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What is your spiritual style?

3 June 2009

I had an e-mail from Fr Jonathan Ivanoff today, urging me to participate in a Spiritual Style Research Project.

As the organisers of the project put it:

The Institute for Natural Church Development (NCD International) is developing a test that will help Christians identify
which of nine “spiritual styles” he or she presently displays: the sensory, rational, doctrinal, Scripture-driven, sharing, ascetic, enthusiastic, mystical, or sacramental style. The spiritual style describes the unique way you can best connect with God.

In order to produce such a test, NCD International needs the participation of many believers representing diverse spiritual traditions. Please visit and fill in the online survey. You will get your results immediately. They will not be exact yet, as the test is still in the process of development, and your participation is part of that development. However, you will gain a first indication as to which of the nine styles mentioned above is likely to be your personal “antenna for God.”

Fr Jonathan explains why he wants Orthodox Christians, especially, to participate in the project:

I have been involved for some years now with a particular line of parish ministry having to do with parish revitalization and church health. There are some gentlemen involved in that ministry that have asked me for my help in some research they are doing, and that leads to this email to you.

There is a link provided below that will take you to a website for a survey that will take about 15 minutes. The researchers are looking for Orthodox Christians to take this survey on what they term “spiritual styles.” I hoping that enough of us can take this survey so that, quite frankly, I can explode some of their preconceptions (or even misconceptions) regarding Orthodoxy, so you would not only be doing me a big favor but doing our beloved Faith and Church a service by undertaking
this survey.

Trust me, it is indeed for a good cause! I have been working with this people for a while, and they sincerely desire to know more about the Orthodox Christian faith, and taking this survey will be one way to help them do so.

From what I know of it the project is concerned with Christians of all traditions, but in many research projects of this kind Orthodox Christians are omitted or excluded, which results in the kinds of misconceptions Fr Jonathan refers to.

I would also add that the researchers also record countries, and it would be interesting to know if the “spiritual styles” vary from country to country, so it would be good if South African Christians of all traditions were to take part. Any Zionists out there reading this blog?

I did the preliminary survey, and was given my preliminary scores:

  • Rational style was the lowest, at 103
  • Sacramental style was highest at 117

And all the others were somewhere in between.

I have no idea how to interpret these results, though I would expect most Orthodox Christians to score fairly high on the “sacramental” one.

Is it on a scale of 100-120 or what? Otherwise it seems a fairly narrow range.

What is the highest, and what is the lowest possible score for any of those?

It’s impossible to tell, but perhaps all will be revealed when they’ve refined their survey, and their book comes out.

But I can see that the more who participate, the more accurate the result is likely to be, so if you have 15 minutes to spare, go to the site and answer the questionnaire, and if your results differ wildly from mine, come back and we can speculate in comments until the researchers come and spill the beans on what they are up to.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 June 2009 12:42 pm

    My highest was Scripture-driven at 115, next was Mystical at 111. My lowest were Sacramental and Sensory, both on 94.
    That sort of makes sense.

    • 3 June 2009 2:06 pm

      Got lowest on enthusiastic – 89! And highest on doctrinal – 121. I guess I’m very unenthusiastic doctriner :-)))

    • 3 June 2009 4:46 pm

      Ok, so now I know the scale goes below 100!

  2. 3 June 2009 5:58 pm

    My results:

    Sharing Style – 120
    Rational Style – 116
    Mystical Style – 116
    Sensory Style – 112
    Scripture-driven Style – 110
    Ascetic Style – 109
    Sacramental Style – 105
    Enthusiastic Style – 103
    Doctrinal Style – 103

    Not surprising, given my anabaptists and mystical influences on the one hand and my reticence towards calvinism and charismatic Christianity on the other. Preference for symbol and multisensory worship, but not rote liturgy also explains much. Oh, and of course I’m INTP.

    • 3 June 2009 6:50 pm

      I too am INTP — I wonder if that affects it? Though I see you were high on rational where I was low.

  3. 3 June 2009 6:01 pm

    I started the survey, but couldn’t finish…. it’s asking all the wrong questions, and I feel like choosing an answer to a question that shouldn’t be asked will just produce dishonest results.

    • 3 June 2009 6:47 pm

      If you don’t have Fr Jonathan Ivanoff’s address I’ll send it to you, and perhaps you can explain in more detail, and he could pass it on to those doing the research so they can try to improve the questions.

  4. 4 June 2009 4:44 pm

    Some of these questions seem a puzzle. Others seem to call for interpretation of “mind” or “intellect” as nous. Not many questions on the heart. Kind of have to deal with that by implication. I think I see what rjhargrave may be stuck with… so you just kind of have to work around it. I tended to go with 4’s and 2’s… only a few 3’s where the issues conflict, and almost no 1’s but surprisingly more 5’s than I’d expect given my usual reticence.

    Also there seems to be only a hint that distinction might lie between intention or attached importance and the contrast with our with our sinful current state. Yeah… some of these things are important to me… but I’m also ready to admit I’m not especially good about them either. Wonder whether they shouldn’t have a “rate yourself as a Christian” scaled 1-10. I would tend to think I’d get some points for “gittin’ it” but then lose a lot for not being very far along. So maybe that would be two questions: “Do you feel you understand the Christian faith and its role in your life” followed by… “So how you doin’ with that?”
    Put me down as rank amateur wannabe.

  5. 4 June 2009 4:45 pm

    Oh… forgot to leave my results:

    Rational Style 115
    Doctrinal Style 111
    Scripture-driven Style 113
    Sharing Style 107
    Ascetic Style 111
    Enthusiastic Style 102
    Mystical Style 112
    Sacramental Style 123
    Sensory Style 112

    I didn’t get the INTP code thing… but maybe it’s here somehow.

  6. 4 June 2009 4:53 pm

    The scale doesn’t appear to go below 58, though.

    My scores were: Sharing style, 123; scripture-driven style, 122; rational style, 116; enthusiastic style, 115; sensuous style, 107; doctrinal style, 106; ascetic and sacramental styles, 104; mystical style, 102.

    Scoring lowest on any one item doesn’t mean you’re not that. It’s relative. I scored lowest on mystical. But I do practice a degree of Christian mysticism. It’s just that my personal emphases tend to be sharing and scripture.

  7. 5 June 2009 2:26 am

    My scores were: rational style, 109; sensory style, 107; sharing style, 104; sacramental style, 100; mystical style, 97; scripture-driven style, 96; doctrinal style, 92; enthusiastic style, 90.

    It looks as if my highest score was only about as high as some others’ lowest. How does that work?

    I was frustrated with many of the questions. Some were very hard to interpret. One of my few 5s was #119: “…explain it so that people can truly understand it”

  8. 6 June 2009 12:27 am

    Mine was:

    Rational 112
    Doctrinal 115
    Scripture driven 114
    Sharing 100
    Ascetic 100
    Enthusiastic 91 (lowest)
    Mystical 96
    Sacramental 120
    Sensory 111.

    I’m Lutheran. We do not tend to enthusiasim.. 🙂

    However, I did feel a certain bias – as if Sacramentasl had to connect to ascetic and emotional, whereas rational and doctrinal was opposite that. I’m not sure you can do it that way. As a confessional Lutheran, I’m strong on sacraments, and on doctrine, BUT in a simple way (at least when compared to Calvinists). Also, I’m very comfortable with mystery. This crosses so many boundaries that it makes some of these question quite perplexing!

  9. 7 June 2009 4:36 pm

    Well, for what it’s worth, as a non-denominatinal low-church post-evangelical post-modernist Protestant with Anglican leanings, INFJ on the Myers-Briggs system, here’s what it told me, ordered by number:

    Mystical: 113
    Rational: 111
    Sensory: 103
    Sharing: 103
    Ascetic: 102
    Sacramental: 99
    Enthusiastic: 98
    Doctrinal: 95
    Scripture-driven: 95

    I’m guessing that it’s some kind of scale with 100 as ‘average’ for any of these styles. I found myself answering in the middle for at least half the answers, as I had no strong preference either way. My hunch (quite possibly incorrect) is that answering in the middle for every question would give a score of 100 for every scale.

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