Research from the book: "The spiritual revolution", Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead, Â£16.99
When sociological surveys are made of people religious affiliation it is usually delineated on the basis of denomination. This research in Kendal, was undertaken with a very different typology. From a population of 26,000 people they found 7% of people were involved in organised church religion, and they delineated the types of churches as follows:
1. Religion as Difference: (devotional) - God separate from us - God mediated through his church, and scriptures - Authority is external to us - Worshipping the transcendent God - Morality: is about the differences between us and God - Stresses reality of sin and need for redemption - Community: sees itself set apart, as the redeemed, tending towards separation.
2. Religion of Humanity: (social) - God approaches humanity, through incarnation, human reason and feeling. - Suspicious of authority, measuring it against human experience, and reason. - It looks around, with ethical concerns, into the poor, politics etc. - It tends to talk about the goodness of the world, even though it acknowledges sin. - It wants to embrace people in inclusivity - Goodness of work etc.
3. Spirituality of Life: (personal) - God is sought within, and all persons, and within nature - Notions of a higher self and better self - Authority is not in texts, but within your personal experience, and itâ€™s authenticity - Looking for spirituality that is at heart of all religions - Need to be liberated from your lower self, self liberation, shaped by culture with DIY groups
In terms of who was in which kind of church, they found that:
Religion of Difference: 18% Religion of Humanity: 55% Religion of Experiential Difference (this is a combination of 1&3): 21% Religion of Experiential Humanity ( a combination of 1&2): 6%
Whilst the overall picture was of decline, the one section of churches that were growing significantly where those of 'Experiential Difference', which are the predominantly conservative charismatic churches. They were/are combining moral spirituality with an experiential spirituality.
Outside of organised religion they could trace 1.6% of people involved in alternative spiritualities.
Now I had some questions for the research that they could only answer anecdotally, they were questions they (surprisingly) hadn't explored:
1. The growing churches: were they mostly from a migration of christians from other churches? The researches got the impression that yes, this was the case. 2. Alternative Spiritualities: were these mostly grown from ex church or current church people? Yes was the answer, most were run by women over 45, who seemed to have some church background.
Conlusion So whilst the research and book want to conclude that Britain is less secular and there is a growth of non organised spirituality, I see something very different.
1. Most christians are migrating to churches that sustain them as a minority such as charismatic evangelical. 2. Many are migrating outside the church, with the alternative spiritualities. 3. Most people, 90% have no interest in organised or un-organised spirituality.
Apparently the researchers took the time to go door to door, and found that working and middle class people admitted to never talking about spiritual issues, that they would never ask their partner/spouse about such things.
This research convinced me more than ever that the future of the church is not in constructing alternative spiritualities outside organised church (these are valid and will mostly help migrating christians), but that we must address the issue of a population that the new market state has produce a new religion for, a religion that provides a way of life, and a metaphysic of being, theocapitalism.
How do we convert people from theocapitalism to christianity?