Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson


Jan JohnsonI am a writer, speaker and spiritual director who holds degrees in Christian education and spirituality. I’ve enjoyed writing seventeen books, including Enjoying the Presence of God, When the Soul Listens, and many magazine articles. I’m also a frequent retreat and conference speaker.

Everything I write and speak about flows out of these three areas:

Spiritual formation: The key to getting rid of stubborn habits and ingrained character flaws – the tendency to criticize, complain and procrastinate -- is to build an interactive life with God. Instead of trying to be good, we connect with God in order to let God transform us into Christlikeness. As we do the connecting with God, God does the perfecting in us.

Partnering with God in caring for the voiceless: We can learn to offer cups of cold water to the thirsty, to whisper words of life to the unreached, to love all peoples the way God does, to set aside the pull of materialism and spend our resources on worthwhile purposes. Such a life flows from cherishing the compassionate lifestyle of Jesus and arranging our lives to love this world that God so loves.

Living with Purposeful Intentionality: Life today is characterized by too much activity with too little meaning, on glitz instead of substance.  Focusing on how God is calling me to let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God prods me to partner with God in efforts that reconcile people to God, to others and even to themselves. This kind of life is exciting – interacting with God throughout all of life and hear God compel us, comfort us and nudge us along.

I spend most of my work days writing books, magazine articles, newspaper essays, and Bible studies in my office at my home in Simi Valley, California. Thankful for my degree in Christian education, I began writing Bible study curriculum about twenty years ago that would reach the teens in the inner-city neighborhood where my husband pastored and we lived. Gradually, I switched to writing for adults and then began writing articles and books. About ten years ago, I began speaking extensively and found that I was most called to situations in which I could teach several sessions in depth. About the same time, I also took classes to become a spiritual director. I now do these things with great joy.

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Books Authored:

Bible Studies:


    Magazines: over 1000 articles published in general audience magazines such as Woman’s Day, Fitness, Parenting, and American Baby.

    Christian magazines such as Weavings, World Vision, Focus on the Family and Discipleship Journal; published in wide range of denominations from Catholic Digest to The Mennonite, from Pentecostal Evangel to Episcopal Life, Sectional editor, Conversations: A Forum for Authentic Transformation.

    Newspapers: Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee.


    Dictionary of Everyday Theology and Culture; Spiritual Formation Bible; Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation; Recovery Devotional Bible; The Quest Study Bible; Women’s Devotional Bible; The Pastor’s Guide to Personal Spiritual Formation; The Message: Solo An Uncommon Devotional.


    for 20 events a year including retreats, conferences, Staley lecturer at universities, C. S. Lewis Summer Institute instructor, seminary classes and seminary retreats, Renovaré Conference, authentic spirituality symposium, writer's conferences & public school author's fairs, Evangelical Press Association panel member, radio talk-show guest.


Spiritual Direction:

    trained at Stillpoint in Pasadena, CA; graduated 1995; several directees, 1996-present.


    1000+ adult curriculum sessions, both topical and expository (Old and New Testaments) for nine publishers and nine parachurch organizations; 85 youth curriculum sessions; study guides for small groups; co-developer of new teaching product; video study guides for churches, public schools and correctional institutions. For a complete curriculum bio and list of credits, see below.

Board of Directors:


    curriculum companies and non-profit organizations on developing curriculum; leadership teams on soul care for others and developing the interior life of a leader.

Church Ministry:

    co-laborer with pastor husband in inner-city churches: 1975-1987; 1992-1997; Bible teacher of adults and youth, support group leader.


    BA, Christian education, Ozark Christian College {occ.edu}; journalism courses, UCLA; spirituality courses, Azusa Pacific University; graduate, Academy for Spiritual Formation {upperroom.org/academy/}; Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola 30-day Retreat, 2006; D.Min. Graduate Theological Foundation (Ignatian Spirituality & Spiritual Direction), 2006.




    Samaritan Center (drop-in center for the homeless), Simi Valley, 1994-present; Board member, SOULeader, 2009-present; Epiphany Ministry {epiphanyministry.org}, 2001-present. Board member, Women’s Ministries Institute, 1994-1998.


    My husband, Greg, now works for a financial software company and is a clergy leader in Epiphany and Via de Cristo as well as our local church. We both work at Epiphany retreats (3 day weekend retreats in youth correctional facilities). We have two adult children, Jeff and Janae. Once a week we all enjoy “family dinner” together and play games that allow us to behave like third graders.

    My leisure activities (always important for a recovering perfectionist) include reading, bike riding, hiking and enjoying great works of art. What could be better than reading a good book while drinking flavored decaf coffee?

Curriculum Bio:

    I began working with my husband, Greg, in an inner city church immediately after college graduation in 1975. That's where I learned that I wasn't going to survive in a junior high gangland Bible study classroom without better curriculum materials. Equipped with a degree in Christian education, I began researching the use of Bible learning activities and inventing my own. Soon I was included as the “multi-ethnic rep” in brainstorming sessions with a local curriculum publisher. In 1981, I began writing Bible study curriculum for teens and over the years I’ve written more extensively for adults. I also enjoyed writing for nine publishers, adapting and sometimes influencing their philosophy of learning. I've also learned a lot from writing curriculum for many non-profit organizations, including: World Vision, US Center for World Mission, Compassion International, Open Doors USA, American Bible Society, International Bible Society, Family Hope Services and Focus on the Family.

Adult Curriculum Credits:

    Dated Material:

    • Adult Teaching Packet, Scripture Press, 1986--1992, 52 sessions a year
    • Bible in Life, David C. Cook, 1-3 sessions/quarter 1993-2000
    • Understanding the Bible, David C. Cook, 1 quarter, 1996


    • Cups of Cold Water (world poverty, homelessness in US) World Vision/David C. Cook, 8 sessions
    • Vision for the Nations US Center for World Mission, 13 sessions (became a working draft)
    • Jump-Starting Your Devotional Life David C. Cook, 7 sessions
    • Love for a Lifetime (based on book with same title) David C. Cook, 13 sessions
    • Stress Fractures (based on book with same title) David C. Cook, 13 sessions
    • Waist Watchers: Trimming Down to Size Serendipity House, 7 double track sessions
    • Preparing for the War That's Already Won David C. Cook, 7 sessions
    • A Call to Prayer Standard Publishing, 7 sessions
    • Victory in Jesus Standard Publishing, 13 sessions

    Bible Study Books:

    Video Study Guides:

    • Holy Sweat Word Publishing, 3 sessions.
    • Twice Pardoned Focus on the Family, Church version & public school/correctional facility version
    • Classroom of the Heart, Focus on the Family
    • McGee & Me Christian school & public school versions

Youth Curriculum Credits:

    Family Hope Services:

    • 20+ piece curriculum sets: Hope, Social Skills for this non-profit organization helping troubled teens

    Compassion International:

    • Project Compassion, 10 session curriculum for teens on world poverty (became a working draft due to change in plans of organization)

    Open Doors International (with Youth Specialties/Zondervan)

    • Student Underground, 4 session event curriculum on the persecuted church

    Gospel Light (senior high)

    • Glow in the Dark Sessions 5-8 (Philippians)
    • Hot Buttons Session 6 (topic: racial prejudice)
    • I Hate Witnessing Sessions 1-13 (from book of same title)
    • Winners and Losers Sessions 7 & 8 (Bible heroes)
    • Walking in God's Light Sessions 7-13 (1 John)
    • Sayings of Christ Sessions 5-8

    David C. Cook Electives:

    • Watch Out! Sessions 1-5 (junior high)
    • Too Tough! Sessions 1-5 (senior high)
    • Which Way To God? Sessions 1-5 (junior high)

    Related to Teen Curriculum:

    • teen disaster relief booklet, International Bible Society
    • devotions for teen book, Miles Ahead
    • articles in teen publications: Brio, With, Insight, Teen Power, Senior High I.D.


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