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Photographs: Quinton playing at the playground

Showing off Showing off 3 Showing off 2 Quinton Quinton upside down Quinton swinging from the monkey bars Quinton swinging from monkey bars 2

The Nones & The Dones: The varied forms of ‘spiritual but not religious’

First, there were ‘The Nones,’1 Now, there are ‘The Dones.’ Thom Schultz provides the following definition of ‘The Dones’:

The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done. [Josh] Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place. Preventing an exodus is far easier than attempting to convince refugees to return.

For both ‘the nones’ and the ‘the dones’ spirituality is important. Yet, for both ‘the nones’ and ‘the dones’ the traditional religious expression/routine doesn’t quite work.

If you’re a ‘none’ or ‘done’ I’d be interested in hearing more about your experiences. In what ways have you felt spurned? In what ways has traditional religious experience proved inadequate? What does ‘spiritual but not religious’ mean to you? Why does this designation appeal to you?

  1. See: Linda Mercadante, James Emery White, David Kinnamen (Churchless and You Lost Me), et al.

Health and vitality in ministry

Another John Wesley quote. This one comes from a meeting he had with some of the Preachers of early Methodism. The conversation was about the ideal length of time to minister in one place. Wesley writes,

In the evening I talked largely with the Preachers, and showed them the hurt it did both to them and the people, for any one Preacher to stay six or eight weeks together in one place. Neither can he find matter for preaching every morning and evening, nor will the people come to hear him. Hence he grows cold by lying in bed, and so do the people. Whereas, if he never stays more than a fortnight together in one place, he may find matter enough, and the people will gladly hear him.1

Wesley clearly envisions itinerancy as the ideal. He believed that when the Methodist Preachers stayed in one place for more than two months, they were doing so at great risk to both themselves and the people to whom they were preaching.

Admittedly, I’m not quite sure what to make of Wesley’s statement. He was ministering in a different day. The ministry of the Preacher of early Methodism bears little resemblance to the ministry of the local church pastor of today.

That said, I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Do you agree with Wesley? Do you have an experience or two that suggests his caution to the Preachers was warranted? Is it possible to stay too long? Can stability and longevity in a particular place be good?

  1. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley: Volume 4, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 273.

Pescetarian fun: Salmon baked in foil, bake (sweet) potato & coffee roasted carrots

Carrots slow roasted on coffee beans

Carrots slow roasted on coffee beans

I’ve been vegetarian pescetarian since April 2013. The reasons for our diet are many. None of which are ethical or moral, although Crystal and I both now understand the ethical and moral arguments against our previously carnivorous diet.

It seems that many people think I/we only eat salads and, otherwise, boring food. Most of the meals that we eat in a given month are vegetarian––completely free of fish. (Very few of these meals are actually salad-only.) Occasionally, once every couple weeks or so, we’ll eat fish and/or seafood. Tonight, is an example of what I’d like to refer 2014-11-13 16.57.57to as ‘pescetarian fun.’ A friend dropped off a rather nice fillet of freshly caught salmon the other week. We halved the fillet, sharing part of it with friends, and saving the other half for a night such as tonight.

On the menu this evening is a salmon baked in foil (recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis), carrots slow-baked on coffee beans (recipe courtesy of Daniel Patterson, by way of Andrew Schloss on the Splendid Table), and baked (sweet) potato––the kids are having a baked white potato and I’m having a baked sweet potato.

Another tidbit of homiletical insight from John Wesley

Writing of yet another sermon he sat through, Wesley notes:

The sermon was very sensible; but having no application, was no way likely to awaken drowsy hearers.1


  1. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley: Volume 4, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 272.

Homiletical insight from John Wesley

On Monday, I’m to submit a rough draft of my chapter on John Wesley to my supervisor. The chapter traces the formation of Wesley’s ecclesiology, utilizing his sermons and journals. As I was looking over my notes and engaging the material by way of writing and editing, I came across a quote from Wesley’s journal. In the quote, he is reflecting on a sermon that he heard ealier in the day. He writes,

This very day I heard many excellent truths delivered in the kirk. But as there was no application, it was likely to do as much good as the singing of a lark.1

This brief statement is a gem of homiletical insight. Wesley astutely observed that a sermon can be true, theologically accurate, etc., and still not effect change. In other words, truth without application is ineffectual. It does not produce (lasting) change.

In your preaching, is your intended goal to inform or transform?


  1. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley: Volume 4, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 155.

Who are the ‘Spiritual But Not Religious?’ (Part 2)

As I mentioned in Part 1, this post is part of a series of posts stemming from a lecture that I recently attended at Juniata College. In Part 1 of the lecture, Dr. Linda Mercadante, author of Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious, guided the audience through various assumptions regarding SBNRs. She then discussed some ‘actual facts’ before proceeding to the findings and implications of her research––i.e., what I have termed ‘Part 2.’

What follows are my notes from Part 2 of her lecture. Read more

Who are the ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’? (Part 1)

That was the title of Dr. Linda Mercadante’s lecture, on 06 November 2014, at Juniata College. What follows are my notes from the first part of her lecture:

Facts about religion in America:

  • Decline in attendance, involvement and volunteerism.
  • Decline in belief and confidence.
  • Rapid rise in the unaffiliated, a.k.a. ‘the nones’.

‘Nones’ in 1972 equated to approximately 7% of the population. In 2010, that number rose to 18%. In 2014, it is estimate that 25%, or more, of the US population are ‘nones.’

Confidence in religion has experienced a dramatic decline, e.g. in 1975, 68% of the population expressed a high degree of confidence in religious institutions/leaders, whereas in 2011, only 48% of the population expressed a high degree of confidence in said institutions/leaders.

Unbelief is now the third largest religion in the world.

The rise of SBNRs is possibly the most dramatic religious, intellectual and cultural change since Christendom took root in Europe.

SBNRs aren’t relegated to a specific age group or generation. SBNRs span age groups and generational divides.

Common assumptions about SBNRs (by those who are not SBNRs):

  • They have experienced ‘religious distress.’
  • They are highly critical of religion.
  • Religious groups have not offered them good community.
  • Scandals, violence and politics have turned them off.

(Dr. Mercadante indicated that apart from the last point, these assumptions were  not representative of what she heard and observed as she did her research).

Unflattering stereotypes of SBNRs:

  • Salad bar approach to religion.
  • Angst-ridden.
  • Commitment phobic.
  • Want quick-fix spirituality.
  • Leisure class.
  • Not discriminating with regard to belief.

Possitive assumptions about SBNRs:

  • Real seekers
  • Left ‘dead’ religion behind.
  • Free thinkers/spirits.
  • Activists.
  • More ‘highly evolved’ spiritually.
  • Lash out against moral absolutism.

In the first half of the lecture, Dr. Mercadante addressed common beliefs regarding SBNRs and began to ‘set the record straight,’ so to speak. In the second half of the lecture, she explored such things as: facts about the SBNRs, types of SBNRs, commonly held beliefs of SBNRs, etc. In the days to come, I hope to post some notes and thoughts related to the second half of the lecture.

For now, I hope that this post, and the lecture notes that it contains, whets your appetite for that which is to come. So stay tuned…


Photograph: Last leaves of fall (as seen at dusk)

Last leaves of fall (as seen at dusk)

Photograph: Sunset in Pennsylvania