By all accounts the church is dead. Both numerically and anecdotal this is true. I can't tell you how many people I have met who say, "I'm spiritual, but not religious." It is interesting that this is usually told to me by children who are burying their mother/father. It seems that we do need religion. In fact, I often wonder if it is possible to be spiritual and not religious. I suppose one could stay home and pray, read the Bible, and come into contact with God. I would guess that not many people do this. We need a place to go. We need a community that prays with us, studies the Bible with us, and we can only worship in community. How are we going to be spiritual without religion?
Don't get me wrong I am no church apologist. I have struggled in my own life with the institutional church. Too often the church cares about the wrong things. Too often it is about money, buildings, instead of people and faith. However, I have come over time to the conclusion that without the church I am adrift in my own spiritual life.
There was a year of my life I did not go to Church. I like to think of it as my lost weekend. (kinda like John Lennon's lost weekend. When he left Yoko Ono and went on a bender for a year.) Anyway, I can honestly say that during that year I was lost. It wasn't that God did not love and care for me. It was that I was not closely connect to God. Sure, I prayed to God. But something was always missing. It was the discipline of living in a faith community. It was the ritual of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. It was the intentional hour that I spend in worship. At Holy Communion something happens to me. I start to think about my week. Which leads me to think about my sin, and if always overwhelms me. Then I start to think about what Jesus did for me. I feel a sense of relief, of comfort, of love. I never get that anywhere else but at the table of our Lord.
There is no spiritual life without religion. I would agree that sometimes there is religion with no spirit, but even so this is no reason to reject the institution of the church. The Church exists to keep us connect to the body of Christ. To remind us of the power of the Gospel to save! We don't get that anywhere else in this world. So, I will see you in Church.