The Next American Spirituality

October 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, News

nextGallup and Jones examine a 24 hour observation of how America does Biblical spirituality, using the gathered data to analyze its shift and direction. According to their survey, the marks of the next American spirituality are:
1. Bull-market spirituality
2. Religion of me and thee
3. Hunger for experience
4. Search of roots amid the relativism
5. Quest for community

In my present context of ministry all of the above signs are evident to extend. This is due on hand to the constant shift in the cultural paradigm, as well as the obvious shift in the identity and practices of the Christian church in the postmodern context. In same aspects, it almost seems like instead of being the model, the church is following a model, which not only changes the churches identity but interferes with its original evangelistic goal and global mission. It is also true that in some of the cases, where the church is expected to give answer to a dilemma or an issue it searches for the answer from the surrounding culture, economy and practices, thus underestimating its own spiritual abilities, gifts and resources.

Bull-market spirituality
a. Source: Rapid development of 20th century economy and its direct implication in the present consumerism culture.
b. Positive results on the church: The church observes and implements market management to improve its existence as a serving community.
c. Negative results on the church: Church members, expect to only receive from the church without giving to the church. The church focuses more on its management than on its mission.
d. Effect on the secular community: Occasional visitors and secular observers expect even better service from the church, using its inability to satisfy their caprices as an excuse for a personal lifestyle.
e. Effect on the discipleship process: Since the church has become a market for one’s spirituality traditional discipleship is hindering the model since it brings definite requirements and commitments.

Religion of me and thee
a. Source: Consumerism culture has enviably led to a self-centered society where everything must occur in subjection to the self.
b. Positive results on the church: The church focuses on its internal dilemmas and problems, investing in their solutions through further development and growth.
c. Negative results on the church: The church operates on insufficient time when the care for the community “outside the gate” is concerned, thus becoming a self-centered, centralized community.
d. Effect on the secular community: Naturally the existence of the community is distanced from the mission of the church.
e. Effect on the discipleship process: The discipleship process struggles to exist in such church context, since by its very nature it is a self-development process that purposes to enrich the community more than the self.

Hunger for experience
a. Source: Postmodernism denies all modern developments and discoveries as existentially important claiming the need for a newer, fresher and more powerful experience.
b. Positive results on the church: The church has an opportunity to become a beacon to the community and to offer the true existential experience – Biblical salvation.
c. Negative results on the church: Because there is a lack of understanding that the Pentecostal experience is what the postmodern world is looking for, the church misses the opportunity to fulfill its role.
d. Effect on the secular community: The secular community has an opportunity to equalize its search with the Christian experience.
e. Effect on the discipleship process: There is a definite search for experience; however, it is not rooted in theology.

Search of roots amid the relativism
a. Source: Rapid development of 20th century modernism has led to a postmodern questioning and search for newer experience and identity.
b. Positive results on the church: The church has an opportunity to present its spiritual roots and heritage as an identity source for the searching.
c. Negative results on the church: The church is unable to offer its spiritual roots and heritage since it has neither lost them nor has lost its ability to manifest them. Thus, roots are claimed but not practiced.
d. Effect on the secular community: The secular community struggles with the dilemma of obtaining spirituality and identity without understating its roots and history.
e. Effect on the discipleship process: The discipleship process is effective only when rooted in the spiritual heritage of the Christian church.

Quest for community
a. Source: The postmodern questioning of values and loss of identity results in a search for belonginess.
b. Positive results on the church: Naturally, the church can offer community to the ones in search for belonginess.
c. Negative results on the church: The church is unable to offer community, since it has lost its since and structure of being a Biblical community.
d. Effect on the secular community: The secular community can become part of the ecclesial community thus obtaining its identity and values.
e. Effect on the discipleship process: Discipleship reaches its ultimate results.

Prayer, Fasting and Spirituality

June 15, 2004 by  
Filed under News

Nearly seven out of ten (69%) of the surveyed Bulgarians strongly affirm the expectation that the Bulgarian Church is a prayer center. In contrast, only 17% believe that prayer should be the primary function of the church.

Prayer
One out of two unchurched Bulgarians do not see a connection between prayer and spirituality.
One out of two church members affirm prayer and home groups as priority ministries for the church.
Every second church member prays twice or more daily
One out of four (25.53%) church members do not pray in the morning, noon nor evening, but do pray every day at another appointed time
Every fourth (25.5 %) church member has no set time for prayer.

Fasting
40% do not fast
24% fast sometimes
18% fast once or twice weekly
18% fast more than two days per week

Spirituality is defined by church members as:
Walking in the Spirit (40%)
Closeness to God (31%)
Operating under the gifts of the Spirit (11%)
Love toward neighbor (10%)
Works of faith (5%)
Care for widows and orphans (2%)
Humbleness (1%)
None of the surveyed, defines spirituality as resulting from prayer and fasting or standing under persecutions