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Lyle Kirk 31 Union Street Greenock PA16 8DD

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Scottish Charity No. SC010818


Rev Owen Derrick - Spiritual but not Religious

In today’s world, one could be forgiven for thinking that the vast majority of people have turned their backs completely on anything at all to do with God, or spirituality or any meaning to life beyond what we can know or experience.  However, I find that not to be the case.  Rather, I find that people generally accept that we each have a spiritual aspect to our lives, but that they are uninspired – or in some cases even completely put off – by what is (laughingly, if you know anything about the way the church works) called “organised religion”.  I frequently hear people confess to me that they are “spiritual, but not religious”.  For me, this is a strange distinction, but it is one that I understand and have some sympathy for.

Most people would regard me, in my role as Minister at Lyle Kirk, as a “religious leader” and, so far as I perform duties that maintain certain traditions and historical rituals, they are probably right.  However, I would rather see my role as that of “leader of a spiritual community”.  The distinction is an important one.

Religion is, first and foremost, about a series of rules and regulations, developed by its adherents to define the norms of life within that particular religious “club”.  These rules are the terms of membership of that club, and quite often, when people become zealous about those rules, that can spill over into a hyper-judgmentalism towards those not in the “club”.  Those who turn their back on “organised religion” are effectively rejecting that kind of religious behaviour.

Spirituality, on the other hand, seeks to deepen the relationship between the individual and God, and thereby to create a loving bond between individuals.  Rules and regulations don’t really apply because the fundamentals of spirituality are relational, nor regulatory.  People who become zealous about spirituality are more likely to become aware of their own brokenness and need for closer communion with God and others, than they are to beat up others who don’t follow their rules.

I firmly believe that Jesus did not set out to create a religion, but to call together a spiritual community.  It is my prayer that Lyle Kirk can more and more exemplify that kind of community.  If you are one of the “spiritual but not religious” people who has shied away from the church because of what you think goes on there, then I would welcome a conversation with you.  I think we might have something in common.