Digital technology and the importance of spiritual disciplines for young people

Dr Vo was first introduced to Langham Partnership by a lecturer at the seminary he was studying at, over 10 years ago. Once he had completed his Masters of Theology, and was about to embark on his PhD, Dr Vo applied for a Langham Scholarship in October of 2017. 

“I was granted a scholarship in October 2018 and this is when I joined the Langham scholarship program. I met with my mentor from Langham regularly and joined two Christmas events with Langham in 2018 and 2019 and a workshop in Oxford for Langham scholars for about three days in 2019,” Dr Vo shared.

He completed his PhD at the University of Aberdeen in the UK and was supported by Langham during this process. For Dr Vo, Langham has supported his journey through his PhD studies in the areas of finance, guidance, mentoring and by providing a network of scholars to meet and interact with. 

With the support of Langham, Dr Vo has been able to undertake academic work such as teaching and writing, in addition to his ministry work.

In mid-2023, he was able to publish his thesis as a book titled Digital Media and Youth Discipleship through Langham Literature. 

The book serves as an in-depth study of both social and theological insight into discipling youth through the digital age. It offers a Christian perspective and response to the current and changing landscape of digital technology. 

The blurb on the book says:

Today’s youth grow up immersed in digital technology. This presents a unique challenge to the church as it seeks to faithfully make disciples of the next generation. What does it look like – theologically and practically – to minister contextually to those whose lives are permeated by social media and digital culture?

In this in-depth study, Dr Vo offers both social and theological insight into the task of discipling youth in the digital age. He examines the impact of digital media on both society and young people and offers an overview of Christian responses to the changing technological landscape. Engaging such authors as John Calvin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Henri Nouwen, he develops a constructive theology of spiritual formation relevant to the context of twenty-first century youth. He explores the implications of this theology on church practice, urging the church to take seriously its call to be all things for all people. 

Drawing specific examples from youth ministry in Southeast Asia, he addresses practical questions of application and contextualization and suggests that silence, solitude, and prayer are spiritual disciplines uniquely vital for the digital age. This book is an important resource for all those involved in discipling young people and longing to see today’s youth come to fullness of life in Christ.

Prior to studying theology, Dr Vo was trained in the field of information technology (IT) and worked in the industry for eight years. He said he’s always found digital technology fascinating. During this time, he was ministering to youth and saw how they interacted with digital technology and their attraction and struggle with it. 

“I encountered some youth who are addicted to online gaming and others who went online to get attention from others. I found that digital media can be a window to reach out to youth who are lonely in cyberspace,” he explained.

“However, in my home region of Southeast Asia, the church has not built a theology for discipling youth in the digital age. It seems that the church either has missed the importance of media in the life of the youth or does not know what to do about it. My ministry experience and the need of the church prompted me to think theologically of how to disciple youth in the digital age,” he continued. 

Currently, Dr Vo is working part-time for the Youth Department of an evangelical church and for the Bible Society teaching two subjects: Foundations for Youth Ministry and Christian Ethics for a program called “Certificate for Youth Ministry”. He also gets to preach regularly to adults and youth from various churches and is a member of the Lausanne Theology Working Group.

Learn more about the Digital Media and Youth Discipleship book here.

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