New Wine Collective

The Future of Spirituality

Disclaimer: This spirituality type diagram is a synthesis of several others I have seen throughout the years. It is, of course, based on broad-stroke generalizations and not meant to be exhaustive or conclusive.

  • Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your HEART and with all your SOUL and with all your MIND and with all your STRENGTH.” (Mark 12:30) In other words, we are meant to love God with ALL of who we are: heart, soul, mind, and strength or vigor (perhaps an expression of embodied spirituality?).

  • Each spiritual style has both strengths and weaknesses, insights and gaps in understanding. Each type reflects a different yet valuable way of relating to God. The corners represent each spirituality type in unhealthy excess or extreme.

  • Depending on how we are wired as individuals, we usually "major" in or gravitate towards one or two spirituality types, as do local churches. Having a focus is helpful and often necessary. However, we must remember that the thing we are focusing on is not the full picture. All churches, traditions, and denominations are merely parts of a much larger whole.

  • If we were lucky, we had access to a tradition that practiced spirituality in a way that resonated with us. However, many of us were not so fortunate! We may be wired for a heart-centered charismatic spirituality, but have only known church to be heady and scholastic. Or, we may be wired to express our faith through tangible service to others but have only known churches that prefer gathered worship. In either case, we would have found it difficult to connect with God at church!

  • The colorful tangle of lines at the center represents what an authentic spiritual journey often looks like. We have different needs in different seasons or sometimes many at the same time. We may start out in one tradition but find ourselves in another later in life. What most of us need is the freedom to explore a more fluid, holistic, and integrated approach to spirituality.

  • Though we may have a style preference, just like a healthy human body, we need all parts working together in harmony. In fact, some of the most significant spiritual growth happens when we open ourselves to new ways of knowing and relating to God. For example:

    • Scholastics might lean into the humility of the mystic tradition to access our more intuitive and experiential knowing.
    • Mystics might lean into the grounding of the scholastic tradition to draw us out beyond our inner, subjective experience.
    • Charismatics might lean into the prophetic tradition so that we may practice expressing love outwardly towards the needs of others.
    • Prophets might lean into the charismatic tradition in order to fuel our sense of justice with love and compassion.
  • One problem with the current "business model" of most churches and institutions is that their viability usually depends on keeping people loyal to their brand. It can tempt leaders to keep people dependent on them and even discourage genuine spiritual exploration. At its worst, this scarcity-based model encourages competition and territorialism, not unity.

  • It is possible for some healthy leaders and churches to resist these tendencies but in general, power and control too often become the dominant operating system in organized religion. As a result, many of us raised in churches have been programmed for "us vs. them" thinking, and to be suspicious of anything new or different. No wonder we have so much division and exclusion in the Church!

  • Until we reexamine the structures that are keeping us and our churches dis-integrated and disconnected, we will never become the mature Body of Christ we were meant to be.

  • We need a more flexible open architecture for church, a unitive spirituality that empowers people to grow and learn from a diversity of voices, cultures, and traditions. Why settle for only one part, when we can embrace the whole Body of Christ?

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the WHOLE body, joined and held together by EVERY supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as EACH PART does its work. (Colossians 3:15-16)

What is your spiritual background? What different traditions and spirituality styles have you encountered on your journey, and how have they impacted you?

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