Ecology, Discipleship, and Next Generation Ministry?

Discussion Thread: Ecology, Discipleship, and Next Generation Ministry?

In chapter 2 of Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age, the Lowes review the biblical demonstrations of ecology throughout Scripture. In your initial thread, discuss how you see these biblical examples demonstrated in your current ministry context as a youth minister and how these are helpful in building a discipleship strategy.

Textbook Readings: Chapters 1-4

Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth Through Online Education by Stephen D. Lowe (Author), Mary E. Lowe (Author) ISBN: 0830852050 



In these first four chapters of Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age, Stephen Lowe and Mary Lowe make a case that spiritual formation, theological education, and discipleship can be achieved effectively in an online context. They believe humans live in a chain of nested ecologies, an interlinked whole comprising of little interlinked ecologies which reflect an initial pure ecology in the Garden of Eden.[1] They examine the kingdom growth as described in the Bible employing human body ecosystem and plant ecological motifs found in Scriptures. They use examples of trees (Isaiah 5), flowers (Psalms103), Parable of Seed (Mark 4) and Vines (John 15), weaving them into a story of interdependent creation. All these metaphors serve to establish the interconnectedness of creation in which the creator offered all necessary ingredients for growth. The authors demonstrate that spiritual growth can occur at a distance via the work of the Holy Spirit. In addition to theological education, Church leaders and youth workers are increasingly using Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other interactive forum to present ideas, share information and kick start genuine conversation with young people. They are proclaiming the Gospel of Christ by using digital tools and blogging to reach and disciple young people.

In our current youth ministry, we use digital platforms when providing in-person teaching sessions. In addition to that, we have a team whose team members meet online monthly for discussions and prayers. Recently we initiated a Facebook group for online class to teach and allow students to connect, share ideas and prayer requests. Lowes’ book sheds some important insight on spiritual formation and theological education in digital age. As a youth minister, I intend to implement practical steps presented by the Lowes to promote spiritual formation of my students.

Because digital tools and platforms decrease or increase transactional distance between students and faculty, theories are required to explain spiritual formation from a distance. Stephen and Marry propose the ecological perspective which compares to the process of spiritual formation.  The ecosystems model considers spiritual formations of the ecological phenomenon regardless of whether the ecosystem exists in spiritual, online or physical spaces and thus provides proof for the likelihood of student spiritual formation in theological distance education. 

Spiritual formation and discipleship incorporate physical places and online spaces to offer different ways for individuals to grow and learn faith critics have expressed concerns about the efficacy and suitability of Christian distance education in spiritual formation. Stephen and Mary Low argue that the process of spiritual formation in online education is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit plays an important role in digital theological education to form students who are spiritual. It is worth to remember the attributes of Omniscience, Omnipresent and Omnipotence that God and His influence are everywhere. Therefore, the power of the Holy Spirit is present in both physical and online spaces to foster students’ spiritual formation. 

This book provides meaningful insights on how to go about forming students’ spiritually with no in-person contact and interaction. It persuades youth ministry workers that online theological education is as effective as in-person learning. Reading “Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age” made me recount my current experience and how to strategize to make disciples among young people.


Lowe,Stephen D. and Mary E.  Lowe. Ecologiesof  Faith  in  a  Digital  Age:  Spiritual  Growth  Through  Online  Education.  Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 2018.

[1] Stephen D. Lowe and Mary E.  Lowe,  Ecologies of  Faith  in  a  Digital  Age:  Spiritual  Growth  Through  Online  Education (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity  Press,  2018), 21

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