On our Winter Retreat, our teaching theme presented the “Sacred Pathways” described in the book by the same name by Gary Thomas.   I’m going to summarize the book here so parents will know what we talked about, but I also think every believer would benefit spiritually by learning the insights presented in this book.

 So here’s a quick overview to clue you in.

Gary Thomas is one of my very favorite authors.  He is, a marvelous church historian who gleans spiritual gems from the forefathers of our faith and puts them in easy to understand language.  In his historical research, he has identified nine spiritual “temperaments” or ways that people are wired to best love and connect with God.  Knowing how you’re wired to worship helps you experience God in more meaningful ways.

The nine pathways are

  • The NATURALIST — worships God through experiencing God’s creation
  • The SENSATE— worships God through the five senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, & taste)
  • The ENTHUSIAST — worships God expressively through joyful passion and expectation.
  • The INTELLECTUAL— worships God by studying Truth and establishing firm beliefs.
  • The TRADITIONALIST— worships God by enjoying historic practices of the church, symbols, creeds, and hymns.
  • The ASCETIC— worships God by living a life of simplicity, solitude, and self-denial.
  • The CONTEMPLATIVE— worships God by meditating on an intimate, loving, personal relationship with Him.
  • The CAREGIVER — worships God by loving and serving others.
  • The ACTIVIST— worships God by making efforts to change the world.

All the “pathways” are valid and necessary in the church.  We’ll each have several that are dominant–and knowing that helps us to avoid judging others’ ways of worshiping.  It also helps to know that it’s ok for me to worship in a way that may be different from others.

It’s also useful to try other pathways to expereince God in new ways.  During the retreat after presenting each pathway in detail we had a time to experience each one (nature prayer walks, contemplation, reading a CS Lewis piece, etc.)

I’d encourage parents of retreat attenders to sit down and talk about your son or daughter’s pathways.  It would be a great way for you to get to know them better.

For the same reason, I presented this material at the Parents of Teens class two weeks ago.  Click here for the chart I passed out there, which explains the nine pathways in more detail if you’re interested!  sacred-pathways-overview.pdf

Click here if you’d like to take the simple Assessment Quiz that I shared with the group. Sacred Pathways Quiz

By the way, in case you’re wondering about my pathway mix–I’m an Ascetic, and a Contemplative, who’s becoming more and more of a Traditionalist!  That explains my previous post below!