Spiritual and not Religious?

Earlier post on a multi-generational church generated some discussion on and off of the blog. One of the things the 20’s and 30’s (and many other age groups, especially in this part of the world) often claim is the “spiritual but not religious” line… the “I meet God in a hike around the lake or surfing at the beach” crowd. Wait… I meet God there as well (surfing especially, as my last trip included a near-death experience – I was fine though, Dad!), and I think most people would consider times spent in nature as being spiritual experiences.

So how do we translate that to in the church? Surely we don’t need to have separate churches for each age group! An interesting article in Episcopal Cafe’s The Lead suggests some ideas to start churches down that path. As of a month from now, I will likely be on Parish Council at church (AGM/Vestry and elections are at the end of the month). They won’t know what/who hit them…

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6 thoughts on “Spiritual and not Religious?

  1. Such good discussions…

    I think I’ve had thoughts along the same lines…regarding translating “outside” experience into “church” experience.

    I wonder about what the purpose of church should be: Community? Teaching? Talking? Prayer? Healing? Singing? Reading?

    I keep getting hung up on things like:
    – Church runs right through coffee break time – 10:30
    – Church typically messes up kids nap and feeding times
    – We aren’t really comfortable having kids in “services”
    – We don’t talk enough during church – like asking questions, responding to ideas
    – I feel guilty when I just go, and don’t “do” anything
    – Attention span in adults = 20 minutes…what is with the 50 min lectures?
    – What should we do with our old, ugly, non-functional building?
    – If all people really want to do is talk (as evidenced by “greeting time”), why aren’t we doing that?

    I have questions. I want answers. I want to know people. I want to be known by people. I want to chew on (think about, evaluate, contemplate, judge) the things that make me uncomfortable about God and Jesus and the Bible.

    What is the purpose of church? What is it’s role here and now?

    How is the church supposed to work? What should that look like?

    I don’t think it is as complicated as we think it is. ( I do not think it means what you think it means – Inigo Montoya)

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. It has been nice to think about.

    Anna 🙂

    • And thank you for thinking about them and responding. It is so much better when it isn’t just me typing away from my computer in the basement. (I’m not actually in the basement, it just sounds more unibomber-loner if I say I am. I’m actually in the kitchen where I just pulled fresh bread out of the oven… more on that later.)

      A couple things jump immediately to mind and I can’t decide what to pick first…

      Unserious: 50 minute lectures?!? My dear, there is a good reason I am Anglican. Ten minutes. Fifteen at the most. Twenty if it is a guest who we really like.

      Serious: In a couple places, you ask about the purpose of church. I think that is the KEY. If we could just figure out what we are here for then what we are meant to be doing might become a whole lot clearer. Of course, we would still have all of that lovely stuff called “tradition” that would tie us to having our weekly gatherings, but that doesn’t have to be the full expression of what it means to be church. Paul talks about being all things to all people so that by any means he might save a few (1 Cor 9), but is that actually practical and what did he really mean there? OR – maybe we are taking that idea the wrong way and not really offering what is needed, just what we think or tradition dictates is needed. (I’m just thinking aloud here.)

      Semi-serious: I think we want/need some similar things from church. I would love to have an intentional community going, maybe not one that lives together, but one which is intentional about meeting together and knowing each other. You should move here and join it. 😉

  2. I guess I fall between both categories. It’s just that ‘religious’, to me, means all the extra stuff we’ve added around the basics of ‘God loves me and I’m trying to be the best that I can in my relationship with Him’. Things like ‘Church meets at 10:00 am every week. This is the order of service. These are the people who are allowed to do x, y, z.’ Or how to pray, when to pray, how to hear God, who’s a “good” theologian, Christian, etc. Some of these religious things are so much part of how I was taught about who God is that I don’t see them anymore. So that makes me religious, I suppose.

    I don’t mean that having a time when the service starts and/or ends or such things are bad. They ARE somewhat necessary, just for the sake of organizing. But… could you imagine if we did ‘church’ differently? Where the pastor would show up, people would walk in and listen. Some would be there from the beginning, others would come later, leave in the middle. When the preacher would be done, someone else would start to talk, etc. An all-day running service… how cool and crazy would that be?

    • …or if church was that we didn’t even bother to go to a building in the first place, but met on the street corner or the pub and engaged with the people around us rather than expecting them to come to us… 🙂

  3. I’m personally all for a church that meets at a pub, and not in the we’ve-transformed-this-heathen-space-on-a-Sunday-morning-because-we-can’t-afford-a-building sort of way but in the we’re-normal-people-who-like-pubs sort of way.

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