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Beyond an Airbrushed Spirituality

Posted on November 2nd, 2015

To airbrush something is “to prettify or sanitize something” by means of an airbrush. I asked a photographer friend if he could airbrush my photo.  Here is what he came up with:

Pete airbrushedPete non airbrushed










Now I may “feel” like I am the younger version of myself on the left. I may have a vision for it.  But it is not reality. I am the man on the right.

It is important we ask ourselves: “How might I be participating, or even encouraging, an airbrushed spirituality?”

Unconsciously, it is so easy to do. I know. I’ve done it. As long as we had good weekend services, good attendance, and good programs, I felt okay. The problem was I ignored the reality that:

  • 85% of Christians admit to being stuck in their walk with Christ. They are not experiencing transformation in our churches.
  • The sexuality of people inside the church is not that different from people outside. Most men, and increasing numbers of women, are secretly watching pornography at least 1-2x a month. Many of our singles cohabitate and sleep together. People separate and divorce inside our churches at a rate that is not much different from those outside. My experience of working with Christian leader’s marriages is that most couples are stuck sexually and have no idea how to go forward.
  • Few people have done serious work to break unhealthy patterns of living and relating from their family of origin in order to live freely as Christ-followers (e.g. resolving conflicts, expressing anger, feeling deeply).
  • The “emotional intelligence” of people inside our churches is not any different from those outside. People’s “increased” love for God is not translating into increased love for people.
  • 92.5% of churches in the United States are racially segregated.
  • Most people (even leaders) are not spending much time, if any, in Scripture and prayer.
  • Church leadership remains violent to a leader’s soul and family.
  • The churches’ effectiveness in transforming society/culture is minimal.

The church is in deep trouble. This cannot be airbrushed – at least for much longer.  God is offering us an opportunity to acknowledge our brokenness, confess our sins humbly at the cross of Jesus, and invite Him to lead us into a robust spirituality that actually transforms people who then, in turn, transform the world.

May God begin with you and me. I pray EHS (emotionally healthy spirituality) may be part of God’s answer to this global problem.

P.S.  Consider joining with us this year at our Pastor/Leader’s Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference, April 19-21, 2016 in New York City where you will see, feel, and be equipped in one model that God has used over the last 20 years to address this problem.

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