Spiritual Companionship for the Spiritually Independent

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Explore the fastest-growing spiritual movement in the US. Learn why people choose to be spiritually independent, what their needs are when it comes to spiritual companionship and how best to serve them. “Independents” are suited to spiritual companionship and its focus on the agency of each individual. Live series. Designed for spiritual directors/companions/guides & chaplains. Watch on demand.


Spiritual independents form the fastest-growing spiritual movement in the United States – now making up 27 percent of the adult population. Around the world, the numbers of spiritually-focused but religiously unaffiliated people are on the increase, too – as are those individuals who claim roots in multiple traditions. These people are both motivated and skeptical. They are curious and often open to learning from non-traditional as well as traditional sources. But they don’t want to be told what to believe.

Isn’t this an ideal population to be served by spiritual companions – with our focus on listening, discernment and self-tailored spiritual life?

We think so. That’s why we’re offering this webinar series about the spiritually independent. We’ll explore why people choose this path, what their needs are when it comes to spiritual companionship, and how we can best serve them. We recruited two experienced and innovative spiritual companions to present the series. Janice L. Lundy, DMin and Jeanette Banashak, PhD are co-founders and co-driectors  of The Spiritual Training Guidance Institute, which offers certification in interspiritual and interfaith spiritual direction (guidance). They have been trailblazers in bringing companionship to the spiritually independent.

This four-session series is designed for spiritual directors/companions – as well as chaplains and other spiritual guides. We welcome all traditions and those who companion from no tradition. Students who are training in listening-based spiritual care are also invited to join. In two of the sessions, our presenters will work directly with someone who is spiritually independent to demonstrate how a spiritual companioning session might evolve.

All sessions will run 75 minutes each. There will be a PDF workbook for each participant so you can keep notes and jot down questions and observations.

Course Description

Session 1 – The changing religious/spiritual landscape: Why are people choosing to be “spiritually independent?”

Recent research presented by the Pew Forum (Religious Landscape Studies) and the work of Elizabeth Drescher (Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of American’s Nones) help us understand that the growing numbers of people choosing non-traditional forms of spiritual expression include more than just those who are leaving church. In fact, a sociological trend toward spiritual independence has been developing since World War II, and not just with Christians, but with Jews, and many other traditions worldwide. What does this mean for us as spiritual companions?

Session 2: Exploring our views about non-traditional seekers: Rooting out personal bias

What are our views about non-traditional seekers? What terms are we using to describe them and are they suitable and respectful terms for their unique spiritual understandings? How do we explore and root out personal bias toward non-traditional people? How do we move from trying to get them back into church or temple to acceptance of where they are? We will experience a contemplative practice to help us do this.

Session 3 : What are the needs of a spiritually independent person when it comes to spiritual companionship and how can we best serve?

Spiritual independent people cover a large spectrum of experience and intention, but often they have common needs. What are they looking for and how can we serve? What are their wounds, their triggers? What do these needs invite us to as spiritual companions? Why would this person come to spiritual direction at all? We will meet a special guest who is spiritually independent to ask questions and gain insights.

Session 4: Deeper thoughts and questions about companioning spiritually fluid and multi-faith seekers

Concluding thoughts. Final questions. We will feature another live guest who is spiritually independent, but from a different perspective. We will ask questions and gain more insights. We will explore our growing edges regarding our companioning Spiritual Independents, including crafting a prayer for ourselves as we go forward. How can we best serve all beings of any spiritual persuasion or none with non-judgmental, compassionate presence?

Webinar Presenters

Janice L. Lundy, DMin. is an interfaith, interspiritual guide and the co-founder and co-director of The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute. An experienced educator, she is author of several spiritual formation books, and the creator of the Pure Presence method of compassionate listening. She is currently Visiting Professor of Spiritual Direction at The Graduate Theological Foundation. She is also a regular presenter for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a national learning network.

Jeanette Banashak, PhD, is a bilingual, inter-religious spiritual guide and the co-founder and co-director of The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute. She has a background in traditional and alternative education, Spiritual Formation and mindfulness as an educational tool, interdisciplinary studies, leadership development, human development, Spanish, and the Enneagram. She is the author of The Mindful Pilgrimage: A 40-Day Pocket Devotional for Pilgrims of Any Faith or None. Originally a high school teacher, Jeanette is currently an adjunct professor at Erikson Institute and a Visiting Professor of Spiritual Direction at The Graduate Theological Foundation.

Additional Information

Each session session will run 75 minutes. CEU credits are available for all those who participate. (See below)

Learning Objectives

This series of webinars is designed for all those who provide spiritual care. It aims to explore why spiritually independent people choose their paths, what their needs are when it comes to spiritual companionship, and how we can best serve them.  Through actual interviews with spiritual independents, our presenters will demonstrate key issues and approaches. As in all our webinars, there will be space for contemplation, spiritual practice  and for question and response with our presenters. We hope each participant will leave the webinar with a clear idea of how spiritual companions can support spiritual independents.

Who may join the webinar?

Everyone is invited to participate in SDI Webinars.

Are CEUs available?

SDI will provide a certificate of completion for self-reporting to agencies. More information can be found here: continuing education units (CEUs).


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