Spiritual Home and Wholistic Spirituality

People often come to me and say some version, “I can’t stand XYZ… why do we do this?” Almost always whatever XYZ happens to be is something that someone else loves so much they come and ask me, “why can’t we make everyone do XYZ?”  I usually want to introduce person A to person B and say, “have you met?” 

We are all fed in different ways.  We make meaning in different ways.  We express ourselves in different ways.  And we almost always imagine everyone else is fed, does meaning-making, and should express themselves the same as we do.  But they don’t.   Learning this is really important.  It helps us in so many different ways.  I’ve said before I had to learn to parent each of my children differently.  They are not all the same kid… so I can’t be the same parent to them.  My values are the same, and the values I wish to nurture in them are the same – but they respond differently to different stimuli so I can’t be a one trick pony.

And frankly… that is true of everything we do.  We cannot be all things to all people – but we do need to learn how to express ourselves in ways that meet people where they are, in ways that they connect to… and that’s true of the music we sing and play, the themes we preach and teach, and the service we will out in our life together. 

And we also have to give ourselves permission not to like something… without condemning it – because it just may be perfect for your neighbor.  This is what I find helpful about various personality “tests” – which I prefer to call tools.  They aren’t predictive of all we do and say and shouldn’t be used in such ways… but they can be reflective tools to understand why we like/resonate with some things, and dislike/disconnect from other things.  They can provide insight.  They can offer grace – or help you to offer it to yourself. 

With this said… for those who are interested, I’d like to offer this Spiritual home tool.  (If this isn’t your thing… great! This blog post / newsletter article ends, here – thanks for coming!)

This exercise comes from a book by Corine Ware called “Discover Your Spiritual Type.”  You need a piece of paper and on it draw a circle with the following four quadrants:

In Corine’s book she has you do this exercise for yourself, and then also for your preception of your church as a whole.

For each of the following questions draw a spoke (on the wheel) in the quadrant corresponding to the answer number for each question.  So if you on the first question your answer is number 2, you will draw one spoke in quadrant 2 of your circle…. You will use this circle later.  Now… the questions from Corine Ware’s book:

The Order of Worship

  1. A carefully planned and orderly worship program is a glory to God.
  2. A deeply moving and spontaneous meeting is a glory to God.
  3. Simplicity and some silence are important elements needed for worship.
  4. It is not a service, but ordering ourselves to God’s service that is important.

Time

  1. Stick to announced beginning and ending times of worship services.
  2. It is important to extend the meeting time if one feels led to do so.
  3. All time is God’s time.  A sense of timelessness is important.
  4. Gather whenever and for as long as you need to accomplish the task.

Prayer

  1. Words express poetic praise; we ask for knowledge and guidance.
  2. Let words and feelings evoke God’s presence in this moment.
  3. Empty the mind of distractions and simply be in the presence of the holy.
  4. My life and my work are my prayer.

Music

  1. Music and text express praise to God and belief about God.
  2. Singing warms and unites us and expresses the soul’s deepest heart.
  3. Chant and tone bring the soul to quietness and union with God.
  4. Songs can mobilize and inspire to greater effort and dedication.

Preaching

  1. The word of God, rightly proclaimed, is the centerpiece of worship.
  2. The gospel, movingly preached, is the power of God to change lives.
  3. Proclamation is heard when the Spirit of God speaks to the inward heart.
  4. What we do is “preaching” and speaks louder than anything we say.

Emphasis

  1. A central purpose is that we fulfill our vocation (calling) in the world.
  2. A central purpose is that we learn to walk in holiness with the Lord.
  3. A central purpose is that we be one with the creator.
  4. A central purpose is that we obey God’s will completely.

Support of Causes

(If necessary, circle the words and pick the categories with the most circles.)

  1. Support seminaries, publishing houses, scholarship, preaching to others.
  2. Support evangelism, missions, spreading the word on television and radio.
  3. Support places of retreat, spiritual direction, liturgical reform.
  4. Support political action to establish justice in society and its institutions.

Criticism

  1. Sometimes I/we are said to be too intellectual, dogmatic, and “dry.”
  2. Sometimes I/we are said to be too emotional, dogmatic, and anti-intellectual.
  3. Sometimes I/we are said to be escaping from the world and are not being realistic.
  4. Sometimes I/we are said to have tunnel vision and to be too moralistic.

Dominating Themes

(If necessary, circle the words and pick the categories with the most circles.)

  1. Discernment, discipline, knowledge, order, grace, justification.
  2. Love, conversion, witness, spontaneity, sanctification.
  3. Poverty, humility, wisdom, letting go, transcendence.
  4. Simplicity, purity of heart, action, temperance, obedience, martyrdom.

Member Criteria

What the congregation believes is necessary, who you believe is necessary.

  1. Assent to doctrine; baptism; endorsement by group.
  2. A personal inward experience of God, baptism; public declaration.
  3. All who face Godward are incorporated in the holy.
  4. Solidarity with humankind is membership in God’s kingdom.

Ritual and Liturgy

  1. Ritual and liturgy evoke memory and presence, teaching traditional truths.
  2. Liturgy and ritual ceremonies are not of great importance.
  3. Ritual and liturgy are ways in which God becomes present to us.
  4. Ritual and liturgyare one way we make statements about inner conviction.

Concept of God

  1. God is revealed in Scripture, sacrament, and in Jesus Christ and his cross.
  2. I can feel that God is real and that Christ lives in my heart.
  3. God is mystery and can be grasped for, but no completely known.
  4. We participate in the mystery of God when we become creators with God in the world.

After you have all the responses now look at the following chart and make the necessary notations to what each of the different pie pieces on their chart mean.

Read the following basic descriptions of the four “pie pieces” in the chart, or the four types of spirituality and which ones correspond to you:

  • Thinking – people of this type enjoy sermons, lectures and study.  They experience God primarily in thought about God and seeking knowledge of who God is.  Their growing edge tends to be enjoyment of God, and the danger of the thinker is allowing the ideas of/about God to replace God.  They tend to come towards wholeness when aware of the limits of logical thinking about God and appreciate the mystery of God
  • Feeling –people of this type experience God through their emotions and what they know of God comes out of their feelings.  The weakness to this type is a need that others have the same “heart warming” experience of God and the growing edge is to find God’s will in the ordinary stuff of life, and being obeying God in the doing.
  • Being – people of this type are most comfortable just being with God absent from needs of thought or feeling: “to be still and know that I am God (psalm 46).”  Their weakness tends to be sense of pious advanced spirituality over the thinker or feeler, and a desire to stay in the state of contemplation all the time.  Their growing edge is using intellect to appreciate how God uses other people, and also to being more ordinary and less special by pushing towards being contemplatives in action.
  • Doing – people of this type have a “kingdom spirituality”.  They want to do things for the kingdom of God and have a passion for transforming society and social justice.  Their weakness may be a lack of deeper faith development and being superficial in their actions.  Their growing edge is engagement of spiritual formation and prayer to get in touch with their feelings separate from the need to do.

The words outside the circle explain what happens if we live solely in one type of spirituality and so “hang out” on the outside of the circle.  The hope for each of us is to be pulled by Christ and our community of faith into the center of the circle where we engage in holistic spirituality, here the being person can engage as well in thinking, doing and feeling – just as those people can engage in their opposing and adjoining spiritual types.  However, in times of stress we may find the need to reside solely in our “spiritual home”.  This is good and right, but the question always remains and it always does: how do we open ourselves up to Christ’s invitation to come back to whole-ness? And how do we foster gratitude to others whose spiritual home lies outside our own and whose holy friendship helps us to see a wider and deeper world of imagination and love?

About Andrew Kukla

I am the proud father of four wonderful children, loving husband to Caroline, brother to three mostly wonderful sisters, and son of two parents that gifted me with a foundation of love and freedom. I also am a Presbyterian pastor and former philosophy major with a love of too many words (written with many grammatical errors and parenthetic thoughts), Soren Kierkegaard, and reflections on living a life of discipleship that is open to all the challenges, ups and downs, brokenness and grace, of a chaotic and wonderful life founded upon the love of God for all of creation.

Posted on October 20, 2021, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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