11 Aug Your Spiritual…Type
Spirituality is intensely personal. Well, “ duh.” Of course it is, you might be thinking. What we often fail to consider, however, is that while the personal nature of faith is rather obvious, the implications are not. Educators have long made us aware that learning does not happen in the same way for everyone. Some people are visual learners, some auditory, some tactile, just to name a few of the various ways we process information. These different approaches to learning are usually innate, and while we can broaden our learning spectrum over time with practice, we often remain “ hard-wired” to prefer one particular method over another.
Spiritually speaking, Urban T. Holmes, has identified four primary types of spirituality, four ways people connect with God. The first type centers on theological reflection. These are folks who love to study—study the Bible and concepts such as the Incarnation, God’s love, or ethical issues. A small group Bible study would greatly appeal to folks who best experience God through theological reflection. The second type is geared for a more emotive, charismatic expression of spirituality. Their way to God is less focused on the rational mind than on the experience of the heart. They bring warmth, enthusiasm and energy to the religious expression of the community. The third type is the most mystical. This group desires union with God. The gift of this type is an inspirational and uplifting spirituality that challenges others to be totally open to God. Contemplative forms of prayer are a primary spiritual discipline of this group. The fourth type is focused on action.Service is their spiritual language.For them, prayer, theology and action are one. They have a passion for transforming society and a relentless commitment to the causes that help bring about that transformation.
Identifying these spiritual types is not meant to box us into a given category. While most of us will have a primary type, we may well connect to God at various times through any of the four. I have discovered that recognizing the different types of spirituality has helped me appreciate the gifts that each type offers. The church is healthiest and strongest when the community celebrates the various perspectives, needs and abilities that the four types bring.
Remembering that spirituality is personal and that the pews are filled with folks who connect to God differently, has significant implications for our community life together. For starters, it is essential to create opportunities for everyone to experience God and share their gifts in meaningful ways. It means paying attention to things like silence in worship (do we have any?), different styles of music or prayer, and how we invite and include people in the community—do we make room for their particular spiritual expressions or do we expect them to conform to ours? One of the most powerful things we can do is to articulate the truth that every person is infinitely valuable and precious, every spiritual language important, and that we
appreciate what we learn from one another and how that helps us grow. Yes, spirituality is intensely personal. But it’s not meant to be solely private. We need one another to truly know God
Yours for the Kingdom,