Following on the discussion of people liking Jesus and not liking the church, my experience is also that people consider themselves ‘spiritual,’ but not ‘religious.’ Spiritual is a good thing, religious is not. I know what they mean and feel. Spirituality is the raw experience, the relationship with that which we call God. Religion is how we practice it. Spirituality is the real thing, religion is the human-made construct we use to follow it. Religion should always be subservient to the spirituality it is trying to nurture. This relationship has a tendency to turn itself upsidedown, however.
The problem is that without ‘religion’ (i.e. some form of organized pattern of nurturing and sharing that which is spiritual) ‘spirituality’ suffers. In fact what I find is that most people who consider themselves to be spiritual, but not religious have an UnFocused, UnConnected and UnCommitted spirituality. And consequentially an immature spirituality. Those 3 words are very important.
This provides a church with a lens through which to examine what it offers and what it seeks to accomplish.
- Can we help people focus what they call spiritual? While we have to make sure our God is big enough, we don’t benefit from approaching God like a buffet line. “I’ll take a little of this and a little of that in my god.”
- Likewise can we connect people together on their spiritual journeys? We can’t do it alone. We weren’t meant to. We need to learn from and teach each other. We need encouragement and accountability.
- Can we offer meaningful, relevant commitment. Not like becoming due paying members of a club, but we grow when we “run the race with perseverance that was set before us.” (Hebrews 12.1) Contrary to what many people are saying, younger generations arenot unwilling to make commitments. (I know a 26 year old who just took on a 40 year mortgage!) They just want to make sure what they are committing to is worth their investment. Commitment to spiritual growth makes it happen.
We are all spiritual beings, and finding focus, connection and experiencing the benefit of commitment to what we value above all other things is like a cool drink to a parched and thirsty life.
Good post… I agree with your assessment of those who are “spiritual” but not “religious” – most of the time anyway. The commitment part is what I notice the most… not to a church, but to the living-out of their faith. It usually comes and goes, like a stomach ache. Not what Jesus expected from true disciples…