The vision thing

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverb

by Geoff Griffiths

Back in 1964, former president Harold Vigurs was conducting a commission of inquiry into the Spiritualists’ National Union’s problems and opportunities, and exploring ways forward. In his report, he lamented the fact that, in spite of the Union’s then life of 63 years, it still lacked a vision statement and seemed without clear direction.

To our shame and our loss, almost 50 years later, the same holds true(1). Without a vision, we of the SNU are like a circus of flies; a wandering generality, when we should be a meaningful specific.

To illustrate how a vision-led strategy works, consider three bricklayers on a building site who were each asked the same question: “What are you doing?”  The first replied ‘I’m laying bricks.’ The second, ‘I’m building a wall.’ But the third positively glowed as he declared, ‘I am helping to build a cathedral that will stand for a thousand years!’

Well, ignoring the orthodox references, there is no doubt that the work of Bricklayer 3 was informed and inspired by a higher vision. He would build more truly, more quickly and more joyfully than the others, who only thought of the drudgery of the work and were completely oblivious to the nobility of their joint efforts or the higher purpose. They were doing their job quite efficiently, but without really knowing what they were about. Remind you of any other group?

In a year that SNU church membership has slipped to its lowest level since 1944(2), we need to think of the nobility of our own joint efforts – and visionary thinking has never been so important.

Bible belt

The fundamentalist Christian churches of America have nothing to teach us from their benighted theology. But when it comes to growing their churches, they are the masters and, I fear, we are the dunces. They build ‘super-churches’ that hold several thousand people, whilst we have spent the last century in glorified  huts, built with much love but little ambition. Whilst super-churches are quite inappropriate for us, the problems they met and overcame in the process are uncannily similar to the problems we meet (and tend not to overcome). Vision, purpose and commitment are the rocks on which they build. And before we look for excuses – yes, these ideas do work in the UK!

Evangelical Christianity is one of the few Christian denominations still growing vigorously because its leaders have thought things through. For one thing, they genuinely consult their members. Rather than appealing to their members to ‘send us your ideas’, with the inevitable result, they send a structured questionnaire to obtain the sort of information they really need.

Some years ago, a multi-choice questionnaire went around US Baptist churches to assess the collective mind of their adherents. To the question, ‘What is the purpose of this church?‘ the box ticked by most was ‘to serve the spiritual and social needs of me and my family’. The answer given by the fewest was ‘to win the world for Christ’.

Interestingly, when Baptist pastors were asked the same question, ‘to win the world for Christ‘ was given by 90 per cent of them. This shows the difference between the visionary mind of the leader and that of the follower. Or perhaps between the trained mind of the religious professional and the rather more limited outlook of the congregation. Either way, the thinking is on a higher and more ambitious level.

I suspect that the average Spiritualist church leader would identify with the congregation. After all, our church leaders have arisen from the membership and are likely to have the same limited mindset that they hold. True leaders, however, are visionary rather than myopic and look at the big picture – not instead of the parochial, but – as well as the parochial. That rarely happens without training.

Happily, the executive of the SNU has become aware of the fact that our church leaders have never been trained, and has addressed that lack in its recently released action plan. I only hope that the need for building a church vision is the first lesson in the syllabus, and that the executive engages a training company to create this course, rather than imagining that they can do it themselves.

Worryingly, the NEC’s current strapline is ‘One Union – Strength through Unity’, which is fine as far as it goes, but indicates that they are not led by a higher light, nor are they even thinking outside the SNU bubble. Get the inspiration behind the Big Vision right and the lower levels of mission, purpose and strategy (and the SNU itself) tend to find their logical priority. The SNU is, after all, only a vehicle for delivering the message of spirit to the world and should place that, rather than the Union itself, at the centre of its focus. An inspiring, common vision will bring more unity than a hundred snazzy slogans.

In the absence of the SNU’s coming up with a vision for the movement, my working vision – you’ll see where I adapted it from – is ‘to win the world for Spiritualism’. It has all the ingredients a vision statement needs: it is instantly understandable, brief and to the point, ambitious;  it is exciting, inspiring, motivational. Moreover, it describes perfectly the ambition that fired the lives of our pioneers. And, once you look at how the world thinks and all that Spiritualism offers, it is believable.

Well thought-through vision and mission statements are used in all modern, successful businesses too. What businesses, movements and churches have in common is that they are all enterprises, so can benefit from a knowledge of enterprise culture. This is, essentially, what the US fundamentalists have learned. Similarly, a church committee of Bricklayer 3s, with a shared vision expressed in simple language, can avoid many of those legendary committee rows, simply by reminding people of that form of words and asking: ‘Is this decision taking us towards the church’s vision, or taking us further away?’

Any religion without a vision – and we seem to be the only one – is like a ship without a compass.

For the Christian church, the words of the Great Commission – ‘Go ye forth into the world, tell people the good news and baptise them’ – serves as a vision as well as an instruction and unites them in thought and action. Like us Spiritualists, they still have monumental arguments but seem to do so in a more orderly queue!

Visions in our time

To give you a real-life example of what can be done with visionary thinking, and the goals and strategies which flow from it, take a look at post-war Japan.

Reduced to ashes in the wake of the atomic bomb attacks that ended the Second World War, they set about repositioning their country to become a leading nation in the second half of the twentieth century. First, they resolved to become the leading producer of textiles within ten years. By the end of the 1950s, they had attained that goal.

In the 1960s, they decided to become the world’s leading producer of steel. For a country with no coal, iron or any significant natural resources, this was a formidable task. All the raw materials would have to be imported. Yet, by the end of the 1960s, they were indeed the world’s largest producer of steel.

In the 1970s, it was consumer electronics – transistor radios, TV, hi-fi, etc – and again they achieved the goal by the end of that decade.  In the 1980s, cars were the subject. They missed this by just one year. But in 1991 they became the largest producer of motor cars on earth.

So can our amateur movement, which after 163 years, has managed to persuade fewer than six people in ten thousand to identify themselves as Spiritualists(3), move from dormant to dynamic in just a few years?  In spite of my obvious dismay at our progress, I believe we have every asset we need to achieve just that.

A revealing tool in working out a strategy is the SWOT analysis. This is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Here is how it might work at a strategic, rather than local, level of the SNU – but the same principles apply at church level:

Strengths

  • The only evidence-based religion.
  • A proven link with Spirit, keeping the message and inspiration relevant
  • No reliance on outdated and legend-based theology
  • Universalist and non-sectarian outlook
  • Modern, inclusive and socially-progressive philosophy with no anti-women or anti-gay teachings
  • National network of over 500 churches: SNU 336, GW 52, US 28, Corinthians ?, Unaffiliated ?
  • Large population of enthusiastic, skilled and talented volunteers
Weaknesses

  • Movement is stuck in ‘messages’ groove
  • General standards of mediumship not what joiners have been led (unrealistically?) to expect
  • Failure to promote philosophy as interestingly and accessibly as it should be
  • Larger number of leavers than joiners over past 21 years(4)
  • Inability to retain joiners for very long.
  • Untrained leadership at church level
  • Church network erratically spaced, based on serendipity rather than strategic planning
  • Small size of congregations and churches,  making it difficult to offer an interesting and comprehensive range of activities, or to minister to the whole person
  • Lack of in-depth leadership at all levels (too many ‘elected unopposed’)
  • Too much bureaucracy – too little creativity
Opportunities

  • Retain many more from the large numbers we attract
  • Create a new model of Spiritualist church or centre
  • Retain the large number of joiners we attract with the natural mediums that are out there
  • Appeal to family audience with Lyceums alongside Sunday morning services
  • Multi-media advertising, using small press ads to direct prospects to website articles, setting out our stall more fully and cheaply than ever before.
  • To replace declining Christianity as the natural religion for modern humankind
Threats

  • Exposure of a ‘super medium’, bringing our easy recruitment advantage to a halt, whilst accelerating the leavers’ rate
  • Possibility of bad publicity and unfair media coverage
  • Our own exponents’ limitations being spread by word of mouth
  • Legislation (unlikely at present)
  • Our own inaction due to failure to recognise our present vulnerability
  • SNU’s bureaucratic culture could kill the creativity necessary to transform it

Of course, it shouldn’t be just one person compiling this analysis. Church leaders, individuals and affiliates should each be sent a questionnaire to elicit their ideas. Forward-looking businesses have found that involving their employees in the process is much better than simply leaving their employees to become the cynical recipients of the board’s pearls of business wisdom. It will also give them a feeling of ownership of the finished product, which in turn leads to their buying into the strategy – especially if they receive regular progress reports.

But the above table – plus the additional points you might suggest in the ‘Comments’ section below – spells out our situation in a very simple and focused format. Exploiting our Strengths and Opportunities, whilst working on our Weaknesses and countering the Threats is the basis for a logical strategic programme.

Provided we buy into the vision, everyone is consulted and kept in the loop, and we use all the expertise available, we will have  the opportunity to build an organic movement – working with a common awareness — from the disconnected one we have today. Just imagine a national membership of Bricklayer 3s!

Oh, and when we point the finger at the NEC or any other scapegoat for our ills, let us look where the other three fingers are pointing.

Notes:

  1. A vision statement is not the same as a mission statement. The former is very brief and is about the aspirations of an organisation. The latter – commonly up to 50 words long – is a statement communicating to those both inside and outside the organisation what is actually does.
  2. The number of SNU church members at the end of 2010 was 14,070.  At the end of 1944, it was 13,255, but was in recovery from the Second World War. No year in between has dropped below 14,070.
  3. According to the 2001 census, 32,404 respondents identified themselves as Spiritualists. Divide this figure into the 58 million respondents and you will get a little over 0.00553 per cent. 5.53 in every 10,000 of the population.
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29 responses to “The vision thing

  1. Janet Harrison

    I don’t think people will link media coverage of “super mediums” with the Spiritualist religion, whether they are slandered or not, ( I think that may be a more accurate term than “exposed”).
    People who want Spiritual philosophy are often more drawn to the various eastern religions associated with it.
    A religon that relies on a good medium to draw people in is not going to keep those people without consistently good mediumship. The interest in the Spiritualist Philosophy usually grows after good evidence has created a belief in it.
    I don’t think it is going to improve as long as people are encouraged to think they have a stronger gift for mediumship than they have.
    Perhaps a little too much stage craft is being incorporated into the mediumship development classes these days.

    • Janet is spot on when she observes -” I don’t think it is going to improve as long as people are encouraged to think they have a stronger gift for mediumship than they have.”
      This is, in my opinion, the overwhelming reason why Spiritualism has fallen into such decline. The SNU are the worst culprits in this because the AFC needs to make money and so the SNU has an obvious vested interest in persuading people that the tutors can turn them into a medium.
      Until we bust the myth that anyone can be a medium, Spiritualism will never be in a position to return to its former glory. It is a spectacular irony that the largest organisation dedicated to the promotion of Spiritualism is in fact the very same one whose policy guarantees the continuous lowering of standards.

  2. Mike Goodall

    An interesting article Geoff; but could you clarify the subject of membership of the SNU.
    In your notes you state…
    “The number of SNU church members at the end of 2010 was 14,070. At the end of 1944, it was 13,255, but was in recovery from the Second World War. No year in between has dropped below 14,070.”
    In 1944 what types of membership was available in the SNU; did we have class A, B, D, etc. like we do these days or was there just one category?
    What is the current 2010 breakdown of A, B, D membership?
    As Class D is basically free membership for any registered member of an SNU affiliated Church, in my opinion it would be wrong in a sense to quote Class D numbers in with Class B (the members who pay £25 per annum).
    If you remove the Class D from the equation what would be the difference in membership from 1944 (assuming there was only one class of membership) until the present day. I’ve always thought that Class D was just inverted to boost the numbers for publicity purposes.
    Perhaps you have these figures to hand; it would be interesting to see how Spiritualistm versus membership changed over the period. Thanks, Mike.

  3. Congratulations Geoff on such a well crafted piece. Its the wake up call we all need.

    Regards, Zena

  4. cornishmoth

    Beautifully thought out and succinctly put.
    As a recent(ish) ‘convert’ I have, at times, held my head in my hands with dismay at the blinkered thinking of some within our religion.
    Our 7th principle talks of Progress and yet, for far too many Spiritualists, “We’ve always done it that way” becomes the war cry.
    Visionary thinking is a rare commodity these days… let’s hope we see some soon.

  5. Thanks geoff well written and thoughtful as ever.

    I also think that is a very good SWOT analysis.

    Jim

  6. There are many who dislike the idea of promoting an ‘image’ but in today’s world it its often all important. Spiritualism needs a dynamic image, but there needs to be substance to back up the image, and that is where a vision statement is useful.
    One way to foster a more dynamic image would be to rename all the churches Pioneer Centres, and go about living up to the title by being just that, pioneers.
    Some Spiritualists are still afraid to admit they belong to a Spiritualist church, being able to say ‘I am a member of the local Pioneer Centre’ would be a lot easier. It also gives the impression that this person is a positive go ahead type and that their Religion/philosophy might just be the one to investigate.

  7. Hilary Penn

    Janet and Jack have nailed the situation eloquently above. Geoff’s article is as always excellent. He has a strong vision for the future of Spiritualism and argues his case well.

    Unfortunately, mediumship is the defining feature of this religion of ours. Not just evidential mediumship, but philosophical mediumship and healing mediumship. Without these manifestations of the spirit we have nothing to distinguish ourselves from any other belief system.

    Why is it that so many want to develop mediumship? I have never fully understood that. There are innumerable different ways to be of service in this world, so why is that particular pathway such an alluring one to all- comers?

    We may fancy the idea of standing on stage or appearing in the movies, but few of us have the natural talent to do so at an excellent standard. Personally I would have given a lot to be a professional tennis player but I had enough objectivity to release that I would never be good enough for that, though I could certainly hit a ball over the net and into approximately the right area of the court.

    Jack is right when he says that the SNU has exacerbated this trend for self-delusion in mediumship, but it also down to individuals to take an objective look at themselves. We cannot all be good at everything, and every time a person with more enthusiasm than talent steps onto our platforms, no matter how good their intentions they drag our movement a little further into the dust. It has to stop, but who will stop it?

    .

  8. many un-trained or little trained naturel mediums such as myself can sometimes be very accurate others totally not so personally i need support and help i am honest reliable but cannot afford huge fees to train any ideas anyone?day circles london or surrounds? its odd i have given totally accurate messages ‘incidentally’ other times i am suffering because i lost my soul-mate who has given me evidence yet i still don’t 100% believe, there is a ‘doubtingThomas’ in me too i would not go on a platform. i have encountered awfiul/medioctre ‘mediums’ even in the so called higher echelons where you have paid for the privilige of platitudes actually i’ve written this as a ‘reach-out’ because i need guidance etc God Bless All Seekers jill

  9. Geoff Griffiths

    Hi Mike. You ask me to define ‘SNU membership’. I mean, of course, full membership of SNU churches. Class B members – whom we must now call ‘Individual’ members – have stayed pretty solid over recent years, averaging around 2,400. But most of them will also be members of churches, so to add them would be to duplicate. Class Dmembers – affiliates now, if you please – are merely church members in their national guise.

    Before someone else does so, I must pick myself up on note 4, in the ‘Weaknesses section of the SWOT analysis:

    “Larger number of leavers than joiners over past 21 years(4)”

    Unfortunately no ‘Note 4′ appears at the end of the article, so I will explain.

    Associate members of churches (new joiners) are given by the SNU as 2,129 as at 31-12-2010. Now, Associates are normally such for six months, so you might double that to arrive at a figure of 4,258 joiners in the full year. However, in practice, it usually takes seven months since a committee meeting then has to take place. So I use 3,500 as a conservative ‘intelligent guess’ to determine the number of joiners.

    However, since the 2009 figure for full members was 14,629, the 2010 total shows a net loss of 559. This doesn’t mean we lost that number – it means that we lost 559 more than we gained. Hence a joining rate of (say) 3,500 is added to 559, to reveal that some 4,059 people walked away – or were carried away – from Spiritualism in 2010.

    Now 3,500 is 24% of the 2009 total – a wonderful result and I doubt any religion can attract recruits like we can. Sadly, we are even better at losing them! 4,059 is 28% of the 2009 figure and not far short of one third of our membership!

    At the moment, nobody knows who they are or why they left. Until we do, the NEC cannot do a meaningful strategic plan. How many left due to death? How many said, “There’s nothing else to learn.”? How many fell out with the committee? How many joined in order to get into the church circle, found they weren’t mediums, then left in some disillusion? How many were disappointed by the lack of evidence? We don’t know, but we need to and a simple questionnaire on each lapsed member by the church committee could yield vital information in this respect.

    How long had each leaver been in membership is another question. I suspect that using mediumship to attract joiners may be bringing in some fairly fickle people. But I don’t know. Your guess is as good – or as bad – as mine.

    Either way we have been neglecting the power of our philosophy at our peril. It is our secret weapon – yet another secret we keep from ourselves!

    But back to the point. An inflow of 24% and an outflow of 28% represents a hugely unstable picture. On the positive side, we only need to learn how to RETAIN members to really achieve our full potential. Easier said than done, of course, but unlike most religions, we have no trouble attracting new people, a shortcoming that is decimating the Methodists and URC.

    What is really needed, of course, is a ‘New Model’ of Spiritualist church. Perhaps a series of articles, rather than an individual one!

    • Mike Goodall

      Thanks for the explanation Geoff. It seems quite a high ‘churn rate’ for such an organisation. Of course they need to know why people are leaving at such a high rate. Many organisations send you an email or letter when you leave asking you to let them know why you left so that they can improve their service; perhaps that would give them some idea; but of course not all levers would bother to reply, but it would be better than nothing.
      Personally I think making people join a church or join the SNU before they can be a member of a church circle is a poor addition to the rules. Yes it boosts membership but puts off some who may develop into good Mediums. It was always free in our church in years gone by and although all these circles have a fairly high churn rate too, there were always new recruits willing to join.
      With an inflow of 24% and an outflow of 28% each year it would seem that eventually, unless something is done, the organisation will sadly disappear.

  10. Geoff Griffiths

    Yes, Mike, you are right, particularly in your final sentence:

    “With an inflow of 24% and an outflow of 28% each year it would seem that eventually, unless something is done, the organisation will sadly disappear.”

    That is my fear. I seem to be the only one doing the math on this. Since 1989, when we had 19,609 members, we have declined 28% to 14,070, without it seems, anyone noticing. Our leaders have not informed us of this – just vague mutterings of ‘seem to be losing a lot of members , etc, etc’. So if our long slow death is not being chronicled, it is invisible to our members and it is not surprising that they seem to be complacent about it. After all, you cannot solve a problem you don’t know you have.

    As someone whose circumstances preclude me from seeking office, – as you know, my wife has needed 24-hour care for the past 20 years or so – I do have the luxury, perhaps the duty, of giving the sort of bad news that does not get you elected!

    Although the NEC have upgraded our logos, financial management, brochures, etc, this has the unintended consequence of giving the impression of a flourishing organisation. It is nothing of the kind. But it COULD be and it SHOULD be. Until we see the point of taking action, we are simply sleepwalking to oblivion.

    Although I hesitate to criticise the NEC, who have only had a little over a year under David Bruton, the strategy they have announced at Conference, is a piecemeal list of things that certainly need doing, but it does not constitute a strategic plan as business people understand it. And it certainly does not address the problem of so much ‘churn’.

    I take comfort in the fact that there are answers to these problems, if our leaders don’t seem to be addressing them. It may be that grass roots organisations like District Councils could be vital players in this.

  11. VISION.
    To act with good intent and without ego as a facilitator for the emergence of consciousness in all human beings by promoting the individuals potential relationship with the external world.

  12. Great to see objectivity being embraced here. I am tempted to add my two cents worth.
    I find Living Life with a “Spiritual” Energy..just about the most sensible thing I can do.

  13. As Geoff has mentioned, it is undoubtedly true that mediumship is the big draw for many people entering a Spiritualist Church for the first time. A good number of those will be hoping for a message from departed friends and relatives. If they do not receive a message or the message is unconvincing in some way they will drift away after a few attempts.
    A newcomer needs to be guided to an understanding of the phenomena of mediumship.
    That it is not the perfect form of communication that is so often portrayed in television programmes and is subject to any number of factors which will interfere with the quality of a message. That a medium is a conduit varying in ability according to individual talent and quality of training. But also given these limitations, when it all comes together there is no stronger proof of the survival of death than communication with the spirit world.
    More needs to be done to make churches more attractive, a friendly welcoming atmosphere and a gentle introduction to the philosophy surrounding Spiritualism can help a newcomer to get comfortable with what Spiritualism is all about. There lots of other improvements to be made, as I have suggested elsewhere in replies to these columns.

  14. There will always be a problem in any organisation that doesn’t treat all their members equally. There is an abundance of evidence demonstrating nepotism and political suppression in the SNU. This is the reality of it, and there’s nobody capable of sorting it out, because the politics are so deeply engrained. Arthur Findlay must be turning in his grave, because the standard of mediumship is being held back by either deluded fool, who are borderline incapable of mediumship themselves, or money making morons who are bleeding Spiritualism dry.

    Vision through rose coloured spectacles is closer to the truth.

    • True equality and fairness will solve the SNU’s problems.
      It’s that simple in theory. But at every level these qualities are crushed.

      It is not coincidence that the SNU has such a bad name. It has a bad name because it lets people down. It has a bad name because it is run for the benefit of the few. It has a bad name because it is unresponsive and fails to deal with complaints. It has a bad name because when it does attempt to address its problems, it does so only to appease its members, and not because it wants to.

  15. Mike Goodall

    Absolutely Sam; and until a complete change of leadership is made at the top the situation will not change. We need true caring Spiritualists (who listen to the membership) running it; not those who are running it for their own ends or egos and members of the ‘old boy’ network; although under the existing rules I am not optimistic for a change.

    • Mike, I do think it’s quite amusing when they pretend to “listen” to their membership. At the end of the day they’ll do what their masonic mates want them to do, and the membership will be fobbed off with carefully constructed excuses.
      I’m amazed that they still have the brass neck to use the word “Truth” in their logo.

      • Mike Goodall

        You’ve hit the nail on the head there Sam; I cannot see any changes forthcoming in the future and I must say that I am very glad NOT to be a member of that organisation now in any shape or form. They have done themselves irreparable harm over the last two years or so in the eyes of the membership and of the Spiritualist movement and now that PN is due to be relaunched perhaps we will be able to read the full story of their actions in all it’s gory detail.

  16. Graeme Hunter

    I think people in Spiritualism forget that we started with the philosophy first. A philosophy about self awareness. Who am I what am I here for etc. As Dr. Andrew Jackson Davis when he walked away from the Spiritualist movement which was changing even then to Phenomenarism. He said: They have become no more than phenomenarists. They spend many hours in dark seance rooms and spend little time looking into themselves. Emma Hardinge Brittain also when the first public demopnstration of mediumship was given she said: “We have lost Spiritualism!” We do not seem to learn; for we chase phenomena, the outward signs, and we do not seek the inner graces. It says in the Lyceum manuel The true purpose of mediumship is that mans will and Gods will are to become as one. That we
    have to raise our consciousness to the point where we are the true mediums of the Great Spirit.. Our churches are led by phenomenarists the blind leading the blind and we all know where they end up. That is truly happening to Spiritualism. when are we going back to the teachings of the higher spirits? Or are we just going to clairvoyant everyone to death and hope they will stay people today are asking big questions what is the purpose of life if it is eternal? Do we have the answers?.

    • I agree Graeme totally. Does anybody within the SNU/NEC have the ability to come up with a vision which looks at the broader picture? To me our soul’s purpose is to look within and I have always viewed our churches as facilitators to enable individuals to find and understand themselves. We cannot say this is my religion anymore as this separates us from others. We need to be part of the whole in accepting that consciousness is the intelligence, the organising principal behind the arising of form and Spiritualism’s job is to help the individual appreciate that all can have a positive relationship with the external world and our churches are there to offer them just that. Cannot we develop this theme into a meaningful vision and plan for the future and change direction..?

    • Given that many are seeking reassurance that a loved one survives in the spirit world evidential mediumship will always be the big draw.
      However how many mediums take the opportunity to bring through pure teachings from the spirit world during a demonstration? It is all very well seeking information on the philosophy of Spiritualism while sitting in a circle, but this does not necessarily get through to the target audience, the general seeker. In any case it is ‘second hand’. There is nothing like a direct philosophical message from Spirit to get people thinking, and this should be part of the church experience.

  17. Mike Goodall

    All very well Graeme, but it’s the hope of getting a message which brings most people though the church door (rightly or wrongly) and with many they do not become interested in the Philosophy side of Spiritualism until later.

  18. Sam,Please explain your comment !!!
    (At the end of the day they’ll do what their masonic mates want them to do, )

  19. 100% genuine person here who does give v accurate messages ‘incidentally’ cannot afford training fees and am not a fraudster who wouild say anything to people i expect i will always suffer really suffer from losing my loved one to astral world but no reason why i should’nt help others.I’m sure spiritualism did-not used to be money orientated and i am unable to attend the new SAGB premises because i am particularly sensitive to sound.If this ‘rings a melodic bell’ with someone contact me jillrocks2@rock.com

  20. Janet Harrison

    If Spiritualism ceases to be primarily for giving evidence that the soul survives “death” it will become a religion primarily for people to develop and share their own perception of the purpose of life, and spiritual unity. Nothing wrong with that, and nothing different about it either as there are many groups of people all over the globe promoting that very thing, and it is to be encouraged for all our sakes.
    However, the thing that makes Spiritualism, as we know it, to be a more exciting avenue than others is the fact that it demonstrates the continuity of the soul by the evidence obtained, and provides an opportunity to receive first hand teaching from people no longer living on the earth.
    I no longer attend Spiritualist churches, though for many years I attended several times a week and also worked as a medium. I became disheartened.
    I am not concerning myself here with the show offs with no real ability….they do exist, and they are a pain in the neck, but in my view most church mediums are very brave, usually nervous, and trying their very best to do a good job.
    The problem, as I see it, is that there are not enough high calibre mediums to go round, therefore it is necessary to have mediums of lesser ability on the platform quite often.
    In an ideal world we would have top notch mediums in every Spiritualist church at every service, but realistically we are light years away from that.
    I don’t think this is an insurmountable problem, you just need a more honest approach with your congregations, for their sake as well as the mediums who are “less than the best”.
    Many of us recognise that messages from Spirit are often messages from the medium, mixed up with some genuine links, and that many trance mediums are not really such, and are in fact reaching a wiser aspect of themselves….but if this helps others to reach that wiser part of themselves also then I am not going to quarrel with it.
    In my view, the thing that will save Spiritualism is a more realistic vetting of mediumship, and a public admission that everything that comes from a medium’s mouth is not necessarily from a discarnate spirit, though the intention to obtain pure mediumship is a very genuine goal…the latter being the thing to emphasise hugely.
    The trouble is that there are too many rules about how mediums should present themselves (stage craft) to the congregation…far too many do’s and don’ts, and this can lead to an unnecessarily false presentation of confidence.
    I think there is too much hype and too little honesty.
    In my opinion it should become an acceptable thing for a medium to stand on a rostrum and say “I am not linking as strongly as I would like, and I’m not sure if this is from me or a spirit helper, but I am going to say what I am impressed to say”.
    It should be acceptable for a trance medium to come out of their trance and say ” I’m not sure that my control was fully in control of what I was saying today, but he/she was very close to me and I hope between us we have helped you”.
    This way, the congregations ( as well as many mediums) will learn to be more discerning about the way mediumship ebbs and flows and it will stop people throwing out unkind criticisms through lack of understanding the process.
    One of the things that we are taught on mediumship courses is to always be POSITIVE, (such an ambiguous word) and engender confidence in people about our faith in our own ability so that the energy in the room will be zinging and you can do a better demonstration etc etc. All this is true….if you really have the ability.
    However, if your mediumship is not too strong but you are on the rostrum because there is nobody else, you’re just going to make it seem like a big sham if you’re bouncing around being full of confidence and trotting out one inaccuracy after another.
    There is a horrible situation with mediums generally, not just in churches, being reported as not being genuine mediums because they got a lot of things wrong.
    If there was less emphasis on “appearing confident” and more on being yourself and getting the congregation rooting for you there would be far more tolerance of “getting it wrong” and a more relaxed atmosphere, which in return produces better mediumship.
    I strongly believe that honesty is the best policy, and Spiritualism will only survive as a religion if it publicly criticises itself at the same time it applauds itself. This is the only way to make the general public believe in the movement’s genuine goal for achieving pure mediumship, and it’s frequent success in producing it.
    For one thing it would encourage many people to try a few services instead of abandoning it after the first one they attended because it was less than hoped for.

    • I totally agree with you Janet. We need to be positive about what can be acheived through mediumship but also realistic about the varying standard of what is available.

  21. Hi

    I think to encourage new members we need someone to speak up on behalf of spiritualism in the international TV stage…..We see how popular these “super Mediums” are and are as popular as spiritualist mediums of the past….but none of them speak on behalf of the spiritualist movement.

    It should not take someone “hip and popular” to make a movement grow…..but lets be realistic here…..Humans can be superficial!!……

    We need to demonstrate spirit on a large scale and why not use the same forums as the “super Mediums”? but unlike these demonstrations the Spiritualist spokespeople can in fact provide a foundation of faith and hope as in the 7 principles…..

    Promote the education of ministers and bring in the new generation…..Positive thought, action and vibrations can work!!

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