Four catalysts for spiritual growth identified in detailed study released by Forward Movement

January 25, 2018

[Episcopal News Service] How can the Episcopal Church feed Episcopalians’ hunger for spiritual growth in the 21st century? Forward Movement surveyed 12,000 people from more than 200 Episcopal congregations for answers, producing a report released this week that provides a snapshot of the spiritual life of the church.

The extensive research was conducted through Forward Movement’s RenewalWorks ministry, and the report’s findings include analysis of the varying degrees of spiritual vitality and cultures of discipleship found in Episcopal congregations.

“We have learned that there is great spiritual hunger among Episcopalians,” the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, director of RenewalWorks, said in a press release. “And we are discovering catalysts that can address that hunger. Basic spiritual practices such as daily prayer, scripture study, worship attendance, and serving the poor will lead to transformation.”

The research found that 55 percent of Episcopalians can be considered in the “growing” stage of their faith, on a spectrum from “exploring” to “Christ-centered.” Those in the “growing” stage have committed to their faith but may not yet feel that their life bears significant marks of their faith.

The report also emphasizes what churches can do to support Episcopalians’ spiritual journey from one stage to the next. Four key catalysts are

  • engagement with scripture,
  • the transforming power of the eucharist,
  • a deeper prayer life
  • and the heart of the congregation’s leader.

“If we want our congregations to be places where spiritual growth is happening, we need to teach and to nurture spiritual practices such as prayer, worship, study, and service,” the Rev. Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement, said in the press release.

You can read the full press release here.

An infographic showing some of the key findings can be found here, and the full 17-page report can be accessed here.

Forward Movement is a publications and media ministry of the Episcopal Church known for its flagship devotional “Forward Day by Day.”

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