors, such as Ruth Haley Barton, Henri Nouwen, David Benner, M. Robert Mulholland, Richard Foster, and Mark Labberton.


Is the Formational Community a good fit for me? 

While we encourage everyone to honestly face the commitments involved in this experience, anyone who desires to deepen their life in God is welcome. As a church ministry, we are open to anyone who is committed to intentional spiritual growth. Practically speaking, the commitments for this experience include…

  • Retreat Participation: Each participant is expected to attend all eight quarterly retreats in their entirety from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon. You are also encouraged to intentionally and regularly practice the spiritual disciplines taught at each retreat.
  • Reading: Participants commit to reading one assigned book between every retreat.
  • Companion Group Meetings: Participants are placed in spiritual companion groups that meet monthly between each retreat, in other words, twice between each retreat. The quarterly retreat and companion group meetings mean a monthly commitment for the two-year experience.

What does it cost?

Total cost for the two-year experience is $400, divided as follows: $80 non-refundable (holds your spot upon acceptance) plus $40 per quarter ($320 total over two years) due the Sunday before each retreat regardless of retreat attendance.


Contact: Anne-Marie | (763) 416-5846 ext 1400


The application for Cohort E is open NOW!

The Center Cohort Booklet (PDF)

Retreat themes

Everything you learn at The Center is rooted in Scripture and our orthodox Christian heritage. You will learn simple ways to practice spiritual rhythms that fit your lifestyle and call you deeper into your life in God and your life in the world. We believe spiritual practices are not an end in and of themselves. Practices bring us into the presence of God so God can change us to go out and be good news in the world. 

There are eight retreats in The Center's formational series. Each retreat focuses on a spiritual practice and its relevance to our lives. 
  1. Spiritual Rhythms: Awakening to Life with God
    We all deeply desire to connect with God and with others. Practicing faithful rhythms of living, in response to these deeper desires of the heart, awakens our life with God and promotes real transformation.
  2. Sabbath, Silence, and Solitude: Living at Rest in a Hurried World
    We live in a frenetic world that depletes and exhausts us. Living in a balance of retreat and engagement with this world helps foster a life of abundance in God. 
  3. Prayer: Deepening Intimacy with God
    We deepen our intimacy with God through a relational prayer life with God. The One who is nearer to us than our very breath is made real in our everyday, ordinary lives. 
  4. Scripture: Inhabiting God's Story
    Too often we read the Bible to master it. Read prayerfully and expectantly, however, the Word of God masters us. We encounter the God of Scripture as the One who restores shalom to our broken lives and this needy world. 
  5. The Enneagram: Knowing Self, Knowing God
    Who am I? Who is God? When we discover our true and false self patterns, the essence of who we really are is unleashed. We are free to live out our truest self in God for the sake of others. 
  6. Discernment: Hearing God's Voice in a Noisy World
    Discernment can be a challenge when so many competing voices vie for our attention, but the will of God is within reach. With practice, we learn to recognize God's still, small voice and grow in delight at obeying God. 
  7. For the Sake of Others: Extending the Kingdom
    When we experience the good news of abundant life in Christ, we are compelled to partner with God in being and bearing witness to the good news in the world. 
  8. Rule of Life: Becoming Fully Alive in God
    Transformation happens in our ordinary lives through an extraordinary God. Sustaining our connection with God, ourselves, and others by practicing a rule of life positions us to better pursue the struggle of becoming fully alive in God. 

Current Cohort Schedules

Please check your calendar before applying to join the next cohort and plan to attend every retreat. We recognize, however, that life happens and you may have to miss one retreat due to illness or a previous commitment. Missing one retreat does not preclude your participation in this experience. A new cohort will begin each year.


Cohort C

Oct 14-15, 2016; Jan 13-14, 2017; Apr 7-8, 2017; Jul 14-15, 2017; Oct 13-14, 2017; Jan 12-13, 2018; July 13-14, 2018; Aug 24-25, 2018


Cohort D

Oct 27-28, 2017; Feb 2-3, 2018; May 4-5, 2018; Aug 3-4, 2018; Nov 2-3, 2018; Feb 1-2, 2019; May 3-4, 2019; Aug 2-3, 2019


Cohort E

Oct 12-13, 2018; Jan 11-12, 2019; Apr 5-6, 2019; Jul 12-13, 2019; Oct 11-12, 2019: Jan 10-11, 2020; Apr 3-4, 2020; Jul 10-11, 2020

Individual Half-Day Retreats

The Center also offers the Saturday morning sessions of the Formational Community as a stand-alone experience. Each retreat focuses on different ways to intentionally arrange our lives around a transformative spiritual practice. 
Half-day retreats can be experienced individually without a long-term commitment.

Cost: $20 per retreat (lunch not included)

For registration details, see Upcoming Half-Day Retreats on our Groups page.

The Center Team

  • David Johnson
    Lead Teaching Pastor

    David Johnson, pastor, author, and speaker, has served as the Senior Pastor/Teaching Pastor at Church of the Open Door since 1980. read more>>

  • Anne-MArie Finsaas
    Pastor of Formational Life

    Anne-Marie is Pastor of Formational Life at Open Door. She earned her Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership and Spiritual Formation...read more>>

  • Vicki Degner
    Spiritual Director

    Vicki is a former Spiritual Development Pastor at Church of the Open Door, who now continues to serve as a lay pastor in the same community. She is a trained spiritual director...read more>>

  • Peggy Lang
    Prayer Pastor

    Peggy has attended Open Door since 1991. As lay Prayer Ministries Pastor, she has taught classes, led retreats, and trained people for prayer ministry...read more>>

  • Doug Lang

    lay leader

    Doug has been part of Open Door since 1991, serving on the prayer team, multiple committees, task forces, and teaching teams over the years. He chaired the governing board...read more>>

  • dawn wood

    adult life associate

    Dawn is Adult Life Associate. She has been on staff for 18 years and is our details person. A lover of nature and animals...read more>>

  • kati beasley

    Formational Life associate

    Kati is currently Formational Life Associate at Open Door after nine years serving as an associate in Next Generation Youth and Kids. As a certified Enneagram teacher...read more>>