As we finish up recruiting surveys for the Renewal Works Program, I hope the congregation can see the amazing opportunity which lays before it. Never has there been an anonymous survey like this one in the church before. Never will such a remarkable test-baseline have been established. Never have people been asked their opinion with such openness and welcome of all perspectives even without fear of being told we are wrong. Many churches might shy away from such profound vulnerability and transparency but not our cathedral!. Our new Chapter and our Dean want to know how people feel about their own spiritual formation on many levels; and though no survey pleases everyone, this one is tried, true and tested.
I find it amazing that when people join a gym, they submit to a study to see where their health and fitness is so that they can determine what muscles and systems need work. When I was Vice President of the YMCA in my late 20s I was always inspired as I entered the corporate offices because I had to pass through the flagship branch and saw men and women working hard to improve upper body strength or cardio strength or to do rehab on an injured part of their body with the gentle and firm counsel of a fitness instructor or coach.
But when it comes to our soul, we tend to simply show up and go home and show up and go home. Don’t get me wrong. Showing up is wonderful and I am thrilled so many people still show up to church in this age of the “spiritual but not religious.” But if we did that with our bodies, then we would simply walk into a YMCA, sit in pews, listen to the testimonials of those who have found fitness through the ages, sing hymns about fitness, take a sip from a water bottle, a bite of a power-bar, have a cup of coffee together and leave with every intention to show up again next sunday to repeat the process with 1/3 showing up on Wednesday for a workout and a very few other working spirituality out at home.
The spiritual life is not about worship, but it involves it. The spiritual life is not about study but benefits by it. The spiritual life is not about prayer but is informed and encouraged by it. The spiritual life is not about connection but is fed and sustained by it.
The spiritual life is an organic mix of many practices which, when put together and adjusted to various strengths and weaknesses, will light up one’s life and bring a healthy, visible spiritual and human glow to the practitioners and to an often dark world. And when we become sick with grief, betrayal, sadness, loss or spiritual boredom, our workouts will have so contributed to our wellness that the illness is brief and un-invasive just as a healthy, fit body is able to withstand substantial illness and bounce right back when it has been inclined to fitness and practices which maintain its strength and vigor.
We are trying to help the congregation, but we need the congregation to hep us to help it. If you have done the Renewal Works Survey, then thank you and encourage others in an email today. If not, then please do it before the end of Wednesday. That 20 minutes will contribute to everyone’s wellness inside and outside our church.