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November 13, 2004

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Thanks for referencing my post on this. FYI I wrote a bit more a little later. http://nouslife.blogspot.com/2004/11/spirituality-but-not-church.html

I think it's a pretty important topic. The churches have oodles of 'expertise' in spirituality and mysticism but we've smothered it or marginalised it just at the time when we should be pulling it out and sharing tresaures old and new. Our difficulty, frequently, is that we want people to go through the four spiritual laws or whatever before we think that they could look into this stuff. I reckon we should just teach it and watch out for meaningful connections with Christ thorugh the Spirit to show up as we do so.

Jesus related to people spiritually directly, there wasn't a mediation through some spiritual induction programme. we need to regain the confidence to just do the stuff and be around to encourage and nurture in people what God does when we offer the treaures.

A supernatural church does not lose people to faux "spirituality." Considering how little of the Holy Spirit is present in today's church meetings, though, we should not be surprised that people are looking elsewhere.

Don't we remember all the power encounters that people had in Acts? Didn't those encounters bring people into the Church in droves? What happened to us that we are so bereft of the Spirit of God?

Just look where the Church is growing: In the Second and Third World--where charismatic churches are growing so quickly they can hardly be charted. But in the anti-supernatural Western churches, there is nothing. DP, you had written on TheOoze that evangelical churches were growing worldwide, but that's not purely the case. Pentecostal churches are growing like wild, but other "evangelical" churches around the world are not experiencing the same growth or are losing folks to the charismatic churches.

As to "spirituality," that's the old lie from the Garden and leads only to death. If people don't find their path to God by Christ alone (through the cross, repentence and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus) then they are on the broad way to destruction. We in the Church have also forgotten this truth and no longer tend to proclaim it to the lost. We took it from a place where it broke strong men and made it like butter so no one was offended by it. Again, that is entirely the fault of our churches and their leadership.

We only have ourselves to blame.

Hmmm? People are obviously looking elsewhere and finding answers in other things. According to the graph, we (the church) aren't as effective as alternative spiritual practices. Yikes.

All the more reason to press the church to be "salt and light" even more than we are. Those "spiritual seekers" are not going to walk through your church door looking for answers. "Get out of your pews, get beyond the four walls of your meeting place and out to the marketplace!" Time to turn the tide. Let us (the church) make some positive adjustments to the graph above!

Anybody with me on this?

I'm with you, Matt!

Our world has yet to see disciples of Jesus who really live like disciples of Jesus. When they do...

Let it be so!

For a GREAT treat, rent or buy Heavens Above with Peter Sellers. An Anglican Vicar, he shakes things up in a rich neighborhood when he lives like and teaches others to live like Jesus. Phenomenal!

You can get it at Amazon

Also at BlockBuster

~ Keith

this is an excellent post ... and it is a very real topic that effects all of us ... i wanted to make a few comments of my own ...

you said: "IN THE beginning there was the Church. And people liked to dress up in their best clothes and go there on Sundays and they praised the Lord and it was good."

i said: actually ... in the beginning believers were the church they didn't GO to a church

you said: "Study after study appears to prove that people are increasingly losing faith in the Church and the Bible and turning instead to mysticism"

i said: i don't see these as being mutually exclusive in church history or in scripture. chr'n mysticism is far more normative than any saddle/creek/brownsville/toronto theology can ever be ...

you said: "this week that older people should be offered t’ai chi classes on the NHS to promote their physical and mental well being."

i said: why is that be so bad? clearly rev. martin luther king took the theology of ghandi and redeemed for african americans why can't we redeem the 'goodness' within t'ai chi for our physical well being? similarly many great church hymns were redeemed from bar songs ... i don't think i fully understood this point ...

DLE said: "charismatic churches are growing so quickly they can hardly be charted"

i said: i wonder how you define 'growing' dr. bill bright's words still linger 'no organization on the planet is adequately fulfilling the second half of the great commission ~ 'the make disciples' ~ mandate... it seems that ‘by growing wild’ you mean people gather . . . hear a message and respond initially ... i would argue that is not the nt definition of growth . . . (didn’t someone say something about fruit remaining?) the nt appears to be speaking more about ‘spiritual formation’ when it speaks of growth not merely ‘head-count’ . . .

******* THIS WAS AN EXCELLENT POST (Thanks!) *************

Go with you on the Heavens Above film Keith! Though the fate of the vicar is not to be envied -Bishop of Outer Space!
DAvid; love the point about MLK! I hope to have occasion to pass on that particular way of making the point sometime.
Tai Ch'i began as warm up exercises for palace guards about to do their karate training. In my view the spiritual philosophy that is often associated with it and worried ovber by Xns is a later 'aetology'. We can replace it. That's the idea behind Xhi Qi -a kind of Christianised version. Similarly with Tarot which started as standard playing cards with *Christian* symbols, we could use them, as John Drane suggests, as a kind of visual introduction to 'spiritual direction'some of which could be initial; ie evangelisitic.

Wrt true spirituality will attract; well yes and no. Clearly the apostle Paul felt that there were strongholds of resistance to the gospel which presumably were preventing more people from responding ... I certainly see that in England where there is a stronghold of culutral prejudice against the Gospel or the forms of church that are attempting to share the gospel. And try being a missionary in a Muslim culture ... sometimes we have to sow a lot before reaping can take place. Some areas of western culture are in breaking up the ground and maybe sowing mode at the moment.

Yes, me and my husband and kids live in the middle of England's second city, Birmingham, a very denseley populated multi-racial city. Our area seems to be about 75% Muslim.
I really believe we need to live amongst those we want to reach (although we are just for all the people here, not just the Muslims), but it is lonely, and we atr tired, as most of the Christians that could make a difference prefer to live in the suburbs.
I have been here since '86... don't know how much longer we can stick it- unless some people get the vision about being salt and light in the heart of this city.

I wrote: "charismatic churches are growing so quickly they can hardly be charted"

david said: "i wonder how you define 'growing'"

Not in the United States, but you go to Africa, Asia, and Latin America and by every definition of the word "growing" those churches--mostly charismatic--are experiencing growth on the level seen by the first century church. Do a little Googling and you'll find all the statistics you need.

I am going to say that 80% of American "Christians" do not truly have Christ in their lives. That is why you see so many leaving the Church and seeking joy in other places. They have never experienced the joy of being in Christ.

DLE said: "charismatic churches are growing so quickly they can hardly be charted"

I wrote:"i wonder how you define 'growing'"

DLE said: "Not in the United States, but you go to Africa, Asia, and Latin America and by every definition of the word "growing" those churches"

i wonder if that's true ... to best perfectly honest i have doubts about the quality of the data gathered relative to church growth globally or otherwise ... i am unaware of any 'independent' data gathering means or results ... the reports of this data have an inherant 'conflict of interest' on the parts of the 'reports' so to speak ...

additionally, i am also doubtful of the growth relative to depth as in spiritual practices ... study, prayer, meditation, fasting, reflection, etc... dr. bright's words still linger for me ... 'no organization on the planet is adequately fulfilling the second half of the great commission ... 'go and make disciples'

::: peace <><

First of all, thanks for the post and the thoughts.

It is dreadful and unsurprising news, this trend. We have so soft-pedaled and diluted our praise of Almighty God with psycho-babble and political correctness that the church has lost its confidence and its voice(s).

I pray for those that put more stock in horoscopes than the Bible, but that is the times in a nutshell, isn't it.

Thanks, again.

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