People “hate” church but still love religion and spirituality

Ordained Minister Rabbi Priest challenges to keep Church ministry thrivingThis is such a paradox, yet we all know the feeling, don’t we? You still believe in God and most aspects of your religion, still have faith, but you despise going to church or synagogue.  You are reluctant to go perhaps because either you’re so exhausted from trying to keep up with the culture-techno-information age “activities” and “entertainments” OR because church is so old-fashioned / gossipy / politics / boring / hokey — take your pick. Also for some of us, the theology and teachings just don’t inspire as much as they did our ancestors. Have movies spoiled us? Do we need updated myths and spiritual stories — more inclusive ones? I personally believe, as most of you know, that the absence of the Divine Feminine, of God-the-Mother, is part of the problem, but that’s another post.

I know that as an Ordained Minister, Rabbi, priest or other clergy we should pay attention to this unchurched phenomenon so we can still reach the people who want to work / worship / learn with us. They are all still out there, just not showing up to brick and mortar buildings anymore. Our alternative clergy who receive ordination from us here have many kinds of ministries and churches, including online churches, in order to connect with people.

There is a Free Webinar on this topic April 15 which I plan to “attend” / view. I urge all of you ordained clergy just starting out to sign up also:

Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith

Webinar Overview:

After devoting a lifetime to their churches,they’re walking away.

Why?

Sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope reveal the results of a
major study about the exodus from the American church. And what they’ve
discovered may surprise you…

Church refugees aren’t who you’d expect. Among those scrambling for the exits
are the church’s staunchest supporters and leaders. Leaving the church
doesn’t mean abandoning the faith. Some who are done with church report
they’ve never felt spiritually stronger.

Training Objectives [ for the ordained ]

•        Learn what prompted a study of the dechurched?
•        Get background on how was the study conducted and what hypotheses were confirmed or challenged in the process?
•        Discover any consistent themes that came out of the study?

If you can’t make the webinar time be sure to register anyways, we’ll send
you a link of the recording to watch afterwards. You’ll also
get a special offer on the book Church Refugees.

Webinar will be approximately 50 minutes in length.

 

Is God Genderless? Is there a God the Mother and God the Father?

God the Mother Genderless Holy Spirit is Female
God the Mother as part of the Trinity on a church ceiling in Urschalling Germany

My seminary friends and I were discussing God-the-Father and God-the-Mother existing as one step down from the Absolute, an Ultimate deity (in the Wisdom Traditions called “The Monad”) who is beyond gender, even beyond/above Creation.

Wikipedia articles give Christian and Jewish opinions:

 

  1. Gender of God in Christianity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_God_in_Christianity

“the majority of Christian denominations (with the notable exception of Mormonism) accept a God who transcends gender.”

  1. Gender of God in Judaism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_God_in_Judaism

“’ G-d has no body, no genitalia, therefore the very idea that G-d is male or female is patently absurd. We refer to G-d using masculine terms simply for convenience’s sake, because Hebrew has no neutral gender; G-d is no more male than a table is.’”

Believers in the Divine don’t need Cosmic Answers

Thought-provoking line I just read in a news article:

I am not smart enough to argue with those that cling to disbelief. Centuries of philosophers have made better arguments than I could, and I am comfortable with just pointing in their direction if an acquaintance insists, “If there is a God, then why [insert atrocity]?” For me, belief didn’t come after I had the answer to that question. Belief came when I stopped needing the answer.

From Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian by AnaMarie Cox.

Every human has probably asked the so-called ultimate questions, “Why are we here?”, and “Why does God allow suffering?”, “Why doesn’t God show him/herself?”

When we stop needing the answer — ’cause we’re simply never gonna get the answer — is the only time we can relax and just believe, just get to work. Some “believers” become spiritual workers. They work as a spiritual guide and/or spiritual helper for others. Some “believers” are quiet advocates working behind the scenes thru prayer and meditation. Others do nothing other than live their life as an example of how allowing your spiritual side to develop brings ultimate happiness in life.

Why be spiritually retarded? You work on your mental and physical self, why ignore the other third, the spiritual? I think a lot depends on how a person is wired. Some people naturally gravitate toward developing their spiritual third just like many athletes develop their body first and foremost, and scientists develop their mind / mental capacity more.  Most people I work with in my field of religion and spirituality are spiritual-mental dominant with their physical health and fitness, developing their body, coming third.  A few are mental-spiritual dominant instead of spiritual-mental (with the physical coming third). Of course we all know many people who are physical-mental dominant or mental-physical with their spiritual third coming in last. That is the great majority of humanity, I think.  I have not yet met anyone who perfectly balances all three.

I’ve heard that Tibet is the most spiritual “country” in the world. Tibet has the highest concentration of ordinary people devoting their lives to religious life, becoming priests and nuns. I put country in quotes since China annexed them and Tibet sadly no longer exists, but that’s another story.

Various Interfaith Minister Manuals and Resources

We have been recommending to all our ordained ministers the Interfaith Minister Manual by Angela Plum for decades. But it is harder to get lately, so I ordered these to see if I like ’em:

Get Ordained a Minister Rabbi Pastor Priest Interfaith1. The Interfaith Worship Manual by Rev. Stephanie Rutt. This manual includes a wide variety of interfaith worship services from Reverend Stephanie Rutt’s extensive repertoire. They span many faith traditions and cover musings on inspiring individuals as well as major holiday celebrations. Also included are guidelines for creating sacred spaces and for developing and facilitating meaningful interfaith worship experiences.

2. The Interfaith Prayer Book “…immensely popular for use both at interfaith gatherings and for personal reflection, having found its way into hospitals, motel rooms and college classrooms as well as places of worship all around the world. A selection of prayers from six religious traditions; Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Bahá’í. This Expanded Edition adds prayers from eight additional traditions; Native African, Native American, Zoroastrian, Taoist, Confucian, Shinto, Jain and Sikh.

3. The Interfaith Alternative: Embracing Spiritual Diversity  “Whatever your spiritual path, chances are that the primary tenets of your faith include universal love, acceptance, and compassion. Yet three thousand years after Moses, twenty-five hundred years after the Buddha, two thousand years after Jesus, and fifteen hundred years after Muhammad, we are still divided by our differences. Religious intolerance, discrimination, even persecution and violence make up the not-so-golden rule.

The Interfaith Alternative shows us how we can celebrate each other without fear of losing our own identity. It illuminates the path to creating a nurturing spiritual community that honors and includes all religious languages.”

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4. I am about to order this book because although it is not a minister manual, it looks to be an excellent resource, How to Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook

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We encourage all our ordained clergy to share any ceremonies they have created.

If you are not yet ordained, and have heard the Call to become ordained, we would be glad to have you in our interfaith, multi-faith community of clergy. Read the easy steps to ordination. This is not an online ordination, but distance ordination and we have been ordaining clergy of all faiths since 1987.