Spiritual Design Thinking: A Culturally and Technologically Informed Model of Spiritual Formation for the Silicon Valley


Youwan Kang

Publication Date



In this research, I present the argument for a new culturally relevant, technologically informed, and spiritually attuned model of spiritual formation based on how church-going technology end-users in Silicon Valley utilized technology to express their spiritual formation practices. The Triple Revolutions of the Internet, social media networks, and mobile technologies created disruptive changes across the global cultural context. The Internet altered how people accessed news and information, while social media networks changed how people connected with one another, and mobile technologies became an integral and vital extension of people’s lives. These changes also introduced unintended consequences to one’s personal, communal, and spiritual sense of identity.

This research sought to wrestle with the spiritual implications of the “high tech and high touch” tension that existed between technology and spiritual formation within the cultural context of Silicon Valley and its church-going technology end-users. Interviews with select end-users sought to identify common spiritual practices as well as technology utilization in spiritual formation. Five positive themes of convenience, overcoming constraints, connectivity (to people and ideas), curiosity that comes from personal passions, and convictions that flow from a deep sense of personal calling emerged from the data while four negative themes of distractions, increase to the pace of life, boredom/dissatisfaction, and over-dependence on technology also emerged. Most notably, there was an absence of any mention from the field research of church programs and leaders who encouraged the use of technology in their spiritual formation practices.

Design thinking was ultimately chosen as a theoretical framework because of how it was cultural, technologically, and spiritual informed. It addressed the cultural issues identified in the literature review of a global cultural context that was highly connected and highly participatory in nature. It also addressed the technological trends identified in the field research that revealed how church-going technology end-users increasingly utilized the Internet, social media networks, and mobile technologies into their spiritual formation practices. It also addressed the unique spiritual context of Silicon Valley in which end-users utilized technology to express their spiritual formation practices without guidance or direction from churches or pastors.

Mentor: Ryan Bolger, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Missiology (DMiss)

First Advisor

Bolger, Ryan K.

Document Type



Mountain View Chinese Christian Church (Mountain View, Calif.); Spiritual formation; Internet; Social media; Technology; Wearable computers


Missions and World Christianity


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