What’s More Important: Spiritual Introspection or Spiritual Community?
A Vibrant Spiritual Faith Looks Inward and Shares Outward
I have a Sunday morning routine. This gives me structure to how I start my day, and it provides me with the best opportunity to make it be a great one. Aside from attending to the normal needs of life, there are two parts to my Sunday morning practice.
Between waking and heading off to church, I spend an hour or two each Sunday morning writing. But this isn’t just any writing. It’s writing about God, the Bible, and church. And that writing ends up as a post on this blog. For the past several years, I wrote ninety-five percent of everything you’ve read here on Sunday morning.
Some days this writing time feels a bit too much like work, but most times it flows with effortless joy. But every Sunday, the effort draws me closer to God. It’s great preparation for what happens next.
Then I segue into the second part of my Sunday morning routine. I go to church. Unlike writing, however, sometimes I enjoy this experience and other times I don’t. Sometimes it draws me to God and other times not so much. The biggest value of church for me, however, is in connecting with other people before and after the service. Church is about community.
In simple terms, the two aspects of my Sunday morning routine are spiritual introspection and spiritual community.
When I write about God, the Bible, and church, it’s a time of deep contemplation about these three topics, what they mean to me, and how they might connect with others. Spiritually and intellectually this is a time when insights develop, hopefully with Holy Spirit guidance. It’s a time when God helps me take raw thoughts and move them toward clarity. And I get to share it with you here.
I relish this time of introspection. It’s personally rewarding, both comforting and confronting. Often this stands as the spiritual highlight of my week. And as an introvert, it’s tempting to stay in this place, just God and me, with no one else to distract us or pierce my time of connection with the Almighty.
But spiritual introspection is also an isolating experience. It can be lonely. This isn’t to imply that a relationship with God isn’t enough, but he created us for community. And this isn’t just community with him; it’s also community with the other people he created.
That’s why it’s important I then move into the next phase of my Sunday morning routine. I go to church.
Church means different things to different people: an obligation, a habit that they’d feel guilty breaking, a chance to partake in Holy Communion, an opportunity to praise God and worship him, and a time to learn more about God, the Bible, and faith. It’s been all these things to me at one time or another.
However, the one thing missing from this list is community. I wonder if community isn’t the real point of going to church—the ultimate reason to be there. The music and message have value, but I think they stand in second place behind community.
Our Sunday morning community should look up to God and look out to others. He created us for this: to be in relationship with him and in relationship with others. He never intended for us to pursue life alone but with others: with him and with other people at our side.
Spiritual Introspection Can Fuel Spiritual Community
Though my time a spiritual introspection occurs in isolation, it’s not meant for me alone. Yes, I share the insights God gives me with you on this website, but I feel it’s even more important that I appropriately share it with others in person.
When is the time to share it with other people?
It’s when I’m in community with them. This is where we can enjoy meaningful, spiritual interaction, such as before and after church on Sunday morning. (Of course, it can happen other times as well, but we must be intentional in forming these times and open to opportunities as they present themselves.)
This, however, doesn’t mean I need to spew forth by blog post to everyone I see. But this doesn’t mean that the words God gives me are just for me alone. Instead, I need to be alert for appropriate opportunities to share what he reveals to me to others who might benefit from it. My Sunday morning routine starts with a focus on God, which helps me to better share with others. Click To Tweet
Fortunately, this is not for me to determine alone. All I need to do is listen and obey the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit. When I do this, it makes the time of community with others more meaningful and deeper. And when this happens, it enhances the community we all need. My Sunday morning routine starts with a focus on God, which helps me to better share with others.
Of course, we shouldn’t just look for times to share our insights with other people. We should seek to connect with them in other ways, too. We can pray for one another, we can share our joys and burdens, and we can simply enjoy each other’s presence. This is the community God created us to crave and that we need to move into.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.