Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth through Online Education, By Stephen D. Lowe and Mary E. Lowe alt

Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age

Spiritual Growth through Online Education

by Stephen D. Lowe and Mary E. Lowe

Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age
  • Length: 250 pages
  • Published: June 19, 2018
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 8743
  • ISBN: 9780830887439

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Technological innovation has changed nearly everything about human life, including how we teach and learn.

Many Christian professors and institutions have embraced new technologies, especially online education. But as followers of Jesus Christ, we face the same call to grow in our faith. So how should we think about and approach Christian education in light of new technologies? Is it possible for us to grow spiritually through our digital communities?

Steve Lowe and Mary Lowe, longtime proponents of online education, trace the motif of spiritual growth through Scripture and consider how students and professors alike might foster digital ecologies in which spiritual growth—even transformation—can take place.

IVP Instructor Resources available.

"Can spiritual formation take place through disembodied online education? Ecologies of Faith answers this question by developing a biblically informed approach to interconnectivity of human relationships that foster spiritual formation. Building on research in the social sciences, the authors illustrate that digital communities can provide an ecology of spiritual connection and growth. This book is a must-read for educators and administrators who are concerned about Christian formation in a digital age."

Mark A. Maddix, dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego

"When I began teaching seminary in 1996, we offered no online courses or programs; today nearly half of our student course load is online. Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age provides a much-needed theological framework for those of us trying to understand spirituality in our 'brave new digital world.' I have known Steve and Mary Lowe for about twenty-five years and have watched their thinking blossom and reach maturity; I look forward to learning much from them about the ecology of spiritual formation!"

R. J. Gore Jr., professor of Systematic Theology and Ministry, dean of Erskine Theological Seminary

"Online and other forms of distance education are growing rapidly in Christian higher education and leaders and teachers in these settings rightly wonder about the opportunities or loss of opportunities for spiritual formation in these formats. Stephen and Mary Lowe provide us with a thoughtful and challenging 'ecological' model of spiritual growth to consider, exploring its presence in Scripture and potential benefit for thinking about and carrying out online teaching in ways that can promote reciprocal spiritual growth as we are mutually connected with Christ. This book is helping me think in new ways about how we can grow together spiritually, even when we are apart, and it has potential benefit for both Christian higher education and mission and local ministry settings. If you are involved in online teaching or ministry, it's a must-read."

Kevin E. Lawson, professor of educational studies, editor of the Christian Education Journal, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"Mary Lowe and Stephen Lowe have long been trailblazers in the work of online theological education. In this volume they bring together their passion for spiritual formation, faithful pedagogy, and online learning. Those who doubt if these things can be brought together will find a well-informed, illuminating, and creative apologetic for faith formation in a digital age. Theological educators and students will be challenged, helped, and encouraged by the work of Mary Lowe and Stephen Lowe. It is a privilege to recommend this fine volume."

David S. Dockery, president of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Theological education is so much bigger than what happens in the classroom. In our increasingly interconnected world we're just now beginning to realize how much that truth impacts every aspect of teaching and learning. Nowhere is that more important than online. This rich resource helps distance educators think about their work less as information download and more as sowers of seed, cultivating and nurturing both soil and plant in a holistic ecosystem of transformative learning."

Mindi Thompson, associate professor and director of distance education at Abilene Christian University's Graduate School of Theology, president of the ACCESS Association of Christian Distance Educators

"This is a thorough and insightful depiction of the potential for online learning to promote significant transformation in the lives of your learners. If your institution is looking into the future of spiritual formation in digital worlds, this book will be instrumental in guiding you."

Lorne Oke, executive director at the Center for Learning and Innovation, Indiana Wesleyan University

"In this ubiquitously connected and networked age, Steve Lowe and Mary Lowe have offered a thought provoking, ecological perspective of spiritual formation and how we grow as Christians. Their ecology-of-faith model can provide keen insight to providers of Christian, online education and may contribute to meaningful conversations regarding how the mission of Christian education aligns with online delivery. I believe this is a must-read!"

Kaye Shelton, associate professor of educational leadership at Lamar University

"For doubters of Christian distance education, I recommend this book; it may discredit some myths about online learning. If you are already practicing online learning, this book will challenge you to see the interconnection of elements and people in your courses."

Berlin Fang, Dialogismos, 2 (2017)

"A theologically-rich resource for faculty and administrators, this work provides the necessary theological underpinning of online education and the spiritual formation possible therein."

Bryce Ashlin-Mayo, International Journal of Christianity & Education



Part 1: A Biblical Theology of Ecology
1. God’s Garden Ecology
2. The Ecological Motif in Scripture
3. The Ecological Power of Parables
4. The Ecology of the Body of Christ

Part 2: Spiritual Formation Through Digital Ecologies
5. Growing Together Online
6. Designing Learning Ecologies
7. Digital Ecologies Across the Digital Landscape
8. Social Networks and the Power of Reciprocal Influence
Part 3: Ecological Connections to Christ and Community
9. Ecological Connection to Christ
10. Ecological Connections to Christians
11. Ecological Interactions with Other Christians
12. Ecological Sanctification
13. Thinking Ecologically About Spiritual Growth

Author Index
Subject Index


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Stephen D. Lowe

Stephen D. Lowe (PhD, Michigan State University) is graduate chair of doctoral programs and professor of Christian education at Rawlings School of Divinity at Liberty University.

Mary E. Lowe

Mary E. Lowe (EdD, Nova Southeastern University) is associate dean for online programs and professor at Rawlings School of Divinity at Liberty University.