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Spiritual But Not Religious

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

What does “Spiritual but not religious” mean at Unity?




In general, the phrase "spiritual not religious" means a worldview that emphasizes personal spirituality and a relationship with a higher power or universal energy rather than a worldview organized around finely-tuned and precise declarations of belief and rituals.


Generally speaking, those who considered themselves "spiritual not religious" tend to be wary of religious associations and organizations, associating those places and people as uniting around one agreed upon belief from which members cannot waver or question. Spiritual people who do not wish to align fully with one doctrine and institution therefore oftentimes seek to find meaning and purpose in their lives through individual practices such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, or other forms of self-reflection and self-improvement. Some seek learning and wisdom through self-driven inquiry, drawing from a variety of spiritual or philosophical traditions, both Eastern and Western, without necessarily adhering to any particular set of religious beliefs or practices.


Yet here at Unity Spiritual Community in Grand Rapids we want to give those searchers a place to seek connection with and better understanding of a higher power amidst others taking this similar approach. Here, everyone is recognized as a true spiritual being, awakening to the truth that sets them free. We strive to present a positive, practical, and progressive approach to Christianity. We believe that every person is a creation of God and capable of being a light in this world. Therefore, at one’s core is a divine nature of goodness that every person is either asleep or attuned to in varying degrees. A deepening conscious relationship with God helps this God-Seed or divine nature to blossom. Life is for learning and growing spiritually.


Misconceptions abound when it comes to the phrase "spiritual not religious,” including but not limited to the assumption that anything goes or there’s nothing they stand for if they don’t have strict tenets, structural hierarchy, or dogma. That is just an oversimplification of how we operate. We gather with the common belief that there is a divine higher being, studying Christ through Jesus and other master teachers can help us better understand that being and ourselves, and that all people have essential natures that are inherently good and can get closer to our divine natures the more we move towards better understanding the higher being.


If you have been searching for a love-focused place of worship that embraces all people and honors all spiritual paths, Unity could be your answer. By joining together with other open-minded seekers of our ultimate meaning, purpose, and connection with the divine, we hope to further each of our spiritual understandings and connections to things beyond our full understanding.


We hope you will join us at one of our services, and we want you to know you are welcome here.


What Unites Us


Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore studied the Bible as history and allegory and interpreted it as a metaphysical representation of humankind’s evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening. In addition, Unity recognizes that the Bible is a complex collection of writings compiled over many centuries. We honor the writings as reflecting the understanding and inspiration of the writers at the time they were written. The Bible continues to be a valuable spiritual resource for us.


Unity teachings are based on universal spiritual principles that run like a thread through the world’s religions. These laws seem to govern humankind no matter where we live, how we view the Divine, or even whether we are aware these principles exist. They have been expressed in many ways for thousands of years.


We are each individual, eternal expressions of God. Our essential nature is divine and therefore inherently good. Our purpose is to awaken to our divine nature, the more fully God expresses in and through our lives as realized and demonstrated by Jesus and other master teachers. The more we awaken to our divine nature, the more fully God expresses in and through our lives.


God is Spirit, the loving source of all that is. God is the one power, all good, everywhere present, all wisdom. God is divine energy, continually creating, expressing, and sustaining all creation.


In God, we live and move and have our being. In Unity, some other ways we speak of God are Life, Light, Love, Substance, Principle, Law, and Universal Mind.


We believe that Jesus expressed his divine potential and sought to show humankind how to express ours as well. We see Jesus as a master teacher of universal truths and as our Way Shower. In Unity, we use the term Christ to mean the divinity in humankind. Jesus is the great example of Christ in expression.


The 5 Basic Unity Principles

1 - God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power. God is good and present everywhere.

2 - We are spiritual beings created in God’s image. The spirit of God lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good.

3 - We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.

4 - There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our awareness of God.

5 - Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live with them.


What You Can Expect from this Community


  • Flexibility: A spiritual church is more flexible and open to individual beliefs and practices, which allows people to explore their spirituality without feeling constrained by rigid dogma or doctrine.


  • Inclusivity: By being more open and flexible, a spiritual church can be more inclusive and welcoming to people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs.


  • Personal growth: A spiritual church focuses on personal growth and development, encouraging members to explore their own spirituality and connect with a higher power or purpose.


  • Community: A spiritual church can still provide a sense of community and connection with others who share similar beliefs and values.


  • Non-judgmental: A spiritual church typically avoids the judgmental attitudes and behavior often associated with more traditional, organized religions.


  • Empowerment: A spiritual church emphasizes personal empowerment and encourages members to take responsibility for their own spiritual journeys.


  • Creativity: A spiritual church may be more open to exploring creative approaches to worship and spiritual practices, such as music, dance, or art.


  • Flexibility in interpretation: A spiritual church allows individuals to interpret religious texts in their own way, rather than relying on strict interpretation from religious authorities.


  • Service-oriented: A spiritual church may focus on service to others and the community, rather than just on individual spiritual growth.


  • Tolerance: A spiritual church often emphasizes tolerance and acceptance of different viewpoints, religions, and beliefs, promoting a sense of peace and harmony among people.

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