"At a time when faith communities are on the decline, let’s remember the value of collective spiritual practice," writes Rev. Aaron Miechkota. (Photograph by iStock.com/rawpixel)

Topics: June 2024, Spirituality | Society

Faith communities can offer a way out of collective apathy

"One of the greatest spiritual strengths of faith communities is our willingness to respond to God’s call to slow down," writes Aaron Miechkota


These are difficult days for our planet. Today, anxieties are in overdrive about the economic, environmental and social problems we’ve long known about but have not adequately addressed. So how does connecting deeply with the Spirit fit into all of this? Does it really matter that communities of faith gather to pause, pray and seek Christ’s vision together? I believe it does. At a time when faith communities are on the decline, let’s remember the value of collective spiritual practice. Deep, shared spirituality cultivates the skills we need to make a difference to the most pressing issues of our age.

One of the greatest spiritual strengths of faith communities is our willingness to respond to God’s call to slow down, pause and be present. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the pace of the news cycle and the sheer volume of information available online. But in our gatherings together there is no rush. We take time to explore the complexities of life, not just skim the surface. We practise the art of questioning, listening, sharing space with others and seeking understanding. These are all valuable skills to engage effectively with diverse groups of people and co-create well-rounded solutions for the common good.

While social media certainly has many benefits, it can also distract and isolate us from others.

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As communities of faith pray together, we practise the focus and unity that prayer offers. We find good language to name complicated issues and their effects. These are foundational skills for a society that is distracted and divided. Prayer keeps important topics alive in the social conscience and cultivates the skills we need to talk about what is most important.

Best of all, by engaging our spiritual lives together, we ac-cess a shared visionary imagination to create ripple effects of hope and purpose. With the guidance of the Spirit, we are able to imagine a better way forward. That vision is priceless, as it offers hope to issues that often feel hopeless.

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We are a people connected by the Spirit of Christ. In the days before the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the disciples were overwhelmed and discouraged. In the Gospel of John, Jesus reassured them that the Holy Spirit would teach and remind them of everything he had said. And in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus shared with the disciples at an open table and encouraged them to do the same. We cannot share alone; we need others to experience the arts of giving and receiving.

As an Easter people, we know the vital spiritual and social skills we need are being nurtured within us by the Spirit through our gatherings, our prayer and our collective imagination. Great things can be accomplished when we connect deeply with Christ’s vision of a common good guided by our highest values. Today is a good time to give thanks to the Spirit for the skills we need now to reimagine and reinvigorate our world.


Rev. Aaron Miechkota is in ministry with Cressy Glenora United Church in Prince Edward County, Ont.

This article first appeared in the March 2024 issue of Broadview with the title “The Skills We Need Now.”

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Aaron Miechkota is a theology student at the United Theological College in Montreal.


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