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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

LA GRANGE, Adri  and  DREYER, Yolanda. Spiritual preferences and the experience of worship services in the Dutch Reformed Church. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2022, vol.62, n.1, pp.137-149. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2022/v62n1a7.

Membership of mainstream churches is declining all over the world. This article focuses on the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in South Africa. It investigates whether a reason for the decline in this specific Reformed ecclesial tradition could be the predominantly rational understanding of God rather than that of a personal spiritual experience. The popularity of charismatic and Pentecostal churches in the context could be attributed to their emphasis on subjective experience, which is also characteristic of postmodern culture. People attend worship services with the expectation of having their spiritual needs met. People's spiritual and emotional needs evolve as their lifeworld changes. In the modern era, the emphasis was on rational knowledge. In this era people resonated with the rational approach of the mainstream churches. The influence of the postmodern era is visible in the emphasis on subjective experience. This paradigm shift influences how people experience and practice religion. They tend to search for congregations that address their needfor a fulfilling spiritual experience. Many prefer worship services where they have a personal, emotional experience of God. Every person has unique spiritual needs and experiences God in unique ways. Therefore people exercise their faith in different ways. Spirituality plays an important role in people's lives. A qualitative approach was used to gain insight into people's experiences. The empirical part of the study was based on responses from volunteers who participated by completing spirituality questionnaires and took part in semi-structured interviews. The aim was to ascertain whether the DRC is experienced to be exclusive regarding spiritual preferences and, if so, whether this could be a contributing factor when it comes to the decline in membership of the Church. In 1980 Urban T Holmes wrote a handbook on spirituality, titled A history of Christian spirituality. Holmes' valuable contribution is a typology of spiritual preferences, specifically focused on prayer. In 1995 Corinne Ware used this typology and expanded it. She specifically focused on the way people responded to worship patterns. She explained differences in spirituality and spiritual preferences by distinguishing between four groups. She called the spirituality preferences "spirituality types" and named them "head", "heart", "mystic" and "hand". Ware developed a questionnaire to determine a person's "spirituality type". This investigation utilised Corinne Ware's spiritual typology to gain insight into people's experiences of worship services in the DRC. The results contribute to a better understanding of members' spiritual needs with regard to worship services in order for these experiences to contribute to their spiritual growth. The question is how the Dutch Reformed Church can remain true to its Reformed tradition while taking a more holistic and inclusive approach to spirituality, specifically with regard to worship.

Keywords : reformed; spirituality; spirituality-types; worship service; worship experience; liturgy; cataphatic; apophatic; modern; postmodern.

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