The Rise of the Dones

John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously, and leads others passionately.

But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person or another member. It wasn’t triggered by any single event.

John had come to a long-considered, thoughtful decision. He said, “I’m just done. I’m done with church.”

John is one in a growing multitude of ex-members. They’re sometimes called the de-churched. They have not abandoned their faith. They have not joined the also-growing legion of those with no religious affiliation–often called the Nones. Rather, John has joined the Dones.

At Group’s recent Future of the Church conference, sociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best.

For the church, this phenomenon sets up a growing danger. The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support, are going away. And the problem is compounded by the fact that younger people in the next generation, the Millennials, are not lining up to refill the emptying pews.

Why are the Dones done? Packard describes several factors in his upcoming book, Church Refugees (Group). Among the reasons: After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all. One of Packard’s interviewees said, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”

The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.

Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done. Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place. Preventing an exodus is far easier than attempting to convince refugees to return.

Pastors and other ministry leaders would benefit from asking and listening to these long-time members, before they flee. This will require a change of habit. When it comes to listening, church leaders are too often in the habit of fawning over celebrity pastors for answers. It would be far more fruitful to take that time and spend it with real people nearby–existing members. Ask them some good questions, such as:

  • Why are you a part of this church?
  • What keeps you here?
  • Have you ever contemplated stepping away from church? Why or why not?
  • How would you describe your relationship with God right now?
  • How has your relationship with God changed over the past few years?
  • What effect, if any, has our church had on your relationship with God?
  • What would need to change here to help you grow more toward Jesus’ call to love God and love others?

It’s time to listen. Even as I’m writing this today, another high-capacity lay leader emailed me with his decision to leave his church. He’s done. Like many others I know, he’s also a nationally known Christian leader. But he’s done.

Your church, even if it’s one of the rare growing ones, is sitting on a ticking time bomb. The exodus of the Dones, the rise of the Nones, and the disappearance of the Millennials do not look good for a church afraid to listen.

It’s not too late to start.

(Thom Schultz is the co-author of Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore.)

577 Responses to “The Rise of the Dones”

  1. The last years of church during my very active in ministry time, I was hashing over the value of everything I was doing… setting up songs, sermon notes, working the computer screen stuff, sound board, cadet leader, youth group helper, prayer group, pastor search committee, adult Sunday school leader of one of the classes, Angel food ministry… Yea I was getting overwhelmed and stretched thin with no end to this in sight. I was saved by the bell, so to speak when I got a job in another state. It gave me a chance to step back and reflect on everything. I did try a church here but ended up just throwing my hands up at God and saying, “I have had enough! No more!” I was still tired from it all, especially after moving house and home. I still highly value my relationship with God and thought much about returning to church but recently after trying a bible study group, completely killed any left over interest that I will ever return. I look at the online sermon topics of area churches but it’s the same old topics rehashed. I see that church is good for everyone for a while but not for everyone for all of life. Unless your called to teach or pastor, it isn’t beneficial to be a choir member to be preached to week-in, week-out till you die. It gets to a point where you need to leave your father and mother and cleave unto God, that is Christ.

    • Church is not about getting preached at. It’s not about you or me. It’s about being the body of Christ. It’s about help and encouraging others that may need you. It is about leading others to Christ. It is sad to see all of these selfish comments and attitudes. These do not reflect Christ. We are called not to be self centered but Christ centered. So grateful Christ didn’t throw his hands up and say I’m done.

      • Josh,
        your attitude is why people are leaving in droves. Just pray, God will show you clearly where you are not getting it. Not even close

      • The Free Woman,

        My attitude or opinion? Either way you are wrong. People aren’t leaving because of my opinion which is biblically supported. People are leaving because they have a misunderstanding of what “the Church” is. But that’s just my opinion of which I am entitled to just as you are to yours and I will respect you opinion! God bless!

      • So you are saying that the apostate church that we see in western society is the body of Christ? If that is the case I will put my bible in the garbage bin as it obviously has no relevance to the church that we see today. I get the feeling that it doesn’t anyway as we seem to be more excited about denominational doctrine than what the word of God says.

      • @Reality Check, no I am not suggesting the apostate Church is the body of Christ. In fact I am saying the opposite. We must separate ourselves from the apostate church. It was my understanding that the article was not addressing the apostate church. Communicating this way is difficult because their is so much lost in just reading comments. To have a conversation would be more beneficial. God bless.

      • Josh, it is pretty important that you don’t make the mistake of mixing the “church” as people up with your particular organization.

        If they leave, they remain the church, along with all the others they encounter. There is nothing God-required about your human organization.

      • Jim,
        Point taken. I have to deal with organizational frustrations all the time. But I do not allow the organization to keep me from being a functioning member of the body. My fear is that many use their frustrations with the organization as an excuse to no longer be a functioning member of the body. I still believe the Acts 2 model of the Church is the idea model of the Church.

        Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
        42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
        43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
        44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
        45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
        46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
        47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

        But notice that the need for organization came about as the Church continued to grow.

        Acts 6:1-7 (NIV)
        1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
        2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
        3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
        4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
        5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
        6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
        7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

        My point is that we must never stop being a functioning member (which means that “Church” is not about me.). We must serve one another as Christ set the example for us. We need to encourage one another and do as the writer to the Hebrews says,

        Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
        24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
        25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

        Just my opinion. God bless you!

      • Mans demands for structure has always been a thorn in the flesh all of us has had to bare. It started in Judges and has never ceased to this day, only gotten worse and worse. We are our own worse enemies — Enemies promoted by our lust for power, fame, wealth, status… All of which promoted at every turn by our sworn enemy.

        Keeping a low profile would be wise from a human standpoint. Unfortunately, this is never in the plane set for us by our Creator, Lord and Saviour.

        It is troubling to say the least.

        All because of our design to stand on our own, in our own ways. And that all because of God’s choice for each of us to have a will and choice outside of His plan for us.

        How I would love to have NOT HAD free will. See, there’s that choice again which has to be outside the will of God.

        Help us Lord. All of us really need it every second of our lives.

      • Hey Josh, this is Josh Packard here. I totally hear your point, and we’ve heard that a lot throughout the course of this project. I think there’s misunderstanding on both sides here. One thing I will point out, just to push back a little bit, is that while everyone certainly has an opinion and is entitled to it, it’s really valuable if we can add a dose of empirical data to our beliefs and opinions. That’s one of the really unique things about this project. You’ll of course be in much better theological position to decide if you think people are leaving because of a misunderstanding of church, but you might be surprised by the data which show us pretty consistently that people are, in fact, leaving organized religion to do MORE things that I would consider to be kingdom work, not less. It’s precisely the opposite of selfishness. They’re telling us that God calls them to do the work of the church, but they don’t think they should have to get beat up by the organization in the process.

        I totally respect if you have a different opinion about whether they’ve suffered enough before opting out, but I’d encourage you to withhold judgment. The expression of that judgment by people (as opposed to God), IS actually one of the primary reasons that people are leaving. So you’re right, your opinion doesn’t do anything, but expressing it that way is actually one of the causes according to the people we’ve been talking to.

        Anyway, I appreciate the dialogue, and I hope we’re able to produce something that is faithful and useful for everyone.

      • Josh,

        Thanks for the feedback. I totally understand where you are coming from. And I am not going to judge whether or not anyone has “suffered enough to opt out”. You are right I think there is probably some misunderstanding on both sides of the issue. Truth be told only God knows the hearts of men. Both sides make judgments according to ones own experience and where I am coming from is that God’s Word and his expectation for His Church ought to trump our experiences. I have enjoyed this dialogue and have yet to personally experience the “dones” in my realm of influence. So although my response may seem a bit polemic towards the article I am not dismissing any comments or empirical data that the study has come up with. My intent is entirely pure and my desire is that “The Church” would fulfill its purpose.

      • However, can’t leading others to Christ be (and should be) accomplished outside of the the four walls? I understand what Ryan is saying and I was a senior pastor (doing a lot of the same things he was doing)! You say Christ didn’t throw up his hands and say – I’m done…no he wen’t to the cross, said it’s finished and died. He rose again and then he left!!! He left and sent a comforter to help us in the person of the Holy Spirit :).

        When being the Church becomes life instead of church activities forming your lifestyle – that’s when we will see the big picture. Question: could the Church function without the institutions? Could people pastor (mentor, shepherd) others and then let them go as they grow without the institution? Could we express our worship through our gifts and talents…at meeting places, without the institution? These are serious questions that must be answered.

        I really don’t have a quip with the buildings or meeting places themselves – but when the preservation of a building supersedes true ministry and community (not a commune that meets on Sunday, Wednesday, and Sometimes Friday) – there’s a serious problem. Just saying this to make us think a little. 🙂

      • Josh your right about it being about Christ from beginning to end. The problem I have is I recognized a system in church that was not really conducive for growth. I could clean toilets, sing on the worship teams and cut the lawn but when it came to having any space to minister to anyone the pastor seemed to have that covered. Unless I was a yes man I just didn’t fit. The system has gone apostate just as Jesus said it would and it is best to follow Jesus outside the camp because that’s where He is. I don’t want religion. I need Jesus on a real personal level. I have nothing against pastors except when they want to try and get between me and my savior.

      • Why do you insist on YOUR biblical view of what the church is vs. How God can use a man outside of your box. It’s YOUR ego.

      • Unfortunately I have to agree with The Free Woman when she says that your approach is what drives people away from the church. You have a fluffy view on the church and how it’s centred around praising Christ and reading the bible. And when people disagree with your opinion you cut and paste half the bible into the comments as if that somehow proves your point. When I teach my kids something knew I’d much rather they go out and put it into practice as best as they can rather than sit around discussing what I have taught them and praising me for teaching them (that’s a parable by the way…..good enough for Jesus, good enough for me). The church is supposed to be a community supporting each other. I found the Catholic Church to be exactly as the article described…plop, pray and pay. As I write this my wife is putting the finishing touches on some cakes and vegetarian pies that we will share for lunch in the Buddhist temple. It’s a weekly community event where people support each other without feeling the need to throw a bible at us. I hope you enjoy Sunday with your community as much as I will enjoy mine.

      • @paul why do you have to be disrespectful in your response? Truth is you’re response validates everything I said. When you totally disregard scripture as you did we really have no reason to have this discussion. I could sling mud back at you and your judgments but that would do no good. I’ll turn the other cheek. Enjoy your time at the Buddhist temple I will certainly enjoy mine worshiping Christ. God bless you!

      • Thanks for your response Josh. No where in my comments do I suggest you disregard the scripture. But the discussion is about why people left the church and my response outlines the reasons why I left the church. Instead of just getting on and living a life with Christian values as part of a community people seem to focus their mind on a 2000 year old piece of literature and the answer to every situation is to spew out a string of bible quotes.

      • Hi Josh, I’m not without understanding of your point of view. I’ve worn many different shoes over the years, even been in your position and thinking. I kind of chuckle with all the comments and I don’t take anything personally. Time will tell where God takes me. There is more with this than I can write in one blog reply. We are all complicated people living all kinds of different lives. There was a time were I didn’t understand why some didn’t come to church all the time or came for a while and quit. I was judgmental of that within myself. Now I’ve lived it. I’m wearing those peoples shoes…. and I chuckle. Maybe us “dones” might be considered as electrons of an atom. We don’t gather into the nucleus with the protons and neutrons but we are still part or the atom. We are out here. We love God and have a vibrant relationship with Him. The Church did its job with us… preached the gospel, we believed, learned God’s ways, grew a personal relationship with God and ran with it. Sure this isn’t all perfect but neither is the church institution.

      • Josh,

        You are spot on. I couldn’t have said better myself. Be encouraged Brother!

      • Hebrews 10:25 NLT – And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

        The problem with leaving the church is that we are called to stick together. Paul speaks a lot about remaing united and tells us to keep meeting together. It would be quite obvious that we would hear the same messages over and over because God’s message never changes.

        I’ve left the church before as well. But what I noticed is that without remaining united with a local congregation, one cannot fully engage God’s calling. We lose accountability, we lose fellowship, we lose encouragement, and we lose communion.

        Too often, I find that when people leave the church, they do some of the work of the church, but cease to be the church. If you are in Christ, you are the church. You are s member of the body of Christ. An arm cannot fulfull its mission without the reat of the body.

        The church is a war machine. It needs all of its commanders. Their is no room for so called commited Christ followers to step down from his or her post. We need all parts working together to protect the family and engage the enemy.

      • Amen Josh! this is what I was thinking as I was reading all of these comments…When someone starts to feel “over-whelmed” than why don’t you just ask someone else to back you up, help you!? and be honest with people when asked to help with a program! It is no ones fault but yours when you can not say no and you have too much on your plate! and if your one that is in the pew and feeling “preached” at….are you listening to the message that God is really trying to get thru to you or are you acting like a teenager being told what to do by your parents? or do you think maybe either the evil one has your collar? (which every Christian goes thru, several times…which is one of the main reason’s Christ was willing to die for you!). either way, tired or not, it is your job as a Christian to act Christ like! period! otherwise, are you really a Christian? just pointing out the obvious

      • Paul, as Christians we are to fellowship because we have a bond. This bond is in Christ. John 1 says the Word is God. God’s Word is the authority, my words have no weight unless they are in agreement with God’s. This is why I prefer to quote from the scripture. The world can gather around a football game or anything they want but as Christians the one thing we do have in common and should bind us together is Christ or the Word.
        As a done I believe it is imperative that we find a way to gather together with believers, in fact the scripture states that but, one must understand that where 2 or more are gathered “there I am in their midst” is the minimum requirement for that”. Do I think the more the merrier? Sure I do to a degree. The body is made up of many parts. My issue is that the system itself is so corrupt that it has lost it’s effectiveness in really helping people to get to know their spirit.

      • I believe he threw up his hands and left the Jewish faith.

      • Unfortunately Josh, attitudes like yours characterise why I was Done. I was going through a really hard time, being bullied at work then retrenched, but getting no support from anyone at church. I needed some time to deal with my issues, so that year I only went to church about 4 times. No one seemed to notice, even though I had volunteered to be part of the service nearly every week for the past 5 years. The only time anyone from church contacted me was when a pastoral worker rang to ask me to mentor a new member who was starting out in the profession I had just left. D.O. N. E. My faith was just as strong, and I was still reading the Bible every day, but I just couldn’t be part of that community at that time (a large Anglican church in Melbourne, Australia in 2009).
        Anyway, if everyone is serving and encouraging their brothers and sisters, doesn’t that mean that everyone will in turn be served and encouraged by their brothers and sisters? That isn’t selfish, it’s just community.

      • Your not even close, Josh. When it’s pretty much a one man show (pastor/bishop/whatever)…not much BODY LIFE.

      • What selfish comments Christa? The “dones” have realise long ago that it is not about you and me and want to include Jesus as central to all we do. Unfortunately they are not allowed to make that happen because for too many churches it is about the programme; the pastor; the music; the numbers; the money; the building and if we have a spare five minutes, Jesus.

        How do I know? Simple. Look at any church programme and see for yourself where prayer figures in it. if you are lucky it will be one hour a week or really lucky maybe two. I have yet to see a church that meets for prayer every day. In the USA Barna Research showed that the average pastor prays for five minutes a day.

        If you want Jesus to be the centre of attention and the focus of ministry, you have no choice and that is to pray and when you have finished praying to pray again and again and again and again.

        I am wanting to start a ministry to the fatherless. It is taking me time to get it up and running because the church is opposed to anything that will expose their lack of spirituality. I propose to make prayer the centre of everything because I want it to be a supernatural ministry and without prayer it cannot be that.

      • Praise the Lord… For all the comments. I just want to say what just happen to me in the last 6 months. I started an Outreach Ministry in the Park, approx. 6 months ago. I started an Outreach Ministry called Missional Community in the Park, that I started with just myself. the Church told me not to startup the ministry, due to it would not work and other legal issues. I told them God has placed it on my heart to reach out to the community and start Missional Community in the park. and the God who I praise. God has given the growth with a thriving 50-60 people who attend and hear the word of God and we worship together with a fellowship breakfast. With the Elders and the Pastor demanding me not to start it because they said there is no way it would work. For all types of reasons, some I already explained and couple more stated to me that we tried it and it did not work, or who are you to startup a outreach ministry( you are not a leader so what authority do you have to startup the Outreach Ministry). Well for one thing the church. does not believe in the 5-fold ministry stated in Eph. 4:11. It is now a one fold and the church want to see the same growth results without the five fold ministry. and to Yes I am a Fully Ordained Minister with fully Licensed to plant churches, funerals etc. in which I have performed and have done several seminars such as the Three Baptisms, Radical Grace, How to walk in the Spirit. I Completed my Degree from Open Bible College and currently furthering my degree studies in Doctorate in Divinity. So yes I do have the Credentials to startup any Outreach Ministry in the Local church that I have been a member for 20 years. But today the Church board voted to kick me out of the Outreach Ministry that I started up. Due to the Church did not like me being in a position as a leader with a ministry that is growing and thriving with people coming to the Lord. The leaders in the Church said and quoted saying you are not a leader in the church and we do not see you as one. because you have not been voted in as Elder or on the board I since a little of Jealousy or Envy in the Leadership department. I have always been on good terms with the staff and pastor. Now the Pastor will not talk to me. He just says Don’t speak to me. If you want to discuss something with me you have to go through one of our Elders. As I see it the Leadership team do not have the experience nor the training to deal with the Outreach Ministry . Such Ministries need to be in place such as Grieve Care, Teens care ,Addictions , and Lay Pastorial training. The Board and all the leaders believe the only person that is qualified to teach such training is the Pastor and the Pastor alone. Everyone else is not qualified so I am also banned to teach members on leadership training. So there you have it. The leaders did not have enough faith to get behind me in the beginning with the Missional Community in the Park. But now that the ministry has grown The leaders and the Pastor want to run it and give it to someone else. and Possible to a Pastor in the Conference. So that the Church and the Pastor look good with the quota. It’s amazing the Church leaders have stooped so low as to Covent the Ministry the Lord told me to start. Please pray for me and the ministry.
        Pastor Ray

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      • I worked with a youth leader much like you into outreach but with teens. He got permission to do Christian youth activities inside the local school, after school and got teens together for events and did lock-ins in the church occasionally for the teens. There were some personality head butting with some in the church and the church people would not let there own teens go to youth group because of him but many teens from the community would come whose parents didn’t go to church. The church finally found a new pastor after I moved away who “ask him to leave” because he was “not right for the church.” Most people in churches can’t handle such passionate people. I was helping him in both the church youth group and his other school ministry, just being that second person so he was never alone with the teens. He was very outgoing, outspoken, a little reckless but that is the kind of people God can do things with (unlike quiet, shy reserved me). He wasn’t afraid to rock the boat and push the limits and he could get 100 to 150 teens from the community to church for an overnight lock-in.

      • Tell me all about it. I am banned from ministry because 10 years ago I could not subscribe to ONE doctrine as I had not fully worked through it for myself. Obviously I was not allowed to think for myself. The other 99 were OK but it had to be 100% or nothing.

        Now, 10 years later, I want to start a ministry to the fatherless (God told me to) but this pastor opposed it because I am in his words “a troublemaker” and I am not even in his church so the pastors have blocked me using a cafe all the churches own.

        The cafe is supposed to be used for outreach but it is a complete failure as I have never seen anyone in the cafe every time I have been there. Like most religious activity in the town, those that control it don’t want to change so anyone who says God wants me to do this is doomed to failure.

        As one of the pastors said when I spoke to them about putting together an evangelism task force, “go away. We run things around here.”

        Just a suggestion brother. Use paragraphs as it makes things easier to read. Thanks.

      • Thank you, for your story, and yes I will take note with the suggestion of using paragraphs. Thank you, for helping me with writing comments. I always want to make a good impression.
        Your brother in Christ,

        Pastor Ray

      • Anyone who believes it is okay to walk away from the Church, the bride of Jesus Christ, best pause and assess their personal relationship with Him, the One who is their Lord and Savior. Jesus died for the Church and, as such, would never give anyone a green light to walk away. There are no perfect churches because every church is filled with sinful people who need a never-ending supply of abundant grace from the Lord. Satan and his demons love and have a field day with those who call Jesus their Savior, but do not remain submitted and surrendered to Him as their Lord. I concede and can very well empathize that it is very tough to love our brothers and sisters in Christ unconditionally and sacrificially; however, this is the kind of love our Savior demonstrates every moment of every day we live in this life, and this is the kind of love we are commanded to share with others. Quitting on our churches is not an option, no matter how many years one has faithfully served, how bad the sermons are, how frustrating and peculiar our fellow church members are, or how physically, emotionally, or spiritually tired one gets. Until our hearts stop beating, we must keep on obediently loving and serving others in keeping with the example our Lord and Savior set for us two thousand years ago. It’s the very least we can do for all that Jesus did and continues to do for us!!!

      • Well, David…here’s the big question…is the Church the buildings and institutions or is the Church the people?

        You can never leave the people of God, if you are in Christ…you’ll seek each other out and find one another…for organic fellowship. However to be tied to institutions that hate each other (I’ve seen it…Baptist believe Pentecostals are heretics, Methodist that believe Baptist are Calvinistic hypocrites, Pentecostals that think everyone else is wrong). With this type of thinking (besides the church competition for resources) can’t you see why Dones love Christ, the Body (the believers), but don’t fall for the things of the institutions? If you stay in and attempt to express love to other members of the body…you will be put out of said church for being around those not like us. I’ve seen it far too often.

      • Oh… you are Good. Very… Good! The statement you said, makes us stop and think. and if we just mediate on what you said., you know it makes since what you just said. I never thought about the church in that way. Keep expressing your voice.

        Pastor Ray

      • Well said prerich. Let me tell you a true story. Apart from the Easter and Christmas get together the churches in my town had nothing to do with each other. I asked to meet with all the ministers to put a proposition to them which was to form an evangelism task force with each church supplying one member to sit on it.

        The task force would pray and consider joint evangelism initiatives and whatever they came up with each church would provide resources according to what they had so their was no pressure to extend themselves.

        I had suggested this because I was told by them that in the last 12 months, in all the churches three people had been saved.

        Their response was, Go away, we run things around here. Since then (4 years ago), I haven’t heard of any great increase in numbers in any of the churches.

        Last year I asked them if I could use their cafe which they jointly own for two hours a week to reach out to the fatherless. No, you’re a troublemaker. (hardly anyone goes to the cafe, not even church members).

        Funny thing is that the vision of the cafe is littered with the word grace. Seems that grace here is not unmerited favour. It is merited favour. Do something a pastor doesn’t like and you are out on your ear.

        I was a founding member of one church in the town and like me they have all left because they can’t work with the pastor because he is a control freak. Read, he is the only one who hears from God.

        Nuf zed.

      • Well said Josh ! Wow we can’t put up with those that are supposed to be our brothers and sisters and yet we have the arrogance to think we can minister to the unbeliever . Man I could go on and on about this topic but I’ve seen enough other posts and don’t want an argument .

      • Josh, NO ONE loved church more than I did. For many years I attended the same church and loved the people like a family. I loved the pastor even though he was verbally abusive to me, in
        public and sometimes in private. I understand correction and
        conviction, this had nothing to do with that. I was the kind that years ago would have judged others for leaving a church and
        felt pretty smug about it. Until things happened to me that I knew
        in my heart were not from God. I hated leaving that church be-
        cause I still love them all. But since I left I have been shunned by
        just about all of them when I see them somewhere else. They
        treat me like an outcast. I think the pastor contacted another area
        pastor and told him something false about me because when I
        tried going there, he too turned on me & things he said makes me
        think the first pastor got to him somehow. In some ways I feel like
        the fortunate one. I love God and that will never change. Just please don’t belittle peoples reasons for leaving church; of course
        there will always be rebels that don’t like correction, are petty,
        etc… But not all will fit in that category. I think spiritual leaders have
        closed their ears for so long to LEGITIMATE complaints and now
        are reaping the effects of that after so many years.

      • The Free Woman March 20, 2015 at 2:28 pm

        This entire blog post has taken on such a unique life of its own. I have read every comment since the beginning, many spoke so much to me that I believe they healed my heart even more. And some I could not even hardly read because of the judgmental attitude toward others.

        Being ridiculed the way my family and I were and gossiped about by church leadership was one of the most traumatic things I have ever been thorough in my life. It was outright verbal and emotional abuse.
        I have since moved on, and its nice to see (in a warped kind of way) that I am not alone. Thank you for writing such a moving and beautiful blog!

      • I hear your pain, We (Christian Counselors) call this, “Spiritual Abuse” from the Church leaders. This type of speaking to the sheep is unacceptable and sinful. You have the God given right in all means to not tolerate it.

        I will say, go to God in Prayer see Phil. 4:4-9 and the God of Peace will direct your path a shepherd that knows how to walk spiritually.

        Pastor Ray

      • Excellent!

      • Good observation Josh !

      • People just want body life and to be equipped snd empowered . Look up Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola . I recommend all his books . We need to go back to primitive N.T. church . Organic , relational , charismatic . Diaological . Not Greek lecture hall format . Look at 1 cor . 14 carefully . Csnt find modern church service in there . Who’s Biblical ?

      • December 3, 2015 at 5:59 pm

        I ansolutely agree with you. St. Francis of Assisi said ” By all means preach the Gospel, if you must, use words” . What he means, he has said in a much more succinct form then I have. He is saying, actions are important, the act of loving your neighbor is important, your actions to the least of these are important, more important then anything you say, for in actively loving you are carrying out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is here, centered in
        those actions, that all of our lives will be transformed.

      • Josh you’re missing the point. Many of us lay leaders who are Done have longed to be in a church where we can actually be of service to others in ways that God has gifted us to be. For me, I went to several churches in my new town to find one that would allow me to teach but pastors typically felt intimidated by someone who was equal or better than them in bible exegesis. This is a result of a fundamental way we do church – we hire professionals to do our ministry jobs for us and their livelihood depends on people thinking they have got it all together, got it all figured out, and deliver it in a package that doesn’t ruffle anybody’s feathers. There is no room for healthy public discussion. The pastors are too immature for that. I attended several church starts hoping for leaders that were different and wanted to do things differently but it was always the same story. Most of them agreed with my vision but were unwilling to do anything about it. After awhile, I stopped trying. I’m Done. For awhile anyway. And I suspect this is falling on deaf ears because you don’t know how to listen.

      • Thanks Josh! You are full of Godly wisdom. Thank you for sharing with others.

    • Ryan, I agree, I have changed churches. I found one with contemporary music and I love it. But they have many things going, and I’m tired of ‘serving’ all the time. I feel guilty to leave it all to the 5% or so, but I’ve been one of the 5% for so long I just don’t have the oomph to give of myself anymore.

      • I can’t forget all the places I volunteered to help and then ended up trapped into it under pressure not to give up and no one to hand off what I was doing. I’m a social introvert and found I was rubbing my own fur the wrong way under pressure to “step out of my comfort zone to serve the Lord”. I should not have been doing half the stuff I was doing, especially teaching or leading, because I am not gifted in that area, period. A rock could teach better than me. That is the problem with the job I have now. It is highly social and drains me so that I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything on the weekends. Back in the old days without all this technology, a teen with no car and friends too far to see every day, I would look forward to church to see them. In the 20’s after getting married, mostly went to church to see my parents and eat out with them afterwards. My relationship with God is and was always something I had outside of church. So as my relationship with God grew, church became less necessary… sad to say, redundant, an unnecessary waste of time, energy and finances. Me and my wife had no children so take that out of the equation so church just became pointless. Yea, I would stare at the floor during congregational prayer wondering why I went during the last years before I moved for this job. I had visited churches while living in a motel but each of the three just no connection and no chemistry. The same with this bible study group I tried. Everyone is nice but no chemistry and the subject matter is nothing new. Church was good for me for a time but not for all of life.

      • You know what. Take a vacation you deserve it. It is Christians Like you who make the Church Thrive Spiritually and with Growth. my hat is off to you we need more Christians like you. you are a dieing breed of faithfull to Christ..

        Pastor Ray

    • I think you might like Ralph Waldo Emerson. Check him out. He quit the Unitarian Church because he craved a more direct relationship to God.

      • Hi Katheryn, I might agree with some aspects and can see the frustration that leads to transcendentalism. The premise of “They believe that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—ultimately corrupt the purity of the individual.” certainly strikes true but I don’t think their view of God is correct from what I skimmed. What I see is that “The cost of running and maintaining the physical institution of the church has corrupted its theology to place more value on the church institution itself than what should be.” The whole point of this whole discussion with everyone is there is rebellion against this high value of Sunday church. It’s not rebellion against God or dislike so much of other Christians. We were all ever so slowly conditioned through sermons and teachers over the years to think highly of attending and being members of church. We can live life with God without the church institution, but the church institution cannot survive without people. The lie comes in, in that the leaders, who are either being paid by or taking care of the church, under pressured to make ends meet, want us to believe we cannot survive as Christians outside of the institution. This is the corruptive nature of having a physical money dependent institution. As a social introvert, I have more of an individualistic way of thinking and doing things, but I understand everyone is different, that there are a lot of social extroverts who love church and its social environment and wouldn’t not want to be there and help to financially support it.

      • Ryan: I was just talking about Emerson and his decision to leave the church as a minister and to worship God through nature. He refused to serve Communion anymore, because he thought congregants should communicate directly with God. It was the institution he objected to. Talking about his friends confuses the issue a bit, because they were not ministers.

    • The Scriptures indicate that we should worship God…. so even if you are burned out, you would bless God by attending worship and honoring Him through worship. In that process, you may just discover that you are loved for who you are in church rather than all that church-like activity.

      • We have a incorrect paradigm of “worship”. We in a sense have recreated temple worship along with all it’s trappings. Worship should be your life-style, everything you do should be done “as unto the LORD”. What we have done is confuse expressions of worship with true worship. What does it matter if you assemble with three believers in a home (I know of brick and mortar churches with less than 5…but they have a “church building”) or a large place to express your worship? In the Done’s process…we have learned that Christ is with us …we don’t go to met with him (OT temple worship theology). Dones’ worship God too, and they also express their worship, just not how others would like them to – and they tend to meet the biblical mandate of encouraging one another.

    • You’re throwing out the baby with the bath water. You got overwhelmed with being a Martha. We’re there primarily to worship God at the Mass. Pray and meditate there on being quietly and selectively involved. I find my involvement with St. Vincent’s helps me focus on Gods poor and needy. So I am part of a community with a similar goal and I limit my time there. I thus find Church one of the joys of my life. It helps me live the great commandment….love God and neighbor.

    • Such a good convo going on here. Learning lots but am frustrated that so far I haven’t heard any real answers other than angst from the “dones”. Of course I didn’t read all 200+ replies so forgive me if there are some concrete things we can work on in our own little assembly that is growing. Please help me!

      • I have at my fingertips, 6 area churches in a 5 mile radius that I know of who post there sermons online in either audio or video format. I’ve listened to many. There is that has thousands of audio sermons and a hundred or so churches who are broadcasting their services live online. It is kind of interesting to church surf on Sunday morning. Besides reading my own bible, I have and can study in depth any subject I wish through Google searches. Also at my fingertips here I have all kinds of blog sites where I can discuss topics of choice with others and ponder their opinions as they can mine. To think now that I don’t go to church yet I am still involved in many different people’s ministries including this Holy Soup blog site. For me, an introvert, this sort of thing is God-sent, so to speak. I have no desire for church services or groups but love this blogging interaction. This isn’t for everyone as church isn’t for everyone. Just my thoughts.

    • Ryan, I can tell you that there ARE churches out there that aren’t in the business of trying to “fix” you. The trouble with most American churches is that they do a horrible job of connecting Christians to Christ! Yeah! They say, “yeah, you were saved on such and such a date in such and such a way, but that’s the past! Now it’s about what you gotta do to STAY saved; what you gotta do to keep God happy.”

      But that’s not the Gospel and that is NOT the Christian faith! The Christian faith, every moment, is about us sinners who are weak, bored, tired, distracted, tempted, and even lost, being promised and encouraged and comforted in the fact – the reality – that Christ has died for us and by His atoning death, God continues to give us His good and gracious gifts of salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, etc. We Lutherans like to call this “Same time saint and sinner”, and how true it is! Church should not be about ‘correcting your behavior’ inasmuch as it is about assuring you of Christ’s work for you on the cross because of and in spite of your behavior.

      You go where you are fed, and if you are not being fed the gifts of our Lord at one church, you earnestly seek to find that church that is feeding the sheep of God’s pasture. And yes, for every 100 so-called ‘evangelical’ churches which focus too much on YOU and your obedience and not enough on Jesus, there is one that will feed you what you need – the Word of God. I pray that you continue to seek such a church and if you haven’t been to an LCMS church, I encourage you to check it out. Yeah it’s liturgical and there is a LOT of Scripture read, but I think you’ll leave filled with the goodness of God.

      • Dan I believe being fed at times are important but I prefer a potluck where everyone brings something. I have absolutely nothing against teaching however, learning how to eat for yourself is critical. In Hebrews 5 Paul just finished talking to the Hebrew believers and reproved them for not being ready for the meat he wanted to bring them, instead they were barely on milk. He goes on in chapter 6 telling them that they need to leave the elementary principles (or doctrine) and go on to maturity. What I hear in that is there is something more than just teaching. I believe he’s pointing us to Life. I have never heard a message in the mainline churches or even the evangelical churches that teach you to get to know your own spirit. That is such a basic and foundational issue that should begin at the moment of salvation. God said that His Spirit bears witness to our spirit. Those I speak to about this usually have not heard that they need to get to know their spirit. If one of the main ways God speaks to us is through our spirit then I see it as a critical issue to the process of transformation.
        God wants to speak to us right where we’re at. My experiences are not somebody else’s and God is fully capable in knowing how to make his point to the individual. When we listen to the same guy teach week in and week out we get things through his filters instead of our own. I’m not saying we can’t learn some things from teaching but when God speaks to the individual through the word or through their experiences and the word it becomes LIFE. this is what John was referencing when he said “we talk about those things our ears have heard, our hands have handled (experience).

    • Appreciate your candor, Ryan. It seems like the church in your case has missed the last stage of the discipleship process – empowerment – where you understand your personal calling from God and understand your gifting and talents. If you don’t enter that stage, most people will stall in their faith, eventually dropping out because they have to essentially backslide (stop growing spiritually) to stay in fellowship.

    • Why are we dancing around the elephant in the room? You want to know why people are leaving the Church? It’s because the doctrines of religion have no factual basis in objective reality. It really is that simple. There is no justifiable reason to believe in any particular God, so all the rituals and routines surrounding His worship are just empty, unsatisfying motions that accomplish nothing. That’s what everyone is thinking, but it is too culturally flammable to just say it out loud. So I’m going to do it for you.

      • Nice try, James.

        Many people, some brighter than you, have concluded otherwise. In fact, there is nothing edgy about criticizing religion from a naturalistic, materialistic perspective. It’s been attempted for hundreds of years now and there is nothing new about the flawed arguments. Nothing inflammatory at all. Plus, that’s not what this thread is about.

        This thread is about people who are offended at God and the Church.

      • Hi James. I’m going to disagree with you here. I don’t have a hold on religion or doctrines. I have a personal relationship with Jesus not based on religion, doctrines, tradition or ritual. There are a lot of churches today that don’t emphasize the rituals and routines, but instead focus on the intimate knowledge of God — being honest, real, and personal with Him and letting Him help you through life. In worship, I find solace and comfort. It helps me re-focus my eyes and spirit on something more eternal than today or tomorrow, and reminds me that there is more to the universe than me and my problems. I’m sorry you haven’t ever met the living, dynamic God that is personal in my life. I pray maybe some day you may do so; if that happens you would understand why we choose to worship the God we love more than life.

      • The data doesn’t support this skeptics assertion. It may be the way those who turn to atheism or agnosticism, but not for most of either the Nones or the Dones. Our thinking on this issue must be based on the sociological exit data, not the assumptions of our religious or irreligious worldview.

      • Nice try buddy but Matthew says you have to be in the kingdom to see the kingdom. Prayers go out to you!

      • That may be what you are thinking, but it is not what everyone is thinking. Those rituals are meaningful and helpful to some people. Would you really deny what is helpful to some just because it is not helpful to you?

    • I want to start by saying that I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and my hope is in His atoning death and resurrection. Having said this I would like to state that I believe that most modern day churches have very little resemblance to the first century churches. Yes, the original churches had leaders to make sure that error and false doctrines were not introduced into the church. However, I believe that these leaders bear little resemblance to the modern day ordained ministers of today. I think that these original “elders” were usually unpaid lay man whose role was more to function as a group discussion facilitator than to act as an authoritative teacher. I think that what the modern day church desperately needs are more small group fellowships where everyone has a chance to share their opinions.

      Jesus spokes some words that I think receive way, way, way too little attention in most present day Christian circles. I think that these words are most appropriate for this discussion.

      Matthew 23:8-12 NIV –
      But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    • I have been there many times , but have chosen to remain in the body of Christ and attend church. my reason >>> I think too often we expect to be entertained and feed and look after and if that’s not happening then its the churches fault . how about a different way of looking at it ? Dear brothers and sisters , if you are in church and you just feel you are not getting anything out of it , or it seems phoney or what ever , then maybe its because you have reach maturity and now need to give out, you are full your cup runneth over, that is the time to use what you have gathered in, time to be the one that helps the widow, a father to the fatherless, a listening ear to those in sorrow, take up your sword and use it !!!!! that is where you will find your true fullfillment

      • That’s the issue with the Dones, they are usually the ones that are giving out…some are even pastors.

    • Ryan, I thnk you’re right to frame your church-leaving to the trauma of moving. Some years ago one of my undergraduate students, a gifted pianist, wrote a paper about his growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness in Portugal. When state persecution became unbearable, three generations of his family moved to Brazil. When the persecution there became too great, they relocated to the US. Their first Thanksgiving here, they were sitting around the dining room table one Sunday and realized that they were done with church. Stress and trauma are major factors in contemporary life, and the shock they deliver to our well-being in all ways, physical, mental, spiritual, and religious, should be recognized and taken seriously. I can’t offer any advice to you–you don’t need any–but I did my best to listen to you.

  2. I was at the Future of The Church summit. The information about the rise of the “Dones” really resonated with me. In 34 years of ministry in several different congregations and denominational work I have seen it, and seen it progressively grow. Yes, there have always been older people who would decline requests to serve again, saying they had served their time and it was now time for someone else to serve, but now it’s not unusual to see younger actively-involved people suddenly quit. Reasons given when asked have sometimes been vague, which I took as not wanting to state that they were in reality burnt out, but didn’t want to admit it, perhaps even to themselves. I have also seen Preacher’s kids, who having seen their parents devote their whole life to the church and also the viciousness of some church members, choose not to be involved in church life after they leave home. And, I have known clergy who once they reach retirement, literally leave the church, not even an occasional pulpit supply. Then there are the clergy to quit long before retirement. Some of these physically leave the ministry – setting aside their ordination, but more devastating to the church are those who continue to serve, but have checked out mentally and spiritually. I saw a poll somewhere about the high percentage of clergy who would leave the ministry if they thought they could do something else. I guess that is saying the church is often its own worst enemy.
    On the other side, I know some lay people who seem to be “addicted” to church. They are always around, either want to, or have ideas about how to run everything. They sometimes even express frustration at being so involved, but they can’t stay away. It’s just like the alcoholic who hates drinking but can’t quit.
    What I would like is some possible solutions. People talk about niche ministry – enabling people to serve where they have interests and gifts, but even that can get old. What are other possibilities to keep people spiritually alive?

    • John, you asked what we can do to keep people spiritually alive. As I mentioned in the article, we begin by asking the people themselves. Sit down, over coffee or a meal, one on one, and ask them. Be prepared to simply listen–without defensiveness or advice or instruction. Just listen. After spending this quality time with many of these long-time members, I believe you’ll see themes begin to emerge. And I also believe some of those themes may require change that will be uncomfortable. Most meaningful and necessary change is uncomfortable.

      • Also, just hang on a bit. I’m culling through the data as we speak and trying to see what they tell us about solutions. Church-workers will be able to see more application than me in some areas, but I think we can learn some lessons from what the dechurched tell us along with some strategies for what works in other organizations with similar problems.

    • Well, I no longer belong to a congregation other than that of the Body of Christ. I will however – help and lend my talents to local bible believing assemblies if asked. I will not join, because I can’t join what I’m born into. I even give – but all of these actions flow freely, not of per-say necessity (because I have to be there). I currently work with Baptist, Pentecostal, and Methodist assemblies – I have no agenda other than what God wants – and I find it refreshing to function in this manner. It makes the yoke very easy and light indeed.

    • I think we need to get away from “playing church”, which to me is generally what a church service is. We need church meetings/fellowship, not church “services”. Also, leadership needs to get away from paid professional ministry to every man has a ministry and some are called to equip the others, but not necessarily as paid staff. A church with 200 members does not need a paid staff. It just needs a half dozen men or women willing to take responsibility and work together to equip the rest and each other. About that – teachers need to be humble enough to learn from other real people sitting in the same room who don’t see things the same as they do. Also, if the focus is not to have a great church service (because you don’t have a church “service” but a meeting/discussion/fellowship – then there’s less need for professionals to run the place. I see tons of mature men of God who have been emasculated by the system that puts a premium on having a professional face for public display. The church wasn’t meant to be run that way.

      • Kirby, there is no doubt that money is the elephant in the room. I agree with you that there needs to be a group of believers (however big or small that may be) that can deal with the practicalities of a meeting. From what I have seen it looks like many places I’ve been see the gifts of pastor, prophet, teacher as an office rather than a function. If you are gifted in this way then you should function in that way because it is a gift for the building up of the body.
        I also agree with you that the meetings seem to be more about a service rather than the body getting together and functioning as a body. I recognize that the size of a meeting can present challenges but there are ways for all believers to participate or function in the body corporately. The group I’ve been meeting with recently has really turned the current model of “church” upside down on it’s ear. Is there teaching, yes of course there’s teaching. Do others get to share Jesus in that corporate meeting even if they don’t move in that particular gift of teaching? Yes because we all read the word and reach out to people all week long. We all have individual experiences in Christ as we breath and move in Spirit all week long. Ephesians says the riches are in the saints and i will testify that when we share those riches (especially in a corporate setting) we all enjoy that treasure that we recieved upon salvation.
        I am afraid that at this point in time the Nicolaitans (victory over the laity) have sufficiently blanketed and infused their ideas of heirarchy in the church and truly quenched the Spirit that I have been so blessed to see come forth in our little meetings.
        I also agree with your last statement Kirby, “the church wasn’t meant to be run that way”. When one brings a song and another brings a word, the whole body is blessed. In the O.T. God warned Israel about having a king other than HIM. Not only has the leadership today in general dominated the church in several ways but the people loved it so. I say that because most want an excuse and not the responsibility to God themselves.

  3. I have been a Done for 10 years. My father and grandfathers were pastors. I went to Bible College, my husband and I have been teachers, deacons, committee chairpersons, musicians, worship leaders…well, you know the type. I got tired of leadership whose “agenda” was more important than the people. I got tired of seeing people used up and then spit out when “fresh” people came to the church to serve the staff’s agenda. We tried never to be a part of the problem, we just picked up the pieces of broken, hurt saints when they were no longer of use to the pastoral staff.

    We have not abandoned our Faith. How could we? God is not responsible for the modern church of today. He is grieved, as we are.

    We do miss the fellowship and the preaching of the word. Recently found a small body of believers with whom to worship and fellowship. They were lovely as long as we attended and paid our tithes. They even visited during the first month of my husband’s recent extended hospital stay. Because of his illness we haven’t been able to attend church in four months. (3 major surgeries). Haven’t seen or heard from the pastor or church members for 2 1/2 months. We have been keeping them updated by email.

    We have learned, yet again, that God is Faithful, we do not put our trust in man, but in Him.

    I do enjoy reading your articles.

    God Bless,

    Debbie Dean

    PS My husband and I are both 60 years old

    Sent from my iPad


    • I am a Done also- and I am ordained in a main denominational church. When I was diagnosed with cancer only parishioners visited and no one sat with my husband at my second surgery. I have experienced The Church as a reflection of our society with The Body of Christ allowed in only when it can be controlled and used; to be discarded when used up. “When she was good, she was very, very good; when she was bad, she was horrid” as the nursery rhyme says. I can not sit thru another worship service celebrating ” love for all” when it is all white, all English, all heterosexual.

  4. Reblogged this on @PaulWaters and commented:
    Interesting comment. And I’m sure most church members know someone who ‘used to belong’. Not that they all made conscious decisions that they’d had enough. I think many just ‘fade away’ because of circumstances, or a vague feeling of not ‘finding their place’… Or a hundred other reasons. I think we sometimes lose people just through carelessness, through not paying attention, through being too focussed on our own needs and not being aware of what’s happening in people’s lives. It certainly wouldn’t hurt us to ask the questions this blog suggests…

  5. I feel like being done every other week, but here’s why I’m not–I am in love with the Head of the Church Jesus Christ who suffered for me. His body is a wheat field full of tares–and a sheepfold with wolves within, wolves without. If I focus on the work of Satan to destroy the body or myself, I am overwhelmed. The call of Christ is to be IN HIM. You can’t do that and be away from His body. Yes, I am a 4th generation preacher, and have had massive amounts of pain and never ending disappointment in ministry. I am not living for today but for eternity. This world is brutal because its god is Satan. Our biggest problem is converting the church to be crucified followers Christ wants us to be–to get the world out of them, though they are in it. Our churches are full of people who have no desire to depart from self and sin, but just play a part that looks good to themselves. Those who love Christ and are in His Word can see the problem is this: the modern church is carnal and faking it. It’s fostered by lame preaching that tickles the audience and Bible studies that revolve around asking the opinions of those there who are ignorant instead of teaching the depths of God’s holiness and the magnitude of His love.

    • @The G Question: Can you do the things that God has called to apart from the organization? I love the Church…all of the Church – it’s His Body. I may not belong to a local assembly, but many of the local assemblies see that I’m willing to work with them in Godly endeavors. I never consider myself a visitor in a assembly – I’m just seeing a part of the body I didn’t know before.

      I would be considered a Done – but in some cases a revolutionary. I’m not hurt when you don’t want my help or feel that you don’t need it. That’s fine with me. We can depart in love and continue our independent/interdependent sojourn in fear. One thing no one can stop me from doing – and that’s praying for one another.

    • Thank you ! Excellent statement…..

  6. Thank you for putting what is going on with me into words. I have involved elder husband, pastor son-in-law, active daughter, and I am done, done, done. I am so tired of staring at the back of peoples’ heads and being told what to do.

  7. I’d be a Done if it wasn’t for my fear that I will not be in church on the day that the pastor, despite himself, squeezes out a sermon that the Holy Spirit can work with, resulting in the death of my Old Self and the raising up of my New Self.

    • You would probably have a better chance of something like that happening under a good Therapist than under the leading of your Pastor.
      Signed -Therapist who was a Baptist pastor for years.

  8. Interesting and scary as a ‘pastor’ (officer) I try to listen and make sure I understand before I try to help and yet am terrified because our Church is not growing as a Church congregation (even if the community are responding well to all that takes place) so how can we hand on the batten to the non- existent?

  9. I appreciate the concern for the condition of churches in the U.S. that this piece and many others convey. You show the understanding that there is something wrong with how things are going. But I also think the ideas presented are somewhat distorted. (For the record, I am a pastor, having returned to pastoring about a year ago after ministering in a different way for several years. Also, I am pretty cynical about the church in the U.S.)
    There is little context provided regarding “John” and the other dones. Did they go to the church leaders and discuss their concerns and feelings; did they ask for help; did they seek wisdom from fellow believers? How can pastors and ministry leaders listen to them if they just say “I’m done” and go?
    One says, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.” Does that include Moses, David, Isaiah, Matthew, Paul, John, Jesus? If you have a problem with the ministry of preaching/teaching, you need to take that up with the One who called “some guy” into that ministry.
    “They want to play. They want to participate.” What does that mean? Do they want to be up front for others to see them? Do they want to have their agendas and preferences and opinions being followed instead of someone else’s? You’re done? Maybe you need to get on your knees until you’re undone and ready to be a servant wherever the King assigns you (Isaiah 6).
    “Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place.” What!? That’s what our mission has come to – not losing these people? Make sure we don’t step on their toes, offend them, overlook them, but stroke their egos because they’re really active and give a lot of money to the church?
    The church has been deformed from God’s design and now that it’s catching up with us, people are giving up and quitting. And it’s the leaders – pastors and staff – getting the blame. Yes, leaders need to set aside self-centered agendas and include church members in ministry. But I don’t think that’s the foundational issue. Start here (then see what follows): reduce the pastor’s job description to “prayer and the ministry of the word.” Period. That leaves plenty for church members to participate in. After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, you feel you’ve heard it all? Then, stop demanding your pastor be a people-person and a church representative to the community. Don’t require him/her to be on every committee in the church. Don’t expect him/her to be there to hold the hand of everyone who has a sniffle. Don’t assign him/her to contact insurance agents, repairmen, and toilet tissue suppliers. Don’t look to him/her to know what’s in every closet in the church building, how the A/C works, and what’s on the fellowship dinner menu. Don’t insist that he/she attend conferences, seminars, and rallies. Throw him/her in the study (stop calling it “office”), lock it to start if you have to, and say “Don’t come out until you have a fresh word from God for us. We’ll take care of the rest.” Then listen to that word. Accept the vision and direction God gives your church through the pastor. There’s a reason why God gave you that pastor, and there’s a reason why you are not the pastor.
    I suppose my ideas are somewhat distorted, as well. But maybe a synchronizing of our ideas can help us get to where we need to be.

    • Mike, I understand your frustration. Your job is not easy. And yes, the Dones have their own responsibilities for the situation in which they find themselves. However, this article is about what church leaders can do to be more effective. I fear that many of the assumptions and judgments you mention only drive the Dones further away. In fact, Josh Packard’s research shows that judgmentalism is a major factor many Dones flee. The judging approach to solving this problem is having a decidedly negative effect.

      Church leaders have been increasingly unsuccessful in blaming others for their churches’ decline. As with many things in life, we are more effective in first taking inventory of our own shortcomings, and acting on those specks in our own eyes.

      • Thom, I am sorry you see my thoughts as judgmentalism. This is not about the speck in my or anyone’s eye. It’s not about my frustration or how easy or hard my job is. It seems that anytime someone hears something that contradicts their own ideas, it’s labeled judgmentalism. How can the conversation progress if that’s the response?

      • I think the church has the wrong thinking going. They assume that once a person becomes a Christian that they are expected to be chained to church in service and attendance plus pay the God tax the rest of their lives which in my view is slavery. This is one of my issues. The church is there to preach the gospel and teach people about God and His ways in hope that God will find them. There should be a time with everyone where they get to a point in their relationship with God as I have where they no long need to be dependent on church to be fed. I feed myself and God guides me, teaches me, rebukes me and encourages me out of His word. The only reason a person would have to keep going to church is if God has given them a heart to serve and bring people to where I am at. The money dependency of the physical institution is a major thorn in many ways.

      • I hate to be redundant but I have to say when Church is about “me” and not worshiping God and serving and leading others to Christ I think we have missed the point. Just a couple verses for consideration:

        even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭20‬:‭28‬ ESV)

        When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (‭John‬ ‭13‬:‭12-17‬ ESV)

        And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭10‬:‭24-25‬ ESV)

    • I think you’ve got it…well, I totally think the same as you’ve said but there will be those who say we’re wrong 🙂
      God bless

      • @Ryan “I think the church has the wrong thinking going. They assume that once a person becomes a Christian that they are expected to be chained to church in service and attendance plus pay the God tax the rest of their lives which in my view is slavery.”

        Exactly…there must come a time of maturity. Once in pasture – sheep know how to feed and drink water for themselves.

      • @prerich This is going to seem too broad, but the disease is sin. I’ll try to be more specific. I want to be God, just like satan and our ancestors in the garden. So as pride entered satan’s heart, it is pride in our hearts that causes us to not see things as Christ sees them. But God (Rom. 5:8)! I’m so grateful that God has reconciled us, His bride, the church, and called us to use the spiritual gifts He has given us to lift up The countenance of His bride.

        So if Christ died for the church, how could I ever walk away from it because someone else is choosing disobedience over love! “One of the clearest passages on the intention of the death of Christ is Ephesians 5:25-27. Here Paul not only says that the intended beneficiary of the death of Christ is the Church, but also that the intended effect of the death of Christ is the sanctification and glorification of the church. This is the truth we want very much to preserve: that the cross was not intended to give all men the opportunity to save themselves, but was intended to actually save the church.

        Paul says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor.””

        I get the fact that the present day church doesn’t look like the Acts church. The scripture indicates they were focused on Christ and each other, not self. I’ve been in church for most of my life and I’ve served for the right reason – to make Christ known – and for the wrong reason – making it about me, which takes on many forms. Yes I’ve wanted to be “Done” more times than I would like to admit. Fortunately, my Savior, the One who gave everything for His bride, that includes me, didn’t only go part of the way to the cross and say, “I’m “Done.” He went all the way and said, “it is finished!”

        We will be burned out if we’re serving out of own resources; however, when we draw from the Wellspring of life, we will serve to give the glory to our Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ! I want to stop making it about myself.

        Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t listen to understand how the church can stay focused on Christ’s business – loving the Lord with every fiber of my being, taking the gospel to all people and making disciples. I agree that we sinners that make up the church do lose our way and strive after wrong things – type of music, it’s too cold or too hot, I want red carpet not brown. We make it about what we think will satisfy our souls when in fact denying ourselves (Luke 9:23) chasing after our Savior is all that will satisfy the soul.

        While satan has infiltrated the church and is wreaking havoc by distracting her with trivialities, we must bear in mind that it is the Lord who is cleansing His bride. The great news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that satan and death have already been conquered!

        Lastly, if our Savior was rejected and kept pressing forward for His ultimate purpose, how can we not learn to deny self and live victoriously as the bride of Christ. He didn’t die for our self-centered ness, He died to free us from self to a life fixed on Him, that loves His bride.

        The church is not functioning properly when every joint isn’t supplying! Each member is essential and necessary to the health of the body. So if I say, “I’m Done,” I’m not only letting down my brothers and sisters, I’m not showing my Savior my great love for Him through my obedience to his Word. And the unbelieving world isn’t seeing the power of the gospel lived out in changed lives. We’re deceiving ourselves if we think we can walk out our faith alone. It’s not biblical! God’s design, according to the Word, is for redeemed sinners to walk side by side as we grow in our faith.

      • There are many assumptions in your post which cannot go unchallenged.

        The last thing Dones are interested in is being God. A lot of the time they want to be like jesus but they have difficulty because the system is supreme and that has to be served first.

        Yes Christ did die for the church but which one? Denominations are condemned in scripture so which one did he die for?

        I don’t think the Dones have given anyone the idea that they want to save themselves.

        yes Christ did say it is finished on the cross and many Dones say it is finished. I’ve had enough of this faux christianity. I am going to find reality.

        The Dones want to stop everything being about the denomination and the minister that is why they are leaving as both are complacent and more interested in the status quo than real life.

        Dones by and large do not make it about them. They are leaving because it is not about Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. It is about organisation, systems, non biblical leadership and keeping everyone happy.

        The Dones are denying themselves….denying the same old that has no challenges, that requires nothing, that keeps them ineffective, and the don’t rock the boat mentality.

        Your last comment was bizarre. You are complaining that “The church is not functioning properly when every joint isn’t supplying! Each member is essential and necessary to the health of the body. So if I say, “I’m Done,” I’m not only letting down my brothers and sisters, I’m not showing my Savior my great love for Him through my obedience to his Word.

        One of the main gripes of the Dones is the lack of opportunity to supply to the body through their gifting. If you are not “the pastor” forget it. How can you be letting anyone down by leaving when the thing you want to see happening is not happening in most churches. Do you really believe that by staying and stewing in the pew will make things happen? If you do, you are very deluded.

        The fact is the religion of denominations is letting down everyone and everything because they deny people the right to act according to scripture when they come together.

      • @smskip Notice – I never state that I walk out my faith alone. I just walk out my faith beyond the context of “membership” (which is actually a business term) to a local body. I believe I belong to the Church, the entire Body of Christ – not to a select pastor, nor to a particular denomination. Would denominations crumble if everyone thought this way…yes. It doesn’t make for good business – however if communities of believers (not sects or cliques) would come together individually? Not to form an organization but the flow naturally as an organism.

      • I am not sure why prerich you use the expression ‘membership is actually a business term’ – Holy Scripture says, “we are members one of another.” ???

      • @brgeem ….context of the word member….the church looks at the word as having joined and made a commitment to, where as the Bible – the word has a meaning as a living part, born into, can’t be separated.

    • Mike you sound very annoyed. let me state that the pastor position is called an office. see Eph. 4:11 in the Greek language. also the Pastor is the Shepherd and to take care of the sheep. that is to say- Yes His responsibility is to see each person. To see what their needs are. If the Pastor can not do visitations he is to busy doing the wrong stuff. With the deacon job description looks like that pastor really likes being involved in these affair. And yes a Pastor needs to be a People person. His main objective is to Love People. Not the agenda or we like to say task orient so much. This is really for a Bishop or Elder, and Deacon to do.
      Pastor Ray

      • Ray, I hope you don’t take offense at this but your ability with Greek isn’t up to par with your title Pastor. Eph. 4:11 says nothing about an office. It’s a ministry. There are no offices or positions in the New Testament, other than the one held by Jesus himself. Also, no one called himself Prophet Agabus, Pastor Mike, or Apostle John. None of them used a title in front of their names. They would refer to the ministry or function they had in the church by saying something like, “Paul, an Apostle” but nobody addressed him as Apostle Paul. In Acts 20 when Paul left a church he planted in the hands of the locals he left it in the hands of the elders whom he admonished to pastor and oversee (be the bishops). Several elders for one church. THAT is the biblical model for pastoring a church. You will never see one single individual in the New Testament who was “the pastor” of a church, except for Diotrephes in 3 Jn. who John had nothing nice to say about. To find biblical justification for your position you have absolutely nowhere to go.

    • I appreciate your candor. I also appreciate your new job description for a pastor – just pray and get a fresh word. Problem is, we tend to load the pastor up with a lot of responsibilities that others could be doing so we can justify his full-time salary. Are you willing to take on an outside job and only get a stipend for bringing a fresh word because it’s not a full-time job? You know, like Paul did. Oh, you can make it a full time job – tell us you’re going to pray 20 hours a week and study and prepare for a sermon the other 20 hours a week, but providing a fresh word doesn’t require that, so don’t try to fool us. I’ve spent a ton of time studying and praying and have never accepted one penny for it. And why are you “the” pastor? Why doesn’t your church have others who can bring a word? Is it because they don’t fit the stereotypical profile of a professional pastor? You need to find the others in your body who have something to offer and limit your time in the pulpit to give others a chance. I’ve seen how gifted preachers covet that spot in front of the microphone but the church was not designed to work like that. Why not put dying to self to practice and live to see others develop their gifts? Since you will have a day job you won’t be hamstrung by the need to keep the offerings rolling in, no?

  10. I became one of the dones this year. I’ve been saved and active in church for about 37 years. I have never encountered in any church I’ve been involved in anything that resembles the church in the book of Acts. I also don’t believe anymore that Christians go to church. We are the church, but being the church has been replaced by going to a man-made organization and show.

    I haven’t left the church, at least not the real Ekklesia. God has drawn me out of the manmade institutions that people call church. And, he is drawing others out as well. He is drawing us to new forms of church, which are in reality the old forms of church found in the New Testament. Until those in ministry are able to see that reality–the reality that many of the people that leave are being drawn out by God for something greater–they won’t be able to comprehend the problem. It’s easy for those in current ministry leadership to cast the blame on those that leave. It’s easy for those that leave to cast the blame on those in ministry. But, neither of those positions reflect the true reality that God is moving–moving people to express his bride in the form he sees fit.

    • Brett, do you think it’s possible for a well-established man-made organization” that’s called a church to be re-formed into a New Testament form of church? I used to think so, but now I’m not so sure.

      • I do think it is possible. God’s Spirit is powerful. It would require a great deal of humility, particularly on the part of the leadership. I think it would be a rough road.

        Personally, I think it is easier to just work outside the system. Transforming an ailing system is much harder than just starting from scratch.

      • I totally think it’s possible. Humility will help, but there are some organizational practices that need to be in place as well.

      • The church long ago hooked it’s wagon to politics and I guarantee you that politics will change you, you can’t change politics. Where does Christ compromise? Politics will be and is the end of the brick and mortar on the corner and I think many are seeing this Dominionist mind set and the conflict it produces with the Word.

    • Brett,
      Thank you for pointing out the book that many churches would be the better to simply follow => The Book of Acts

    • well put Brett. The misunderstanding of the fact that WE are the church-not a building and that we are the temple of Holy Spirit has created an institution called “the church”. Jesus came to tear the veil and bring us into personal relationship with Him and His body. I am a done-a former youth pastor and Christian of 32 years. God brought me and my family out but not without realizing that those who stay there are still our brothers and sisters. We have been taught to not question anything but how funny is it that Jesus taught with questions. Now that we have had some years to examine the teachings that we had we realize how errant so many were and how much of what we practice is not based in truth but in tradition.

    • Well said Brett! Amen!

    • Brett I to after many years of going to the brick and mortar on the corner have concluded that the systematized church has it wrong in many ways. This is just as much the leadership’s fault as it is the laity. In general the laity doesn’t really want to step up and go to the word themselves especially when they can go Sunday and get fed pablum. If the laity really had opportunities to share whatGod is doing in their lives or have the opportunity to speak about a verse or word from the scriptures or their lives it would change church a lot. The scripture talks about 1 Corinthians 14:24 NAS
      But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all ;
      If all are not participating in this obvious corporate setting how can this unbeliever be convicted? Every church I’ve been to has one man up front speaking like it’s a theater experience rather than a living organism in action. Even if all a person has to bring to the meeting is their joy, than there needs to room to share it. This is one reason I am a done. I would much rather read and study the Word with brothers and sisters that want to get together any day of the week and share Jesus with each other.

    • I agree, Brett. I have been away from brick and mortar church for many years. I do attend on occasion and attend more now, but it’s sporadic and does not feel like a necessity for my worship. God called me to serve, to question myself and improve as a person, to be more grateful, happy and forgiving. The churched I attended didn’t really encourage this. I would sum it up as simply not sinning and following rules. That seemed to be the message. I do occasionally attend mass because as the bible says, when several are together in His name, you feel God there, and sometimes it’s just nice to have that feeling. Some sermons are truly good as well but usually nothing I don’t already know from my spiritual quest. I feel closer to God than ever. I don’t know if I will ever be an avid church goer, and leave that open to his will. I just don’t feel that it’s something I need to do to know God. I’m not sure what churches can do to draw people, but focusing on action rather than doctrine would be great. If my church was about feeding the homeless, helping Syrian refugees, advocating for social change, and searching our hearts to be better, I’d be there. I don’t need talk about needing God in my life. I know that already.

  11. Thank you Thom for addressing Mike’s comments. I am a Done and yes Mike, I did speak to the Pastor and make suggestions especially while I was an Elder. I have found that Packard’s research is on-point in regards to why my husband and I no longer attend and have stopped trying to find another ‘program’ to attend. My experience has been that professional ministers “Pastors” like to run the show and be in authority over everything/everyone and sound a great deal like Mike. To me, very few American churchs represent the New Testament church in that all members are gifted to minister and yes, even teach. I’m drawn to the organic church where leadership positions are few, if any, and all are on equal footing while learning together how to live out the Gospel in our community.

    • Lucy, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I understand that if you spoke to your pastor and were somehow thwarted in fulfilling God’s direction in your life, it was time to move on. Thom’s article did not address any of that. It’s hard to really communicate online. I certainly do not like to “run the show and be in authority over everything.” Unfortunately, some pastors do. Actually I was trying to say just the opposite – that pastors have a primary calling and assignment: prayer and the ministry of the word. But many churches want pastors to take care of tons of other responsibilities and their primary assignment gets watered down – that’s one reason some pastors just preach/teach the same things over and over. I totally agree that every member is gifted to minister, including teaching. What I don’t understand – I’m being sincere and asking – is why God’s calling for pastors to be the leaders of churches is so minimized and, in some cases, ignored. My experience has been that many churches want God to give them a pastor but they don’t want to follow his leadership when it challenges their traditions and personal preferences. It’s not just pastors who might have their own agenda and want to run everything their way.

      • One of the main reasons for this malaise is that the church has adopted a model of leadership that does not exist in the New Testament.

        Nowhere does it refer to “a pastor” being leader of a church. There are 25 verses in the NT that talk about leadership and the only people referred to are the Apostles, the Prophets and the Elders. Not once does it mention “a pastor.”

        A pastor is a shepherd and you do not need to be a leader to shepherd. Elders, chosen from within the fellowship have the oversight of the fellowship so they are the leaders. Any other sort is bastard leadership.

        Whilst the church insists on maintaining a leadership model that has no backing from scripture, they will continue to empty the church….by degrees I might suggest. In other words, all head knowledge but no heart knowledge.

      • Mike I have a question for you. You say that part of the problem for you, is that you have too many responsibilities that are above and beyond what a pastor is called to do. That is a common theme isn’t it, ministry turned into a profession instead of a calling. Many of those extra responsibilities have to do with the enormity of the building responsibility. It is the cost, the upkeep. Add to that the demand of a professionalized service with lighting, power point, sound and sometimes even broadcast options. Websites don’t make themselves or update themselves, programs have gotten more complex.And volunteers are hard to rely on, mostly because their life demands have gotten more and more demanding as well. What if you just stopped doing it all. You got rid of the production, the building and any program that wasn’t fulfilling your mission. What if church became people living for that one moment that is why we are all here. You could focus 100% of your time on being a pastor. That is what the dones are doing. They are going away from a structure that is keeping them from living out his mission. And they are still figuring it out. It is a loose structure, it isn’t all buttoned up. But they are doing more for their community than they ever were able to do in your church. The money they were tithing to keep a building going is reaching the people directly now. I don’t think this needs to be an attack. This isn’t about your model versus their model. I think both will exist. But we can learn from people who have left and ask ourselves the very brave question, God are you in this?

      • Mike, I believe I can hear your heart in this and it feels like all aspects of the American Church is festering. Becky’s response re: professional ministry is valid and it sounds like you could relate. I’m finding the more I hunger for His Presence the more frustrated organized church becomes for me. I don’t know that ‘God is calling Pastors to be leaders of churches’ but instead believe the system we created provides status and career that is enticing for young passionate believers. I have been convicted about where I focus my ambition and have repented about focusing on my career development instead of becoming passionate about Kingdom living and invading the impossible here on earth. I believe stepping outside of those four controlling walls, I have truly found freedom in obeying the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life.

    • Are you really ‘done’, then? It sounds like you left a ‘church’, but not THE Church…

  12. Excellent article. The next question is, “How done?” Many of us are done with church politics, cliques, building programs and “plop, pray and pay” but we are not done with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not done “assembling ourselves together” but are doing it in new ways. Denominationalism is being deconstructed, but we are not done defining our identity in new ways. Same book, new chapter.

  13. Yeah, I see it that way, too. But starting new must be a rough road as well. These are some issues I’m facing and need to know the Lord’s will.

    • Yes Don, I agree. I have never been so aware of the presence of God since I was done so much so I have made a promise to myself that I will not be involved in any church that robs me of that fact.

  14. I could see myself a little in the frustration with organized church. I must pray and contemplate on rmthis.

  15. I can see myself going that direction. I must pray and contemplate this.

  16. I am a classic “done” and how the church deals with it. I was “done” about five years ago because I got fed up sitting on the premises rather than standing on the promises. Last weekend we stayed with friends and visited their church. They had all sorts of ministries outside of Sunday and the building, including a ministry to prostitutes.

    It made me realise that I was not interested in a church that served itself which all the churches in my area do. Most of the time I get lectures about how I should “go to church” but no one asks why I left.

    Recently the Lord showed me an area of ministry that was huge and untouched and that was to the fatherless. I felt God was saying that he wanted me to begin a ministry to that demographic and it had to be outside the church and not on Sunday. I asked the churches who own a cafe in the town (they rarely have anyone calling in to eat) if I could use it for two hours on a Saturday for this purpose and I have been met with a solid wall of opposition.

    I asked why and they won’t tell me. Go away was their message. A new style church which they cannot control probably.

  17. “Reality Check,” it’s not quite so cut and dried. There is far more than 25 verses about leadership in the NT. For example, the entire letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus are about leadership. “Pastor” is included with “apostles,” “prophets,” and “evangelists” in Ephesians 4:11. In Acts 20:17, Paul “called to him the elders of the church” then told them in verse 28 that as “overseers” they were to “shepherd the church.” The terms elder, overseer, and pastor as used in the NT for the leaders of the churches are basically interchangeable.

    I don’t understand how one can be a shepherd and not be a leader. “The Lord is my shepherd… He leads me…”

    • if you care to do a study of the New Testament Church you will understand how a shepherd is not necessarily a leader. And no, the terms Elder, overseer and pastor are not interchangeable. And yes there are 25 verses that speak of leadership in the NT and not one of them mentions pastor. That tells me quite conclusively that pastors are not leaders, they are shepherds and you don’t have to be a leader to be a true shepherd.

      And the passage in Ephesians 4:11 says nothing about leadership. It is a description of MINISTRY that Jesus gave to the church to mature the saints and prepare them for ministry, not leadership. Today, the church prepares people for leadership but not ministry.

      And Paul’s instructions were to appoint ELDERS, not pastors. A pastor is a shepherd. An Elder is an overseer, and can be a teacher, a shepherd or a disciplinarian. A pastor is not a disciplinarian so he is not a an Elder.

      And the Greek for pastor is poimen and the Greek for Elder is presbuteros. Two entirely different words with different meanings.

      • Your perspective is not confirmed by being condescending, just repeating what you’ve already said using more emphasis, ignoring Scripture that contradicts your understanding, and cherry-picking. If you want me to see your point of view any clearer, start with an explanation of how those 3 words – elder, overseer, shepherd – are used in Acts 20 for the same people and their ministries.

        By the way, “overseer” is the Greek word “episkipos” so by your method of interpretation overseers are not elders since they are entirely different words.

      • No condescension, just confidence in what I believe, probably because I spent two year studying the subject in the original Greek and reading over 40 books on the subject.

        Now to answer your point, it is quite simple…in verse 17 it says “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called to him the elders of the church.” That means the rest of the chapter was addressed to these Elders.

        In verse 28 it says “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

        Bearing in mind he is still talking to the same Elders referred to earlier, he is telling them that the Holy Spirit has made these Elders overseers which means in the Greek superintendents of the church. Please note superintendent’s, not pastors. The word overseer is episkopos and the word for shepherd is poimen. If he was referring to pastors/shepherd he would have used the word poimen, not episkopos signifying there is a difference between an Elder and a pastor/shepherd. .

        In this verse it also says they are to feed the church of God….which means to tend as a shepherd. Is this a contradiction? The answer is no as their role in feeding the sheep is to supervise them as overseers (not pastors) in the Greek.

        This chapter then makes it very clear that the leadership of the church was in the hands of Elders which in the Greek means senior or elderly (not a shepherd) and their role was as an overseer (superintendent) and their job was to supervise (feed) the church.

        The problem arises because we have a different understanding of these words than their meaning in the original Greek.

        You will find that in the 25 verses which refer to leadership in the New Testament church it was always plural. Elders, not an Elder. That in itself dispenses with the idea of “a pastor” overseeing the church.

        I believe this is backed up with 1 Timothy 5:17 which says…. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching.

        Please note it says that Elders who RULE WELL. Not Elders who shepherd well. Further it says that Elders who labour in the word and teaching are worthy of double honour. No mention of shepherding.

        So you can see that one thing I don’t do is cherry pick.

      • if you care to do a study of the New Testament Church you will understand how a shepherd is not necessarily a leader. And no, the terms Elder, overseer and pastor are not interchangeable. And yes there are 25 verses that speak of leadership in the NT and not one of them mentions pastor. That tells me quite conclusively that pastors are not leaders, they are shepherds and you don’t have to be a leader to be a true shepherd…..

        So I see you are very versed in bible Greek. Praise the Lord keep it up. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. II Tim. 2:15

        Pastor Ray

      • Well the ONLY mention of “pastor”, as a noun, and not a verb (which is what Paul called the elders to do in Acts 20), is Eph. 4:11. So who or what is this person? You never see him anywhere else in the bible. My understanding is that the so-called 5-fold ministries of Eph. 4:11 were the ones who traveled from church to church, not the ones who cared for the local flock. That’s what Paul called the elders to do – pastor the local church. I think those in Eph. 4:11 were the ones who not only ministered to local congregations when in town, but trained the elders in ministry and/or leadership. IOW, local congregations didn’t have paid pastors, and we know this from church history because the church was illegal and anyone without a regular job was suspect, while the traveling ministers weren’t around long enough to be considered freeloaders (in fact the Didache said don’t let them stay long) and were the only ones who got their livelihood from their ministry, and usually not much at that. They literally went from “love offering to love offering”. For the first 300 years Christian ministry wasn’t something you did to raise a family. It was a lot of self-sacrificial live like a pauper service to the saints.

    • Mike the issue I would take up with the systematized church on the scripture you mentioned about the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers is you must ask yourself what was the purpose of these gifts? When we realize they are for the purpose of building up of the body then I ask myself why are so many of these people looking at it as an office. Yes I realize the term office fits also but the purpose for the office is what The Lord is after here. To many have made such a big deal about the office instead of it’s function. As far as I’m concerned whatever gift you’ve been given, function away brother!

  18. My wife and I are a couple of the ‘Dones’ also. We are done with ‘church’ but not done with the ‘Church’. We’re done with religion but not done with God. I grew up in the organized church and was a part of it for 55 years or so. In the past 7-8 years i’ve had an increasing dissatisfaction with the way things were going. It was an increased knowledge that the way we do church was not the way God intended. Now I’m certainly not against church-goers. Like I said, I have been in the organized church for a long time and I know there are a lot of sincere followers of God still there. But, I truthfully don’t think it is a situation where ‘clergy’ can do things to make it better and bring people back, at least not all people. People like my wife and I have left because we feel the Church is a community of believers who live being the Church daily, each one of us an equal and important part of the body, with Christ as the head. We have left the organized, religious meetings where the pastor is elevated above everyone else and have decided to live with the Spirit of Christ as our teacher and guide. We are the Church and anytime we meet up with one or two other believers, the Church is together. It is not a building, a set day or time, or following set doctrine. It is a lifestyle of loving others and following Christ on a day to day basis. I know my wife and I will not return to a ‘church’ now that we have found the love and freedom to follow Christ outside the walls and man-made traditions of religion. Thank you for posting this article and bringing this to attention.

    • “Outside the walls”… I love that. I have been convinced for many years that it is very wrong for the Church to be behind those walls. As I travel around my town, I am struck with how many churches there are, all ineffective and isolated, because nothing they do, and none of their vision, extends beyond their own walls.

    • In thinking about both the “dones” (former church officials who are ‘burned out’ and disillusioned) and the “nones” (millennials who have no interest whatsoever in attending ‘church’ in any form) – it occurs to me that the time has come for all church congregations of ALL denominations to close and sell off ALL their “church property” – and that includes everything – the church building itself and all ancillary church property such as rectories, etc.. We must unburden ourselves of all real-estate physical church property – it and all it stands for have become irrelevant.

      It’s time to move on to a higher spiritual level which eschews and has no further wish or need for physical “church” property as well as all officiousness of any and all kinds – and which, instead, simply LIVES by the “Word of God,” however that may be understood and/or interpreted.

      The days when we needed physical church buildings for people to “go” and “attend church” are over. This article is speaking to the need to get rid of all PHYSICAL CHURCH PROPERTY and all of the superficial officiousness which unavoidably accompanies them.. We no longer need CHURCH BUILDINGS – they are as outdated as vacuum-tube radios and horse-drawn carriages!

      We must express our spirituality in other far simpler and lest costly ways – privately and interpersonally.

      • Yes, the Church is us, a community of believers who live our faith daily. We do not need a building, which seems to divide us more than anything. It makes no difference where or when we get together, Jesus is with us and among us always.

  19. While I agree with some of the conclusions made, I think there are much deeper things in play, here. One thing that bothers me about all the books and blogs and such on this subject, is that they all come at it with a foundational belief that the right place for Christians is at church, so we need to focus on how to get them back in church, or keep them there. There is something deeply wrong with this notion, from the start. It’s not about where one is on Sunday mornings, nor has it ever been.

    Regarding why people are leaving, though; for me, it’s not simply a matter of having heard it all before and being tired of being lectured, though that is part of it; there is a deep sense that what we know of as “church” is not what Jesus was talking about, when He said “I will build my Church.” There is a deep longing for something more meaningful and I think it is wired into us; we were made for it. People want the abundant life God offers us; the one Jesus said He came to bring us. That abundant life doesn’t come from better stage shows, a thirty minute message that plays over and over, each week and a couple hours of programmed Bible study at someone’s house. That abundant life comes only through Jesus, but the church has made it about church and learning and the Bible and the activities and the programs and the structures and the rights and wrongs, and dos and don’ts, etc., etc.. What’s missing? JESUS! Oh, sure, there may be a fair amount of teaching ABOUT Jesus, but there is really no getting to KNOW Jesus there.

    For me, it comes down to a foundational lack of understanding of grace and a restored relationship with Jesus that He offers us. I think THAT is what people are truly missing and why they are running for the hills. Jesus is calling us into freedom and life with Him, but the church is calling us back into the bondage built on an old covenant, performance based, behavior modification/management system of law, which Jesus has delivered us from. The law is a dead and decaying system and people are “Done.”

  20. Not “Done” Yet!!!

    I’m a long-time Presbyterian who has served in many church leadership positions over many, many years. I think that an ideal church is more like a resource center. It is valuable as a gathering place to help people identify their gifts and then steer them toward the best resources and opportunities that we can offer them. Are you hurting, sad, broken and in need of tender loving care? Do you love Worship? Fellowship? Ministry? Mission?Evangelism? We have a place for you!

    As one example, some people love worship services – the sermons, orderliness and structure. It’s hierarchical in a comforting sort of way, with predictable roles and goals.
    Those members can find meaning and direction by having someone up front preaching and teaching and telling them what they are doing wrong and how to do better. My (late) husband was a big fan of worship services.

    But there are so many other ways that we can love God and love others! I enjoy working in egalitarian church settings. I love working with children. I love music. Worship services (traditional, contemporary, and everything in-between) just aren’t my cup of tea. I don’t mind helping with them, they just don’t feed my soul. They are not the best way for me to love God and to love others.

    I have great hope for the future of the “church” and it will be energizing to sort through the problems and identify new solutions.

  21. Part of the problem I think can be located in seminary education. Churches are pushing the “square peg” of a late 19th/early 20th century model of education into the “round hole” of 21st century reality. The bar, generally speaking, for the education of pastors is set fairly low now in relation to what is becoming an increasingly educated society. It used to be that have a master’s degree was pretty rare–no so anymore. And instead of raising educational standards in response, most seminaries are lowering standards because of cost pressures. Two to five graduate level courses on the Bible (with little to no studies of biblical languages) are not going to equip someone very well over the long haul–so it’s not surprising that people “feel they’ve heard it all before.” They have!! If people in the pews are not continually challenged in their faith, given the opportunity to help others, and theologically stimulated, they will eventually ask the question, “why am I here?” When no answer is forthcoming, they will leave.

    Many seminaries work hard to erect ideas of clerical distinction that just don’t wash any more in the real world; more time needs to be spent teaching M.Div.s how to work with and motivate lay people who probably know a lot more than they do about theology, ministry and leadership.

    The ultimate problem with the “dones” is that gathering together as the Body of Christ is the only practice that marks us as Christians. If we don’t gather any longer, we aren’t really Christians.

    • Marjamar…… I identify with what you say. I am a lifer of 44 years and have had many done times. I do believe it is a common experience for the believer, especially for those who work long hours in many duties for long periods. Looking at the lives of our Bible heros I believe we get a glimpse of this, as well. Why would Paul say to us to run the race, hold fast and don’t let your light be extinguished. It is because the longer and further we go and the closer we get to the end, the harder it gets, not easier. Look at the life of King David. He had such an amazing, full, exciting life but towards the end it seemed sad and lonely.

      The times we are living in may also be a factor and I caution myself to not be deceived into letting my love for the Lord grow cold or get caught up in that great falling away that the Scripture warns about.

      There is so much false teaching these days it causes one to be on guard daily. So many churches have gone the way of the world, being politically correct, running like a corporation, making sinners comfortable instead of uncomfortable and using entertainment to intice. No wonder we say, I’m done. The church has lost its saltiness.

      Hang in there, dear ones, God is our ROCK.

    • Dave I actually think seminaries have become part of the problem but not for the reasons you suggest. I see value in studying the word with gifted men of God but it can not replace the dynamic that happens when we as individuals encounter the living God through the Living Word. There has been way to much emphasis on education and very little on relationship and getting to know your Spirit which is where Christ meets with us.
      Trying to fix a system through seminary degrees or programs is really beating a dead horse. The way we as a people have viewed “church” is so narrow and can not be fixed. The system is only interested in perpetuating itself and not teaching you that the Holy Spirit is your Teacher. The church I see out there today doesn’t like questions and refuses to talk or teach on many subjects. What I do see however is a desire for control. In my years as a follower of Christ I have recognized you can’t control life, it just happens and refusing to answer or speak to real questions sends people elsewhere to find the answers especially if they’re really looking for them.

      • I looked through a website that was advertising jobs for pastors. There were 263 in all. Except for three, they all wanted someone who was a good preacher, could make things happen and had a degree. The other three wanted someone who had a prayer life. Makes you think doesn’t it.

  22. It is a complex issue with most would be church lifers. All get to a point where enough over the years is, or has turned into, more then enough. Very few feel they wish to walk away from God, but most feel they have been, like Christ, standing at the door and knocking for a very long time. We who staunchly believe in our God will reach a point where our belief is there, but our faith is weakening. This is because over so many years, we have expected to find we have arrived at a point in our walk with God, where God opens in us a special place to be with Him. This place is there, always has been, but we may never reach it, or even have reached it at times, but for whatever reason, it’s just not there for us like it used to be or how we feel it needs to be. The novelty is wearing off and the years that may lie ahead somehow have lost some of their flavour because of it. So, we grow tired and feel we are lacking and our church (or at times God) no longer provides us those things that have in the past helped to hold us and keep us.

    We grow cold and even though we love God, we just don’t feel the place for us in God is the way it was, or the way we think it should be. The world has worn us down and the same old words over and over, no longer hold the power they once did. It is time for God to open new visions, new hopes in our lives. We continue to work and wait, but if we do not find our newness, new vision, we begin to feel lost and alone.

    It seems to be the way God has intended things to go for some reason. All of us grow old and perhaps our closeness with our Lord grows old as well. Doesn’t mean we stop believing, just stop running so fast and jumping so high to try and get closer to God. I believe He understands this and does not hold it against us. And, there are still times we find ourselves “drifting” close to God and we cherish the feelings of this closeness just like we always have. It’s not a lost love of God, just not the fiery love of the early years we had with Him. I feel It is all part of His plan and His ways, so don’t make it hard on yourself. Just love God and praise Him and it will all work out — All the way to the end, where He is waiting for you.

  23. I’m a Done. I left gradually, without fanfare or any flashy exit. I kind of keep in contact with some people there, but because I don’t (regularly) attend anymore I’ve also been cut free by most of them. Most of them don’t know anything about why I left. Most of them haven’t asked or aren’t interested. But a few elders were interested as was the senior pastor and they made time to speak to me a few times about it.

    They didn’t really understand why, though. There is so much about the history of the Church and of the Bible that we could be exploring and we’re not. Instead, we get the same narrow teachings again and again. I’m tired of trying to figure out the Bible by reading only it and yarning with others who have read only it. I challenged the senior pastor about that and his response came down to “we don’t really have the time on a Sunday morning”. Rubbish. I’ve seen sermons explore church history, and they tend to challenge the pew-sitters to _really_ think about what the believe. I didn’t say that, though.

    I’m a (neo)Pagan now. The spiritual landscape is so much broader and more fascinating than the tiny little plot the church has built itself on. I’ve even found Yahweh out here, too. In fact, he’s the the one who told me to “go look”.

  24. It’s sad reading about Dones here! Jesus will always be renewing his church. His church is the most beautiful thing in all creation! It’s his bride! He died to have it with him in eternity! If you have put your faith in it, however, then you will be badly let down. Its full of people like us, who are intrinsically selfish! But if you meet up with people on the basis of they need me, I need them and we all need Jesus then the form doesn’t really matter at all. Just pick a group of broken people and stick with them as best you can. The church doesn’t save me but Jesus sure can and he uses his body to make me more whole. I think we all need an expectation check! I grew out of going to church for me a long time ago and it’s really helped with being faithful to it, whichever group of people I get together with on a Sunday or whenever. Jesus church is the most wonderful thing I’ve experienced!

    • I can’t speak for all the dones, but I can speak for myself and I think my thoughts represent the thoughts of many. I am not done with the Church–the Ekklesia, the universal body of Christ. I am done with the man-made, institutional form of church. I want to see Christ’s Church expresses in all it’s glory, where every member is fully engaged, fully functioning and in tune with God’s Spirit. I want to see God’s children gathering together, functioning together and fellowshipping together.

      • Brett I think what you want to see is truly wonderful I just don’t see what is going on in the system capable of that. Of course there are still some great people that love The Lord and still are participating in this system but they will never change the system. A system intrincsically says “we do it this way”, which means many fall through the cracks because life is just not like that. In life we never know what’s around the corner. I have been faithful for over 25 years in this system and it has only gotten worse in many ways which is no surprise. The scriptures tell us clearly throughout about an apostate church. To deny this is to not really be paying attention to the Word and reality.
        One of my pastors had an opportunity to speak on more than one occasion at Dallas Theological seminary with a large group of pastors from all over the country. His subject matter had to do with prophecy as written in the scripture. People listened intently to his message and even approached him afterward saying much the same thing. They basically agreed with the message and found it to be biblical but everyone of them said “we can’t teach it though in church”. Now I’m no big prophecy nut but I do believe in teaching the whole counsel of God. Something is really wrong with that picture.
        To many people who have commented want to write off people in the sense of saying “oh they’re just angry, or hurt, or just stressed out” but I tell you from my point of view if I’ve been hurt it’s been a result of those brothers who I thought were close to me basically disowned me even as a Christian because I don’t go to their “church”. It’s been 3 years that I have been cut off from that part of the body because I won’t go on Sunday. I continued to go to weekday bible studies but the pastor told me if I don’t come on Sunday I can’t come to anything else. Yes that hurt but I don’t stew on it because I knew God was doing the leading and it was a matter of faith to just follow him wherever this journey of faith was taking me. 6 months ago others and myself decided to get together and start having church on Sunday. We also meet during the week. The experience so far has been wonderful. If there’s a song on your heart, stand up and sing it, if you have a word, speak it, if all you have is the joy of The Lord share it! No hierarchy, just function.
        Now if there’s pain, disappointment or anxiety from leaving the system it’s from seeing the church just fall apart and realize there’s really nothing you can do.

  25. Go. Make Disciples. Teach these Disciples the commands you’ve been taught.

    Every single person I’ve met who have been allowed to do exactly that are very much invested and alive in the church. My wife and I stopped going to church and decided to BE the church by inviting some young people to meet with us each week who used to attend a youth ministry I led but have stopped going after they graduated from high school. They love Jesus but did not feel like they quite belonged to the church we were going to. So rather than lose them, my wife and I decided to try to gather them back together.

    We eat together. Many are developing discipling relationships with others by teaching them the things we’ve explored together–they’re passing it along. I am discipling two young people myself as they are seeking another to disciple themselves. We meet in living rooms, coffee shops, at picnic tables in parks in groups not usually larger than 15. I meet with 3 such groups every week. (There’s a 4th group if I care to include them, its the Campus Life club I am the director of at the local middle school ministering and teaching to about 40 kids)

    I encourage people to find and attend church, but I also carefully seek out the “dones” and attempt to gather them into a “house church” by beginning discipling groups of their own.

    We don’t attract hundreds or even dozens by our approach, but we do make incredibly close friends who seek to minister and teach new people who become incredibly close friends. I happen to be licensed and ordained, but I found that I didn’t necessarily need to be in this context.

    The average age of our house to house church not counting the Campus Life kids is 22. If every single one of our “regulars” attended a service all at the same time, we would have about 25 to 27 people. Many of these members choose to come to 2 or 3 house fellowships a week! We grow slow, baptizing 1 or 2 new people a year and adding another 2 or 3 people a year to our group over the past couple of years so far.

    Others have expressed interest in wanting to invite and gather friends together but do not have the space or wherewithal to host a beginning Bible study. So we are saving up some money and looking for a donation of a shuttle bus to convert into a portable Bible study chapel so we can pull into a parking lot of a business or apartment complex and comfortably host 10 or 12 people in a Bible study to teach how to Go and make Disciples and teach them to do the same. You can help by praying that we can get a shuttle bus!

    • This process you are talking about is the way it has been since the start of Christianity. The church today in America is largely at fault for moving away from this. You’re right about discipleship being key to holding people close to the Lord and close to each other. It is the way it is suppose to work. How many stories over the past 50 years I have heard of believers holding small home groups, even when their lives would be lost if found out. Keep it up and try hard not to get worn too thin.

  26. I haven’t attended church regularly since we left our church 5 years ago. We attended another church off and on but I sensed the same thing in that church as all the other churches we’ve been to, there was no true fellowship. I tried to get plugged in but I feel like one of the major faults of Christians (at least in America) is they don’t know how to be real with each other. I never meant to be a “done” but here I am. Ironically i had just finished reading Hebrews 10 where it says not to forsake the assembly (v25) before I came across this article. I understand that there’s no perfect Church but I’ve grown weary of the facade. I am a firm believer in the Sovereignty of God and I know that apart from Christ there is no salvation, but it is what it is. I felt like the Lone Ranger, I had no idea so many people were leaving. Some may say the Dones are part of the “Falling Away,” but I think we are true believers who long for true fellowship.

  27. The issue is far deeper than boredom, it’s ecclesiology…our model is broken. The idea of one guy (or at best a selected few as a team) at the front of a stage talking endlessly while everyone else nods or nods off is not what Jesus said he would build. We have not been getting anything deeper than a Western make me feel good/bad pep talk for a number of years. Most Senior Pastors (find that in Corinth, Rome or the Epistles) have not cracked a book on the early church fathers and instead are running religious corporations…it’s a Spiritual WalMart where one size fits all, come and see what our new sale item is this week (whatever the hot topic/bible study/purpose driven etc)…the average believer could not really tell you what their core theology is because they have no clue, they are so used to rehashing a rehash of a leftover.

    We need a robust return to something primitive and I’m not talking about empire light in the form of house churches which for the most part simply ports the institutional code to a smaller platform.

    So now all the pastors know the good wine is leaving they want to patch the leaky wineskin, but it IS to late…this is not an american phenomena…it will just get the headlines here because we like to talk about this crap.,,but in the end I do not see anything on the horizon that remotely resembles the church Jesus said he would build but what I do see is a lot of empire being rebuilt…somehow I think Gods kingdom can survive and probably thrive without an ounce of what we typically call “church”…the church is not the body, it’s the body that is the church…we’ve left because we don’t need this version of church anymore and for the most part neither does the world.

    The body has left the tomb, why seek the living among the dead?

    • Good to see you in a different forum Mr. Pixley. I too do not see the kind of church that our Lord planted and frankly not much else interests me so I make due with a (very) few local Christian friends and online friends, and former local friends who I only relate to online now because somebody moved, yet I’ve been experiencing phenomenal growth in my own soul. I could never get challenged or challenge others like this in a local church where the pastor tells me nothing and doesn’t want me to challenge the status quo. Being Done so far has been great, but I do long to see gifted men and women of God willing to break from Constantine and do things differently.

  28. We quit going a few years ago due to my husband’s Alzheimer’s Disease. He saw no reason to go since he could not remember the sermon, no longer usher, or remember people. It was hard at first after years of being there every Sunday and at some churches Wednesday. I have tried listening to those on TV (Stanley is a favorite), but so many preach the prosperity message. They preach if you are not healthy and wealthy then you are sinning somewhere in your life. These same preaches preach humility and giving yet live in multi-million dollar homes. Christ did not preach ‘take all your wealth’ with you, He preached give up all and follow me. Otherwise, to me that is be happy where you are. Not everyone is destined to be financially wealthy – only wealthy in Christ.

  29. I think we all ‘grow weary of doing good’; think selfishly at times; run the risk of letting our ‘love grow cold’ & even find ourselves becoming ‘luke warm’…this scares the heck out of me, because God said that we would encounter these attitudes in the last days.
    When we start getting critical, it’s a pretty good indicator that we’re slipping & becoming ‘done’ is right around the corner.
    Rather than fleeing, perhaps digging in, staying focused, drawing nearer to God & staying connected with other believers is the better answer. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father…that’s where our life is hidden. Trusting that where He’s led us, He intends for us to remain committed & when that gets tough, learn something through the struggle.
    I know a lot of people who no longer attend Church & they will justify their decision with a whole bunch of excuses. Most of them are not meeting with other believers at all, they have back-slidden, they think & talk more like the the world than believers. If they were being honest, their relationship with the Lord has grown cold, they’re no longer reading their Bibles on a regular basis either.
    Fight the good fight folks, don’t quit. Let’s not let ourselves fall away, grow lukewarm, become indifferent, critical & lazy. Will He find faith on the earth when He returns?

    • Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father…that’s where our life is hidden. Trusting that where He’s led us, He intends for us to remain committed & when that gets tough, learn something through the struggle. (Suzanne)

      If my experience is anything to go by Suzanne, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus was my downfall. I realised that what I was getting wasn’t Jesus, it was man’s attempt to be relevant or being a good pastor whatever that is.

      As time went by I saw that I was propping up a system where Jesus had little to do with it. Nowhere in scripture are we told to do that. For Jesus is first, last and everything in between. If he is of a secondary nature…get me out of here.

      • Agreed. I clung to the “church” for so long, believing it wasn’t right to give it up. But finally I realized that what I was attending wasn’t the Church, at all, but a sham. Why cling to something that is fake?

  30. “You never change things by fighting the existing realities. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”. Buckminster Fuller.

    I made the call a years ago that this is what would happen. As long as the hierarchy and meeting oriented cookie cutter mentality remains the exodus will continue. I do not think any leader truly intends this to be so. The institutional system breeds and needs this process to exist. We should not be trying to saving the institution anymore. Let it die a natural death. Don’t grieve for it anymore.

    Instead I encourage everyone at this incredible moment in time to focus on finding each other and connect any way we can. Leave our titles or agendas at the door and be human again, Just gather, listen, share, and if possible live life together. Let our natural gifts rise and be celebrated side by side, not on based on our past status or accomplishments lest we repeat the same mistakes.

    We are free now to live the life we were meant to. We miss true fellowship and it can get lonely sometimes. So connect. That should be the discussion now. There are more of us now outside than inside. Fellowship is the number one need at this time for all of us.

    As for the what the future will look like. There is a movement growing. Believers everywhere are exploring the hebrew roots of our faith more closely, along with protestant church history and are beginning to discover church history does not equate with the Jewish roots of the church. You will hear about the disparity more and more. The richness of looking at history and the scriptures from a middle eastern perspective vs a historically western is re-energizing those in the faith and the community of believers will begin to look drastically different than it does today, including how we fellowship. Toll the bells and don’t look back. It’s wasted effort to support the status quo anymore.

    • Maybe the Christians in the Middle East have been able to tap into these roots, but alas I fear they too have learned of the ways of the West from missionaries and have gotten lost in the soup.

      • Hang in there Kirby. The Little Flock movement in China started Just the way you cited. They heard through missionaries from the west but after the Chinese revolution and the missionaries were either expelled, killed or in prison the church really began to grow in a most real grass roots sort of way with the results now at over 100,000,000
        believers. One thing I must keep in the back of my mind is; I recognize God is after a remnant. This is not to sound elitist but only reality, which is Truth.

  31. Is part of the problem that we make ‘church’ the ‘be all and end all’ expression of our faith? By that I mean we put such a focus on Sundays and church activities that we forget that people live lives the other 5 or 6 days of the week, working part or full time, having a family, a home to run, friends to connect with etc? It’s as if the only expression of commitment to Christ and his commission to ‘go into all the world and preach the good news’ can only be worked out whilst at ‘church’. But we are the church and we remain the church in our homes and work places. Perhaps gathered church needs to become about fellowship and relationship again and not about programmes and numbers and doing. We have tried in our gathered church to equip each other to be the scattered church in our weekly lives, to equip members with a sense of ‘you are serving Christ on the mission field he’s put you in – your work place, school, home, community – that’s where you serve Him first, Sundays are a bonus, not the weeks focus’. I do know this generated much excitement and a sense of purpose within our gathered church and a feeling of relief that church activities were not the ‘be all and end all’. In my previous gathered church this wasn’t the case where some (not all) staff members and volunteers have gotten burnt out, with a sense of being chewed up and spat out. We need to reset our focus and release people to fulfil the great commission where they are and not condemn them if this is where all their best energies go and they really don’t want to join yet another rota on Sundays.

  32. How sad when a believer makes a decision to no longer participate with a local body of believers. I’ve come to believe that my participation in the life of the local church depends on what I do when the Sunday service is over. My church has many ways of being able to allow people to serve, for which I’m grateful. When the leadership of a local church fails to listen to the needs and wants of its members, a failure to communicate or listen begins. A pastor should still discern, along with the members to make sure concerns are legitimate and line up with Scripture. I believe the Christian life is sustained with the love and support of a caring congregation.

  33. I’m a Done, and I’ll tell you why.. I have searched and searched for a church that I can be passionately involved in. But every church I’ve found myself in was either mistaken in their doctrinal beliefs, or just very bland and pastel. I have never found one to be truly biblical, Christ-centered and filled with a Holy Spirit inspiration. I am not done in the sense of giving up on church, the concept. But I am done with church as they presently exist. I think the most passionate believers in Christ Jesus are also the ones most disillusioned with church, because they refuse to just settle for something that isn’t even half of what church ought to be. I think we as Christians need a bit of a revolution in the way we do church.

    • I gave up long ago on finding a church Brent that teaches correct doctrine. I have grace for their “weakness” in that area because it’s just the nature of the beast. You find a church that teaches what you believe is truth in one area and they simply won’t listen to any challenges to anything else they believe. I did find one church in my community that was non-creedal (no statement of faith – the Christian Churches), and would probably at least allow me to teach them something new in adult sunday school class, but it was a bit of a bland and pastel church that didn’t seem to have many future leaders so didn’t feel to pursue it. One of my long range goals is to provide an in-person forum and place for leaders in different streams of theological understanding to come together and teach each other so people have an opportunity to hear it from the horse’s mouth instead of from someone trying to refute it so they can at least gain an appreciation that have good reasons for believing the doctrines they do. I think it would at least engender a kind of unity that doesn’t exist when everybody is lost in their own little bubble and doesn’t have any idea that they have doctrines that might need critical analysis. My beef isn’t with churches that have wrong doctrine, but those who won’t listen to anybody but themselves and try to shut up people like me who aren’t afraid of open and honest discussion.

  34. There are times where I have felt that I am done. The routine, the rote, the “try harder”, has not filled my soul. Like some have commented, I am not interested in being up front or entertained. However, many times in the mundane routine, I do not sense the presence of God. Experiential needs to be added to the American Church setting. Don’t hear me say “entertainment”. We get that everywhere else. The para-ministries have kept me going. I am a Principal of a Christian school. Here, I get my hands dirty working with those who do not know the Lord and those who are Churched but really are lost. I also get authentic, experiential food through another ministry; The Crucible Project: I would like to see our Churches incorporate more real, experiential work into the mainstream. It will have to be a step of faith and awareness of following where God is working.

  35. I was a done who is cautiously poking my toe back in. Why did I leave? Lack of relevance to my faith. I study the scripture, I have led classes and I have preached. I’m not ordained, but I have a seminary degree and I have published theological lessons and books. But the church, for the most part, just talks. I feel like a kid in school who wants to get out and DO the things they are talking about. I think the church needs to stop seeing the Sunday morning service as their purpose. Their purpose is to be Christ in the world. Anything less is self-serving.

  36. The first problem is that most ministers have not been led of the Holy Ghost. As Sheba told Solomon the half has not yet been told of the greatness of the glory of Christ. People should never feel they have “heard it all” or know it all. The Holy Ghost is able to bring forth a new message each and every service if the ministers allow it. When it is limited it stops and the people hear the same vain messages within the limitations of their governing body or denomination or pastor’s mindset.

    Secondly to forsake the assembly is wrong.

    If the family of Noah had forsaken the assembly they would have died with the evil world destroyed.

    If Lot’s wife and daughters had forsaken the assembly they would have died with the wicked of Sodom. Sadly, his wife turned back like the Christian church to the world she was commanded to come out of and has died spiritually.

    If the children of Israel had forsaken the assembly they would not have heard the Lord speak from the mount. They would not have received the word of God.

    If Rahab’s family would not have assembled within the harlot’s house they would have died when Jericho was overthrown. All who abided within her house were under a covenant to be spared or saved.

    Speaking of harlots, in Proverbs it is written she is loud and stubborn, her feet abideth not in her house. Some will find any reason not to assemble.

    Had the children of Israel not assembled at the bank of the Red Sea they would not have seen the parting of the water (the rightly divided word of truth as brought forth by the Spirit) and the salvation of God.

    If the sons of Jacob had not assembled they would not have received the blessing of Israel upon his deathbed. In other words their obedience was necessary for us as if they had forsaken the assembly and not received the blessing they would not have been a similitude of Jesus and we would not have had a Saviour prophesied through them. Their disobedience would have brought about our damnation. Something parents may wish to consider when bringing up children. Their disobedience can spoil the rod (Christ, word, salvation) and remove their chance of being saved by not giving them the chance to hear the rightly divided word of truth as brought forth by the Holy Ghost.

    There are just too many more scriptures about the importance of assembling together to hear the word of God from both testaments. Sadly today most ministers never see them to share or preach them because seminary and a paycheck and fame and famous people and their books have replaced being called, chosen, anointed, taught, trained and sent forth by the Holy Ghost like the ministers of old. The old Holy Ghost preachers.

    Those who are “done” are as those of whom it is written, they who heed lying vanities forsake their own mercy. They shall damn themselves, their children and all who hear them.

    May God bless.

    • You really need to “forsake” your ridiculous judgmental theology…as far as the verse “forsake not the assembling of the brethren” that was written to a specific group of people facing a specific issue namely the “that day” as it came upon the Jerusalem model…that day has already come and gone in 70 AD…

      To suggest that people like myself who no longer see the current model of “church” as biblical as “damning ourselves and children” just shows me how corrupt the model really is….find me one verse in the New testament that makes one guy (anointed or not) as the primary leader of any group called out to serve…enjoy your “ark”…in 20 years you and all the animals can come out to see the world you have condemned…it will be fresh and new and thriving…

      • Thank you for your response but what you say is a prime example of what I am speaking of. Those no longer led of the Holy Ghost can not see Christ, his church (bride) or the end times in scripture as they have always been brought forth by similitudes or types and shadows. Televangelists, mega churches have and greed and the lust of an easy life have removed the spiritual things and replaced them with foolishness. Paul wrote the word of God is spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2: 7-14) yet men have used a carnal mind (enmity with God) a darkened heart and their own spirit (lust) to twist the word so the flock is neither fed nor edified nor given a hope of eternal life in the last days. Just foolish talk. And example is one man’s claim every day should be as Friday when the Lord said we should be willing to hate our lives in this world to keep it unto eternal life. Therefore if one follows his teaching of “live your best life now” only hell awaits. There are still small bodies of believers gathered led of the Holy Ghost (small assemblies such as Noah, Lot and others) who worship in Spirit and truth just as Jesus said. They are organized and just as the Lord and not man appointed Moses over the children of Israel these have the spiritual discernment to know that the Lord sent the shepherd and not man. As for seminary, one can not put a degree on that of which the half has not yet been told. Therefore, those who listen to men taught of men shall always hear man’s wisdom which is foolishness with God and never go farther but those who listen to an anointed man of God who follows the leading of the Holy Ghost shall hear farther truth to continually grow until they put off the tabernacle, cross over Jordan and receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their soul. Seminary, television, the internet, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life have led to a confused carnal multitude surnaming themselves Christian. But Jesus said only a few would find the way unto eternal life. (like my examples) may God bless.

      • You know I speak in tongues as much as you do right? I could rant and rave and run sentences together but if I have not love I am just a bunch of noise…your post lacks love and is full of judgement as such you yourself are in danger of the hellfire you create by judging others…good luck with that. Jesus reserved ALL of his comments about hell and judgement for folks who did exactly what you are doing…read your bible.

      • You are gravely mistaken not being able to discern between hate and warning. A person who fails to warn of consequences does not love. A person who condones and emboldens that which wil damn a soul does not love. Jesus preached repent as did John the Baptist and the apostles who followed. You are the one who needs to read a Bible as your failure to see a warning and call it hate shows a lack of understanding in scriptural and spiritual love for the Lord and one’s neighbor. Have a blessed day.

      • Markrandallpixley, maybe you should read a Bible. True love is proclaiming the truth to warn people of the danger to come which is hell for following false doctrine. maybe you forget John the Baptist preached REPENT. He was followed by Jesus who preached REPENT. The same Jesus who raised the dead and healed people threw those who bought and sold (televangelists, mega church pastors, etc…) out of the temple. The same Jesus who forgave the woman taken in adultery told her sin no more. The prophets were sent to warn the children of Israel of their sin and abomination. the apostles warned the churches of sin and abomination. Paul and Peter both preached repentance. Sir, maybe you should read a Bible and forsake your “love only” Jesus and get to know Jesus.

      • Markrandallpixley, another point is your statement “You know I speak in tongues as much as you do right?” It appears as a proud spirit in which one challenges as to who knows the word or the Lord better. That is a sad thing. Know ye not it is written the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets? In other words the Lord will allow some to see things that they want rather than what he wants them to see because he will give every person what they want. Truth unto righteousness or lies unto damnation. Know ye not that Paul rebuked the Corinthian church who had all of the gifts of the Spirit in operation? They had become abominable and he had to tell them the truth even though they spake in tongues and had all the gifts. It doesn’t matter who speaks in tongues more. What matters is that the Lord by his Spirit (the Holy Ghost) has full control over every aspect of every service. As for judgmental or hateful, Acts 2: [38] Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Once again we see repentance. Please seek the leading of the Holy Ghost and maybe you will see that true love is warning people. Rather like warning a child not to play in a busy street or warning a person the bridge is out down the road before they come to impending doom. May God bless.

      • I agree Mark. People like Del Hagen Ministries in the pulpit is why people stop going to church. Everyone else can see right through this BS, but Del Hagen never will. And so it goes.

      • Nicely said! As usual!

      • If you wish to see the men anointed to lead read the new testament. Paul lists them at that time. Also, the church is not the building in the modern sense but where two or more are gathered whether home or building or in the open. Paul spake of forsaking the assembling so that does matter. Have a good day.

    • you make some great points, but the “Assembly” you quote from the scriptures bare NO RESEMBLANCE to the modern American version of a “Church”.. they were families gathering together, worshiping GOD, no 501c3 non profit status from any government, NO MARKETING plan, or formal “membership” etc.. just people gathering as a family, to hear the LORD’s (YHWH) word, and worship, and follow the leading of the Spirit, that can happen anywhere, but doesn’t happen everywhere that calls it self a church.. Probably your point i guess? .. simply follow the Spirit of the LORD..

      • Everything in the word of God has been taught through similitudes, parables and types and shadows. They have very much of a resemblance to the modern church when spiritually discerned. The multitudes believe a lie and are heading for hell according to scripture and the words of Jesus. The remnant or small assemblies such as Noah, Lot and others who are led of the Spirit of God see the spiritually discerned things and gather together in small groups to hear the rightly divided word of truth as brought forth by the Spirit. Not the vain imaginations brought forth from a greedy darkened heart like the multitudes. The word is spiritually discerned like Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2: 7-14. may God bless.

      • What you say is true. No resemblance unto the modern churches of the multitudes but in the spiritually discerned types and shadows very much like the small assemblies around the world without 501c3 and no marketing plan or formal membership. My service last night included 8 people led of the Holy Ghost in a chapel set up in my home. We felt the anointing of the Holy Ghost and all were edified. We have no resemblance of the mainstream or multitudes. And absolutely no use for the foolishness taught today where men twist scripture for fame or fortune. It is organized in that the Lord is allowed to guide each service and guide it by his Spirit. Few and simple and much like the early church.

  37. One of the principle causes not really being talked about here is the end times we live in. It’s always been my belief that as we grow closer to the end of this age, forces at work fighting against God’s plan will grow more determined and press harder and harder against all of us who believe and follow Christ. Because of this, each of us are being “slid” off the mark we have been given by God to hold to and as we are moved away from this God ordained center point in each of our lives, less and less of God’s light is present around us, showing us the pitfalls and obstacles, and helping us through this end time. There are more and more who will fall away from God and from His faith given to each of us as we “look” outside of our relationship with Christ, our God and His Holy Spirit, towards things in this world.

    This world has grown so filled with distractions and meaningless entertainment and false pleasures, and we all are being pulled towards them. There is little wonder why, if we only look at what they produce in our lives and where they move our lives to — It is for sure a large part of the “counter-plan” we all must fight against. The scriptures are filled with warnings about this and about how we must be prepared to battle against it — Even against our own fleshly spirit within as it can be wrongly influenced by what is all around us. How many of us, I wonder, fully understand what it means when we slip into these places that move us against God’s will and His Holy Spirit’s leading? Just about anything, even seemingly good things can do this. It’s not hard to get to places that make us feel God is distant or even non-existent. We can choose to walk away. We can walk away from the worlds pull on us or we can walk away from God’s gentle leading given to each of us. It is our choice to make. No one else can make it for us.

    • Brother, we do live in the end times and the return of the Lord is closer than most think. Television, the internet, televangelists, mega church pastors, seminary, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life have all caused distractions whereby the multitudes no longer see the lies and blasphemy taught in Jesus’ name.

      • Keep beating that drum but Jesus and his apostles encouraged their followers to godly living with the knowledge that Jesus would return in their lifetime. By saying Jesus was not going to return in their time but wait a couple thousand years you have either made Jesus and his disciples mistaken about the general time of his return – blowing holes in a doctrine of infallibility if you believe in that – or they were simply lying to get them to live godly lives. Which one of these two choices are you comfortable with: 1) They were mistaken, or 2) They were lying?

      • The term the Lord used which they spake of was this generation shall not pass. That is not a given person or time but a type of generation or people such as Matthew 1:1 the generation of Jesus Christ. Meaning that there would always be believers until the end. The other end time prophesies I have shared.

    • Your comment about “fleshly spirit” makes no sense. The flesh is in opposition to the spirit. The carnal Christian has issues with the soul. I think their is a misunderstanding here of the difference between soul and spirit.

  38. I am a “Dones” who went back after many years being out.. Im 51 yrs old. I was on staff with a “hip Church” at one point, and volunteered for others even after my un welcomed departure from the staff. I knew i belonged somewhere, I also knew i needed a “Desert Experience” to prepare me for what the LORD was leading me into. The “Desert Experience” sucked, it was lonely, barren, and sad, but it made me confront my selfishness, pride, arrogance, and pain, and re-evaluate what “ministry” is and is NOT.. and what the “Church” is and is not… we do not attend a church, we are the CHURCH.. so now I am plugged into a small Calvary Chapel Fellowship, with a Pastor that is the type of pastor i thought all should be like, and never found them to be that way (I worked for and around many MEGA Church pastors in Colorado and saw the underbelly of their “ministries” the littered remains of people they squashed, abused, and took advantage of all to make their kingdom come, not his} .. when the Holy Spirit breathes on you, you answer, dry bones rise up, and become flesh and sinew and whole again. so will the “Dones”.. and Churchianity will change to what the LORD really meant when he called us to be his Bride.. not this grotesque demented Social club/ Babylonian priesthood/ Vegas Act/ cult of personalities it has become in so many “MEGA CHURCHES”..

    the day will come soon, when a group will gather, with little notice, no marketing, no media hype, and they will worship him in the SPIRIT, and the WORD of GOD will be taught, and lives will be changed, and bodies and minds healed, and someone will ask “who is the Pastor?” the answer will be, ” Im not sure, but Yeshua/Jesus was there, and we were fed”… 🙂

  39. I didn’t leave the church because I’d heard it all or because I got tired of the same stuff over and over. I left because I was done with being used and then pushed aside. I was good enough to serve, to be in the choir, to clean, to vacuum, to feed, to cook, and babysit, and type, and make phone calls; however, because I was a single mom after leaving an abusive, cross-addicted, adulterating husband, I wasn’t chosen for special music in one church. In another, I was told by one family I was going to hell because I left my abuser. I was left out of singles activities because I had kids but I didn’t belong in the married group because I was single. When, after 25 years as a believer, I began to really struggle and fall away from my faith, the only thing I heard from the leadership of the church I had spent hundreds of hours volunteering at was a message from one of the pastors to call them. They couldn’t pick up the phone and call me….they sent a message through someone else for me to call them. They also took my kids out of the ministries they had volunteered in even though the problem was mine and had nothing to do with my children. This kind of attitude and behavior — that the leadership and their families are akin to royalty and everyone else is disposable — is what pushed me over the edge. I haven’t been back to church on a regular basis since I left that last church back in 1999. It’s sad because I long for the fellowship and kinship you only find with other believers but I just can’t be burned like that again.

    • Your post touches my heart. I pray you’ll find a group of people that love God and know how to love people. Thank you for all your years of service and caring for so many things. I’m sorry for the abusing, adulterating husband you had to endure. May God bless you and lead you to people that will appreciate you, grow in God with you and BE His church in this world.

  40. Thom, thanks for posting this article. I appreciated your 7 bullet-points, and would just suggest that those questions and reflections already should be an ongoing part of any given congregation’s preaching, general and leadership retreats, discussion-time (specified on the agenda) for the church boards, and the ongoing pastoral care work of the pastoral staff (home visits, etc.). I’ve been, at turns, an over-worked lay leader, then a disheartened pastor, then peripherally involved but never a “Done”, then a…”Returned”? So I truly can sympathize with most of what’s being said from every angle here. I honor the journeys and in some cases pain of all of the commenters here.

    But. I guarantee you that in 390 A.D., some guy was sitting in church in Constantinople saying, “This jackhole John Chrysostom, I’m done with him telling me the same thing every week, I’ve heard it all.” Surely church members there were disheartened and dissatisfied with how the Deacons were handling the poor pagan widows who begged down in front of the hot springs baths, and felt they could do it better, and left the church over that. Indeed, take all 80 of the comments here, and whatsoever the complaint was with the church, which again the commenters have a right to, I guarantee some version of it was behind the very conflicts Paul is addressing in his letters in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Philippi…you get the picture. Every single one. So in regard to Packard’s work, clearly money is to be made by sociologists of today selling the church what it’s buying, so more power to him and his books and “statistics,” but I don’t think he’s telling us anything we don’t truly already know about the behavior of “Church People,” as I like to call us.

    I’ll be honest. Some of what’s being expressed here reflects a response to poor church leadership, yes. Some of it reflects frustration at churches that aren’t the salt and light we’re called to be, yes. Some of it reflects incidents of genuine neglect and offense on the part of church leadership that led to genuine hurt, yes. But these always have been and always will be problems in some churches. At the same time, some of it reflects on the commenters’ part the idols of self-absorption and self-centeredness so prominent in our American society. Some of it reflects the terrible problem in our time of the abject boredom many Christians appear to feel with the Church, and their particular church, which I guarantee has been with us since the first century. It’s not going to be helped by leaving the institutional Church, I’m sorry to say. But it just may be increased by blogs and articles indulging and legitimizing the victim mentality of some of these folks without exhorting them to look within and do some work there.

    Now, surely an offended person will write in response to my saying these things, “that’s judgmental!” “People like you are why I left!” And so on. But this brings up yet another source of what I’m seeing: some of it reflects a spiritual immaturity that thumbs its nose at the imagery Paul was using when he spoke of the “body of Christ”: that we need each other despite our differing convictions and outlooks and disagreements, and that we ought to submit to one another and exhort one another. This can show up in someone saying, “I’m done with that guy preaching to me every week.” Or it can show up in someone saying, “This church just doesn’t fit [my interpretation of] the church depicted in Acts!” Part of this problem is difficulty with authority, when a chain of authority is just a fundamental piece of organizational structure, even in egalitarian systems: someone has to be where the buck stops. So it’s impossible for us to say who on these comment threads might have absolutely atrocious egos and are impossible to work with, themselves. Maybe everybody was relieved, in some of these cases, when they left.

    What is appallingly absent from these threads is any respect for Tradition, though I’m not surprised. And here I’m talking all of it: the three main branches of the Church, our shared and unique creeds, and most importantly to my point, the fact that for 2000 years we have gathered together as communal bodies–that is, structured, organized bodies–to carry out the first purpose of the Church. Tradition maintains that purpose is to praise and worship God in Jesus Christ, together, on or around the “little Easter” of Sunday. I think Jesus’s resurrection deserves the respect, from all in his body, together. I’ve been in 1500 year old churches in Europe, and 1000 year old churches in Ethiopia, and 300 year old churches in the U.S., and they all basically look the same though surely in every era there were those who said, “This sucks, I’m out of here.” There’s a reason that we’ve been worshiping with the same basic setup and format for 2000 years. Modern arrogance says, “that’s all outdated hokum.”; but a few hundred thousand disgruntled modern Christians won’t fundamentally change anything by leaving and going to a house church, or sitting out in the woods at sunrise, or whatever. Haven’t yet, in the big historical picture, anyway.

    Having said all that, of course people should take breaks. Stand up for yourself and say, “I just can’t do this anymore,” and do something else in the church, or just go to worship. Believe me, if no one else steps up, maybe it doesn’t need to be done anymore. Heck, play hooky and go visit other churches: you may find yourself running back to your church. Even more, my view is people they should go where they’re fed; that may mean leaving. We can’t expect every church to work for each of our individual faith lives. If the body is as diverse as Paul first described it, that’s self-evident. But. They should keep trying to be fed, and they should do that in an organized Christian community: for the sake of their contribution to the body of Christ, which needs them.

    • How many do you need to constitute an organised christian community? My bible tells me two or three. My bible tells me that meeting in homes is the best way to achieve this but I do know that it is achieved meeting in a cafe, at work, in the park, at the beach, under a tree etc. What I don’t find in scripture is that it is achieved in a building put up for religious purposes and where a person paid to be a christian officiates over organised ritual that keeps most people inactive and irrelevant.

      My bible also tells me that when Jesus rose from the dead he tore the veil of the temple in two that separated the holy of holies from the rest and that tells me the divide between the clergy and laity was abolished. But of course the “clergy” are never going to agree to that because they get their pay and self worth from being the boss.

      • Jesus did say where two or three are gathered. That gathering should be as led of the Spirit and not just a “done” attitude. We are told to separate ourselves from heretics and that includes behind the pulpit. We are told to go on unto perfection (completeness) which includes leaving erroneous teaching. The Lord did give a fivefold ministry so when moving on one must pray and be brave enough to “come out from among them) and trust the Holy Ghost to lead them unto an anointed man of God who is part of the fivefold ministry. If he is he will teach and preach the rightly divided word of truth as brought forth by the Spirit. The assembly may only be a few but that does not matter as long as the Lord has his way in every service and the entire service is led of the Holy Ghost.

      • Hi brother…I really do respect your journey, but it strikes me, pastorally, that you have some significant resentment and even anger at clergy and the institutional Church. A lot of these posts reflect that, and that is what’s really behind anything they say about why they are “Dones.” That sort of thing can lead to obsessive and neurotic behavior, like responding to post and after post after post on a blog in an attempt to make one’s point, for example. I hope people will give themselves a break, forgive, and in so doing free themselves. As to the Bible “telling you” things, I wonder what this tells you: 1 Timothy 5:17-18…”The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”” Now I don’t need any “double honor,” one of many culturally contextual things in the Bible that simply have been discarded by most of Christianity, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, no matter what the Bible “tells us.” Nothing scripturally, or ethically, wrong with doing good work as a called pastor at a church and expecting to get paid reasonably for it; that passage convicts me that even in the first Biblical generation of believers there was decision that the role of “pastor”, whatever it was called in scripture, existed as an established role, and was worthy of a salary. At the same time, there is also nothing wrong with doing it for free in a house church with 5 members. The problem with that, I would point out, is accountability. Your little part of the body of Christ in a house church has absolutely no accountability before our mutual Lord in the ways that visible, organized, institutional churches do. That has nothing to do with whether those said churches live up with Christian integrity to that mutual accountability; but the accountability is there, so that people like you or any “Done” can criticize it…while we have no idea what happens in your home church and you’re accountable to no other entity in the larger body of Christ. That’s a problem. It also must be said that what your Bible “tells you” in reference to “the church in her home,” etc., cannot logically be taken to be a definitive view forever on where the church should meet; building churches was subject to persecution in the Biblical generation. As soon as we could do it legally, we did it, prompted, clearly, by the Holy Spirit. That is enough proof for me.

      • The reply above was to “Reality Check.”

      • @Rev. Bob I value your perspective, your stress on accountability, and I agree that there’s nothing wrong with a pastor receiving gifts for their ministry work. However I have a few questions myself:

        1. The structure of our current “freedom” and ability to establish grand buildings of public worship were brought about through Constantine if I’m correct – which also led to the killing of people suspected of idol worship. This type of thinking also happened in the US through the Puritans – when one was accused of being a witch.

        2. The issue of accountability is huge, because in our denominational structures – whoever occupies the head position tends to be less accountable (especially in the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions). Among others the ideals of one hand wiping the other still exist as well. In this issue, I’ve learned that I can’t make anyone do anything at the end of the day – the individual is accountable to God as I am. I’m accountable for giving the truth.

        3. I asked a group of ministers how much should a pastor make – the common thread was $55K to $70k a year – more if the congregation was large. I say that to say this – what is a proper salary? I believe the eyes of Paul didn’t see what we have in the states now. Our standard of living exceeds the ideal of contentment. So many things to question…..

        4. As to the “little” Easter issue…what did Paul mean in Colossians 2:16-17? Also he mentions in another place that one acknowledges a day as unto the Lord and another doesn’t …but still as unto the Lord. We should gather not to worship but to express what we’ve done all week …which is true worship. Our lives are our worship, we gather (it could be on any day of the week and the size doesn’t matter) to encourage each other and to express what God has been doing in us….perfecting us.

        I truly believe that God has used what is termed the IC (institutionalized church) in spite of. With many things we make the Word of God of none effect by our vain traditions. I’m still recognized a leader in the community – although I no longer have a “church” … I never had one – it belongs to Christ. I’m a more effective pastor/mentor now (without a building) than I was with one. Now I can teach and allow people to grow individually and collectively as they encourage one another, develop friendships without developing cliques, and see the Body as it is. There is no agenda attached – no buildings, no personal plans, and if someone wants to “bless” me – they are free to do so – as I in turn bless others. I encourage giving not to a build or project – but to find somebody in need. This has worked very well.

        I indeed value the IC, however some of its programs, I don’t value. I work with serveral IC’s that know the way I feel. I only involve myself with Godly endeavors. Pastors that I’ve worked side by side with as a pastor myself – welcome my help. Sometimes they thought I might join – however, I let them know from the beginning I’m only here to help – when needed. They appreciate that – and they also know that I’m not a threat – I have no agenda but to do God’s work.

        If churches could actively do things like this – you’d see stress levels come down and people begin to grow. “Sheep” really know how to take care of themselves.

  41. The churches in the west are like Christian supermarkets – isle 10 small groups, isle 9 men’s group, isle 8 children’s etc. No need to shop anywhere else – one self-contained location that has everything. These churches are set up to take care of all “our” needs. I believe the Lord Jesus had something quite different in mind – small missional communities that nurture and reproduce disciples and reproduce new missional communities. People get burned out trying to offer everything to everyone. Jesus said “See the Kingdom of God first…” How about we sweep it all away and learn how to be effective missional communities? However, I do not think being a Done and being a lone wolf Christian is what the NT teaches.

    • A very good simile chesedlove. Just one thing though. Being a done does not mean that you are a lone wolf. It may mean that God is going to use you to birth a New Testament expression of church which can’t happen unless you are prepared to give up your non New Testament expression of the church. As the scripture says, you have to put new wine in new wineskins.

      • that sounds more hopeful. Thank you!

      • Oh, I hope so. I’m trusting that God is bringing us back to His true design for “the church.” Been a done for several years now and have been getting healed up from serving in churches, being part of leadership, giving and doing, going through three ugly church splits, etc. I’ve seen much, the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m learning to BE the church and preparing my heart for a great awakening in this nation and her churches.

  42. From my point of view, we have made an idol out of our institution of church. We worship our traditions, “We always have….”; instead of Jesus. We spend our time, energy and money on a worship service (in the style we like) instead of helping the hurting people in our communities. We build and care for buildings and not relationships. We have become so good at judging and pointing out where people are not following our written and unwritten “rules”. –We, the people in the church, are the scribes and pharisees and the religious leaders that Jesus had such scathing words for. Our churches are like whitewashed tombs.

    Here is a thought experiment: Take away your church building, all the upkeep and the expense of heating, cooling and repairing it. Take away your pastor’s salary and the salary of all of your staff so that they also work in the real world like everyone else. Cancel your worship service, permanently. –What would your church do with your money, your time and your energy in your community? Would you sit down and eat with hurting and broken people? Would you listen to them and their questions and have real relationships? Would you befriend kids without fathers and visit the forgotten in the nursing homes and jails? How would you “be” the church, and not just “go” to church?

    My friends, we are supposed to be building up people in God’s love, not building up an institution. If you take away the institution and the professionals and clergy, what have you got left? That is the church. That is what we are supposed to be doing.

    • Amen and amen and lets get rid of titles like Reverend which you won’t find in scripture.

      • The word says in Psalms his name alone is reverend. It is a title for the Lord and not man. While the word should be reverenced and the a truly anointed man of God reverenced for bringing forth the rightly divided word of truth the title is for the Lord. It is found in the King James Bible but widely over used for idiots who twist the word and blasphemy the holy name of Jesus.

      • Psalm 111: [9] He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.
        I do agree fully about these titles being used too much however. It is written thou shalt have no gods before me. Men have made gods out of men behind pulpits.

    • Very well said. When I think of all the wasted resources that go into those buildings… Money, time, energy, focus, everything… It makes me so sad. There are people outside those walls that need us!

  43. I am one of the “dones”. I grew up in the church. Did a lot with Sunday School, choirs, youth, etc. Enjoyed it because I had the energy and “first love” for Christ. I’m in my 50’s now. This is how I see the church today. The Bible is read only ONE verse at a time. Then the pastor talks about everything BUT the verse. He reads up all the commentaries on that ONE verse. I sense he himself cannot THINK for himself what God’s word is telling him. Church today is so full of entertainment and trying to bring in the world that the church is no longer a separate, holy people. Then there is all the social aspects to the church but are they out there visiting the sick? The elderly? The widow?! That’s what “pure religion” is. No the ladies get together for Bunko.

    I read my Bible a lot more now than before. I’m actually READING the Bible! No famous authors, commentaries, etc. The BIBLE! I’d actually LOVE to go to a church that would read the BIBLE straight for one hour with no comment, no jokes, no stories, no skit, no fancy music. Will we be like the people in biblical times after hearing the actual Word of God fall on our face and confess our sins and yearn to do better? Would be nice to get on our knees and pray for an hour too. Everyone can go to a movie for 2 hours sit on computer for 3 hours. How hard to sit and hear God’s word and pray?

    I still struggle about belonging to a “church”. BUT in scripture it does say not to “forsake the assembly”. I could easily justify that verse BUT if you read Revelation, Jesus is talking about the CHURCH! Seven churches all with different problems BUT there was the faithful few in all of them! So I’m still looking for a church that doesn’t feel like an entertainment hall, and hopefully Christ will come for the faithful few. If you read the Bible, it says there will be a “falling away” from the faith. This is it. The end times. Just read your Bible nothing else. GOD speaks to those that listen with an open heart.

    • As a pastor for over 20 years I read a lot of pain , honesty and transparency on here all from behind screens and without face to face gatherings. We need small groups of accountability, prayer and support. Without that people do not get challenged, held accountable and supported enough as God intended. Then eventually hurt settles in , burnt out and many become the Dones. I’m presently corresponding to a dear friend almost daily in Sierra Leone. They are hard pressed from the effects of Ebola. In the midst of economic joblessness , hungry and death the churches there are growing in love and numbers. I’m sure there some Dones there , but the impression I get is more New Testament love and worship and growth then what this article reflects about Americans .

  44. I am also a done. For my entire life, up until 2 years ago, I was a dedicated Catholic who worked tirelessly for the Church and never would have dreamed I would leave. The Holy Spirit finally got my full attention and I left and would never go back. I am very happy just getting together with a couple of close friends to pray and share the Word. I also do prison ministry where we pray and share. The problem with all of the organized religions is that they are too focused on keeping the organization and all of the infrastructure going and have lost the true meaning of being servants, as Jesus taught us. We need to care for the poor and hurting and step out to reach out to them. That is being salt and light as Jesus taught. You can’t do that one hour a week going to church, paying your tithe and forgetting that you’re Christian the rest of the week. If churches were true servants with this mission then we would really be living the Gospel.

  45. Church leaving needs a boatload more attention than it gets. It needs to be taken far more seriously than it is. It’s time for the churches to take some responsibility for their own role in people deciding the church is no longer a good place, rather than blaming/ridiculing people for journeying alone (or in unofficial groups). Will that happen? Probably not in my lifetime.

    I’m not sure the questions the author asks are the right ones, or that they will help understand the phenomenon of believers who can no longer face the demands of belonging. The author’s questions might be useful in helping hold on to the membership of a congregation, or as part of the assessment of a pastor’s job performance. But they aren’t going to stop people leaving. And as they assume current congregational participation, they can’t say much about those who have walked out–why they have left or what might have prevented the departure, or how/whether that relationship can be healed.
    I hope people will share stories of leaving through my blog I’m an “open de-churched” lay person with a PhD in theology. I love the church, but it fails to return that love. I’m a “young” 53, but I’m too old not to have my expenditures of affection and respect go without being reciprocated.

  46. Nothing to do with God and Jesus. Church is “people”.
    1) “Body of Christ” are just words.
    2) Pastors who only mingle with those they favor.
    3) Pastors (and their wives) who have favorites.
    4) Preference of ministry workers by age and connection.
    5) Forgiveness being used not according to God, rather covering wrong doing of so called church people, especially those who are “gifted””or who can perform or pray, and without them, the church may not function.
    6) Church manned by unprofessional people on payroll by Church, and not accountable for their performance. This may affect tithing.
    7) Corrupt elders, deacons..
    8) And many reasons too sensitive or would be perceived as not telling the truth in love.

  47. I am a Done. I grew up Catholic and was a music minister for 30 years. When I became a reformed Baptist, I never fit the mold of being “the good woman”, so I never fit in. I went to another church, and wanted to join the music ministry, but the pastor wanted a man so he put in someone with no musical background. I started going to the gym and joined a rock band, and that is what I’ve been doing on Sunday mornings. I stopped going after Easter this year, because of the Santa Barbara massacre, because I felt pew sitting was wasting my time and God’s time. The church also stopped meeting during the weekday evenings too, I work so I can’t meet during the day.

    Someone recently made a statement about church, churches do religious dramas to substitute making change to whatever else they do. My most recent church was doing these for years, but the woman who wrote them was being displaced by others trying to take over the productions. And she was a professional musician! I tried to suggest some changes, but I was totally ignored, and my talents were dismissed. I was an attendee for four years.

    Someone needs to give me a reason for going and until then I’m not. I’m looking to do some community work through the hospital, maybe teaching women who are trying to escape domestic violence how to live, like balancing checkbooks or getting a job. I’d be great at that.

  48. Maybe saying we’re ‘done’ is the wrong word. I’m certainly not done with my faith, with my commitment to Christ, with a desire to serve. In fact, I hunger for that. And I’ve given years of my life, both on and off staff at churches, to bring that to the organized church. What I’ve seen instead is a social club that talks about faith, maybe gets together to knit blankets or make sandwiches to donate somewhere every now and then, but in reality, makes very little impact in the world. I don’t remember anything in scripture about committees on poverty or disease -. But I do remember Jesus feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

    What I’m done with are grounds committees who are more concerned with keeping the carpets nice than opening the church for homeless to have a place to sleep. What I am done with are putting on “harvest festivals” or “summer fun parties” for church members so that they can socialize among themselves. I’m done with bible studies that don’t ask hard questions and are mostly feel-good sessions. I’m done with worship services that are all about the music and the spectacle instead of all about praise. But I’m certainly not done with my life with Jesus Christ.

  49. It sounds like your talking about the church as a building or a place where you go. I think the Bible clearly teaches that the church is the body of Jesus Christ, made up of everyone who calls Jesus Lord. That being said I don’t think it is possible to leave the church without renouncing your faith in Jesus Christ.

  50. My husband and I are among the “Dones”. That label bothers me, but I understand it. My husband was on a church staff when we met. After we married, the church split and he lost his job. Three years later he took what we thought was his dream job. He joined the staff of one of the biggest, most progressive churches in our home state. Nineteen years later, we left the staff and the church.
    We had served jointly and individually during those years. Apart from his “paid” responsibilities, we had taught, led, participated in and initiated ministry in just about every area of service.
    I was the first to bail. I quietly backed out of my responsibilities and eventually quit attending church. Next my husband backed out of everything but his paid duties. When he finally resigned, it was a quiet exodus. The church was so large that months later, there were other staff members that didn’t even know he had left. It saddened and angered me that people were so “busy” doing “the Lord’s work” that our exodus, and the exodus of many others could go unnoticed-that our total collapse of faith could go unnoticed.
    After a couple of months, we found a small congregation that allowed us to come in and begin to heal. They allowed, even preferred that we come and worship but not take on any responsibilities until we had been there almost a year. Wow! How refreshing! This was a precious gift to us and our children.
    A few years later, when this body lost the pastor and disbanded, we were crushed. We have tried other churches, even other denominations, but we find ourselves, three years later, “Done”…again.
    We miss different things about an organized body of Christ. For me personally, I feel more in touch with and in love with my Heavenly Father than I have in many, many years. I don’t know if we will ever do the church thing again, but that’s OK with me.
    The hardest thing about all of this is the impact that this has had on our kids. They were at critical ages when all of this happened. My prayer is that someday, they will come back to their relationships with Jesus. And know that it’s OK NOT to commit themselves to endless pleas and expectations to serve in an overloaded life of service. I am so thankful that I now understand that it’s alright to be “done”.
    It’s a trend that desperately needs to be addressed…

    • Most of us can relate to your story. It happens in all facets of life as well. like relocating away from a family we grew up with. The challenge I am working to solve is how we can stay connected all the time even if we move. Also why does a fellowship of believers have to disband at all. It is a symptom of a top down style of leadership. I believe there is an answer. The first thing we all need to do is connect. All of us on this thread can start talking to each other, and encouraging each other. We don’t have to be alone.

      • I think you will find that we do have to be alone in reality. if you are required to sit and listen there is not much fellowship on offer. Talking for a few minutes afterward is not fellowship. Being involved in people’s lives on a day to day basis is fellowship.

        A friend of ours went to a new church for months and then gave up as no one talked to her even though she knew many people through her work as a teacher. From what I know of the church, you have to be part of the “in” crowd to be accepted.

      • I’ve made a comment or 2 here and have been following this, reading all the comments and trying to listen hard to what is inside those comments.  My heart does indeed go out to the world of people wanting to know and grow closer to the Lord and find so many roadblocks in their search.  The one common thread to most all of these comments is relationship issues with people, not with the Lord.  If this is true in your life, what it means to me is the Lord does love each and every one of us and He is always faithful in each of our lives, but only to the degree that we let Him be.  In other words, if we let our experiences with other people take control of our spiritual walk with our Lord, our Lord respects each of us enough to let us choose where that may lead us.  It isn’t that He does not have a plan or direction for us, just that he knows each of us well enough to understand we need to make our own choices in finding our spiritual life.  Obviously, that would mean we are very much open to error and misleading doesn’t it. So, even though our Lord loves each of us enough to let us choose, He also loves us enough to forgive our wrong choices.  In that, He is also faithful, fully faithful and will always be there to help lead us rightly as we struggle in this walk.  My suggestion is pretty simple because of this attitude within me.  It has proven to me over many, many years now that my Lord loves me and is more then willing to help me love Him back.  The key here then is love.  If I can find that love He is offering me, I can find my happiness and my hope for this life.  When I am not reaching out to Him and not actively looking for Him, that love I MUST HAVE grows further away from me and it healing power is further away from me as a result. 

        So, what that means to me is, I know the key, but must also know where and how to use this key. It is almost funny in a way.  Over many years of searching and trying many ideas and ways to stay close to the Lord and His love, I have walked around the answer and even used the answer many time without quite understanding it.  I have felt many times if I can only be a better person, more right in my walk, more steadfast in my faith — After all the bible does say without faith it is impossible to please God doesn’t it?  And even though this is a truth, it is so often confused with the concept of being good enough to be worthy somehow of the Lords love that our faith can only grow as we grow in our goodness. 

        This is a lie.  It is a lie I personally believed for a number of years.  The fact is, not a single one of us will ever be good enough to deserve this Lord who loves us, to deserve the closeness to Him we all cherish so deeply.  We want so hard to find Him so fully in our lives, but struggle with what our lives are and we let that struggle confused us and hold us from Him.  I can only say what I have found to be the truth of this in my life and I have shared it with those who would listen over the past few years now.  My walk with the Lord isn’t perfect.  In fact I can tell you I am very far from perfect, even though something inside me often tries to tell me different.  I am only as perfect as the Lord is in me, and that is subject to change almost at a whim.  These leads me right back to finding that key and using it in the right way.  It is a never ending process and one that must be used in my life all the time for me to even come close to what the Lord would want of me. So, I suppose at least a couple of you reading this are wondering.  Maybe more have already stopped reading or have already seen me for the crackpot you think I must be.  But the truth is still here to find, if you are still wondering what I think that truth is.  It is really so simple and it is already told to each of us, both by the Holy Spirit and by the Word, both the written word and the Living Word.  We’ve all heard I’m sure the verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  I is a very short set of words, but the underlying meaning encompasses everything it takes to become the children of God we are meant to be.  If we can learn this, we can be resolved to what this life is suppose to be and we can find what our Lord and our Savior wants our lives to be.  Have you already looked it up?  If not, here it is.  It will seem to alot of you not too overwhelming at first I pretty sure.  But the truth is in these words, the truth that actually will set your free.  My has forever been changed by these words, but only by applying them to my life — And then only as I continue in applying them — ALWAYS if at all possible.  The more I do, the more it works and does exactly what it is suppose to do — Keep the Lords love for me and my love for Him open and alive. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18English Standard Version (ESV) 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. What this amounts to for me, what I do to make it real to me and work in my life is all wrapped up praise.  I continue to praise my Lord for everything always.  It is always in the back of my mind and it moves right up to the front of it all the time.  I have found it come out of me in everything I see, say and do.  It isn’t hard and the Holy Spirit is always willing to prompt it from me, as long as I am willing to let Him.  In the most simple terms I know, all I can say is it works!  Everything I am involved with and do, everything I have control over and no control in, I lift the Lord in praise and in that I find all I need to walk forward with God.  Again, don’t mistake what I am saying.  I am not saying in anyway this makes me perfect, but I am saying it opens my very existence up to my Lord.  In that, He is fully able to us me as He chooses to and I am more then willing to allow that in my life.  I still make a lot of mistakes, but I praise the Lord for them and He is always faithful and forgives and even uses my mistakes for His right purpose. 

        I can talk about this a lot, but I’ve said enough.  Now it is up to each of you to maybe open you heart, your spirit to allow what this words can mean in your life.  Trust God and trust the Holy Spirit and see.  Praise the Lord and allow Him to grow you closer to Him — It will happen!  I know I am not alone in this, and I am sure most of you will be reminded of times when the Lord felt so near.  Think back about what was in your heart, your mind and maybe coming from your lips at the time.  Bet it was about praise to Him. God loves you, never forget that.  He will show you that love in ways you may not even understand.  Praise Him as much as you can, and be open to Him and His Holy Spirit.

        God Bless.

      • Marjamar, what I’m not sure you’re tracking is that many of us haven’t left the Lord, at all. What we’ve left is a false church. Not at all the same thing.

  51. If anyone counts themselves among the “dones” or the dechurched, we’d love to talk with you. Drop me a line over at or on twitter @dechurchamerica.

    -Josh Packard

  52. “They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.” as a woman who was found at the church 5 days of the week for one reason or another…gave of my time, my talents, my family and my treasure for over 10 yrs…learned the lesson of ask not. church seems to be the place that women’s liberation forgot. women do the lions share of the work and get the least credit…and if we dare ask for something (to serve more not money) we are often disappointed and frustrated…

    i am ‘back’ at another church, serving with just my talent. i have no desire to jump back in. in fact i would think myself stupid if i were to do this.

  53. Of all the buttons you could have pushed you sure pushed a hot one. Now you need to take everything you put into it and all these comments…and solve it. It seems to me that someone once said (and I don’t remember who) if you don’t have a solution you may not have a problem.

  54. Almost as if all the “dones” are rubbing their hands together hoping all the church buildings are emptied. Satan’s work if I must say it. The church is the people and the building is where they meet. So why are all you dones so glad about that? Don’t meet in anyone’s homes because someone might lead you and you don’t like to be led.

    • Kate it’s to bad that your taking that point away from the discussion. The issue is the system not the people. The system is more concerned with perpetuating itself then encouraging the individual in their walk with Jesus. The corporate church is made up of the individual that has a relationship with Christ. It is Christ that is the foundation and fountain from which all things flow. When that flow comes to a halt for any reason Kate it means there is something stopping it. If we can learn from the scripture 1 cor 10:6 says “6Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave * evil things as they also craved.” So if Israel’s apostasy is an example for us then we ought to pay attention. When the system is largely apostate as Israel was it is high time to follow Jesus and not a system or a pastor.

      • Miguel, I likes your post because it awakened a thought that the church is in fact killing itself so it only has itself to blame. I have been a Christian for 60 years and over that time the only thing that I find matters is our relationship with Jesus. The more vibrant and alive that is the more vibrant and alive the church is because each individual that is vibrant and alive is pouring life into the church.

        Whilst the church insists that we be slaves of tradition and the status quo, which most do, they are throttling the life out of the church until the only alternative is to allow ourselves to die spiritually or branch out into something more vital or vibrant.

        All the Dones have done is to decide that they are not going to die spiritually. They are going to branch out to rekindle the vitality and vibrancy of the life in Christ that they know is theirs to be had and which they have a right to as sons of God.

        I and all the other Dones are not obliged to prop up an apostate and failing system no more than Jesus was expected to support the Pharisees and Sadducees because they were the legitimate spiritual leadership of the country. In fact Jesus made it clear what he thought about them when he called them a generation of vipers.

        I wonder why he called them vipers? This might give us a clue…….

        Experiments have shown these snakes are capable of making decisions on how much venom to inject depending on the circumstances. In all cases, the most important determinant of venom expenditure is generally the size of the snake, with larger specimens being capable of delivering much more venom. The species is also important, since some are likely to inject more venom than others, may have more venom available, strike more accurately, or deliver a number of bites in a short time. In predatory bites, factors that influence the amount of venom injected include the size of the prey, the species of prey, and whether the prey item is held or released.

    • Your cynical response is very, what shall we say…cynical and devoid of truth. What you have attributed to Dones is quite untrue. What you haven’t realised is that there is going to be sorting out of the sheep and goats. Those that keep his commandments are the sheep and those who keep the commandments of organised religion are the goats. I known which side I want to be on and it is not those who blithely follow man’s effort to be religious and acceptable.

    • Kate, I think you are missing the point and not really hearing the sadness, loneliness, grief and heartache that we “Dones” are communicating. I don’t hear many if any of us saying that we are “rubbing their hands together hoping all of the church buildings are emptied”. On the contrary! Most of us would love to be a part of a church that functions as God intended. A church like the church in Acts. We’ve been in many churches of many denominations and have seen a couple that come close but in the end either disband or split. Many of the people involved in these churches have said that the split is worse than their divorces were.
      I hear lots of frustration and pain but I don’t hear what you heard.

  55. I am so very fatigued by being pegged as selfish and self-indulgent because I have been thwarted by the control and pride of leadership. I KNOW IT ISN’T ABOUT ME!!!!! But it isn’t about the structure and who has power and who has the RIGHT to make decisions either. You are looking at people who have sacrificed time and time again for the sake of Christ. However, I don’t need the church to be my employer, I need them to be my family. God didn’t give us each other for more needed labor. God pulled us together for the sake of community. I don’t think it is too much to ask for people who are struggling to be able toask for help without being labeled as bad servants. The problem is when you say you are having a hard time connecting to God, you don’t get support, you are told to serve more, because your need is being selfish. Why do I need the church if it is going to just treat me as an employee? I serve and love kids every day with the love of Christ. I don’t need the church to provide an opportunity to serve; I got that in spades. I need the church the way the first church members needed each other. We need to break bread and share our experiences and encourage one another. However, there is no time for that in our over-programmed, over-scheduled, Sunday rock concert environment. The dones aren’t done with Church as much as the facsimile it has come to be.

    • Vichanes, one of the many scriptures that caught my attention when I was very young in The Lord was John 4:24″God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
      I really struggled to understand this scripture and had several “educated Christians” explain it to me, but there was always something missing in their explanation and understanding of this verse. I didn’t know what it was but I didn’t and don’t blame people for what they don’t see but I love to rejoice with what they do see. As I looked into the very words that God was using, one of the discoveries I made was that Truth is Reality according to the concordance. The peace of God came in like a flood over this simple little nugget. Oops is not in God’s grammar and he doesn’t make mistakes. When we are worn out from all the serving it is time to recognize the reality of that and go to Him who has the answers. I personally have recognized that a lot of the works I was doing for The Lord was not for Him at all. It was largely because this is what people, especially the leadership (and being as honest as I can be), myself thought “these are the kind of things a good Christian should do”.
      My discovery of John 4:24 came alive out of my experience, together with the Word, I realized though many of these works could be considered good, but it’s not about good. The tree Adam and Eve ate from was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (wrong tree). My works were supposed to be worship to God and the Truth is the Spirit didn’t tell me to do all that stuff. This was very freeing for me and I don’t need anyone to be my Holy Spirit except the Holy Spirit. The scripture says the work of God is to believe. Everything else in our lives flow from that. We must remember the purpose of our relationships. The purpose is Life! Christ said “I have come to give you Life and Life abundantly. Don’t allow others to deceive you from the simplicity in Christ because they still want a king not the King.

  56. I love my church, and church family, every one is very friendly , and compassionate, love the Lord, we are a small country church, but our church is always there for the community if anyone is in need. our Pastor, does not stand up there and preach or yell at us, our pastor teaches, he will start a series and continue it of several weeks, teach straight out of the Bible.
    Making a person not want to miss as you will miss a lesson.

  57. Some thoughts I shared with an excellent leader in our previous church:
    Vocation. We have 168 hours per week. If we budget half of that, 12 hours a day, to sleeping, eating, grooming, and reading to the kids, we have 84 hours remaining to invest in the progress of the Kingdom. Let’s budget 4.2 hours a week to formal church-centered activities. That leaves 79.8 hours a week. (there’s a reason for those numbers) If this sounds reasonable, then half of a tithe of our time, 5% of our waking hours, will be spent in … building. 95% of our available time will go elsewhere. If we do indeed serve a God Who is interested in all of life, not just the “religious” part, we must give thought as to how to capture the 95% of our time for His glory each week. A big chunk of that, of course, goes into the “day jobs” God has provided for us. See the chapters “You must be the best” and “The story of Jim” in Douglas Hyde’s must-read masterpiece “Dedication and Leadership.” Every one of us participates in God’s redemptive purposes for the world (which He so loved) as we exert ourselves to take what’s given us and make it better. People see our good (kalos, lovely) work and lift their grateful attention to God. As I shared with you earlier, we have a well-developed system for recruiting and equipping campus ministers to sneak in over the back wall. … But how much attention do we give to those low-charisma guys who aspire to walk in through the front door? And are willing to invest the decades of preparation such an invasion might require?

    IF we also have a “dream job” on our agenda, AND IF we spend ten hours a week on that sideline, we can achieve mastery in twenty years — just about the time the little birdies start flying the nest. Again, achieving excellence in our vocations requires a doctrine of victory. The God Who has called us to influence our culture through excellence in our work also gives us the time and stamina we need to get ‘er done. J. S. Bach, G. F. Handel, and Michelangelo did not get up to speed overnight. More than 400 years later, however, people stand up for the Hallelujah Chorus. In Japan, Bach is called “The fifth evangelist,” since so many serious musicians come to Christ as a result of studying his work.

    A doctrine of victory is the “what” we must continue to celebrate. A doctrine of vocation is the “how.” A doctrine of virility is the “who.”

    Virility. In the economy of God, Adam was made first, and given a job. Eve came along later, to support Adam’s purpose and to keep the arena tidy. As a rough indicator of the division of labor, man-friendly language tends to be purpose-driven, outward looking, while lady-friendly language is big on relationship maintenance. Feminine worship language will be along the lines of “How can I get closer to You?” A man will muse — “OK, now that I’m as close as it’s possible to get, a cell in a body, a branch on a vine, elect according to the purposes of God, how shall I ACT upon the mighty privleges conferred by my election, to achieve something real for the Lamb that was slain?” A lady will cry out for “more” of God. A man will irately ask, “OK, so how do you quantify a Person? Do you want more miles, pounds, or gallons of ‘God?’ Is that to go, or will you consume it here? How will you know when you have ‘enough’ of ‘God’ to act upon?” It can be depressing to go to a men’s meeting, and listen to exhortations on relationship maintenance, rather than challenges to target and pursue a Big Hairy Audacious Goal for God. (thanks, Bojidar Marinov for this insight: )

    One set of expressions will draw men into the Christian sphere, since we are hard-wired to “attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.” (William Carey) The other set of expressions will pall, bore, and alienate guys. … Contemporary Western Christianity is man-unfriendly. Refined, demure, timid, sentimental. Repellant to guys. Leon Podles’ book “The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity” traces this trait back to Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of western monasticism. Bernard wrenched a corporate metaphor, the bride of Christ, out of its wholesome Biblical context and applied it to individual men. He exhorted his monks to be sweet little wifeys to Jesus — but guys are not designed to be blushing brides, guys!

  58. My values include corporate worship, sacraments, prayer for other believers and encouragement of the saints. Where else but the church!

    • Do you mean the structure or the Body? I have all of these without the structure. What believers don’t know other believers? Corporate is a business term – I prefer congregational which means to congregate or gather. 5,4, or even three people can agree to gather and encourage each other – express their worship, have communion and pray for each other. We act like we would be lost without the physical structure.

      How do military people in field, on the sea, or under it gather? You may say they have a chaplain …yes, but might not be a believer – may not even be a Christian at all (chaplains now must know how to minister to all faiths). This is what military members do – they have Bible studies – prayer gatherings, they hold each other accountable as a light. I know this because I’ve been there. And when you do have a saved chaplain that understands the Church…I’ve experienced that once in a long military career. It was wonderful!

      • I agree. Assembly is another good term. Also, I think chaplains so often have such an excellent grasp on ministry because they are not closeted with one group, they have to learn to cross over the normal boundaries and share with everyone. And they often do this so well between Faiths.

  59. I’m a pastor of over thirty five years. I have to say that sometimes I’ve been tempted to leave, and sometimes I’ve needed to take a break from some congregations. but it’s sad for me to see folks leave, or just declare the organized church “apostate,” so that they can feel righteous as they close the door behind them. We are commanded to gather and, the fact is, that if there is no organization to it, sooner or later we will stop gathering. The church is, as it has always been, a mix – we are saints and sinners, righteous and unrighteous. To turn one’s back on the church is to turn one’s back on the chief means by which the Spirit works. The most traumatic event of my life, so far, has been the death of our three-year-old grandson. It was in the church that I felt the hands of Christ surrounding me, enabling me to continue. It is through the church that I am encouraged, that my gifts are noticed and encouraged, and that I am also held to account for what I say or do. While it is true that this doesn’t always happen in the church, that’s not a reason to leave – it’s a reason to keep working at it. My theory of ministry is that the church is a “permission-giving” body, there to encourage one another, build one another up, and hold one another accountable in our ministries. It seems that the writer, and perhaps others, have not found that in the congregations they attend. I’m sorry to hear that. Sorry, also, that I can’t finish this – I’ve just been called to the nursing home. The mother of a parishioner just died of a brain tumor. I need to go hold some folks, and encompass them in prayer, and in the arms of Jesus. Some things the institutional church does well.

    • Dear Gary. I always used to say, “don’t nag from the outside, change from the inside.” But like many others, I have grown tired, and the very people who should be there to care are two busy feathering their own nests and filling their own pockets. Yes, for some of us the only bit that is left is prayer.

    • Gary it is clear you don’t understand what people are trying to say here. Your statement about people just wanting to feel righteous is a very judgmental statement. My reasons for not going to the system anymore are solidly based in scripture as well as my experience. As a pastor I hope you see the relevance of Israel’s apostasy as compared to the church’s apostasy. If you struggle with that let me start with the words God used when he addressed the pharisee’s who were the leadership. Matthew 23:15 NAS
      “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte ; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
      Do you see an apostate leadership here? This is the leadership and this is what they were creating. In fact I think it is not a mistake Jesus came when he did. The word “apostate” simply means to fall away. To fall away means you had to be somewhere to fall from it. The Nicolaitans in Rev chapter 2 have had their effect on the church and now 2000 years later it is not hard to see the results (major apostasy) so much so that the “church” has lost it’s ability to function as a live organism and has settled for the pseudo organization.
      Apostasy finds it’s roots in sin and has swept the organization via politics, pride, and power.
      In speaking with the church at Ephesus Jesus said 2:Revelation 2:6
      ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate
      The word Nicolaitans means victory over the people. As you look down to rev 2:15 we find this:Revelation 2:15 NAS
      ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
      Gary it is the leadership that does the teaching and they have claimed victory over the laity and that’s what happened then and that’s what’s happening again. I am thankful that some are waking up to it and going where Jesus is. Hebrews 13:13 NAS
      So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
      The camp was the place where all the religious stuff was happening and where I am not satisfied. I need Jesus and encouragement to stay hard after him brother, not religion.

    • Gary–you really don’t understand what everyone is saying. Most people that are leaving aren’t doing if for self-righteous means. They also aren’t against some form of organization. What they are against is the current Protestant model (for lack of any better term) form of church. The things you claim the church are doing well they aren’t. I’ve been in all a wide variety of churches over the years including a Messianic Synagogue. One of the dearest people in my parent’s life is their pastor. He is a godly man. I’ve seen many other godly people in ministry positions. Because of the clergy/laity distinction, the church thrusts upon them the bulk of ministry. In most all churches only a small percent (maybe 10-20%) do all of the work. It’s simply impossible for a local assembly to do anything well when only a small percentage is involved.

      There are wonderful people in the church and people gifted to teach and pastor. These people would help others through hard times no matter what the organizational structure. So, the fact that good things occur and people show love within the current model of church isn’t an indication that particular model or organizational structure is correct. It simply shows that God’s Spirit is working in people’s lives. And, I fully believe he is working in their lives in spite of them being within the confines of an improper model–one that hinders the deepest, most vibrant expression of God’s Church.

      My heart breaks when I see all the godly ministers the system chews up and spits out. If you can honestly say you haven’t seen that multiple times, then you’re either lying or completely isolated. The system beats up the best among us. It takes all those commands to preach, teach, bear one another’s burdens, visit the sick and all the others and places it upon a few. The rest often become spectators, not knowing the Word or their Lord, because there isn’t true fellowship and there isn’t true dialogue. Again, do you think most Christians really know their Bible? If you can say yes, again you are believing a lie. Knowledge and application is lacking, because the entire teaching paradigm is wrong. We have a lecture-centric paradigm. The Hebrew model (which is the one Jesus followed) was hands-on and dialogue based.

      I know several good, Christian people that simply can’t function within the walls of the current model. I used to believe they just needed to get their life together. But, I’ve seen they can’t function within a model that isn’t Scriptural. This is particularly true of men I know–godly men who are builders, creative and energetic. They simply can’t function within the walls where the port of entry and the main event are spectator-oriented. This is also true of younger generations. They need dialogue and activity.

      From the overall tone in your reply, I feel you are under conviction. I could be wrong, but I think you must face reality. You’ve been a key link in a system, methodology and organizational structure that falls far short from what it out to be.

    • Gary, thanks. You said much more succinctly what I tried to do verbosely a few days ago. There is a tremendous and sad amount of pain and anger being reflected by lay leaders on these comment threads, and while all of us are better for awareness of it, it is what it is: it’s personal, and I’m not sure they’re being honest about their own brokenness. A lot of these experiences could have been avoided simply by learning to say “no,” refusing to be overworked or overcommitted, and taking breaks in ways that allowed renewal. I think some of us here get it: the church has been the way these folks are criticizing it, and condemning it, for, since day one. The very Biblical letters of Paul reflect this, heh. Humans are flawed, our churches will be, as they always have been. That will not be changed by leaving it, nor will it make that believer more justified or a better Christian off on his or her own. There is no “better” church that the “Dones” as understood on this blog long for; as we say in counseling, they “take themselves with them” when they go. The only way they’ll find such a thing is to make it themselves, or find one that supports their views…but that church, too, will inevitably disappoint, lo and behold. Protestant Christians are free to start new fellowships, but those in turn will become “institutional” in their own ways and inevitably hurt other people themselves. In the end, what really matters is accepting the reality of the institutional church and trusting in God’s power and new creation in Christ to keep loving, and giving one strength to be salt and light within, that the world may see.

      • @Rev Bob,
        You make some very good observations. However, I was no a lay leader…I instead was a Sr. Pastor (and yes…overworked). You speak the truth when you say that we are all flawed…including Pastors. You also speak the truth when you say the Protestant Christians are free to start their own fellowships but they too will become institutional…I know that first hand. They become that way because it’s the paradigm we are faced with…it’s all some people know.

        Getting away from the institution for about 3 years before really working pastors that pastor IC’s, did me well. Looking from the inside out – I used to say, “Why wouldn’t anyone not want to be a part of this”? Looking from the outside in I began to say “How would anyone want to be a part of this”? Now I say – if I’m born in – how can you really separate me from what I am? Just as you trust God’s power to work in the institution – I also trust the power of God to be a light to all, including the institution – without signing my name to a roll , promising my time, resources, and talents for the benefit of said institution. Instead I promise these things to Christ as the Spirit leads…As a pastor yourself, you know that many institutionalized churches do not want former Sr. Pastors in their congregations – because they think they are after their jobs. With me not joining – they know I have no agenda. I’m here to help in Godly things – but beyond that, I’ll study to lead a quiet life and mind my own business (I Thess 4:11) while still encouraging the Body…not just one brand.

      • Wow, prerich, that’s really well said.

    • Hi Gary, it sounds like you are one of the few ministers that are sincere
      and doing what God has called you to do. You really do care about
      the people in your congregation and that shows in your
      willingness to drop everything and comfort someone in your
      church. That is wonderful; however, I don’t think you know that
      you are more the exception than the rule as a church leader
      at this point in time. Please don’t make it look like we are all a bunch
      of whiners. Some certainly may be. But in my 30+ years in this area
      of the country have seen the opposite. And that’s after attending one
      church for many years and 2 others off and on after that. The pastors
      and leaders often seem to have their own agendas, their own
      favorites (one in my area actually said with a straight face that he
      asked ushers to keep out “ugly people” when they saw them. This
      church pretends to be for everyone no matter what color, but didn’t
      God say to not be respectors of persons, no matter what? So in
      other words, let all colors in, but only the best looking?) Try and
      defend that, please. And to those who say maybe he was joking.
      He’s very impressed with image and appearance, so no he
      was not joking. I’m sorry, but everything you said about finding
      encouragement in the church is how its SUPPOSED to be, and
      maybe it’s like that in your church. But most leaders I’ve seen
      are more concerned about image and their own agenda.
      God is still healing me today because of everything I’ve seen
      and heard in these churches. I still think church is God’s idea
      and I still love the idea of church. But when years go by and still
      you are being sabataged and undermined every time you turn
      around, you do feel like you need a break from it all. God is good
      no matter what man does or does not do.

  60. Not difficult to be ‘done’. Who isn’t fed up with rubbish music, anything goes liturgy, preaching that is beyond the pale, zilch spirituality, deceitful clergy, rich pickings for a few and overpaid ministers, propping up buildings while people starve in the next street ….. I could go on, and I am sure there is much more others could add to the list.
    I am a member of God’s Church, not the institution we call church. And I have faith and hope. To paraphrase Pope Francis – it’s time the carnival was over.

  61. You described it so well, “the dones.” The category “nones” never seemed to fit, thanks.
    One additional note, this includes pastors too. I spent virtually my whole life in ministry of one sort or another. Grew up as a PK and MK, involved as a lay leader, then ordained minister and involved in denominational positions. Along the way the demands pushed me till I was rained dry. Then an old injury put me on the disabled list. NO longer “useful” the denomination dropped me, abandoned me, and I no longer existed. But in hindsight that disabling was my salvation, my spiritual life is good as ever, maybe better and yes I am DONE! Now I am ministering outside the established church, healing, and at peace.

  62. I can easily think of two reasons why they’re leaving:

    1. The deliberately limited role of the church in society doesn’t leave much opportunity for non-ministry-trained talent. Pastors have created a system where the limelight is always on them and their preaching.

    2. Whatever their talent or interest, members are steered exclusively into work that benefits the church. The world can go to hell in a hand basket. It’s all about church growth and income.

    There’s an excellent illustration. Suppose a brilliant lawyer moves into town and looks for a church to join. Aware of that, almost every pastor will think one of three thoughts.

    a. He must earn a lot of money. Let’s put him on on stewardship committee to make sure he gives us a lot. In other words, he’s a cash cow.

    b. He’s respectable and well-dressed. Let’s make him highly visible to attract the ‘better’ sort of members. In other words, he’s to be used for image building.

    c. He’s a lawyer. Let’s get him to look at our legal documents. In other words, he’s to become a drone.

    Is it any wonder why that lawyer might decide not to go to any of those churches?

    Would any pastor think of encouraging that lawyer to consider devoting his attention to local or even state politics and social issues? Almost certainly not. For Evangelical pastors and thus Evangelical churches, it’s the church first, last and always.

    Years ago, a Seattle pro-life group called, asking if I could run some documents down to the state legislature to counter some euthanasia legislation. The Catholic lawyer I picked the documents up from clearly didn’t belong to a church that shoehorned lawyers into a, b, or c. above. He was working in concert with Catholic legislators to block that legislation. The Catholic church was delighted that he did that and encouraged him.

    How many Evangelical lawyers are involved in that or, to put is more precisely, how many are involved with the open and public encouragement of their church and pastors. Far too few. Like I said, preachers want to hog the glory.

    That’s one key reason why these people are dropping out. They’ve grown tired of seeing their talents ignored. We can only hope that some spend the added time they have by being spared church busy work to do larger and greater things that God wants them to do.

    The church that’d impress me most would be one that transfers as may of the tasks in the church, including leadership, to high school students. That experience would be great for them. Then with adults freed up, the church would encourage them to “go out there and change the world.” All the silliness in tax laws about political activity could be countered by not acting as a church but in concert with other church members and willing people.

    Ah, but that touches on another unhealthy aspect of churches. Pastors don’t want their members mixing it up with those who go to other churches. They might leave.

    Almost any field of work or profession has opportunities for serving God that are restrained by the church walls.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer

  63. Just a difficult sign of the times.

  64. I think you miss one of the most if not the most basic reasons that nones become nones, and that is they are tired of hierarchy determining who is in and who is not in and why when it comes to the showers of God’s grace toward humanity.

    • Quite right John. It doesn’t seem to matter which denomination we are talking about, the bullying tactics of the hierarchy are too, too much. A great deal of that bullying is for one end and one end only – filling the coffers. The ‘why’ of the Church has been lost to all but a few. I think people like Pope Francis have a long row to hoe, but at least they have started hoeing out the weeds, and by crikey, there are a lot of weeds to be dealt with.

    • @John,

      Spot on! I was just excommunicated and ordered to be shunned from my 150+ independent Bible church in California’s Silicon Valley. I had been a member for 8+ years. My “crime”? I discovered, while doing legal research for a former prosecutor, that a fellow new church member was a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List of sex offenders. When I reported it to the pastors/elders, I was treated to being screamed at by them. The sex offender is their long-time friend. They defended him to the hilt, put him in positions of trust, invited him to volunteer at our children’s summer week-long evangelistic basketball camp (and none of the parents who are church members or non-Christians who entrusted their children to us knew that). The senior pastor said the sex offender was coming off Megan’s List. His supervising law enforcement agency, the Sheriff’s sex offenders’ task force, called that “a total lie”. The task force called the California Attorney General, who runs my state’s Megan’s List. The Attorney General also called it “a total lie”. For repeating to the elders what the Attorney General said I was told that I was banished from church property because I was “bringing an accusation against an elder without cause.” Clergy in California are mandated child abuse reporters.

      The sex offender has touched kids, whose parents have no idea he’s on Megan’s List. The senior pastor defended it and said it was harmless and that if a father decided that it was ok than it was fine and that his wife was “to obey him” and “to submit to him”. Uhhhh, no. That’s not how it works. A mother is commanded by law to protect her children from a dangerous person and if she doesn’t she can be arrested and prosecuted for misdemeanor or felony child abuse/endangerment/neglect. She can get up to 1-year in jail or up to 6-years in state prison. It’s a crime not to protect your children!!!

      Prior to my being kicked out, a godly doctor (married to his wife for 40+years) was also kicked out and ordered to be shunned. He’s a faithful Christian, husband, and father. A stand-up man. For questioning the pastors/elders about Biblical error, they senior pastor tossed him out and ordered him to be shunned. It was terrible!! (The doctor is even a long-time friend of Pastor John MacArthur’s in Southern California at Grace Community Church. Even JM was livid at what was done to his friend by my senior pastor, a graduate of The Master’s Seminary in which MacArthur is president.) I’ve never seen more thugs than these elders.

  65. I can relate to this article. There is more to church than 3 fast and 2 slow offering and sermon. Instead of leaving I teach the kids and my Sundays that I am not on, I have home church with my family. God may be trying to help some people people to quit taking every task that the church sends their way. This will stop burn out. Just don’t stop being God’s and feet or because you don’t fellowship you get bitter/self righteous

    • Growing bitter is a real danger when one becomes away of what happens in many institutions. For those that come out and become “Dones”, I’d like to remind us that Christ died for those within the IC also. It’s not for us to become bitter, nor is it for us to become better than, it’s for us to become just better Christians, a better light. You may seem like an anomaly initially, but as people watch your life…many will see that you’re not an anomaly – your more of a paradox. One can never truly leave the Church. How one assembles and with whom varies because of the freedoms in the US. It takes good ol’ tribulation to bring people of like beliefs together – could it be that God is using the “Dones” and the persecution they receive to draw us back to true expressions of worship? Could God be using the IC in its desire to stay open to examine itself? What is God doing here? We may not figure it out today…but in the end – we know its right 😉 🙂

  66. In short (typing is cumbersome to me on handheld devices), the church leaders today are tickling people’s ears with big screens, over the top musical performances, and so many things that fall under the business of the church, that it has become a sideshow to itself. Beyond that, the two main problems with churches today are that: 1) They repeat the Gospel message over and over, each week, and unless you are mentally challenged, the message is so very clear that no matter how it is re-packaged, you can’t get any more meaning out of it. The message is the best message ever told, but it is the only message ever told, and after years and years of hearing the milk of the Word, people eventually become lactose intolerant. 2) The Christian churches for the most part have turned their back on sound doctrine in exchange for ear-tickling sessions, as mentioned above. Specifically, “Protestants” don’t even know what they’re protesting anymore. In fact, most don’t even know what that means. Sadly, the Church has traded numerous Bible truths in exchange for myths. The Sabbath has been traded in for the ancient day of Sun worship, the Festivals of The Lord have been exchanged for Easter and Christmas (no wonder everyone has to be constantly reminded that “Jesus is the reason for the season” when in fact, He never had anything to do with the season in the first place, and never will), and in general have perverted the teachings of Paul into some sort of twisted message that the law has been done away with, replaced instead with the notion of grace, as if the two are somehow in competition with each other – when they aren’t. The truth is, people can tell the difference between church dogma and Biblical truth, and they leave the entertainment-filled arenas of lactose intolerance in search of the meat of the Word, as they seek to grow spiritually in grace and truth. These are the Called-Out Ones, and they are leaving to follow the Messiah, who is coming soon! Do you have ears to hear? It is my hope that at least some still can. We haven’t given up on Church. The Church is so busy being smug in its false teachings that it hasn’t been willing to follow the call of “Come out of her My people”. It is not too late!

  67. Those who are done are those who never had (or have lost) the understanding of the Sacraments as God’s gifts and means of His grace, of the Sacrament of the Altar as the true body and blood of Christ, of absolution as truly removing our sins. Otherwise they would know that life without them is life estranged from God and an intolerable existence. To receive His body and blood I would sit through the most inane of sermons, put up with the silliest of church politics.

    • Sorry Peggy, but I feel that is far too judgemental. How a spot of compassion. I doubt any ‘doner’ has lost their understanding of the sacraments, (quite the opposite) – at least, not from what I have read here or with those I have met who have moved on from the institutional behaviour. I am aware that many people ‘move on’ because the abuse of the sacraments is what hurts them most.
      I for one do not wish to sit through ‘inane’ sermons, be bullied in this manner, gave my intelligence insulted, or for that matter, hear God abused from the pulpit or ambo.
      The kind of vulgar insults that are coming out of the mouths of many priests and ministers is just too much for me, and when challenged, to their face or through their superiors, it is always “don’t rock the boat,” which sounds far too much like the Scribes and Pharisees to me.

      • Sorry. That should have read, ‘How about a spot of compassion.’ And, ‘have my intelligence’ – not gave. (Sore finger from gardening mishap hits the wrong keys.)

    • One of the things that bothered me when I had gone from a Baptist to a Christian Reformed church was the sacraments were lifted up to the point of idolization, especially infant baptism. I could have come up with a good 5 more thesis to give Martin Luther that could have been nailed to that door of the Catholic church to make it an even 100 from 95. For a church whose core beliefs comes from John Calvin to hold to a Catholic means of grace song and dance is like oil and water. The two theologies don’t jive. But anyway, I’m done arguing these divisive theologies which is another reason I’m done being a member of a separatist institution divided by these theologies. The institutions of the church are set up to ensure its survival because they need people and their resources to survive. Infant baptism is a way to keep caring mothers coming to bring their children, a tool of fear, in case something were to happen that their child would go to heaven if the worse happened. In the old days, the mortality rate of children was much higher and this was something to give hope to families whose children died. I think this was the reason Luther or Calvin kept the infant baptism theology despite it does not exist in the bible. If according to John Calvin, God ultimately chooses who goes to heaven and who does not a part from any works we do than what is the point of sacraments. They are useless. God’s means of grace is through faith that He gives to us (Heb 12:2), a part from the works of the Lords supper or baptism.

  68. Count me as one of the dones. Left church a little over 4 years ago, and don’t miss it. This is why some of us are starting this:

  69. If they leave church, then they are no longer participating in the Sacraments. There are faithful churches, but if they do not seek them out then they are basically denying that there is a true body of Christ or that they don’t want to belong to it. You say I’m not compassionate, but it is not compassion to let a fellow Christian depart and say “all’s well.”

  70. Maybe they are leaving because they realized that 85% of church is bullshit. That’s why I left. Best decision of my life.

  71. I departed in the 1970’s and no one cared. I ended up in Hindu ashrams. Thanks be to God who sought me out and brought me back 30 years later (and that was a grace none of us can take for granted), and I was so glad to be received that I was happy to accept whatever situation He placed me in as long as I could receive His Sacraments and hear His Word.

  72. Josh and Thom, I’ve skimmed some of the comments and I originally was directed to the post by a few “dones” themselves. I’m curious, what was the demographic make up of the research you have done? Age, ethnicity, gender, economic class, sexual orientation? If this is a largely white middle class phenomena, than that is a small and shrinking group in American culture. You may not be able to answer that here but if you can’t point me to the data I would appreciate it.

    • Michael, thanks for your question. Here is Josh Packard’s response to your question:

      Our sample is diverse geographically (though we do miss the South a bit), socioeconomically, generationally and with regard to gender and
      sexuality, but racially homogenous. Our respondents are nearly all
      white. However (and there are some big howevers):

      -We don¹t see anything in the data to suggest that this is an issue of race, but of resources. The story of the data is that people with access
      to alternative ways of reaching their goals are opting out. In our
      society, this is typically white people for issues of social class, not because of heritage, tradition or ethnicity. White people in the U.S.
      have much greater access to social institutions and systems of power, so when they leave the church they can leverage other ways of getting things done. Also, white people have much more social and cultural capital than other groups making it more possible to achieve vision without a supporting institution.

      -The one caveat to the above bullet is probably with African-Americans.
      For longstanding issues surrounding their forced migration, the African-American assimilation process has been uneven at best and the church has come to play a defining role for many African-American communities as a source of identity. In this sense, then, the church plays somewhat of a different role and is subject to different organizational dynamics.

      -While whites as a segment of the population are shrinking, there is nothing to think that their power is significantly diminishing anytime soon. In sociology we think of majority groups not in terms of numbers, but in terms of power. This means males in the United States would be considered a majority group even though their numbers are smaller than females. Whites in apartheid South Africa were the majority group despite being vastly outnumbered by black Africans. After all, power is what matters, not numbers.

      -Finally, there¹s a little bit of problem with the implication in the statement “If this is a largely white middle class phenomena, than that is a small and shrinking group in American culture.² It makes me think that potentially there is a sense that this is just something that needs to run its course but won¹t ultimately be all that impactful because there just aren¹t that many of them left. Aside from what I point out above about that not really being the case, I would also hasten to add that the things we¹re hearing are problematic regardless of who is experiencing them and how big their segment of the population is. Additionally, even if this part of the population is smaller than it was ten years ago, the American ideology and value-set is still largely determined by the middle class and those that aspire to the middle class, regardless of race.

      If I could get people to understand one thing about the demographics of the dechurched it would be that this is an issue of talents and energy, not of numbers.

  73. My response was not to leave church, but to leave A Church – that was representative of everything I had come to doubt in the way we have come to organize modern Western Churches.

    I am now part of a relational micro-church, where we support each other with the minimum of structure, with no leadership hierarchy, and with practically no finances going into fuelling the church system.

    We are doctrinally non-dogmatic, with the main focus being on helping each other to live lives that prioritise and follow Jesus’ teaching, and build church around communal family meals and relationships as we each attempt to serve others in our impact on our local community.

    It’s been liberating and much less stressful and onerous

  74. joshuadavidbrown1987 Reply November 17, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I’ll add my two cents here. About me: I’m a deacon in a progressive catholic denomination, a recovering evangelical fundamentalist, and have been in both lay and ordained ministry over the past 10 or so years. A read through this comment section tells me that some have missed the point by trying to make it entirely theological or related to salvation. The issue here goes back to simple human nature. Here are a few points I thought of that I hope make sense to you all.
    1. Some people love getting involved
    2. If we, as ministers, want to keep people involved, we need to learn to learn their limits.
    3. Some people have difficulty saying no. If they take on too much, they will burnout.
    4. We can’t allow our egos to get in the way and illicit guilt on those who we feel aren’t doing enough.
    5. Last but not least, we are humans and so are the people serving in our churches.

    • No, I really don’t think it’s about burnout. At least that’s certainly not all of it for me. It’s about wanting a meaningful way of relating to Jesus Christ while the church is offering craft bazaars and clean-up days for the building. It’s wanting deep conversations where I can ask hard and uncomfortable questions without having my faith questioned. It’s wanting to live out the call to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with my God when political action in the church makes people uncomfortable. It’s wanting to be the radical, even counter-culture element that Jesus asked us to be instead of the comfortable status-quo of the mainline church.

      • Sue, you make a really good point. I was trained as an organizational scholar so I am very familiar with the research about burnout. For the Dechurched Project we’re hearing a lot of stories similar to yours and almost none of them fit the burnout model. Just like you, we keep finding people who are leaving to do more, not less.

  75. As a Christian leader on whom thousands depend, I resembled this for years. I was DONE with churchianity and still am.. For a decade I refused to join a congregation, though I worked with over 100 in community action. Then something woke up in me.
    The illness is not fatal. It is lack of concerned family and real action and faith lived in community that is lacking. What brought me to Christ at 20 and keeps me in Christ at 58 is people living in Him together.
    So I started an experiment in a rural town, where the churches have died. And I have found this residue quite ready, though skeptical. We spend 80% of our energy engaging non-Christian community with life changing wisdom. After a few months, people are connecting. God help us if we become another chu’ch. We must become community.

  76. I was done with organized religion (church) between 12/2011 and 01/2012 as I translated (Spanish to English) somethings that made my spirit very uncomfortable. Today, my relationship with the Eternal father (YHWH) and my Savior (Yeshua) is better than ever. My church is my house, my Pastor is Yeshua (Jesus) and I follow his teachings, not any man made interpretation of the Holy Scriptures which are taken out of context and to the benefit of their leaders and their greedy/luxurious lifestyles in most cases.

    I have nothing against churches since thanks to them many of us found the path to our Eternal Father (God). I pray for them all, including the pastor thar have deviated from the truth.

    I know and understand that not everyone will walk away from the modern Babylonia, but little by little people are walking away (guided by the Holy Spirit) from the many lies that we have been given by our ancestors, pastors, etc.. We need to leave ALL THE PAGAN FESTIVITIES and stop painting them with holy shades, we must repent and go back to what Yeshua (Jesus) did teach.

    Halloween, Christmas, and Valentines day must be questioned prior to any TRUE Christian celebrates or participates in.

    Many, if not all pastor know this, but if they share the truth they know that there congregations (people) would not stand it and walk away. Their income is on the line if they tell everyone the truth.

    I rather have some of my family and friends walk away from me thinking I am crazy than acting with hypocrisy and sharing things that are not true.

    A few weeks ago, I was so sad to see many churches selling pumpkins for Halloween. A friend told me they sell them for Thanksgiving. I told him that we all knows that the end use for those pumpkins will for a jackalantern. Oddly enoufh, on the monday after Halloween, all the churches had cleaned up their lots and not a singl pumpkin was left. Thanksgiving had NOTHING to do with that PAGAN PURPOSED FUND RAISING.

    I simply hope that those who leave the churches find their way to the truth and not let their spirit simply go stale.


  77. Most organized criminals believe in God and do you think God’s favor is with them. I am not sure, but I doubt it; when I say organized criminals, I mean all or most of them. Same goes with most organized religions. No one said is about oneself. Some understand and some will never understand.

    James 2:19 (NIV) You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    Believing is not enough, we must do His will and His will requires we all repent and get away from all of that which is of pagan origin. We must searching for him in Truth and Spirit and in between four walls the truth is not always shared neither does four walls makes a Church. It is the people (children of God) that makes the Church.

  78. As long as Christians continue to ignore biblical facts such as the one on this link:
    They will continue to walking with their eyes blindfolded.

  79. In my experience as a pastor I have watched this phenomenon unfold. For years many of the most dedicated and thoughtful members have quietly hung in there even though they are yearning for a church community with more mutuality, participation and honest dialogue. But, they have quietly held onto these thoughts so as not to challenge or offend a more traditonal segment of the church. I have watched as they have held their real desires close to their chest for the sake of “unity.” Little by little, however, they are quietly slipping out the door–not in some big splashy protest that might risk a church split, but by pulling back on leadership, then on participation and finally coming to the realization that “they are just done”. And where do they go? Often to serve other non-profits, write poetry and paint, take faithful stands in the community, and seek a handful of like-minded people of spirit and faith in which they can authentically share and live out their Christian spiritual values.

    • Brian, you nailed it. What you described is indeed happening on a large scale. They are finding ways to express their faith and be in community with other believers–outside the four walls of First Church on Main Street.

  80. I can relate to a lot of what the Dones are saying. In my experience there are way too many Pastors where the church they are pastoring becomes an extension of their ego, whether it is the size of the building, the number of people, the size of the offering, the number of ministries, whatever it is that floats the boat of the pastor, it becomes part of the identity of the pastor. Then despite all the teaching about ‘serving the Body of Christ’, ‘serving’ the church really becomes about building the pastors ego. Perhaps this is part of the reason why many faithful servants of Christ are looking to serve Christ outside of the church organization.

  81. The reason people are leaving churches, lets see, too much multiculturalism, too much liberalism, you know, stuff like consecrating openly homosexual bishops, marrying gays in the church, letting a bunch of Hajis have a Muslim prayer service in the National Cathedral.

    Yeah I am done with the Episcopal Church I won’t be going back, EVER.

    • I for one would say there is not enough of inclusive marriage, inclusive ordination, inclusive culturalism – God Church is not for a ‘bunch’ of the selective few. Come, join the real world Trevor – God’s world.

      • ‘God’s Church’ Bad finger again!!!

      • See, folks like you are the exact reason I left. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Always has been always will be as far as I am concerned, and I don’t give a damn what the Supreme Court says.

        Abortion is also wrong and I don’t care what the Supreme Court says about that either.

        God’s Church was once a refuge from the political correctness and hedonism of a secular, apostate world, but sadly the church has become just as screwed up as the outside world is which is why I no longer attend.

      • New Iberia, LA March 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm

        bygeem, excuse me but do you even read the word of God?
        In the true church, homosexuals would certainly be welcomed
        as any other sinner would be. However, to welcome homosexual
        marriage is not an option. Read Romans 1:26;
        to view all in context, read Romans 1:18 to 32.
        Romans 1:26…For this reason God gave them up to
        dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged
        natural relations for those that are contrary to nature.
        27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations
        with women and were consumed with passions for one
        another, men committing shameless acts with men and
        receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error……
        Does that sound to you like God condones homosexuality?
        If you looked up every reference to homosexuality in the
        bible, including the new testament, you would not find ONE
        that had a positive note to it. The only one that comes close
        is where he refers to those that WERE homosexual but because
        of their conversion to Christ and their certain repentance, are
        no longer homosexual. Even if one is struggling with those
        kinds of thoughts towards members of the same sex, God
        can heal that person and give them the mind of Christ.
        There is no excuse to side with the homosexual marriage
        “rights” propaganda, if one is a true christian. If you know the
        word of God you don’t believe every politically correct opinion
        that comes down the pike.The only standard of truth is the
        one written by the Creator Himself, God Almighty.
        JESUS IS LORD!! And just to set it straight; I love all people,
        gay or not. We all need the grace of God as much as anyone
        else. My male cousin is married to another man. I love him
        and grew up close to him, like a brother. However, I hate the
        sin that is toxic to him and he doesn’t even know it. If he had
        cancer I would hate the disease, but because the disease
        would be hurting someone that I love. So yes, I say boldly,
        I HATE homosexuality, but only because of the pain it
        eventually causes those that engage in it.
        Remember, God said He will NOT be mocked….

      • My tag is ‘brgeem’ – which, with respect, makes me instantly respond, have you read my input? Yes, I have read Holy Scripture, over and over, for more than 60 years, and I hope the qualifications I possess go some way to prove I have some ability to understand God’s word. And, it is exactly that – God’s word – not a pile of literature that may interpreted at will. While I fully understand the points you raise, particularly in reference to Saint Paul’s writings, I cannot agree that as the Holy Spirit develops Christian spirituality one can exclude the rights and justice of committed members of the Church – albeit they may have differing opinions from those you express. Women, gay people, people suffering disabilities in body and mind, should not be begging for justice and equality in the Church but receiving it as their God given right.

      • Brgeem, your picture gives me the impression your a deep thinker. Have you ever pondered the idea of why we exist? I think it’s because without all of creation including us, God’s existence would be rather meaningless, pointless and purposeless. God would not be God if there was nothing and no one to ‘god’ over. Any being could not claim godhood if there is nothing and no one in existence to hear and obey a command or punish for disobedience. Even God could ask the same question we could, “Why do I exist?” and “What’s the point?” We and the rest of creation give God meaning and reason to exist. Sure God doesn’t need us. I don’t need the church institution either. I can live without Sunday church in my life. Just as creation or possibly creation(s) make God who he is, so the things we do give our lives meaning and purpose and for some that being going to church and being involved. We were created in God’s image and likeness in many ways. Even we need reason for being and something or someone to interact with, something that gives our lives value and purpose. Whether people verbally express it our not, our existence is glorifying to God, making God, God and Creator. Man’s fall has given God the opportunity to be a man and our Savior. There had to be a creation to save to hold the title “Savior”. Jesus had to be given a kingdom of created people with kings and lords to hold the title “King of kings” and “Lord of lords”. I think we all have this God likeness that we want to create and build and god over something because it gives our lives meaning and purpose just as we and creation give God meaning and purpose. I know this is an off-the-wall response but in the big picture, this one petty issue many of us are done with to spend our time doing other things that seem more worth while and value-added. Just thinking.

      • Ryan, I like your thinking very much. Do you want to say why you wrote it? I think it is worthy of expansion, but maybe you have already done that. Can I ask what your faith background is?

      • It started when I stumbled across the subject of books of the bible that didn’t make the cut. Of the list of many other gospels and epistles, I happened upon the Apocalypse of Peter which gives quite a gruesome description of hell. I also listened to the entire book of Enoch on Youtube. That got me into two days so far of discussing all this hell and eternal punishment with God during my lunchtime walk. So that brought about my looking at the bigger picture of things in comparison to these trivial subjects with church. Occasionally it’s good to step back out of the noisy mess of our lives to look at it all in the big picture and get a handle on what is truly important… why we exist in respect to God, our purpose to Him and in turn how our lives should be played out in respect to God, His purpose to us and in us. We tend to take trivial things and blow them way out of proportion and place more value on certain things that what they are truly worth. Vanity of vanities. I think we desire more than just the “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Just like my cat wants to spend time in relation with me in play or sleep or getting attention, so we have this similar sort of desire to relate and have this relationship with our Creator more than being an executor or commands.

    • Trevor…did you ever think that God is trying to show His Body that they can’t use the church building as some safe haven? Christ said that we are sent out as lambs among wolves.

      Trevor – do you also think that God is saying that morality can’t be legislated? God himself did that experiment (The Law) to show man kind that it can’t be done.

      True change is a heart matter – only God can do it. God isn’t trying to save the planet – He want’s to change the hearts of men. I don’t marry people anymore…why? Because what God has joined together let no man put asunder – I tell people to go to the courthouse now, marrying people was never part of the early church ministry – God does the joining and I’m not him.

      One thing I noticed about Christ ministry – it wasn’t about getting people who did wrong to act right, it was about a heart change so they could now see what’s right. We fight the wrong battles- trying to change a system that’s controlled by the “god of this world” … and God has deemed it so. We’re trying to cure the symptoms, but Christ has the true cure and it’s a work of the heart.

      I’m done hiding from the world because I don’t want to get dirty. I will go into the world and preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. I find the simplicity of the Gospel works, and the Holy Spirit is the one that causes change to happen in individuals.

      I’m a “Done” that goes back into churches not as a member – but as a light. I assemble (not necessarily on Sunday) and converse and encourage the saints – but I also deal with unbelievers – not telling them to be like me and to stop this or that – but pointing the to Christ because there’s something wrong with each and every one of us.

    • @Trevor,

      I was a member for nearly 8-years at a conservative, independent, Bible-believing/teaching church in Silicon Valley (California) that believes all of the things you’d like to see in a church. The downside?
      They lacked love, were legalistic, and tossed out anyone who disagreed with out pastors/elders, raised any legitimate points. I was recently ordered to be excommunicated and shunned (the pastors/elders told me in a meeting that surely I wasn’t a believer and I must be destined for hell, because I raised the issue of child safety because they had brought one of their close friends, a convicted sex offender on Megan’s List, in to our midst). No safeguards. No parents who knew. Invited him among the kids and everything. Invited him to volunteer at our evangelistic outreach camp for children (a basketball camp in the summer time). I found him by accident on Megan’s List while I was doing a legal project for a former prosecutor.

      Prior to my excommunication/shunning, a godly Christian doctor (also a conservative) who has been married for some 40+ years was kicked out and shunned, also for some trumped up charge, because he raised Biblical errors.

      So you can get the “letter of the law” kind of church, but not the “spirit of the law” and what a dangerous place it becomes. It’s a shocking thing to watch a good man’s name and reputation dragged through the mud and ordering everyone to shun him because he asked the pastors/elders legitimate questions. (Oh the doctor is a close friend of the conservative Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church who was outraged at what was done by my senior pastor.)

  82. “After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all. One of Packard’s interviewees said, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”

    The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.”

    This, I believe, is the key factor. I was commenting to my wife the other day that I don’t think an American evangelical would recognize a 1st Century church gathering. It would be too weird: everyone participating and speaking and having a voice and a function. We’ve been raised to believe that church functions the way it does because it’s always been that way. But Paul shows us a way in 1 Cor 14 that doesn’t rely on a gifted speaker and professional “worship leaders”.

    The Dones haven’t left the church, they’ve just left the hierarchal system that has replaced the church.

  83. I have friends who are “Dones”, or who are on their way to becoming “Dones”. I think much of this is a reaction to the teaching-learning emphasis of most worship in the mainline “Protestant” churches. If you’re in a place of learning, the day will come when you’ll expect to graduate. In our strongly teaching-learning-oriented “Protestant” churches, there are many people who have no ill will toward the churches but who are, in all honesty, “graduates” of the church. We need to ensure that the focus of our worship services is more than teaching and learning.

  84. I found the thread very interesting. I believe I understand the motivation of the “Done” ones fully (there were a lot of different reasons being given for being done), but I just can’t fully throw my support behind all the different issues people seem to be having with our modern churches (exception to the ones who came to church hoping to find a Christ like unconditional love only to find they weren’t part of the “in” group and couldn’t penetrate the cliques that so commonly exist and finally left after not feeling welcome…a problem in many churches. No excuse is good enough, but I find myself having a lot of church friends that we hardly ever see (and immediate family) because our kids wrap up so much time with sports and music etc etc that although I love saying hello to new people, I find myself ashamedly not looking for new friends when I can’t do justice to my current friendships).
    When I relate my own feelings to the posts I see here, I can understand them because I get these same feelings to a much lesser degree. Then I remember that I am in church to serve, and not be served and then the feeling seems to dissipate. There is no doubt that at one time I went to be served and our pastors did a marvelous job of feeding and nurturing my faith walk, but eventually I found I had graduated to a point where I now wanted to teach Sunday School (albeit to a group of kids whose parents attended since they were kids themselves and rarely can I tell a bible story they haven’t already heard). I enjoyed the praise and worship and was fed spiritually for many years until I thought that I could play a guitar well enough to play on one of the worship teams. Sometimes the music moves me and sometimes not, but I am okay with that.
    Finally, when it comes to the churches responsibility (or lack thereof) of serving within the communities and to the people around us, I think I could argue with anyone here that our church is lacking in this area as much as any. This seemed to be an area that a lot of posters had as an issue, and is probably the number 1 reason these same feelings have crept into my thought life. A few months ago I visited our local food bank to drop something off and there to my surprise were a few church people serving food. Earlier I had gone to our thrift store and there I saw our church members volunteering. I know that none of these people were there because of an initiative of our church. The lesson for me was that if I feel our church isn’t doing enough to serve, then I just need to get out there myself and serve.
    I guess my bottom line question to those that left to serve Christ more fully within the community is why can’t you do both? Enjoy the small bit of fellowship you get from congregating with fellow believers that share the same love of God the Father, Jesus His son and the Holy Spirit as you and then take the rest of the week to serve in whichever way you feel led to.
    Blessings to you all. I enjoyed the reading very much.

  85. Being raised as a “preachers-kid, and pastoring in 5 churches in 5 states and two countries…as well as representing a para-church organization, I can understand some of the comments made on this subject.

    However, in the past 9 yrs., after losing my wife of 38 yrs. to cancer, then being blessed by the Lord to re-marrying 5 yrs. ago….. and now doing missionary work in another country…..I’ve seen some of these same attitudes and challenges in other parts of the world as well.

    I’ve been interested in the “suffering” church around the world for many years. Recently, as we were listening to their stories and testimonies, I was again struck by the fact, how IN-SPITE of the persecutions they have faced, or the death of friends and family members, and the multiply imprisonments for their faith in Christ they’ve gone through…. I couldn’t help but think how we are missing some key ingredients in this whole discussion.

    1st – Wherever the “church IS growing, spiritually and numerically in many parts of the world (esp. in Muslim countries), there is tremendous persecution taking place. In spite of all this, they are worshiping and witnessing at a tremendous price, although they know ahead of time, that when they choose to follow Christ, and make it known, they WILL be persecuted,,,,even killed for their faith in Christ

    2nd – The body-of-Christ, is growing rapidly and purposefully in these places. They’re NOT seeking to get their OWN desires fulfilled, or find a certain emotionally charged feeling, but rather, how can we share Jesus with as many as possible, before our time comes to perhaps be put in prison or perhaps killed as well.

    I’ve grown tired, in hearing some who are not satisfied with ANY kind of “church”, and who seem to be far more interested in getting their own agenda’s met, than in seeking what the Founder of THE Church wants and desires. Oh that there would be a fresh falling in love with Him, then a new beginning of seeking to do what pleases Him, and striving to lead others to also know and follow Him, would become the “norm”.

    For this to happen, we well may need to have some similar “persecutions” hit us here in comfortable USA, in order to get our priorities adjusted, so we CAN begin seeing what REALLY is important to Him.

    He didn’t die to make us “happy”, but to make us “holy”

    May we fall in love with Him….and allow His love to fill us, and flow through us, to a hurting, seeking world that needs Him desperately.

    • Have you ever had the thought that some of us who are ‘done’ is all a part of God’s plan for us? Maybe, just maybe God desires these extended times alone with some of His people such as myself so that we can experience Him and see Him for who He really is apart from the poor untruthful picture that the church paints of Him? If it wasn’t for being in this “done” state, I would have never experience how lovingly encouraging He is, more than ANY human being I’ve ever met. He helps me often though many difficult times and has NEVER, EVER let me down, EVEN after having left that place you wish me to be enslaved to. He freed me from the bondage of sin when He forgave my sins and then freed me from the mental bondage I was put in by the leadership of the church institution. IF God wished me to have stayed, He would have worked in me both to will and to do His good pleasure to do so. You should know as well as I that God is God of the heart. I praise God, even now, right here for this freedom, because Christ made me free and thank God He is not pushing to enslave me into a place of bondage. If I would just go to church, to sit there, staring at the floor during prayers, wondering why I even bothered to go, thinking to myself that I could find better things to be wasting my time doing, why EVER would God want me to be sitting there in church? I like people. I really do. I didn’t quit because of people. But I’m not that social. I can’t connect with groups. I just sit there and not talk. One-on-one, I do quite well. Groups don’t work. I’m better off alone. I am probably different than all the other dones who have posted in that I have no desire for group activities. I’ve been there. I’ve done them. I’m forced to do these at work. I don’t get enjoyment out of them. I am NOT a groupie. I tried a men’s bible study recently. Everyone was nice but it just doesn’t work. I find no appeal. I most likely will not return to it. My wife is at work right now. I am here at home alone. Well not completely. God is always with me. Alone time is precious especially when I have a highly social engineering job. Alone time with God is precious also. Like I say. I do well, one-on-one, even with God. For now, I stay ‘done’. I will never say never. I don’t know what God has planned. For now, I leave church for those who like that sort of ‘community’ thing. I have God, and my wife who is my one best friend. I give God time of day on the good days and He gives me time of day on the bad. Besides a good spouse, I couldn’t have a better Father and Friend.

  86. Reality Check, for some reason I could not reply directly to your post on the blog, so this is my reply to yours of November 15 at 3:57 a.m. It comes across as condescending when you say “If you care to study the New Testament church” because it sounds like “I’ve studied and you obviously haven’t or you’d agree with me.” I’m glad you are confident in your beliefs. So am I. I agree with your explanation of the Acts 20 passage until you come to verse 28. The reason Paul did not name them as shepherds was he was describing an action so he used a verb form instead of a noun. The verb should not be translated “feed” as the Greek for that is “bosko” and, as you point out, he uses “poimen” which means to shepherd. Those who oversee (verb) are overseers (noun). Those who superintend (verb) are superintendants (noun). Those who shepherd (verb) are shepherds (noun). So, I still see them as interchangeable because all three terms are used in reference to the same people; therefore what you say about “elders” applies to “pastors” even though that term is not used in those places. When I say you cherry pick, I’m referring to your statement that there are only 25 verses in the NT that refer to leadership. All of Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus refer to leadership – he tells them how to lead (such as what to teach, command, preach, as well as their personal spiritual conditions): way more than 25 verses. BTW, I don’t believe that just because these terms are used for “positions” today that they are actually what the NT meant by them. Same for “church.” But I also don’t believe the NT gives us a church structure that is set in stone. Thanks for the conversation.

  87. Becky,for some reason I could not reply directly to your post on the blog, so this is my reply to yours of November 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm. I completely agree with you. If I were to start a new church, the first thing I would do is not construct a building. Many churches reach the point that the building is what church is all about. Therefore real church gets left out. I’m ready to be done with that for sure.

  88. To be honest I feel like I am teetering on the edge of being done. I’m not telling you this to persuade me not to leave, but to give you some insight of why some of us have got here.
    I became a Christian when I was 17, went to bible college at 18 got involved in a great church, volunteered in every capacity, spoke at church, lead worship etc etc.
    However I was so involved at church I nearly failed my degree (& not to brag I’m pretty smart, so shouldn’t have happened!)
    The great church was in an area where there wasn’t much career progression and I was doing a job far lower than I was capable of. I got married 4 years ago to an amazing man I met in church, he was also underpaid and in a job that didn’t challenge him, we were in massive debt. One or both of us where volunteering or at church 5 nights a week, we rarely had sex, we were mad at one another, I started suffering from depression but given our church perception was too ashamed to get help as believed God was enough for me. (I still believe he is more than enough, but have also realised that doctors and medicine can be a massive gift!)
    We moved away 2 years ago to pursue new opportunities and have never been happier, we still love God, we sometimes attend a church but it is no longer all consuming, we make time for one another, we make time to sleep, we make time for family and have put a level of focus on our jobs that we never did before. We are getting out of debt, I am getting well, we are challenged and excited by our careers. We also most importantly now have loads of non-Christian friends and we don’t put them off the idea of Christianity as they see we are so normal!
    I believe part of the problem is pressure, huge pressure that the church lifestyle puts on you. Not the preachers, not God, but the lifestyle. We want to be ‘successful Christians’ bible knowing, prayerful, super volunteers/ leaders, but we also want a life and good jobs and money and houses and kids and great relationships.
    At 30 I’m an old millennial, since I left college we have been in recession, jobs demand more of people as more people are going for them, when there is the church lifestyle pressure to be and have everything it’s hard, confusing and knackering!
    I am not encouraging people to leave churches by any means, I am just saying the church needs to help people prioritise, an individual cannot carry all of those things and function and achieve all they want.

  89. A lot of pain amidst these responses. The cross can be very heavy. Prayers and blessings to and for one and all.

    • As the lead researcher on this project, I think @brgeem sums up how the whole team feels everytime one of us does an interview…and not everyone on the research team is a Christian. Still, pain is pain and sometime prayer just seems right even for people who don’t believe.

      • The pain I speak of you can sense when Christ said in Matt 23:37 oh Jerusalem Jerusalem how I long to gather you…..
        Rev 2:4’But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
        5’Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place -unless you repent.
        6’Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
        7’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
        The sufferings of Christ are just as real as the blessings. These are warnings to us today just as they were the day they were spoken. This is the pain my friend.

  90. Yeowwch! Well said. Thank you.

  91. So that is what we are called..Done!! interesting since I told my pastor that I was done with organized religion about a month ago. The three things he relied on most was my time, talent and finances; once those three things were gone so was he – have not heard from him since. I have not lost my faith but am no longer behind the pulpit or teaching – the only thing that really bugs me is where to send my tithe.

  92. Reblogged this on Grace and Stuff and commented:
    Darwin said a species that cannot change is doomed to extinction. That rule applies equally well to churches.

  93. One thing kind of makes me wonder about this walking away from your church life. Many here have expressed they’ve spent almost their whole life in church and are either done with it now or considering leaving it behind. I too have a been somewhere in church all most all of my life. I’m 64, so that is alot of history behind me and my church life. I don’t intend on leaving, even though I have walked a way once prior to getting married and growing kids. This was during my Air Force years and I was quite young and very smart of course. Today, it would be very hard to walk away and I think I would keep searching out a better fellowship to be part of, instead of just up and leaving all church’s behind. I fully understand what it means to say “church”. It really means so much more and scripturally speaking we are talking about Christ’s followers where ever they may be. But unless all of the Christian denominations decide to somehow dissolve themselves and then grow back together as a single body of believers, when we say “church” in this setting we have to be talking about a local body of believers and their place of worship. So, in that context, what we have here are people that for one reason or another, they have become dissatisfied with local body they belong too, or at best the particular denomination(s) they have been part of.

    This isn’t hard to understand for me. I have been part to a number of church’s and a few different denominations as well. I went to bible college as a young person, and one of my semester class studies was doing just that. I have found that even though there are numbers of denominations with different stated beliefs and even different goals/agenda’s, true follower of Christ are are really not to different. There are different levels of belief and experiences behind us, but if we truly are trusting in Jesus Christ for our salvation, we have more in common then not.

    So, back to what I am wondering about.

    Best to think of this as a “what if” scenario I suppose as there are differences that could otherwise throw-off any common reasoning here. So, what if in a year or 10 all of this world becomes nothing but what the worse of it is now. In other words, war, strife, mass starvation, mass deadly outbreaks of disease, governments capsizing and just no place to find a safe refuge. It has happened many times in the past already. It will happen again and most likely for the last time when it does. If we have not prepared in any way, and if we have largely dissolved ties with fellow believers, at least in large part, where and what will we do as people of God and followers of Christ. How will we pull together and be what we are suppose to be in these end times.

    Now, looking from a different perspective, one I am very confronted with these past few years. As a Christian who believes in God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, I am also one who must believe in evil and the Prince of Evil — Satan. What do you suppose Satan thinks about our waling away from our unity and our church? I have to wonder just how much of a role He may actually be playing in this? The bible does indeed state there will be a great falling away in the end time of those who have had committed their lives to follow Christ. It even says unless God shortens that time, even the very elect will fall away.

    I know alot of you have different ideas as to what all of this could mean. Most of us make allowances for difficulties that come from our decisions in life. The big question here is, how would you make an allowance for actually falling away from your salvation? It is a viable question I believe and one somebody here needs to ask.

    Please give honest thought and even prayer to this. You can say whatever you feel here, but what I hope you do is consider and be honest with what could be.

    God Bless.

    • Marjamar, I truly believe that what is being dismantled is a church that has lost its way. Could you possibly consider that God is reclaiming his true church?

      • Well, I am not God, so what I think really should only make a lasting difference to me and those close to me I’d suppose. I do my best thinking however when I am open to leading, and more then once that leading moved me to other ways of thought.

        I’ll do just a bit of confessing here… See what you think.

        I found this from a family member’s post on facebook. To the greatest extent, many of my family and most of my life long friends and relatives are born again Christians. Because of this, my facebook is more then filled with every aspect of our belief system, other belief systems and of course politics to some extent. Anyways, I found this post and clicked on it. I no more read 4 or 5 posts and I had to post back. In that post I do feel I was led and after posting I asked my wife about my old pastor and his wife we moved away from about 11 years ago. I was thinking of him when I wrote that post as I have not talked or heard about them for maybe 5 years or more. That particular church was without question one of the top 2 churches I have ever attended or belonged to. Too much to talk about, but it is the grounding church from my whole immediate family and all of my kids found Jesus Christ while we attended there for at least 10 or more years.

        So, what does this mean anyway? Well, maybe that I am an emotional old coot, I don’t know. But there is a bit more to this story to tell.

        My wife said our pastor’s wife was one of her friends on facebook, but that she didn’t post that often so she really doesn’t know too much more about their last few years then I do. So, I just left it at that. The next afternoon at my office, I got a phone call from Florida. Can you guess who it was?? You guessed pretty close it was not my old pastor, but it was his wife. She was calling (first time in 11 years I heard her voice) to wish my wife a happy birthday. Now we had changed our home phone number about a year ago, and she only had my office number from many years ago. She had never used it, but thought to give it a try. We talked for maybe 15 minutes (which I loved) and at the end of the conversation she told me her and her husband no longer belonged to any church!! I about feel off my chair and instantly teared up.

        You know, the Lord will use each and everyone of us if we are open to Him fully. He has absolute plans for each of our lives and the only thing that can even come close to stopping those plans our ourselves. If we can simple be still and stay out of the way, the Lord will move us as we should be moved and His plans will work though us as He intends them to.

        So, you see, once again I found a purpose for what I do, and what I hope to do every day — Be open and be used by my Lord. It’s maybe a very little thing that happened here, but in it, I was able to talk just a bit with someone I love dearly about decisions her and her husband have made about their spiritual walk. I never say they were wrong (I do not know they were or are), but I listened and I was able to speak just a bit about posting something about this very thing happening in lives all around us. I did not tell her much more then that, except to say just a bit about another post I made here about finding how much praising the Lord ALL THE TIME has given me the much needed helps and hopes in my life. It is too close to me yet to say more, but I will tell you I lost my youngest son last February. There is not way to express what this means, and can only be understood if it happens in a life. But, through this loss my life was lost to everything this world is or would ever be again. But when the Lord somehow found a way back into my all but dead spirit, He alone showed me what I must do to find a way back from the abyss my life was standing over.

        Praise is the key to finding you way in this life, this world, and everything there is. It does not fail and it only leads upwards. So, I cannot tell you how to live this life, or what to believe, but I can and I will tell you God loves you far more then you love yourself or anyone else. He is fully faithful all the way to the end. He has made every provision you will ever possibly need and in return, He only asks your to have faith in Him and to give Him your praise — Always!

        Maybe I said to much, maybe not. But what I did say I believe more then I believe in life itself. For me, there can be nothing without the Lord and in that I can be nothing if I do not live every moment for Him and do and say what he leads me to.

        God bless.

      • I think your right. God is leaving the building by pulling His people out who are wasting all their time, energy and resources on a selfish institution that only cares about its own self preservation. Customers and money is the life blood of any business. We are going to find out that Jesus does not need a human business model to build and advance His church. The church is so ingrosed on working according to a man made business model, it is destroying itself from the inside out. You cannot serve God and money.

      • I also lost a son, so I absolutely know what you are talking about. My God gave me great assurance of my son’s life in eternity. I also came to the realisation that the message that is given in the majority of churches is not a gospel of love but is laden with shame and guilt. My heart lives in eternity.

    • I’m quoting word-for-word what ‘marjamar’ has written – and I have made corrections wherever I found typos and/or grammatical/spelling errors (all my corrections are in parentheses).

      Why am I doing this? I hate to be nit-picking and superficial – these are thoughtful posts concerning a serious issue – the loss of trust and faith and sense of value in established churches.

      Anything nit-picking – like correcting spelling, grammatical errors and plain old typos – falls way below in importance to what is being said and expressed here.

      STILL, I AM distressed and saddened by how poorly we Americans have been served by our educational system. On the whole, “marjamar” has gotten his message across quite well despite numerous spelling and grammatical errors, but it does sadden me to see how he (and so many other fine posters here) have been less-than-well-served – let down, even – by our nation’s notoriously mediocre educational system. This is NO criticism of ‘marjamar’ himself – or what he has spoken about – quite the contrary – it is a criticism of the dismal educational system he and so many others have had to endure. Despite his errors, ‘marjamar’ expressed himself quite well, and I was able to fully appreciate everything he has to say.

      As for his grammar and spelling, here is what I did as I read through his post:

      1) When I deleted a letter, I put empty ( ) parentheses around it. 2) When I corrected the spelling of a single word I rewrote it in CAPITAL letters and surrounded it by parentheses ( ). 3) When I came upon a suggested rewording I put a question mark after it. 4) When I came across punctuation that was missing and which I added, I put the missing punctuation in parentheses ( ). 5) Every number should be spelled out as a word rather than typed in as a numeral (‘eight’ versus ‘8’), and I did so – to some, this is REALLY nit-picking, I know! LOL 6) All business names should be capitalized (‘Facebook’ versus ‘facebook’)

      Nevertheless, these corrections reflect how I was taught to write when I was in high school. I was very fortunate – privileged, really – to get a good education – pure luck of the draw, I am sure!

      I must say that the quality of education that I received has served me well. EVERYONE – Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Middle-Eastern – urban, rural, rich, middle-class and poor – EVERYONE in this country deserves and should get no less good an education as the one I got!

      EVERYONE should get as a matter of course a solid grounding in basics such as reading, writing and mathematics – we need it now, more than ever! Likewise, we should, ALL OF US, be able to organize our thoughts clearly in writing – having this ability will make a huge difference in our thinking things through more clearly on complex matters such as the subject of this discussion thread.

      (Please forgive me, “marjamar.” for singling out your entry here for correction. Yours is a good post, and I am deeply touched by what you’ve written here – most especially, your losing your youngest son! I am so very sorry! That you and your wife lost him is profoundly sad.)

      Anyway, here goes!

      “Well, I am not God, so what I think really should only make a lasting difference to me and those (closest?) to me, I’d suppose. I do my best thinking(,) however(,) when I am open to leading, and more (THAN) once (WHEN) leading moved me to other ways of thought.

      I’ll do just a bit of confessing here… See what you think.

      I found this from a family member’s post on (Facebook). To (a great) extent, many (IN) my family and most of my life(-)long friends and relatives are born(-)again Christians. Because of this, my (Facebook) is more (THAN) filled with every aspect of our belief system, other belief systems and of course politics to some extent. Anyways, I found this post and clicked on it. I (read no more than four or five) posts (before) I had to post back. In that post I do feel I was led and after posting I asked my wife about my old pastor and his wife (whom) we moved away from about (eleven) years ago. I was thinking of him when I wrote that post as I have not talked or heard about them for maybe (five) years or more. That particular church was without question one of the top (two) churches I have ever attended or belonged to. Too much to talk about, but it is the grounding church from my whole immediate family and all of my kids found Jesus Christ while we attended there for at least (ten) or more years.

      So, what does this mean anyway? Well, maybe that I am an emotional old coot, I don’t know. But there is a bit more to this story to tell.

      My wife said our pastor’s wife was one of her friends on (Facebook), but that she didn’t post that often so she really doesn’t know too much more about their last few years (THAN) I do. So, I just left it at that. The next afternoon at my office, I got a phone call from Florida. Can you guess who it was?? You guessed pretty close (if you thought) it was () my old pastor, but it was (instead) his wife. She was calling [first time in (eleven) years I(‘d) heard her voice] to wish my wife a happy birthday. Now we had changed our home phone number about a year ago, and she only had my office number from many years ago. She had never used it, but thought to give it a try. We talked for maybe (fifteen) minutes (which I loved) and at the end of the conversation she told me (SHE) and her husband no longer belonged to any church!! I about (fell) off my chair and instantly teared up.

      You know, the Lord will use each and every one of us if we are open to Him fully. He has absolute plans for each of our lives and the only thing that can even come close to stopping those plans (IS) ourselves. If we can (SIMPLY) be still and stay out of the way, the Lord will move us as we should be moved and His plans will work though us as He intends them to.

      So, you see, once again I found a purpose for what I do, and what I hope to do every day — Be open (to) and (let myself) be used by my Lord. It’s maybe a very little thing that happened here, but (because of) it, I was able to talk just a bit with someone I love dearly about decisions (SHE) and her husband have made about their spiritual walk. I never say they were wrong (I do not know (IF) they were or are), but I listened and I was able to speak just a bit about posting something about this very thing happening in lives all around us. I did not tell her much more (THAN) that, except to say just a bit about another post I made here about finding how much praising the Lord ALL THE TIME has given me () much(-)needed help() and hope() in my life. It is too close to me yet to say more, but I will tell you I lost my youngest son last February. There is no() way to express what this means, and (it) can only be understood if it happens in a life. But, through this loss my life was lost to everything this world is or would ever be again. But when the Lord somehow found a way back into my all(-)
      but(-)dead spirit, He alone showed me what I must do to find a way back from the abyss my life was standing over.

      Praise is the key to finding you(r) way in this life, this world, and everything there is. It does not fail and it only leads upwards. So, I cannot tell you how to live this life, or what to believe, but I can and I will tell you God loves you far more then you love yourself or anyone else. He is fully faithful all the way to the end. He has made every provision you will ever possibly need and in return, He only asks you() to have faith in Him and to give Him your praise — Always!

      Maybe I(‘ve) said to(o) much, maybe not. But what I (have said) I believe more (THAN) I believe in life itself. For me, there can be nothing without the Lord and in that I can be nothing if I do not live every moment for Him and do and say what he leads me to.

      God bless.”

      What matters most is how heartfelt and genuine everything is that “marjamar” wrote here.

      • Jos–the problems with the education system are strikingly similar to the problems of the church. The current model of church and our education system are both based on Greek philosophy. The Bible is based on Hebrew philosophy. Some elements that are similar:

        1) Both promote teaching by experts as opposed to full group participation.
        2) Both are conceptual (think about the terms and definitions lectures evident) as opposed to being concrete (based around stories, analogies and metaphors like the Bible).
        3) Both teach subjects disjointed from others. In the education system this ends up being subjects like math, science or English. In the church this ends up being systematic theology. Each subject is dissected from its real world application and studied in a vacuum.
        4) Both tends towards lecture or classroom types experiences as opposed to mentoring/discipleship approaches.
        5) Both begin with content instead of relationship.
        6) Both tend towards inductive thinking (beginning with the pieces and parts to understand the whole). This is evident in upper level research in our education system or the focus on inductive Bible study in Bible colleges or seminary. It’s sad, because God thinks deductively (understanding the whole, which allows him to see how all the parts fit together).
        7) Both rely heavily on deductive patterns when it comes to writing or presenting. This is particularly evident in academic writing and textbooks. It’s also evident in how ministers are taught to prepare sermons. However, God presents things inductively–carefully unfolding, piece-by-piece and progressively unfolding his plans.
        8) Both tend to run on hierarchies.
        9) The inevitable conclusion of all these things is that both our modern form of church and our education system are grounded on philosophies completely contrary to Scripture.

        What many try to do is to drape Scripture over the dead bones of these philosophies and systems of doing things. But, when things are built on the wrong foundation they don’t function correctly.

  94. Compelling and chilling.

  95. remembering when a friend invited me to a “study” at her church. Evidently, these studies were offered, one after another after another, without break, for YEARS. This was on emotional freedom. I asked what plans the leaders had for helping people whose emotional pain was triggered by the study. “Oh, we don’t do that,” she said. “This is a study.” What I saw in this church was nearly limitless quantity of information, input, bible knowledge and teaching. And no transformation. People had no expectation that what they were hearing and learning would actually heal, restore, and transform their hearts and minds. My first thought was “not good.” My next thought was “if I were part of that church, I’d leave. No doubt about it!” I understand the “Done” folks…done being preached at. Done receiving information without transformation. Done with form without power and structure without intimacy. Either my church is a place of God’s living power and presence or, frankly, I’m DONE.

  96. I think what is really happening is Spiritual enlightenment. Contrary to what some[few] are saying, it is a greater sacrifice to leave, than stay. Leaving is when they bent down and truly shouldered the Cross and began to follow Jesus never to put it down again. Some will never be able to understand this.

  97. Fascinating discussion. I became a “done” many, many years ago. My children are “never beens”. I have a goodly number of relatives in the “all in” stage still. My validation of “doneness” was complete in the last several years as my mother lived in an assisted living situation only 50 miles from her home church. She had been a life-long member of the community and a founder of this church. In the last 10 years of her life, no more than 6 non-family members of this church visited her. The pastors of the church did not visit her. Any wonder why the funeral was held elsewhere? The hypocrisy of some of the so-called Christian folk is stunning.

  98. Two hundred, or two thousand years ago, everyone worked physically hard all week, walked everywhere. Time in church was a good time to rest. Words from one of the few learned in the community, the pastor, was one of the few ways to learn anything.

    The model remains, but times have changed.

    Most people have relatively sedentary jobs. On Sunday, they don’t need physical rest, though they may need mental rest, but they desperately need exercise. If I want to learn something, I don’t need to listen to a local pastor in a local church, sitting in a pew. I have unlimited access to every kind of video, audio and ebook for learning much more efficiently. Just because there was a certain model in biblical times necessitated by the limited technology does not mean that the model is for all time and everyone.

    I am done. On Sunday a.m. and all day Sunday, I’ll be out somewhere in nature, sunshine or snow, getting healthy exercise and enjoying God’s creation. With other like-minded believers, if they don’t mind doing it on the hoof and aren’t determined to be completely sedentary on Sunday.

    I happen to be an introvert in terms of personality. A confident introvert. Most of those in the world are extroverts, a minority are introverts. Extroverts seem determined to treat introverts as socially pathological and spiritually defective, though introversion is perfectly natural and OK. Introverts are those who are drained by social situations. Extroverts are those who are energized by them. Church as it presently exists is an extrovert thing, where extroverts can energize off each other. Don’t need it, in its present format, don’t want it, don’t miss it.

    • Andrew, I live in the Pacific Northwest and your post could have been written by any one of thousands of people here who find that they are most in sync, in touch, or in rhythm with God or what many of us call “the Sacred” by hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, cycling and enjoying the striking natural beauty of this area. In Boulder, Colorado there is a Jewish community called that is for those who “experience God in nature”. The mountains is where they worship! I just finished my second spiritual pilgrimage by bicycle ( traveling from Rome to Konya, Turkey, where the Sufi mystic, Rumi, is buried. I am a Presbyterian minister and I love the worshiping community, but my soul takes flight when I am cycling. I am quite convinced that God made me this way! Peace to you….

  99. Thanks to all for such incredibly thoughtful (and civil) comments. It’s been a real joy to read this past week and very affirming of the value of this project we’ve been working on.

    If anyone counts themselves among the “dones” or the dechurched, we’d love to talk with you. Drop me a line over at or on twitter @dechurchamerica or email me (

    -Josh Packard

  100. If churches had the ability to follow the times, they wouldn’t be in such trouble. The basic message they’re supposed to be preaching has a history of attracting lots of people. But they have dropped the ball.

    I have a discussion on this on my Web site at

  101. “What many try to do is to drape Scripture over the dead bones of these philosophies and systems of doing things. But, when things are built on the wrong foundation they don’t function correctly.” Excellent conclusion Brett, except that I would say it is ‘impossible’ to function correctly, (or function at all).
    On the other hand, we have a couple of generations of ‘church goers’ who are able to think for themselves, study well, (often in their own homes, alone) and come to more rational responses to the Scriptures and Tradition – instead of following the pack and the continuous rote of doctrine and what passes for tradition, (what the Pastor/Father says MUST be, and the additional commandment, ‘thou shalt not rock the boat’). To paraphrase the subject of this sharing, the goers have become goners.

  102. I am quoting another: How far removed this [church] is from the faith experience of those early Christians! For them, believing opened the way to new life! Faith ignited a life-transforming power within them; believing was the source of their joy and their hope! Believing meant much more than simply assenting to certain claims about Jesus; it meant being united with God in an even deeper way, sharing in the risen life of Jesus, living in the power and joy of the Spirit, trusting in God for all things, and joining with others in a life marked by fellowship and support, compassion and generosity. To believe in Christ was to share in the new life Christ was offering to the world. We need to rediscover that kind of faith today. We need to challenge the popular notion that ‘believing’ is a matter of the head, and that it has chiefly to do with giving intellectual assent to statements of doctrine or creed. Faith is a matter of the heart. True faith engages us at the deepest level of our being. It is a life-transforming power that connects us with the very life of God. It is the source of the new life that God gives, that eternal life which has been promised to us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (St John 3:16).

      • What I see hidden in these words is humility – humble yourself before God – and humility rarely appears in a great many church leadership ‘professional styles’. So many leader, mostly men, (is it a male ego thing?), strut their stuff on grand platforms that resemble theatres not churches, in the style of ‘look at me, look at me’ with next to no humility. Such pride and arrogance comes before the fall, and frankly, I wish many of them would fall, quickly, so long as their brethren are around to pick up the pieces, and return their church to humility.

  103. Reblogged this on Laced up Lutheran and commented:
    I started following Thom Schultz’s blog, Holy Soup, recently. He’s got some very interesting posts about the church and change, and other things that interest me. The article I’m re-posting today is no different. It’s about the “Dones.” “Nones” is a big term right now, which means people who have no religious background or affiliation, but “Dones” is a new term. It’s the people who have been church-goers but are done with church. There’s lots of reasons for this, which the article describes. It’s well worth the read. He’s spot on this.

  104. I think a big issue is that people are working more hours than ever before and many people no longer have Saturday and Sunday off anymore. When I was a kid back in the 1980s many businesses were closed on Saturday and everything was closed on Sunday. If they have to work on Sunday they obviously are not going to be at church. Today many people who work six days a week, and Sunday is really the only day they have off to do stuff around the house so they can’t kill half the day sitting in church. They have house work to do, grass to mow, and laundry to wash, etc.

    Back in the good old days of two day weekends, people could get all of that stuff done on Saturday and still have time go to church on Sunday. Back then neither of my parents worked on Saturday or Sunday and we ALWAYS went to Sunday school followed by church, then after church we always went out to eat. Mom was a school teacher and Dad managed a bank, but back then banks did not have Saturday hours like they do now.

    I am pretty sure that if my dad had worked on Saturday back then we would not have gone to church as a family on Sunday. Mom might have taken us kids herself but more than likely we just wouldn’t have gone.

  105. Big question…If Christ were to walk among the church, especially in the West, would he say that it looks like Him? Or would he say it resembles that of the Pharisees and Sadducee’s of His days on earth? I know we are not flawless…and we need to remember that, none of us – IC or Done’s are flawless…but we worship one who is.

    This begs another question and it’s a bit of a paradox…if what I said above was true – what does it matter if one joins a local assembly or if someone just chooses to visit? Are they not assembling? Shouldn’t a persons confession of faith (Romans chapter 14) be good enough? Why do we tend to judge another man’s servant?

    • You bring up a good question. Why join in the first place? I have joined exactly 1 church in my lifetime. I have been a part to at least a dozen and most likely more. I have felt I was part to maybe a small handful.

      Joining for me one a one time affair. I never “unjoined”, even when I walked away once for a few years. I guess for me, it must be like a marriage. One and only has always been my plan for that, and still is. I guess it is too simple for me, but I might be too simple minded to have it any other way.

      The Lord is where you look for Him. If you are looking, you will find Him — Without question. If it is indeed Him you are searching for, whatever building or no building your are looking for Him in, you will find Him. So, unless you no longer want to be close to your Lord or no longer want Him at all, where you go to church is pretty irrelevant for you personally I’d have to believe. Now whether or not going to a particular fellowship to feel joined with them is another matter. But for me, when I signed up, it was a one time thing and I do not plan to “unsign up” or ever sign up again.


  106. The church is spiritual, it is not a building, no one has to go to church, the church are the people that believe God’s Son is the Messiah that stop practicing sin (John 20:31, 1 John 5:1, 1 John 3:9, & 1 John 5:18), also no one born of the Spirit has to be taught by man, 1 John 2:26-27 confirms that truth, there are many people that claim to be from God that do not speak the truth, no one born of the Spirit is required to associate with anyone that claims to be from God that doesn’t speak the truth, I am born of the Spirit AKA born from above, I don’t go to church, I am the church

  107. For those who think people who have left are “selfish,” “immature,” or “self-centered,” I don’t know if this will help, but so you know that it isn’t as simple as that. It has been a heart wrenching process almost to the point where I can’t process much more. Here are some thoughts after leaving my 3 church in 15 years. I keep thinking there has to be a healthy situation, but haven’t felt like I found it. Here is an honest depiction, rightly or wrongly, of the prayers and tears over this.

    I am a multiple organizational church failure.

    I have been unsuccessful in choosing and maintaining a healthy relationship with the organization that we call “church.”

    And I still don’t hate it.

    In fact, I’m still in love with what God is in love with, and I still believe that maybe, one day, I will understand God, myself, and the church well enough that I can be a positive force in its implementation of love and compassion. But for now, it’s back to the feet of Jesus to see what in the heck I’m doing wrong.

    You see, no one more than me wants to be a part of something bigger than myself. I so long to be a positive and contributing member that sees a mission being implemented and fulfilled for the glory of God. I want to be an encouragement. At the same time, I want to feel that I am encouraged and supported as well. Maybe that is the problem. This is where I am not sure. I maybe expect too much, but I dream of a time when the people I serve with see something more in me than I see in myself and help me to develop into that without feeling as if I am selfish for such a desire. I wish I didn’t feel like I was being used like a piece of old furniture. But maybe that is wrong. Maybe I’m looking for something that I am not entitled to look for and that is where I sin. I have had people say I shouldn’t look for other’s affirmation, but I thought that was part of being a “church family,” to mutually encourage one another. I’m looking for some mutuality, not necessarily equal, but something that says, “We see you and we want you to be who Jesus wants you to be for the sake of the church and for the sake of your witness.”

    I don’t think I’ve found that yet, but maybe that is because I’m not entitled to ask for such things. I feel like I have to fight to participate and fight to belong and fight the very people whom I love to do so. I just think this can’t be the way it is supposed to be. However, I’m aware that these are feelings and just my opinion, so I don’t know if this is sin or my heart being in the right place but in the wrong circumstance and context.

    As a result, I have been a stumbling block of sorts, not intentionally, but I have. I end up poking people and bringing out the worst in them, which is completely opposite to my heart’s desire and my personal make-up. I don’t want to be that person anymore, but I don’t know what to do or how to change so that I don’t. I try to keep the perspective that I am here to serve and try to deal with the lack of understanding, the lack of commitments on the part of others, but I get so frustrated and so incredibly lonely that I just feel like it is wrong, I’m wrong, or I’m wrong for “it.” All of this is complicated by the fact that on an earthly level, I have to do this all by myself: no close family, no husband, no children. I have one wonderful friend who is walking me through the latest pain, but has no real answers either. She says she has seen me do everything I know how to do to make it work. I just don’t understand why it doesn’t.

    I just feel like if I fail too much more, I’ll give up, and that breaks my heart. Maybe I just don’t have enough faith that God will lead me to a place where this is the case, and I’ll fail again. And I won’t be able to pick myself up anymore.

    I love God and I am not angry at him (which even surprises me). I just feel like I don’t know how to maneuver on this earth very well.

    I am sorry if I have expected too much from you or from the church and I’m trying and praying really hard for some real answers so that I don’t continue to be such an obstacle or a burden to others. I’m sorry that I have been so already

    • Vicki I believe there is a yearning in every Christian to be able to worship with the body in a corporate sense and I believe this is one of those things that the Spirit witnesses to our spirit about. “Without a vision my people perish”.
      One of the problems I see in this idea of the corporate church is; what most know about church has been misconstrued and even purposely taught in most gatherings in a very narrow sense. I think most will give lip service to all believers are of the same body but, i don’t see it in practice. Witness Lee and Watchman Née spoke of this extensively and were labeled a cult. If I’m not clear on this, what they taught was there is one church. The Church should be concerned about their brothers and sisters whether they meet with them or not.
      I’m not sure where you are in all this but I would be asking the Lord for direction in this gathering of ourselves together because it is important. I recognize that wherever 2 or more are gathered Christ is there in there midst. Corporate doesn’t mean 1,000’s necessarily or even 50’s or 10’s, it’s where two or more are gathered.

      • Miguel, I agree. I believe another problem with ‘corporate church’ is mission statements. All too often these box people into simply dealing with a few well chosen phrases – a sentence or two that stops many people thinking outside the square. I have heard it said, “We don’t do that – it’s not part of our mission statement.”
        I suspect if Jesus had a mission statement it was the all embracing First Commandment and the New Commandment he gave us – both of which are lacking in many churches where corporate church is the all consuming ( and consumer ) business.

    • Thanks for your honesty Vicki. I am sad it is so hard to figure out. It is very complicated and I wish I had some answers. One thing I can say is to pray for a soft heart and tough skin!

      • This idea of it being very complicated I’m afraid is something leadership in the IC church has conveyed in many ways.
        2 Corinthians 11:3
        3 But I fear , lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

  108. I’m one of those people who jumps in with both feet when I join a church. I’m active in the music ministry; I help with greeting, volunteering for serving in any way I can, even take a stab at teaching kids if need be. However, I had a few bad experiences that left a nasty taste in my mouth. The churches of today that are getting bigger and bigger tend to be so impersonal that they don’t meet my needs for close relationships with other believers. Also, when I found I was struggling and nobody seemed to care, it really hurt. The last church I was active in, I had been in the music ministry and there almost every time the doors opened for 3 years. I was on the platform in the choir or as a backup singer every Sunday and for revival or special speakers. In a time of weakness, I made a mistake. I know people saw I was struggling. I was in trouble, I started missing services. I wasn’t a casual attender — I was up there, in view, every service. After missing almost a month, I got a message from one of my kids who were still faithfully attending, “So and so wants you to call her.” Now why couldn’t she, a paid member of the pastoral staff, pick up her phone and call me? They had my number, address, and personal information. She was paid to shepherd. I worked full time and was a single mom to 3 kids. I had made an appointment several months before and gone in to talk to this lady about part of what I had been struggling with and all she said was, “Pray more. Read the Word.” No offers of help, no suggestions for practical ways to stay out of the trouble I was heading into….not even really a sign that they cared.

    I hurt. I was alone, and I felt like they didn’t care. I had been in smaller churches where the pastors did it all, and both of those small churches had pastors who called me if I missed a week or two, making sure I was okay. In this church they had oh, 6 or so pastors on staff besides the senior one, and they couldn’t even pick up the phone to check on a struggling member! I felt ignored, overlooked, and like I didn’t matter. Then the other shoe fell. My kids, who had no input in my struggles and weren’t even aware of most of what was happening, were removed from the choir and music ministry. They weren’t allowed to do some of the things they had been doing because I was struggling. No explanation….no letter… call….they just got yanked out and left hanging high and dry.

    At that point, I was done. I was tired of the games, tired of the politics, tired of the “inner circle” never fully accepting anyone who wasn’t family or already part of the privileged ones. I was good enough to serve and volunteer and give and give and give, but not good enough to check on when after 3 years of consistent attendance and tithing and commitment I dropped out of sight.

    Shortly after this happened I moved with one of my children to another state, 1200 miles away, to live with my new husband. I have sporadically attended churches here but I can’t seem to find one I feel comfortable in. First off I don’t like games. I don’t play these say one thing, live another types of games. I don’t get politics, especially in the church. And I can’t tolerate favoritism. I’ve seen most things that happen in churches, and I know what I’m looking for. I’m aware the church type I need isn’t abundant, but those churches do exist. It’s a church where I can be who I am, offer what I have, and where I can feel accepted. I need to be able to worship and receive relevant teaching, where I can serve and contribute, and where I can feel like I’m a part of the body.

    I don’t know….maybe those kinds of churches aren’t around any more. I choose to believe there are those churches still here and there, and I will keep looking. When I find one, I will plug in and serve, give, and contribute….and I will have at least some of my needs met as well. Until then, I guess I’m a Done. It’s sad, but I feel that way right now. It’s not that I don’t care….maybe I care too much.

    • Sadly this story indicates that churches are more interested in what we do rather than what we are. Our value is determined by the level of our contribution to the programmes, not what we understand about Jesus and the salvation he offers.

      When God gave me clear instructions to leave the church (because he wanted to get religion out of me) I did a Paul experience and spent two years in the wilderness. I discovered that the wilderness is where you get to know God in his fullness. I discovered God and who he was and forgot knowing about him. He was nothing like the one that the church portrayed.

      As a result the religiosity of the church left me cold and I made myself a promise that I would not get involved in any church that robbed me of my relationship with God which to date had been the case where I live now.

      I discovered this year a demographic that is not being met by the church here, so I felt led to direct my energies towards that. Ministering to the fatherless. As both me and my wife are fatherless we seemed to be a natural fit.

      i learnt that Sunday morning does not cut it for these people as the all important thing was relationship for them. Not shaking hands and how are you? Fine relationship but one that enables a person to unload and feel heard and wanted.

      So far the local churches have done all in their power to stop it from happening because I and the concept do not fit the mold. I am not ordained and don’t want to be so what right have I got to lead a church?

      I am very fortunate that I am totally secure in my relationship with God so it will happen so what they do to interfere in God’s will doesn’t bother me because I know that God will have his way and they will be left holding the baby whilst I am ministering to the babies and bringing them into maturity and freedom.

      I know that what I am going to do will need supernatural power so unless God does it, nothing will happen. I am determined not to be one of those churches where if the Holy Spirit left the building (or never came in) it would still keep turning over the machinery of religion to justify its existence.

    • I have counselled many a person in similar situations. I guess I have only two responses to your heart-felt story. 1) You are not alone. Yes, I know, not always what one wants to hear, but there are literally thousands of people in similar situations. I appreciate also that only you can ‘know’ what you have been through, are going through. An important aspect of faith is to never forget ( or at least try not to ) that Jesus is walking with you. And 2) Jesus himself frequently walked away from the crown – “he walked through them and left them” – to be separate, to be alone, to take time out – we can put numerous modern phrases in place here. And now and then he was thrown out. Sometimes it is the right thing to just leave, be absent from the crowd, until it is time to return. Remember too that 40 days is merely a meaning for ‘a long time’ – maybe even a very long time. But God, he is with you!

  109. I find it interesting with the comments that implore that “dones” come back don’t realize that it is God who is in charge of each and everyones soul, NOT the pastor. We HAVE the Holy Spirit: He is the Counselor and Teacher! Does not the “church” realize that God will Shepherd and take care of His own, whether or not they leave the IC? Why should people who are so concerned about those leaving be so involved with others intentions or heart?- Take care of your own heart and soul- and let God deal with those who have left.

    I have left the IC and I am doing just fine. I have not left God; I have not left Christ. In fact, leaving help me SEE the rest of the world. It helped me see that I am not better then unbelievers, but that by God’s precious grace He redeemed me and can and will redeem those who are lost.
    I saw that judging others without really knowing where they come from is wrong. I am learning patience in dealing with all kinds of backgrounds; before I was stuck in a bubble of evangelical conservative Christianity. I am still conservative, but I could sit down with a liberal and find communion, because of what? Love. This is the answer. It does not mean one checks their values and beliefs at the door, but realizes everyone is on a journey. Some choose to look at a Savior and some choose not. What really matters is YOUR journey with Christ and how is YOUR growth in Him. Being a witness for Him is what shines forth from your OWN life- YOU are the light and salt. Stop worrying about who is leaving, start BEING the body.

  110. I reckon we could take a lesson from the persecuted church in Egypt, who after having their beautiful buildings burnt to the ground in August have decided not to rebuild them, but to begin building the church by being in their communities. Didn’t Jesus say about the temple in Jerusalem “I will tear it down and rebuild it in 3 days.” Why then is so much invested in a building or a structure?

    Great article. Totally understand being done with a Sunday morning service. My best communion these days is shared around a dinner table with friends who are totally interested in my well-being (physical and spiritual). My best worship is walking with God along a river or listening to “God” moments experienced by our kids. I’m glad God is our Good Shepherd and he gently guides us; we are learning to live in his love and grow in trust. Reminds me of the verse “perfect love drives out fear.”

  111. Is it church with which we are “done,” or organized religion? Are we done with Christ or are we done with running to a building every time the doors are open? Are we done with the way Jesus taught us to live, or are we done with the cold, hard, corporate structure that somehow gets to be called church, especially in America?

    • Not only in America, sad to say, but endemic throughout the western world. But I have a sense that we are at the beginning of something new, maybe even revolutionary.

      • brgeem….yes, I feel it too. My work is to walk with those congregations for whom their world is passing away and to highlight the stories of that which is now emerging. I think we are in for the theological ride of our lifetimes. Hold on tight!

      • Holding on. It might just be a little bumpy!

  112. For Josh Packard. Whether the subject is racism, police brutality, immigration, same-sex marriage, climate change, the war on terror, spanking, or the church, it seems today that the “conversation” is controlled by extreme views. If it’s controversial or inflammatory or frightening, it gets play. But we know that the vast majority of people aren’t child abusers, terrorists, or rouge cops.

    In the discussion about the church, all the news seems bad. Barna’s research and others all paint a picture of people jumping off the sinking ship of the church. The “Nones,” “Dones,” Millennials, and even their children–the “I-Gens”–all point to the collapse of church as we know it. Yet Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against His church.

    Is there any news/research out there on people who still passionately serve God through their churches? Is there some love out there for those who aren’t quitting, but who are vibrant in their faith communities, and committed to changing the house from within instead of from without? And is the current push-back against the “organized” church an attitude shared by the current generation against all institutions in general? For example, the historic low voter turnout for the recent mid-term elections has been attributed to a disgust by the electorate of both parties. Does this carry over into the attitudes towards the institutional churches? Is it equal opportunity rejection of the establishment?

    Just trying to get a balanced picture of what’s happening and not just the sensational and fear-generating. Because you are a researcher on this project, I’m asking this of you. You have more than just opinion. Thanks for your time.

    • I think that’s absolutely right, Randy. Part of this story is about general institutional disengagement, but we have no reason to think this is generational at all (something I’ll be exploring in a blog post over at in the coming weeks). The super-committed people who leave their churches generally remain super-committed to God, though, and do amazing things outside of the church structure. Some might see this as a bad thing for the church; I see it as an opportunity for the church to change, as the church has always changed, to meet people where they are and become a more vibrant institution.

      It’s not about right or wrong practices. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about any organizational practices. It’s about effective and ineffective. And for an era where people are less likely than ever to NEED to engage with large, corporatized institutional structures to get the things done that they want to get done, the old practices are simply less effective.

      • So agree. I have tried to “get things done” within the structure and have tried very hard to be loving and patient only to be labeled when what I felt called to do didn’t fit inside the “vision,” even though it would have cost them nothing and I was willing to take a ministry on myself with no burden on staff as well. Even something as simple as a paper chain displaying acts of kindness that people engaged in during a “Love Does” message series got turned into something completely different and then not even implemented. It seems it is all about control and if it isn’t something the leadership “gets” then somehow it isn’t worth the trust that God can use someone else or someone else’s vision to accomplish the same objectives. Somehow I don’t have the spiritual maturity or vision to help create an environment where people can meet God. It was a paper chain for good grief. Also, when you get hurt during a Christmas Eve rehearsal and you can’t get help for an ice-pack because everyone is so busy implementing a program/vision, there is something wrong. You realize you aren’t a person anymore. And “Church” is supposed to be people.

        Now, I focus on being a great educator and creating more intimate relationships with a group of women for mutual prayer and encouragement. We don’t meet on a regular basis but whenever we can. We have prayed over depression, mission trips, family conflict, addictions, and much more. We have shared what God seems to be leading us to. We haven’t met with one another enough yet to create an environment for accountability, but that may develop as we move forward. We have met both spiritual and physical needs in several ways. We are excited about what God is doing in our lives. I don’t know, but it kind of looks a little like the church in Acts. It definitely doesn’t look or feel like “Sunday church” though, and I’m not sure I miss that. I’m still transitioning though, so the jury is out.

    • I agree with you 100% that Jesus said he would build his church. What he didn’t say was that he would build your church. The crisis is not in his church. It is in our/your/my church. When it ceases to be his church it ceases to be the church. It becomes a religious organisation and those who have had a taste of ‘his’ church are not at all interested in a religious organisation.

      Saying that verse does not alter the fact that the church that is not his church is in dire straits because God is sorting out the wheat from the chaff so that he can bring HIS church forward and triumphant.

  113. I am also wondering if there is a connection between the rise of the dones and compassion fatigue.

    • I feel that large sectors of society are having an up-hill battle transforming a significant rise in the lack of common civility and respect in society at large = compassion fatigue, certainly! One of the problems with this particular time of the year is that people get hammered with the woes of the world through poor media reporting and overkill. People start to turn off from their own compassionate responses – it’s a kind of disengagement from reality. I fear it’s two-way struggle!

  114. Some wonderful – at times deeply moving – stories and contributions here. Thanks for sharing. Time for me to bow out – BTDT and no TEE! Wishing everyone a happy and blessed Christmass -with prayers. Br G-M

  115. I read the first number of comments, and then grazed through the most recent posts. I think part of the discussion has to do with spiritual maturity and the church’s understanding of what that means. For most in church leadership it means leadership within the local body (lay role). I would argue that it is not leadership but empowerment, and as I read the comments this seems to be the case. If a church is not empowering its people to find their reason for creation and act on it, they will always be doing a general ministry, someone else’s ministry, and their faith can only grow so far. An individual has to discover and develop their gifts and talents – and this is a what the church (the community) should be doing for its people (this is a strength-based approach to ministry). If a person doesn’t move into this level of maturity and commitment, they essentially have to backslide or stall in their faith (stop growing spiritually) in order to stay in the church. The only alternative is to leave the church. Some leave and find that next step when they get out from under the “ceiling” they hit in the church, and so go on to wonderful ministries. Others, stall right out and become non-participants in the universal church, dead weights that are just drifting in the currents of both sacred and secular society, contributing nothing to the church today (uninvolved). (note that this is a description, not a judgement)

    To say it is organized religion at fault is to miss the mark, and to throw the good out with the bad. I think when people say that, it is more a commentary on polity rather than ecclesiology. Many in professional church leadership are either consciously or unconsciously preventing the empowerment because it means or “best” people (the most mature) may leave, or stop being actively involved at the local level (and they are right). Empowered people see the world as the mission field, not just the local church’s area of influence. Proffessional church leaders have usually found their call, but this doesn’t translate that they recognize that others need to find theirs in the same way, and focus their own life around that calling. We think people can fill out the “Spiritual gifts” inventory and their path is set for the rest of their church (community) life. Not true. I believe there are almost infinitely more gifts than the simple inventories provide, for we are all created unique.

    Willow Creeks Reveal series has provided a lot of research into this conversation, though they don’t end with empowerment, they still end with leadership.

    This article describes this situation to a “t” – the “dones” are tired of the mundane, tired of others telling them what to do. It is long past time that those “done” individuals should be stepping up to the plate as it were, and living out the mission God is calling them to rather than waiting for the church to fill their plate up with something different. They need to be discipling others, the younger generation. They need to go out and be vitally involved in the world God has placed them. When this happens, the church becomes the place of celebration and testimony of what God is doing, a mission station, rather than just the cafeteria where we come to get fed. Willow Creek made the ststement that as people mature spiritually they need the church a lot less to help them grow. this is true, but they need it for other reasons instead. Our faith is to be lived in the context of community – I believe the church is the only context for living out our faith.

    My last contribution is this: We have probably heard the addage that “to give a man a fish is to feed him for a day, to teach him to fish is to feed him for life.” Well, it is missing the last part, and often in the church we are too. The last part is “help a man to enjoy fishing, and you will feed the village”. This is empowerment. We are good at helping people do the right things (fish), but we fail to get them infected with the “fishing bug”, to become fishermen. This is a discipleship issue, and is sometimes the issue because we ourselves are to caught up in technique, rather than the joy of fishing. Questions that should be asked are, “When is the last time you enjoyed church? Do you look forward to going to church? Why or why not? What parts of church make you happy?”

  116. Once again the consumer mentality speaks up. If the dones truly “have not abandoned their faith”, how do they think they will fulfill their responsibilities as part of the body of Christ? Some Christians should either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Perhaps churches are better off without their self-centered whining and sarcasm.

    • That my friend is a Navy term if I ever heard one LOL!!!!! Seriously though the issue of lead, follow, or get out of the way should never be an issue in the true Church – we do not function on the basis of rank and file systems (that’s the doctrine of the Nicolatians). We are servants to one another – I continue to serve without naming a clique or set. 😉

  117. It’s all about serving Christ. I serve by starting home churches instead of theihe professional clergy thing.. And I once served in a carnal “seeker friendly” church in Nashville. I got sick of tIthing being stressed all the time but sin wasn’t preached on.. the Glenn beck politics .the scandal after scandal among parishioners and endless divorce… The cheerleader class vs the other musicians and artists they didn’t feel “led” to use feeling rejected. It felt like just like highschool so I dropped out. I love Christ. I am very morally conservative.. but I have lost pretty much all respect for professional clergy.

    • Jason, I sm sorry that was your experience. But that is not everyone’s. There are great churches out there and many godly pastors who practise servant leadership and who serve their “flocks” as shepherds well. If you know what s bad church looks like, it should be easy to find a good one. Look for a small church, where you can make a huge difference with your presence.

      • Good answer Steve G! Not all churches are alike; lots of good ones out there and we have been blessed to be apart of a number of them in the past 20 years or so.

    • I agree with you. The real problem is professional clergy. There are so many people in professional clergy that are totally not qualified to be there. But Church politics and culture by there very nature protect them and keep them in their positions. The truth needs to be said, many of the Dones have left because of “professional” clergy. The term itself “professional clergy” could be viewed as an oxymoron.

      • Wayne, as a professional clergyperson, I wanted to offer a little context. You are right that there are professional clergy who fall far below the standard and the vitality that the position calls for. There are also really amazing, dedicated, creative, clergy of deep integrity in the role. Having been in this field for 25 years I see a pattern–churches with burned out pastors are losing the Dones; churches with deeply committed pastors are losing the Dones. In my conversations with both Dones and the millenials who are avoiding church en masse, I hear this: We aren’t sure why we need professional clergy for work, ministry, and care that we can do for ourselves. My best read of this is that the role of professional clergy is either dying away or will be radically transformed. But, it isn’t about clergy persons themselves (with exceptions, of course!). On the macro level it about a profession that is eroding away with the changing culture. My two cents, for what it is worth.

      • So right Wayne. I have to ask why God tore the veil at the entrance to the holy of holies to remove the separation of clergy and laity if the church has sown it up again.

  118. I’m underwhelmed here … nothing new in 2000 years, like Rev. Bob said. We come to Jesus in order to be nailed to a cross, in the hope that he forges in us the new creation. Sounds like he nailed a bunch of you to a nice, small-minded group of people. How else did you think your sanctification would be worked out? Spiritual formation is really quite messy …

    So now in the best spirit of the modern therapeutic model, you’ve been given a diagnosis. And you’re going to wear that diagnosis for all to see. You’re a “Done”. Great. You’ll receive some affirmation, some understanding. It may even feel exhilarating; like when you ditched your ex-whatever. Good for you. But there is no eternal balm there …

    Jesus said offenses will come. It is the enemy’s desire that you take that poison right into your heart in order to complete the rebellion. Your healing will come when you face the offense(s) for what they are: the mere petty wounding of fellow pilgrims on the road. Forgive the trespasses as you have been forgiven yours … there is no salvation outside the Church. And yes, in spite of your warped idea of ekklesia, there’s no belonging to it without belonging to petty, flesh and blood people in a particular, local congregation with some kind of hierarchy. Just saying … Don’t shoot the messenger.

    • But there is no excuse for ignoring scripture and building your own kingdom, especially as it is a foolish idea when we can let Jesus build HIS church.

    • Brother Steve, you worry me! Your comment that there is
      no salvation outside the church is disturbing….have you
      read the bible? My bible says JESUS IS THE ONE MEDIATOR
      It also says JESUS is the WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT…
      no man goes to the Father, but through HIM!!!
      You may be guilty of worshiping the created rather than the
      creator Himself. NO ONE and NOTHING takes the place of
      Jesus; We are not to worship anything or anyone, including
      the “saints”, the church, a spiritual leader, etc……In fact,
      continuing to go to a church God has asked someone to leave
      would be a sin. That does not excuse those that are simply
      rebellious, lazy, etc… but I think that is few and far between.
      It’s possible that leaders have not been listening to the Holy
      Spirit for so long that God has had to lead people away to
      accomplish His true desires on this earth. Just saying….

  119. Reality Check – The tearing of the veil wasn’t about clergy and laity. Jesus opened the way to God, for us to enter the holy of holies, the very throne room of God, with His blood sprinkled on our hearts. Clergy is different from the Old Testament priestly line. Any time you have any number of people in a community, there is great benefit in organization and eventually hiring “elders” who can focus not just on the administration, but all aspects of ministry full-time. Full-time clergy are shepherds, not just professional pastors. Ephesians encourages the gifts and positions of leadership to lead the saints (to equip he saints for the work of ministry). We need to make sure a gut reaction against authority in general isn’t what drives negativity towards the church.

    and Brother Steve isn’t supporting anyone building their own kingdom. I don’t think anyone commenting does – that is a straw man argument. Are you saying you are “done” because of your charicature of church and professional clergy? You can’t generalize everyone into the negative culture anymore than another generalizes all the “dones” into a negative category.

    The issue is what the “dones” are doing instead of church. By dropping out of the traditional church and not participating in anything else they have essentially made the church the end in and of itself rather than Jesus. They may say, “I am rejecting the “organized” church, not Jesus” but by withdrawing from church they have rejected Jesus because He is head of the church. Go ahead and withdraw from a local body if the style, etc doesn’t fit with you, but seek one that does – and if you can’t find one get together with others of like mind and form your own fellowship. Seek God’s gifts and graces, be involved in local and cross-cultural missions, mentor someone younger and seek an older mentor – but don’t drop out and do nothing.

    • Praise God salvation is free and praise God that we can have a relationship with Him free. What really bothers me is this insistence that once your saved, un-be-known to the poor saved soul that was freed from the slavery of sin and death is now to become a slave to church attendance, serving with their gifts for free and that awful 10% God tax the rest of their lives. Unless your the pastor or worship leader or maybe the youth leader… their gifts are worth money, but a Sunday school teacher… no. They are not only expected to share their gift of teaching for free but pay the church their 10% for the pleasure of doing this so the pastor and a few others can be paid for what they do. What is wrong with this picture? I’m surprised there aren’t more people like me who are done with church! I’m sick of this bible twisting, especially with Acts as a tool to enslave people to church. The people in Acts gathered because the WANTED to, not because anyone told them the HAD to. NOBODY was getting paid and NOBODY should be getting paid now… nobody. When running or pastoring a church became the livelihood of a select few it totally corrupted the church because it is just a matter of a short time when these people are trying to serve both God and money.

      • Ryan, what you are characterizing is a very narrow slice of a Protestant, western expression of the Church. I am truly sorry you had that experience of Church. So dust off your clothes and move on, if that what Christ is saying … but he might call you right back in the midst of them …

        In this discussion, theology matters a great deal and theology is decided by the Church. The Church has historically held that we become free from sin in order to be bondservants of Jesus Christ in the new creation. Clergy or not, you and I do not get to chart the course. Christ through his Spirit charts the course, and that revelation is given in plural. What that course looks like most of the time is love and service to neighbors, family, co-workers; whoever. The Church service is where we worship Christ and receive strength for the journey. We go there, because that is where Jesus is. If neighbors, etc., want to come to Church eventually, well that’s great. But we shouldn’t focus on that. We should focus on being the Church in the world. And no man or woman out there can stop you from loving and serving your neighbor.

        But there is no doing this on your own; no “new thing” like “RealityCheck” wants to do. The Greek word for a new idea is “heresy”. We live in the new Dark Ages. The Church sorted all of this out by the 5th Century and has been far richer for it in past centuries. But we don’t know that because we are proud and haven’t bothered to do our history. So, you and the other Done’s are welcome to repeat history, but I highly recommend against it.

    • Your post is so full of inaccuracies I don’t know where to start.

      1. If the tearing of the veil was to enable us to enter the holy of holies, then we don’t need professional clergy as the veil was a barrier to anyone except the professional priests.

      2. Nowhere in scripture does it tell us to “hire” Elders.

      3. The Ephesian passage were ministries, not positions.

      4. No one is talking about gut reactions. Mine came about after two years of intense study of the New Testament Church which included the original Greek and over 40 books on the subject.

      5. I don’t use caricature of church and clergy. I use hours, weeks, months and years of study and experience.

      6. I never mentioned my own kingdom. I always talk about HIS church, not ours.

      7. I think it is very clear that the ‘dones’ are looking for and being involved in more than religious organisation. They are wanting to replace religion with relationship.

      8. They are not making the church an end in itself.

      9. Jesus is head of HIS church, not the church, so no one is rejecting Jesus. They are rejecting the organisation that does not allow them to know Jesus. It only allows them to know ABOUT Jesus.

      10. I have never said I have dropped out and done nothing. The first thing I did was to respond to a request by a church to advise them how they could be more effective. I spent a year with them to enjoy awesome worship and to take them into a more effective use of the gifts of the spirit.

      11. I am not interested in you telling me what I should do as the only valid ministry is what God tells me to do. He has told me to start a ministry to the fatherless. It is slow going because the church is afraid I am going to take away their members so they are fighting it like nothing else.

  120. Just to be clear I am not against all Clergy or for that matter paid Clergy. When you start talking “professional” Clergy, I think red flags should be raised.

    • Except that in most cases they are ‘professional’ because they have to have a degree, otherwise they cannot be considered for the role. I say this because I investigated a site that advertised for pastors in America. There were 263 adverts and except for three, they had to be experienced; have a degree and be able to make things happen.

      • All good points. Yes I agree on “professional”meaning, needs to have a degree. Often that is only what is looked at to whether someone is qualified to be clergy. Things like Godly repentance, servant hood, ability to Shepard, etc. are usually not even considered in a meaningful way. How many degrees and from what institution rule the day,

      • Sometimes I think the more I studied the bible the more foolish I became because the simplicity of getting up in the morning and just saying, “Good morning Father God.” gets lost in the mess of all that theology and knowledge of God and stress of how to make it through the day without sinning. Seminary trained, so called professionally trained pastors and clergy can certainly complicate the crap out of Christianity. That’s another reason I’m done. Many will leave a church because they want something more. Me, I needed something less… a lot less. I saw Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who had nothing but family, big sky and God… no weekly church with those enslaving church duties and said, “That’s what I want.” Yea, no more of going to church week after week to find out another way I am not living up to that 10′ tall Jesus Christ which doesn’t work to grow a relationship with God when your in a state of constant shame all the time. Church does more to hinder a relationship with God when a person doesn’t feel worthy to even be talking to Him and all your focus every time you want to pray is constantly on all your shortcomings. You spend most your time apologizing to God for not being Jesus Christ which kills the praise and worship and takes away the joy of being a child of God.

  121. Done’s:

    Okay, you can do all of that – go back to a primitive, Abrahamic relationship with God. No church, no clergy, no discipleship. Great. You just can’t call it Christianity. And the Church would add – this is called, “doing what is right in one’s own eyes.”

    Let me use a metaphor: With the appearance of the “Hunger Games” a few years ago, everyone wanted to get into archery. Bows and arrows are selling like hot cakes. The problem is, few will become Archers. To do that, you need to spend thousands of hours shooting arrows, and being critiqued by masters. Otherwise, one misses the mark … Worse, if you wanted to enter competition, you might be judged (oh, the humanity of it all!) Otherwise, if you do it all by yourself off in the corner, you will develop bad shooting habits and stances that will affect your long-term reliability and accuracy.

    The spiritual life is no different. One can dabble in all of this, but until one submits to masters and peer review, it’s dabbling, that’s all. RC has spent two years, and in the Greek at that, but who is reviewing his work for accuracy? After all, the Scriptures are not a computer manual. In order to master passages, one needs to know what everyone else has said about a passage. That’s why those who would serve the Church get an education. This stuff takes time and is hard work.

    Just saying … Don’t shoot the messenger.

    • I can agree with some of what you say. The modern Church has also become a gravy train to ride for a lot of Clergy. The “Dones” have threatened that train. I feel the concern about the Dones is more about a certain life style of the Clergy coming under threat, than it is about the Spiritual well being of the Dones.

      • Your post is so full of inaccuracies I don’t know where to start.

        1. If the tearing of the veil was to enable us to enter the holy of holies, then we don’t need professional clergy as the veil was a barrier to anyone except the professional priests.

        The veil was a barrier to 11 of the tribes. God set the Levites aside for the roles of priests, and even then, only once in their life did the priest enter the holy of holies. You can’t compare the two. We all enter the holy of holies, the throne room of God (priest-hood of all believers) – this is not a function of pastors/clergy.

        2. Nowhere in scripture does it tell us to “hire” Elders.

        Nowhere does it say not to hire. Moses was counselled by Jethro to get help – organization. Paul at times was a tent-maker, at other times supported by the church community. 21st North American society is quite different from 50 AD Israeli society.

        3. The Ephesian passage were ministries, not positions.

        And ministry leaders can be/are positions. I am not sure what you are saying here. There are denominations where no one is employed – check them out. Many house churches also don’t employ anyone – find a local group like that if the money thing isn’t where you are at. I am sure there are house churches that are anti-education as well.

        4. No one is talking about gut reactions. Mine came about after two years of intense study of the New Testament Church which included the original Greek and over 40 books on the subject.

        Some people who have left the church do have a reaction against authority in general. This is part of the post-modern distrust. I did not say that this was where you were coming from. It still remains true that some people will comment negatively on blogs and topics ike this because they are against authority in general.

        5. I don’t use caricature of church and clergy. I use hours, weeks, months and years of study and experience.

        To paint all clergy and churches with the same brush is to create a charicature. Your experience is very specific and so you see the church in a specific light. It has become the “other” and when you describe it, you describe it from that vantage point, which becomes a charicature because it does not include the whole church – I would see it a totally diffferent way. Yes there are negative elements, but I look at what is working well, what is right.

        6. I never mentioned my own kingdom. I always talk about HIS church, not ours.

        You said there is no excuse for anyone building their “own kingdom”. I simply stated that that is not what we are talking about. We all recognize and agree that the church is not anyone’s kingdom – but because it is held up as a charicature, it is brought into the conversation.

        7. I think it is very clear that the ‘dones’ are looking for and being involved in more than religious organisation. They are wanting to replace religion with relationship.

        The article states that the “dones” are not involved in church in any way – they are distinct from “unaffiliated” – the Nones. They aren’t doing anything, according to the article. Most of us, even those still in the church are just as focused on relationships, and don’t do church as a “religion”. Those two terms are not mutually exclusive.

        8. They are not making the church an end in itself.

        If a person allows the church, their agreement with it or disagreement with (their experience), to determine what they will do with their faith, they have allowed the church control over their spiritual life (which is never a good thing, or Biblical). Everyone who has said “I don’t go to church because it is full of hypocrits” have made the decision based on the church community, rather than what Jesus has said. They should have said, “Well, that local body wasn’t a good fit for me, let me find another one.” The church is God’s lowest denominator to live out our gifts and graces. If we don’t fit in one, we need to either find one where we do fit, or start something that God leads us into. I said that earlier. So you left and have focussed on a specific demographic – good for you. Then you complain that the churches aren’t supporting you (because you are ordained). Why are you worrying about them when you have already rejected them? It could be they see you as a loose cannon because of how you have reacted to them. Keep building bridges and see what the