This month’s book is called Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth Through Online Education by Stephen and Mary Lowe. Both authors are involved in furthering online education at Liberty University. The main focus of this book is how the study of ecology can help us to understand spiritual growth, and that this means growth does not only happen within the four walls of an institution. Their goal is not to justify online or residential education as the better alternative, but rather to combat the idea of “students cannot receive the same spiritual development online that they can receive at [our] institution” that seems to be prevalent in many Christian institutions. Continue reading “Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age: Spiritual Growth Through Online Education”
Sorry about the misleading title, but decided I needed to come up with something catchy.
In the book of Ephesians we find this statement from Paul, “He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, full mature adults, full developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love — like Christ in everything.” (Ephesians 4:10-15 MSG).
Paul is telling us a few things in the letter, but right here he is calling us to grow in our faith. It is enough for our salvation to accept Jesus Christ as our savior, but it isn’t enough for our lives and ministries. Yes, I said it, as Christians we all live a life of ministry. God passes unique gifts on to everyone to use, but if our mandate is life is to go and make new disciples (Matthew 28:19), isn’t that the main focus of ministry? So welcome to ministry my friends, it’s a blast! So how do we grow as Christians then? I believe it come in three different ways.
First, and most importantly, is worship. Worship is not just Sunday morning church. It is a lifestyle my friends. Worshiping God with your life means to give everything to Him, and do it all for His glory. You have to seek out a connection with the Father, not just simply believe in Him. This is what lead to the uprising of the new contemporary worship style. It’s main focus is to get worshipers to connect with God on a deep emotional level. Yes we all fall in love with the worship leader, the band, the lights, and all the flashy things, but truly we should be seeking to form a deep connection with God that gives Him glory.
Second, we grow through communion with other believers. Once again, not just church! Don’t get me wrong, church is a great place for all these things to happen, but if you are only seeking the Lord on Sunday mornings, are you really a believer? Other believers can be family, friends, fellow church-goers, coworkers, that hobo down the street, etc. We could be farther on our faith journey than they are, or vise versa. But if you have an honest conversation with any believer you will grow in your faith. I will also say this, being with other believers does not have to be face-to-face interactions. It could be reading someone’s book. I have grown a ton from some of the books I’ve read. It can be social media (just like this blog!) or some other type of medium where you can hear from other people.
The third way we grow is through study. I didn’t used to care very much about Bible study. But when I started to become a worship leader, I realized I didn’t know much of anything. So I went and got a degree in Biblical Studies, and now I say to you friends “Study the Scriptures!!!!!!” The Bible is the Word of God, it is the teachings of Christ, it is the best way for us to learn about God. The Bible is the way God chose to reveal Himself to the world. So why wouldn’t you study it?
So don’t just accept Christ and say your done. We all have growth to do. Paul is saying that we should never stop learning about God. We most definitely need to seek maturity and wisdom. These things come from God. The more we know Him, and spend time with Him, the more wise and mature we can become. So let’s get out there and keep learning, if for no other reason then to get to the the reason we have life!