Here’s another way to view the SBNR phenomenon: religiously unaffiliated but spiritually engaged people are in fact encountering God in real human communities that don’t look like traditional congregations, so why not celebrate that?
Maybe the SBNR are pointing the way toward a different kind of church or a new kind of Christianity, if only those of us who still care about old denominations and traditions can receive the criticism of their absence and learn from it, even as it comes with a sting.
Kate Blanchard, who teaches religious studies, on the airplane conversation (and her own journey):
If all of this makes me boring to the confidently religious, I guess I can live with that. But I am actually quite fascinated by someone who takes the time to say, “I’m spiritual but not religious,” when they could simply have said, “Hmmm, interesting,” and put in their ear buds. It makes me feel less alone as I wander in my current religious wilderness. I am actually energized and encouraged by the quests of those who are seeking something true, even if they don’t know anything other than that it’s not religion.