Guest author: Rhesa Higgins
In his article in the December issue of Presence journal, “Generational Ministry: Spiritual Guidance for the Five Adult Generations Today,” John R. Mabry shares a wealth of information for spiritual companions seeking to be helpful to all five generations. As a member of Generation X, I found his description to be accurate and compassionate of my generation.
In my admittedly young ministry of spiritual companionship, I mainly walk alongside Xers (those born between 1961 and 1981) and Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2001). I find both to be delightfully engaged by the art of spiritual companionship. Mabry hints that technology could be a valuable window of opportunity to reach these generations with spiritual companionship, and my experience certainly affirms this assertion.
Author Elizabeth Liebert, SNJM, has offered spiritual companions an invaluable tool in her chapter, “Supervision as Widening the Horizons,” of the SDI Imprint Book Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging in Holy Mystery. Liebert discusses the Experience Circle which maps four arenas where people may experience God: the intrapersonal arena, the intrapersonal arena, the systems and structures arena, and the nature arena. I would like to suggest that, perhaps, technology could be a fifth arena of this circle, especially when we talk about the spiritual experiences of those in Generation X and Millennials.
For both generations, and the foreseeable generations to come, technology serves as the driving force of their lives. Technology is how these people work, play, and relax. Technology also offers endless creative options for spiritual companions. My ministry of spiritual companionship involves the following technological tools as well as traditional, one-on-one, face-to-face meetings.
- Blogging about spirituality opens a vast door to Xers who need to test authenticity and to Millennials who are searching for connection points. Consistently posting about spiritual practices and the ministry of companionship can be sufficient content. Responding to comments also creates connecting points.
- Facebook, Wiki spaces, and similar sites allow for groups to be formed, creating opportunity for group spiritual companionship to be offered online. A spiritual director can post a topic for conversation or a contemplative practice for engagement. Each member can then post about their experiences or opinion as the idea is explored. These online “conversations” offer rich opportunities for those who consider their spirituality introverted.
- Skype and “face time” are also helpful tools to the spiritual companion seeking to reach Millennials and Xers. Because each of these generations are concerned with work and life balance, they are unlikely to take time away from work for spiritual companionship. Also, as committed parents, they may seek spiritual companionship after hours, when their children are asleep. These tools allow one-on-one spiritual companionship to be offered on an ongoing basis while honoring commitments to work and family.
Xers and Millennials are actively searching for spiritual companionship. Companions who are committed to walking with them may want to consider the use of technology. What technological tools have you found to be helpful?
Rhesa Higgins is a spiritual director and the founding director of the Center for Spiritual Formation in Dallas, Texas, USA. She was a 2012 SDI New Contemplative. Her days are filled with packing lunches and driving carpools for her young children, engaging in prayerful art, and enjoying good coffee.
Bumpus, Mary Rose, and Rebecca Bradburn Langer. Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging in Holy Mystery. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2005.