Screen Shot 2016-09-13 at 5.51.13 AMTwenty years ago a book came out by Gary Thomas called Sacred Pathways that continue to have an impact on my spiritual life today. The basic idea is that just as God created each of us differently, there are different ways that we can connect to God the best. We’re not cookie cutters. Which was incredible news to me as a young Christian, because I could never get into sitting perfectly still and praying for long periods of time (Ascetics). My mind wandered too easily. I did discover that by walking outside among God’s nature (naturalist), I felt closer to him then at any other time. Once I discovered and leaned into my sacred pathway, my relationship with God went to a much deeper level. Here are Gary Thomas’ nine sacred pathways:


  1. Naturalists — love God best outdoors. These people worship in the midst of God’s creation. They celebrate His majesty and discover spiritual truths through nature
  2. Sensates — love God through their senses. These people worship through sensual experiences — sights (like art), sounds (music), smells, and more
  3. Traditionalists — love God through religious ritual and symbols. These people worship through traditions and sacraments of the Church. They believe structure, repetition, and rigidity, like weekly liturgy, leads to deeper understanding of God and faith
  4. Ascetics — love God in solitude and simplicity. These people worship through prayer and quiet time, and the absence of all outside noise and distraction
  5. Activists — love God through confrontation, fighting for godly principles and values. They worship through their dedication to and participation in God’s truth about social and evangelistic causes
  6. Caregivers — love God by serving others, and worship by giving of themselves. They may nurse the sick and disabled, “adopt” a prisoner, donate time at a shelter, etc.
  7. Enthusiasts — love God through mystery and celebration. These people worship with outward displays of passion and enthusiasm. They love God with gusto!
  8. Contemplatives — love God through adoration. These people worship by their attentiveness, deep love, and intimacy. They have an active prayer life
  9. Intellectuals — love God with their mind and their hearts are opened up to a new attentiveness when they understand something new about God. These people worship through intense study, apologetics, and intellectual pursuits of their faith.

QUESTION: What’s your sacred pathway?

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