A cure for mile-wide and inch-deep religion (COMMENTARY)

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Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich

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CORVALLIS, Ore. (RNS) For this fresh day to last, church leaders will need to embrace a truth that too many congregations simply cannot hear: There is too much shallowness, not enough depth.

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  • Sean

    “There is too much shallowness, not enough depth”

    Oh, wait! there is a parable for that, ‘The wise and foolish builders’. 🙂

  • JinIN

    I really appreciate the reflections in this post. It resonates for me in my work with young adults. I’m challenged, though, where the ‘cure’ is. What does it look like “to move on to the deeper and more challenging issue of being a faith community in a troubled world.”?

  • Fran

    Everyone every day needs to repent because we are all I’m perfect and sinful persons. But because of the ransom sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus, who died as a perfect man, we are now able to ask God for forgiveness of those daily sins and receive forgiveness if we are truly repentant.

    The benefits of that ransom sacrifice will be applied to mankind during the upcoming millennial rule of God’s kingdom or heavenly government. At the end of that rule, sin and imperfection will be a thing of the past, mankind will be perfect and will finally live forever on earth (Psalm 37:29).

  • Fran

    “imperfect and sinful persons”, correcting my typo.

  • John Goddard

    As an intentionally trained interim of 14+ years in 9 different parishes this article is right on. The last parish who resisted any change they listed as their priorities as fellowship first followed by worship and oh maybe some education but only for their children. This has been true in most of the parishes I have served from the west coast to the middle of the country and as far east as New York. Thanks for your continuing challenging of the Church to be different

  • Lively Granddad

    That “spiritual” depth I wanted but failed to find is one reason I left Christian culture. Too much of what the world hears from the loudest voices in Christian culture is judgment and condemnation instead of a reason to be drawn in to a new way of living. Those voices choose the politically divisive issues that the Word spends so little (or no) time on in order to harness anger, judgment, and condemnation for political gain. And while I wanted to engage in living a spiritual existence in a culturally rich world, the Christian culture had moved its focus to issues Jesus never addressed and now is a place I no longer recognize. That lack of depth in spirituality that the author believes is the issue has been sacrificed to the politically divisive. If that is where the culture’s energy is focused, there is no energy left to grow Christian disciples.

  • Theo

    I’ve returned to Christianity after 20 years exploring other faith traditions because – through personal research, and some fortunate encounters – I’ve learned (early) Christianity holds vast depth and wisdom in its writings and liturgies (St Isaac of Syria, St Gregory Palamas, just to name two). A vast depth which is entirely absent from the happy, clappy oatmeal dished out as “christianity” by too many churches.

  • John W

    A good piece of writing Tom. The article is a mile-wide and an inch-deep itself, as I’m sure was your intent.

    Tactic: issue a few vague prognostications of (conservative) Church decline but wholly lacking in actual detail, just enough to leave us feeling vaguely alarmed & unsettled.

    Then sprinkle in a few warm fuzzy words about joy, depth and “fresh energy” to prepare the unthinking masses for whatever “new idea” you next want them to blindly accept.

    What will this “healthy new phase” look like? Which “institutional ideas” do we need to leave behind? “Transformation of life” from what and to what?

    We never learn. Not in this article anyway.

    Instead we are left to guess at just what “new ideas” the brave new thinkers have in mind for us (though I reckon I know).

    Well done, sir. A classic example of how to use 500+ words to say precisely nothing & yet get across everything you intended to.

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