SPI 516 Beyond the Traditional: Ministry with Unaffiliated, Spiritually Independent People

Faculty: Janice L. Lundy, D.Min., M.P.C (Profile)


The Pew Religious Landscape Survey of 2014 opened our eyes to the world’s rapidly changing religious landscape. It informed us that a growing number of individuals were choosing to opt out of traditional religious forms and expressions, 23% of people surveyed, in fact. Today the number of those who claim to be religiously unaffiliated has grown to 28%. As numbers continue to climb, not just in the U.S., but worldwide, individuals are finding new ways and forms through which to live out their deepest beliefs and values.

This course will explore the world’s changing religious landscape through an interfaith lens, deciphering what these changes mean to all of us, and to you specifically as a ministry professional. We will see how these developments are cross-cultural and inter-religious. With the help of current ethnographic research, including that of Elizabeth Drescher (Choosing Our Religion, 2016), Duane Bidwell (When One Religion Isn’t Enough, 2019), the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and the Fetzer Foundation, we will gain insights into the minds and hearts of those who identify themselves in new ways. We will go beyond the initial identification of such individuals by the Pew Survey as “Spiritual but Not Religious”, “None” or “Unaffiliated” to acknowledge more current and expanded expressions used today, including being “Spiritually Independent”, “Multiply Religious” and “Spiritually Fluid.” We will explore what it means to have “complex religious bonds” and “multiple belonging” in an era of globalism. Most importantly, we will be invited to assess any biases we may have toward others who are choosing to identify themselves in new ways, thereby honoring their unique call to live well and on purpose.

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