Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Pastoral Leadership


Martin Luther University College

First Advisor

Dr Kristine Lund

Advisor Role

Advisor; co-ordinator


The adoption of social media has been suggested to contribute to a syncretic behavior in emerging adults. The rate of innovation and change that occurred in the church during the Reformation, concurrent with the rise of the printing press, is similar to the rate of cultural change occurring today; a primary missional challenge of the Christian church is to incarnate the gospel in the digital world. While much research has been conducted on the effects of social media in a variety of demographics and its unintended consequences, limited research has examined the impact of social media on the religious and spiritual beliefs of emerging adults in a Canadian context. A qualitative, inductive study of emerging adults explores how social media potentially disrupts, promotes, or interacts with their religious and spiritual belief. The study notes the gap that is created between those who have a hunger for spirituality and an openness to organized religion and faith communities that are viewed as neither resource or environment for questioning and exploration. In this study, all participants connectedness through social media emboldened their healthy questioning and critical understandings which, in turn, impacted their worldview. The study notes that theology is no longer centralized but rather generated in a co-operative way and the importance for faith communities to create, or recreate, an environment akin to a medieval village green. This will provide some context for Canadian faith communities to think through how to shift behaviors to deal appropriately with social media and online interaction while tending to the spiritual and religious needs of their people in addition to helping said faith communities navigate how to apply traditional rules to new technologies. The study outcomes are expected to contribute to the field of pastoral leadership by adding to the developing conversation about our changing contexts and how faith communities might engage a particular and vital demographic amidst rapid social and technological change.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season