We hear a lot about those who identify as spiritual but not religious. These are people who have given up on organized religion and yet still have sense of spirituality, may believe in some god(s) or may even believe in the Christian God. This is becoming more and more popular as people are increasingly suspicious of institutional authority.
What is interesting is that I have encountered a number of people who could be described as religious but not spiritual. These are people who see value in religion and religious institutions but do not consider themselves spiritual or do not believe in God. They may see the church as helpful for promoting morality or for building a sense of community. There are even a number of pastors who continue to be employed in local churches even though they publicly deny the existence of God. I presume they see more value in church than just a pay check. We are starting to see some of this among some more recent atheists. Some atheists have rediscovered the power of religion and some have started an atheist church. In some ways this is nothing new, as a good number of people who attend Unitarian churches identify as atheists. This is strange to me in that one of the few benefits that I saw when I became an atheist was that I no longer had to attend church.
What does all this mean? We can see that there is a trend for people to see value in spirituality. There is also a trend to see value in religion/church. The problem is that people do not necessarily see those two concepts as related. Prayer and meditation may be great for spirituality, but church is seen as irrelevant. Church is great for community, beautiful liturgy and moral teaching, but not necessarily spirituality. There is a great need to bridge this gap. People need to see that both religion and spirituality are important and that they are closely connected. It is the job of Christian leaders and laypeople to expose the myth that these are so different and mutually exclusive.