Spiritual Formation in Online Higher Education Communities: Nurturing Spirituality in Christian Higher Education Online Degree Programs

From: Volume 7, Issue 2: Fall 2010, Spiritual Formation and Christian Education Pages 423-434


Spiritual formation is one of the recognized benchmarks of higher education that is Christian. A communal commitment to spiritual formation is indeed part of the Christian higher education community's DNA, and is in fact reflected in the criteria for accreditation in both the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). However, as many Christian institutions of higher education begin to engage in online instruction, even offering entire degree programs online, how can they affirm their campus's commitment to the spiritual formation of students? This article addresses the question of providing intentional Christian nurture toward spiritual formation in online degree programs. The aim of the article is to inform participants of the challenges and opportunities for student spiritual formation in online degree programs so as to better equip participants to develop Christian nurture initiatives for online students from an informed perspective. To do so the article includes two parts: (a) the development of a theoretical matrix for online spiritual formation, based principally on precedent literature and the experience of the two authors; and (b) a survey of actual Christian nurture and spiritual formation models specifically designed for online programs.



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