In chapter 2, Powell looks at the current state of spirituality in America. Spirituality is still a priority to most people, so long as it is not religion. Spirituality becomes, then, a smorgasbord of beliefs and practices, with a person picking and choosing spiritual beliefs like they would pick and choose fried chicken over roast beef at the buffet.
And of course this happens within Christianity. Powell talks about how people choose church services or church programs based on their best “fit” for their needs, with people coming with the attitude “how will this be useful to me.”
He says that “spirituality is often cast in terms of self-fulfillment” (p22) and points to the psychological tradition of Carl Rogers which emphasizes “that each person must discover for and by himself or herself the sort of things that are truly good and fulfilling.” (p22).
Powell also points to M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled” which combines self-help psychology with self-help spirituality. He summarizes:
The purpose of Peck’s book is to indicate helpful tips for navigating the path toward spirituality. Nowhere in the book does Peck counsel the reader to seek out authorities such as pastors. Authoritative doctrine, church sacraments and rites, and other institutional artifacts do not even come into consideration as possible aids in becoming spiritual. Becoming spiritual is largely a matter of exercising certain practical disciplines and expanding one’s mental horizon. (p24)
Have we, the Church, fed into this mentality? Have we, with our seeker-sensitive models, encouraged people to see the Church and her practices as a buffet line that offers multiple choices to help us achieve “Your Best Life Now: 7 steps to Living at Your Full Potential?”
Could part of the problem be our shift to age-specific, gender-specific, lifestage-specific programs (youth, men’s, women’s, seniors’, moms and tots etc). What would happen if we formed more cross-generational, cross-gender, cross-lifestage groups so that the focus is not on how can the church serve me, but instead on making disciples?