The Next American Spirituality
Gallup 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.
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.