This work explores how female students perceive their need for personal spiritual development. In a male-dominant structure, women may question their need to develop spiritually. Three areas of college life were investigated to see how they influenced female students’ perception of their own need for spiritual development: pre-college experiences, classroom experiences, and co-curricular religious activities. The research questions focused on these three areas in an effort to identify what was most effective in achieving spiritual growth among female students from a Church of Christ background. A survey was conducted among a sample of 610 sophomore female and male students.

Results show the importance of having spiritual examples, mentors, and people to provide encouragement to grow spiritually. This work also explores the effectiveness of classroom discussions, co-curricular activities, church, and chapel. Pedagogical suggestions are included that pertain to female students. This study presents implications for curriculum development, teaching, mentoring, internships, co-curricular activities, youth group activities, leadership opportunities, and it shows the importance of both family and non-familial females on female spiritual development.

Author Bio

Dr. Anessa Westbrook serves as an assistant professor in the College of Bible and Ministry. After graduating from Harding University with a B.A. in Psychology in 1995, she and her husband served as missionaries to Hungary for eight years. Anessa holds a Master of Arts in Church Growth and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. She also completed a Women’s Ministry certificate from New Orleans Baptist. She has been teaching at Harding University since spring of 2006, joining the Bible faculty full-time in August 2014. She completed her Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in June 2015. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Anessa is a regular speaker at ladies’ events and has written several Bible study series for Christian Woman magazine. Westbrook coordinates the Women in God’s Service Conference (WINGS) which is sponsored by the College of Bible and Ministry and the ladies’ program at the Harding University Lectureship. She works extensively with women preparing to enter ministry and with women seeking to be active in their local congregations after college. She attends College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas, where she serves in several ministries such as the women’s ministry, missions, and Lads to Leaders and Leaderettes. She is married to Dr. Tim Westbrook and they have three teenage children.