I shared some info this morning at church that struck a nerve with some of the people in attendance. This wasn't a controversial topic or something from Scripture that necessarily elicits debate. It was a reference to a segment of people in our culture who used to be faithful, active and engaged in their churches, but now are done.
That's right, they're DONE.
As a parallel to the popular NONE grouping that researchers have identified among the American population (those who designate "NONE" as their religion of choice) the DONES truly exist and most of us who serve in church or have been a part of a local church for any length of time can attest, we know them.
Here's the information I presented from Thom Schultz's blog "Holy Soup":
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.
Of course, as I mentioned this morning, there is a danger in shirking the Gospel for the sake of keeping attendees in church. Sometimes, those within the fellowship who are disheartened and frustrated are so due to personal sin, perhaps, or lack of understanding God's vision for the church. Of course, there is also the real possibility that the church leadership is missing the message of the Gospel as well and moving forward with no thought to the church membership at all.
Nevertheless, in the church where the Gospel is preached, Gos is worshipped in spirit and truth and the pastor and leaders are seeking the face of God and leading humbly, there are still some within the body who have served, declare their love for God and yet, find themselves done with it all.
And this truly is a problem.
While it’s easy for an expert to proclaim what to do at a conference (no disrespect intended - I appreciate the data,) the reality is that without a movement of God among His church, a willingness for his church to listen to Him, and ultimately do as He is guiding and live for Him, we will not “gain the land” so to speak and when a generation forfeits this simple plan, the “nones” are born and a generation is lost.
I, for one, am not willing to forfeit the calling.