Tag Archives: church refugees

Are the Dones Really Christian?

Are the millions who no longer attend church just a bunch of faith imposters? That’s the assertion of some denominational officials who seek to minimize the exodus of the religious Dones. Research shows that American congregations have lost over 30 million adults who are the Dones–those who have left the organized church, but not their faith. […]

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The Pending Exit of the Clergy

At the conclusion of Group’s Future of the Church summit, someone asked me, “What struck you most this week?” My answer surprised even me. The summit participants had explored several major trends that will affect the future of the church. We considered the implications of the growing population of Dones–those who have left the organized church, […]

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We Don’t Talk About That at Church

We talk about all kinds of juicy, newsy things with friends at work or school. But not at church. No. No. No. We can’t talk about that at church. Someone might get upset. But the church’s avoidance of these hot topics is one of the very things that is driving people away from church participation today. […]

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They’re Almost Done with Church–and More Conservative

Soon-to-be defectors are sitting in the pews of America’s churches. Unless something changes, they’re going to join the Dones. While conducting research on the phenomenon of the Dones—those formerly faithful churchgoers who have given up on the organized church—sociologist Josh Packard uncovered another sizable group—the Almost Dones. Packard’s book Church Refugees describes the large group […]

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The Church’s Hidden Back Door

Beef up outreach. Emphasize evangelism. Plant more churches. Polish the marketing. None of this is reversing the overall trend of church decline. Even when a church attracts new members it doesn’t grow. Why? It can’t add people fast enough to make up for the legions slipping out the back door. They are the Dones–those who […]

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Running from the Culture Wars

“This gay rights thing is going to destroy the American church,” the pastor said. Is that true? Many church leaders–on both sides of the gay debate–believe this issue will be the watershed moment for the church. That could be. But not how they think it will. Sociologist Josh Packard’s research for the book Church Refugees uncovered some […]

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Done with ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’

People are leaving their churches because they feel excluded. Excluded from participating in the communication of the message. This is one of the unanticipated findings in sociologist Josh Packard’s research on the Dones–formerly active church members who have walked away from all institutional religion. These are people who have heard countless sermons. They tend to […]

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A Message for Control Freaks

Why are some of the organized church’s most dedicated and active members choosing to leave?  Sociologist Josh Packard, author of Church Refugees, sometimes refers to these people as the church’s A students. They’re most likely to contribute, work hard, and lead others. But, increasingly, they’re done. Done with the institutional church altogether.  But why? Why […]

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Good Riddance to Nominal Christians?

Christian shrinkage. Is that bad news or good news? Well, it depends, it seems. The Pew Research Center’s new study shows that the proportion of Americans who identify as Christian has declined by nearly 8 percent since 2007. That’s significant and historical. And the decline is felt across all Christian sectors–Catholic, mainline Protestant, and evangelical Protestant. […]

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Done with Church, but Not with God

They’re done. Done with the institutional church. They are millions strong. And millions more are about to join them. The Dones, as I refer to them, include some of the established church’s previously most active members, best givers, and most mature believers. Their exodus presents one of the most perplexing challenges for the church as we know it. […]

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