(This article was excerpted from the BuildingChurchLeaders.com Training Theme Reaching Our Community)

"Growing numbers of Americans say they are spiritual but not religious," says Robert Wuthnow in After Heaven, his assessment of American spiritual development since 1950. It is a spirituality without truth or authority but filled with belief in the supernatural. It is a trend born of the modern fears of religion.

The church must echo Jesus' own powerful critique of religion and visibly demonstrate the difference between religion and the gospel. Two questions can help churches think about their core message:

1. Does our church communication clearly distinguish between religion and the gospel?

Jesus condemned self-justification through moral performance, at one point claiming that religion was more spiritually dangerous than overt immorality. Both traditional religion and the new spirituality are forms of self-salvation. The religious way of being our own savior leads us to keep God's laws, ...

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