Drive-Thru Spirituality

Provocative, but simple, thought from Richard Foster's most recent CT article that is worth contemplating:
We have in our churches a "hurry sickness." Many of our people are adrenaline addicts, and the overall spirit of our day is one of climb and push and shove, of noise and hurry and crowds. But spiritual formation work simply does not occur in a hurry. It is never a quick-fix deal. Patient, time-consuming care is always the hallmark of spiritual formation work.

Can you identify?

Foster is not even talking about the general hurriedness of our daily lives. He's talking about church and church leadership culture. I know from experience that his description is on target. In fact, this idea of "drive-thru spirituality" is explicitly promoted in the youth ministry in which I previously served. Being responsible for writing the daily devotional curriculum for the high school students, I encountered explicit directions from the leadership to keep things as quick and simple as possible. "We want as many students as possible to get into God's Word every day. If they have to read a bunch of stuff [a couple of short paragraphs and a handful of questions], you'll lose them." The youth director himself, who also contributed to the devotionals, saw two to three sentences as an ideal length for a Bible study devotional.

On a broader level, this particular ministry has consolidated all its primary weekly activities into a one night "one stop shop." Makes sense considering the pace of the typical big city suburban lifestyle (especially the students). Perhaps it's the best they can do given their circumstances. But is this good enough? Is true, lasting, transformative spiritual growth and connection with God possible in a drive-thru spirituality context? According to Foster (who is simply drawing from the spiritual giants of Christian history), no.

I realize this hits much too painfully close to home for most of us, myself included. It's easy to hide our true self in the pseudo-reality of the blogosphere, to pretend that we have it all together, to impress others with our breadth of knowledge and depth of insight. But perhaps blogs such as this can be places of reconciliation and healing—places where we come to terms with who and how we really are, let go of our pretenses, and humbly journey with one another toward Christ-likeness and kingdom living.
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On a related note, see Matt Perman's recent post discussing Peter Drucker's disapproval of multitasking. Very helpful reminder, again, of our finite humanity.

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