How can we be spiritually relevant to a dying religion?

here-is-the-church-color-4Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and where are all the people?

Remember that little finger game we used to play as children? Fold your hands together, fingers entwined, with your index fingers making the steeple and your thumbs forming the door. The first time you play, you fold your fingers on the outside of your fist and when the door opens “there are no people.”

In my own church, as in many mainline Christian churches throughout the first world, the first part of the game is the picture of the modern church. There is a sadness among the elders who built the churches and saw them brimming with children and adults every Sunday morning. There is fear that their children and grandchildren will not know and understand “the faith of their fathers/mothers,” which the great songs proclaim.

I, too, have been challenged by this uncomfortable reality. Now as I move into a career path of spiritual direction, I seek in what I read and hear, to find my relationship to the declining church both as a person of faith and as a person who accompanies others in their faith walk. Recently, in my search for answers, I’ve found solace in the words of ancient and modern mystics. They encourage me to believe that God is not dead. “SHe” is just moving out of the traditional church.

Diana Butler Bass, author of Christianity After Religion, writes in her new book, Grounded, “… people believe, but they believe differently than they once did. The theological ground is moving; a spiritual revolution is afoot.”

At a recent gathering of Jubilee leaders, the founder, Don Grayston, challenged us to find answers to tough questions which included, “Who is Jesus?” and “What is our relationship, as spiritual directors, to the declining church?” The challenge for us and for the church is looming large.

While preparing a sermon in December, I ran across words in the Hebrew scriptures which help me understand this shift in a way that takes out some of the sting and fear for me.

This is the brand-new covenant … I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow…
Jeremiah 31: 32-34 (The Message)

I know for me, faith and my view of God have been evolving for many years. I believe this evolution of light and spiritual mystery is something for everyone to seek.

May this revolution of the spirit bring peace and joy to many.

Written by Peggy Guiler-Delahunt, Communications for the Ontario Jubilee Program. If you have any questions or comments about this blog, email Peggy at

The Jubilee Programs offer training in spiritual direction, spiritual growth and soul development. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee