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Spirituality vs. Church

A trend that just won't go away.

Old news is not interesting. Unless it keeps repeating itself. And then, like a defective CD that keeps sticking at the same place, it's time to do something.

An article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune announces:

Here's the steeple; open the door, and where are the young people?

A survey finds that many youths draw a line between being spiritual and participating in an organized religion.

The story is based on the release of a survey conducted by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute, in which nearly 7,000 people were queried about their attitudes towards religion and spirituality.

"Spirituality is bigger than religion," said Peter Benson a co-directors of the Institute's Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence. "One of the things we have to focus on now is disentangling spiritual development from religious development."

And this Colorado Springs, in a story about a new congregation called Amplify Church:

The church also ignores traditional Christian rites and rituals in favor of an ultracasual atmosphere. It's just young adults with Bibles, hanging out to rap about their faith.

"Churches have become corporations," [The Rev. Dan] MacFadyen said. "We are trying to take away the corporate baggage and be real."

Being real apparently amounts to meeting in a bar, sitting "at bar tables in near darkness while blinking lights bathed the musicians in bright hues," "where Miller Lite and Budweiser posters, not crosses, hang on the walls," and where the pastor is "forgoing suit and tie in favor of worn jeans, sandals and T-shirt."

Again, not much new or creative here, and yet it speaks to an ongoing distrust among many people (and not just youth) of the church. Then again, we know from other stories, there is a counter-movement towards traditional churches with rich and even complex liturgies.

Actually both movements–away from mere religion and toward liturgy–may be driven by the same thing, something the Minneapolis survey tries to quantify: "The good news for faith communities is that 93 percent of the young people surveyed believe there is a spiritual aspect to life."

Despite rumors to the contrary, we don't live in a secular age. People remain hungry to know God. To me it is silliness to abandon the rich history and tradition of the church. At the same time, it is foolishness for churches to carp at the shallowness of so much spiritual searching.

Posted:November 11, 2008 at 9:53AM
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