This week a report was released by Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile from the Harvard Divinity School mapping a new cohort of businesses and non profits that are providing answers to the same needs that churches and organized religion once provided.

Today's Millennial generation is less religiously affiliated than ever before, yet two-thirds of unaffiliated Americans still believe in God or a universal spirit and one in five still pray daily. These facts have implications for what we perceive to be happening to America's religious practice. As the report states, "this looks less like a process of secularization and more like a paradigmatic shift from an institutional to a personal understanding of spirituality."

As this shift to a personal understanding of spirituality takes place, a cohort of businesses are capitalizing on this opportunity. The needs that people once looked to organized religion to fulfill are still there-- fundamental to our happiness and livelihoods. These needs have been categorized into six themes by the authors: community; personal transformation; social transformation; purpose finding; creativity; and accountability.

Here are three companies that address one or more of these fundamental human needs and are building thriving organizations because of it:

  1. Soul Cycle
    Each week over 50,000 riders take classes at a Soul Cycle. The classes provide both mental and physical well being and provide riders with an opportunity for personal transformation within a loyal community.
  2. Juniper Path
    Founded by an ex CFO of Pixar and a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Juniper Path has set out to provide mindfulness and meditation training both online and in-person. The program provides an opportunity for personal transformation and accountability that fosters a regular personal practice.
  3. The Dinner Party
    A community that unites people in their 20's and 30's who have experienced significant loss over potlucks, The Dinner Party provides an important space for individuals to come together and talk openly about death, enabling both personal transformation and community to naturally grow.

Read the full report, How We Gather, which has in-depth case studies on the companies above, along with seven others.


Published on: Apr 23, 2015