Mission to and with the ‘Spiritual Not Religious’ a dialogical approach

Whether we like it or not national social surveys appear to indicate that many of the ‘non-and-de-churched’ people now call themselves “spiritual” but not religious (SNR). About a fifth of people in the UK fit into this category, according to Prof Michael King from University College London.[1]

The challenge then is how to respond to these missional needs in culturally appropriate ways, a matter I am researching as part of a PhD research study.  As part of this, and also to develop mission to the ‘Spiritual Not Religious’ we have been piloting a dialogical approach which we have called ‘SearchingSoul’ and used the popular MeetUp App to promote 4 groups in various parts of London.[2]

These groups are designed as generous spaces to allow people to explore spirituality on a monthly theme, where everyone has space to talk about their insights and experience, as many spiritual seekers like the opportunity to explore and engage with the issue of spirituality.  We are careful to ensure that there are no Christians present other than the facilitators, to ensure that the event gives space for the SNR to really open up and build trust.  Typically SNR people begin with a negative stereotype that religion and in particular Christianity is a form of fundamentalism and thought control.   We have been running the groups now for over a year, and in time people break down these negative stereotypes, and as we know from the Fresh Expressions initiative, all mission must be deeply relational and begins with building up relationships of integrity.  We now have groups in Peckham, Borough, Kingston and the City that meet in pubs and bars and we are looking to set up new groups in the Diocese.  So far a few have gone on to explore Christianity – taking a particularly contemplative spiritual practices approach to exploring the faith.

This whole approach is about mission being Gods, and for us getting out of the way of God and seeking to catch up with what God is doing, in the belief that the Holy Spirit is constantly unsettling every person to the reality of God the Trinity in the face of Jesus Christ. f you are interested in getting a SearchingSoul group going in your locality get in contact mailto:ian.mobsby@southwark.anglican.org or facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/579336342436523/

Ian Mobsby , Woolwich Area Mission Enabler


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20888141

[2] For example https://www.meetup.com/SearchingSoul-Vauxhall-Borough/

Published by

Will Cookson

Dean of Fresh Expressions in Diocese of Southwark. Interested in faith, culture, new ways of being church. Married to lovely Angie. 4 fab daughters.

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