Today’s blog explores the current state of organized religion in its decline, the resulting grief and the solution to the spiritually starving people!
Five years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a salon discussion hosted by the Wisconsin Council of Churches. In attendance were fifty men and women representing fifty different religious denominations. My two colleagues and I were the sole representatives of the Roman Catholic persuasion. In the eight hours that we were together, all fifty participants agreed with these unanimous observations:
- Organized religion as we have known it is dying
- People are starving for spiritual nourishment
Seeking a Solution
After coming to this consensus, the challenge now was, “How do we respond to these truths?” Again, the response was unanimous (well, almost):
- Doh! (of the Homer Simpson variety)
In other words, the vast majority of the participants, facilitator included, had no idea whatsoever as to how to respond to the real truth of what was happening in their churches. They did not know how to respond to the death and they did not know how to respond to the hunger. Ok, the answer to the death is an easy one: grief counseling! The answer to the hunger is a little more complicated!
Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!
This is where I wanted to jump up and down like Horshack from the 70’s sitcom, Welcome Back Kotter, with my arm up in the air and scream, “Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! I know the answer to this question!!!!!!! You see, for the past 17+ years, I have been providing an effective response to this reality. In a nutshell, the answer is:
- Spiritual Formation
Now before you go all, “I don’t want to hear about a bunch of religious crap!” Spiritual Formation has nothing to do with religion!!!!! While Spiritual Formation can be effectively accomplished within the setting of religious institutions, (hint hint….struggling churches) in truth, it transcends religion as well as beliefs. Spiritual Formation is about YOU! Spiritual Formation is the process through which we come to know ourselves more fully and in coming to know ourselves, coming to know that which some call “God.” Through sound Spiritual Formation we come to recognize the things within us that prevent us from freely and openly living as our most authentic selves – men and women of compassion, peace and joy. We find tools for effectively healing and giving release to these inner blocks. We grow in understanding of our own unique giftedness and we find ways to share these gifts in the world. Sound Spiritual Formation provides us with the tools we need for establishing a foundation of contentment, joy, fulfillment and wholeness in our lives. This is what people UNIVERSALLY hunger for.
Spiritual Formation in the Christian Context
The good news is that effective tools for sound Spiritual Formation have been part of the Christian tradition for 2000+ years. (ANOTHER NOTE: Spiritual Formation IS NOT the Catechism or any other vehicle for imparting doctrine!!!!!) These tools have been cultivated and preserved primarily by the men and women in Christian religious orders (Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, etc). The challenge is that these tools have not been readily available to lay people (those of us who sit in the pews) and even more challenging is that these tools were set aside by the Protestant churches as part of the Protestant Reformation. While work has begun to rediscover and reclaim these tools, few have found an effective way to disseminate this information to churches and/or their people.
Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!
Ok, so I don’t mean to brag……but I know how to do this! And, I know how to do this effectively. Between the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation ie: adult confirmation) program that I facilitated at the Catholic Campus Ministry in Oshkosh for 8 years and the curriculum that I have developed in Spiritual Formation for Adults that I now share in the “secular” world, I know how to do this! So…..to all those churches out there who are looking for an effective way to feed the spiritual hunger of their people….PICK ME! (nothing wrong with a little shameless self-promotion, right!?) And for those who are no longer affiliated with an organized church but are still hungering for spiritual nourishment…..HERE I AM!
Authentic Freedom Ministries
PS If you want to learn more about the programs and services in Spiritual Formation that I offer, click on the corresponding tabs on my website! Spiritual Formation can be accomplished one-on-one and in a group or retreat setting. Or, call me or email to learn more! (920) 230-1313 email@example.com