Sometimes people who do not come from a spiritual or faith-based background wonder if there is a place for them in organized religion. The term “spiritual but not religious,” is often used to identify such people. These are people who have a deep spiritual life who want to nurture that, but when they hear “church” or “organized religion,” they want to run the other way. Maybe you identify with that group. There are many reasons that someone is not attracted to or connected with an organized religion. For some, it is because in one way or another they have been wounded by organized religion.
- Some have had a hard and wrathful image of God presented to them as children or young adults, and that does not fit their belief in a loving God.
- Some have experienced some form of abuse, where leaders either looked the other way or were perpetrators of that abuse.
- Some have felt judged and isolated because they had questions and doubts, and they found organized religion was not a safe place to have questions or doubts.
- Some have felt unwelcome or unaccepted, because of their lifestyle, sexual orientation, work, or any number of other reasons.
- Some people may have simply never been exposed to church life or have drifted away.
I am very fortunate to be a part of a church community that values all people, no matter what “label” they place on themselves, or others place on them. We have people in church every Sunday who are “cradle” Christians, having grown up in the church their whole lives, who speak the “language” of the church, and who breath a faith-filled life. We have others who may not fully embrace or understand the traditional teachings of the church, yet who have found a community in the church that is safe, welcoming them as they are, and that gives them a place to belong and live a meaningful life. That adds a richness to our church that I value!
No matter what your background, beliefs, or experiences, I want people to connect with their spiritual side and to live full, authentic, joyful lives, that infuses every aspect of their lives. For each of us to live the fullest, most authentic life possible, I do believe that we need to connect with God, with the One who is over all. But what language you use to speak of that One, or even if you are not sure that there is a “God,” is ok. You do not have to use my language, or walk my path. It is through the Christian tradition that I am nurtured by a community and live out my faith. My belief in God, who is above all, is the foundation of my life. I do not, however, want to dictate what you have to believe. I honor you with all your experiences, and whatever faith tradition nurtures you, if any. I accept you as you are, with all your uniqueness, with all your questions, and with all your past.