We’ve heard of the Nones, but who are the Dones?
Are you familiar with these terms? Baptist News article, You’ve met the ‘nones.’ Now meet the ‘dones.’ covered this topic last year:
Just as churches, seminaries and congregational consultants were wrapping their heads around the concept of “the nones” in religious life, yet another term emerges for yet another category of Americans abandoning the church: “the dones.”
The first group denotes the growing number of Americans with no religion affiliation. “Nones,” which may represent as much as 38 percent of the U.S. population, also are known for generally having had no or very little in the way of religious upbringing.
But sociologists, church historians and congregational coaches have realized for a while that another subset of Americans are answering “none” on surveys about religious affiliations: Those who have grown up in the church and remained active in adulthood — at least until getting tired of church life.
The rest of the article talks about the struggles churches are facing as good church folk are leaving the institutional walls. I think it is a wake-up call for the institutional church.
Today I posted a 7-minute interview about the “dones” on the SSB Facebook page and it has received some great responses. I asked the powers that be if the video was able to be shared outside of Facebook and it was then uploaded to YouTube, so I am happy to be able to share it with you on the blog. It’s just over 7 minutes (the complete webinar can be found here: Rise of the Dones Webinar Follow Up).
I think some of the SSB community might be able to connect with the dones.
Here is James Paul’s intro to the video:
A fast-growing demographic of Christians are fleeing the institutional church. On April 15th, sociologist Josh Packard gave a webinar presentation on “the dones.” So who are they? The answers may surprise you.
I’ve copied some of the comments from both James Paul and SSB’s Facebook posts so you can see the responses:
This is spot on! Although, I’ll admit, I was angry when I left. I’m not angry any more, but I am uninterested. -KB
I’m angry at a lot of pastors who know they are doing wrong by institutionalizing but gotta feed the system to USE people to get their paycheck, easy flexible schedule, 5-7 weeks of vacation, conferences, and entitlements. These pastors know better but will either spiritualize or ignore the truth of what they are doing and defend the system to the death or until it stops paying off for them. ~Dennis
What stood out for me is what a deliberate, contemplative, meaningful (and heart-wrenching) decision this tends to be. The church as an institution has failed those who it needs and counts on the most. This is a crisis for the church… but a personal victory for those who seek peace and comfort away from the institution that let them down. Even the WORD “church” is slowly changing definition. This is not a bad thing. ~Carol
Love this comment. ~Jami
Carol, This is so true. When we decided to leave church (or churches, in our case) it was not a fly-by-night decision. For one church, we prayed and talked for two years before we left. For another, it took a 3-4 months (less time because we had already been through the first one). It was not an easy decision the first time because we had invested almost 10 years of our lives in the church, working side-by-side with people we cared deeply about. The second time was a bit easier because we spotted the red flags immediately. -KB
I didn’t leave church because I lost my faith. I left to preserve it. ~Bart
I believe the whole “Dones” movement is actually a move of God. With the current state of business-as-usual in the “church” scene and growing religious unrest in the world, perhaps the healthiest and safest place for Believers is outside of those comfortable four walls, interacting in daily life with one another and others…in the world but not of it (which is what we’re called to BE anyway!) ~Joe
“I think many people stayed in church in the past because it was generally accepted that all “good” people attended church and one had to belong to church to be a respected community member. That is no longer the case and this subconsciously influences people not to attend.” ~ Linda
Often God takes folks at the margin – remembering the Jesus people. At the moment, he seems to be rounding up people who have loved him inside the walls and is asking them to love him outside. ~Dwight
I liked D. L. Webster’s comment in his article, Are “Dones” a Major Warning Sign for the Church?
To summarize, I think that some our fundamental paradigms about church got knocked off track centuries ago (most notably around the 4th century to be precise). I believe that church as we usually think of it will continue to slide into irrelevance though God will continue to work there too. It seems to me that Christianity’s best are leaving the traditional, institutional church because God is revealing its inadequacies. These “dones” are pursing Jesus, his ways and his community outside the church institution in a way which is more in line with God’s leading.
51 thoughts on “Who are the Dones and Why Have They Left the Institutional Church?”
Absolutely correct. I’m not going to church to be an activist or a theological debater, I’m going for fellowship (not necessarily agreement with me) and to help people. I can’t always do that in a hierarchy. I like being a “more”.
There’s a website called “The Dones.”
Oh. I see they are connected as one of the blog authors is with the Group group. 🙂
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RE BIT’s post,
I’ve not yet fully explored that site, but so far, on their rotating graphic thing I watched, I do like the fact that they point out it’s “not just young people who are leaving church.”
There are plenty of people over the age of 29 who are fed up with church who have stopped going. I have seen more and more articles about ages 30 and up (especially ages 40 and up) who have had it and who have stopped going.
Based on things I’ve read-books and articles- a lot of churches don’t care to find out why people are leaving church.
They just ignore those who have left, they don’t watch as people file out the back door, all they care about is the front door. They keep trying to lure in more and new people.
Almost any time a magazine or news site publishes an article about the dechurched, or the nones or the dones, sadly, about 99% of the Christian response in the comments under such articles is to criticize, blame, and shame and insult the people who have quit.
Church people keep complaining about church attendance dropping, and that people are no longer identifying with the Christian faith as much, yet, they don’t care to rectify the situation.
Many Christians who work at churches or who are regular church-goers don’t want to actually find out why folks are leaving, or if they bother to listen, all they do is put people down when people give their reasons, they don’t want to take steps to rectify the problems. Or, they tell you to just suck it up and get over it.
There was a post by John Piper or someone I saw just a week or two ago, where he sort of ridiculed people who said they’ve been hurt by someone at a church, that is why they no longer attend.
Piper (or whomever wrote that page on his site) basically told anyone who is gun shy about church, due to being hurt by another church goer, to stop being a whiny cry baby about it and go back. These church people are so terribly unsympathetic about why people quit and how they treat church quitters, they are not going to win these people back.
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I have really grown to loathe and detest the typical Christian shaming comments or tactics against church quitters, such as (this seems to be one of their favorites), “You should go to church to serve, not be served!”
That one really bothers me, annoys me. I’m fine with helping other people or when I can, but you know what?
I also have needs, and those needs are not going to go away no matter how much I repress them or volunteer helping other people at a soup kitchen or where ever else.
I need to get my needs met as well, but most Christians / churches are not interested in a two-way street, where I help them (or others at their church), but they also help me in return.
Churches would rather scape-goat and demonize the quitters than investigate the problems in their own doors and work to correct those problems.
You also have the Neo Calvinist guys (the ones who do notice there is a problem) thinking the way to solve this problem of people quitting church in droves is by having them sign legally binding church membership agreements, and screaming that people need to be under an authoritarian leadership.
Hate to break this to them, but such draconian moves will only alienate even more people in the long run.
The preachers who scream at you to give them their ten percent of your income and they do it even during church services (eg, Perry Noble and Ed Young Jr, or the ones who promise you death and disease if you do not tithe them, eg, preacher Robert Morris) are another huge turn off to me.
The way to possibly win me back to attending a church? Sure as heck not a coffee shop or fancy laser shows with a Hip, Cool, skinny- jeans-wearing, electric- guitar -playing worship leader, or a goatee-wearing preacher who has tattoos.
I am a done. I’ve been a done for 3-5 years. It’s amazing how the video hit the demographic on the head but missed the reasons…
Why did I leave? Because I felt God asking me to. I would go back if he asked as well. Since leaving, however, other things are happening in my life providing spiritual fellowship.
I, on the other hand, was frustrated with several issues that were theological — not huge but, for me, I didn’t want to stick around.
A frustration point I did see was the issue of “sabbath”. When in church, you work 5 days a week (or maybe 6) then work hard on Saturday doing house chores so you can have your “Lords day”. For me that meant playing or running sound, sometimes, over the past years, teaching Sunday School, etc. Then you come home on Sunday exhausted. My day of rest evaporated. Maybe it’s because I am getting older but I need that full day of rest.
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I left because of the abuse I experienced at the hands of people I’d trusted and called friends, but I stayed away because of the freedom I found outside the institution 🙂
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I am a “done”…… but one thing I have not seen touched on in the www are the group of people that have been abused and neglected. No where is this demographic of Christians being even mentioned or talked about! And this is a very large group.
The “none” are labeled young people who don’t want religion and the “dones” are usually labeled as those who are “professional” Christians (those who are pastors or leaders in the church tired of the rigmarole). What about the average Joe who went to church, maybe served but not even considered a “professional”? What about the child who was sexually molested? What about the new believer who is being stunted in their growth because of all the rules/legalism, throws his hands up in the air and goes back to the world or worse yet becomes an atheist? What about the woman who is emotionally and verbally abused by her husband and elders of the church? What about the neglected? What do we call the least of these? I have not been abused like many have but this bothers me that these articles don’t even touch on this demographic and really start having a discussion about what REALLY is going on with the church!
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Maybe the church as we know of today was never what God had in mind in the first place? Maybe the system mindset is the problem and lends itself to being a pyramid scheme? I am not saying Christians within the system have not been godly or have not been used by God for He uses those who love Him, but we now are seeing more bad fruit instead of good fruit; so, this should make us ask the hard questions. Is this system of American church the way Jesus Christ and Paul/apostles laid it out in the NT? Do we not have the obligation as believers to stand up and confront false teachers and abusers? Are we not urged to do this-be watchmen and women?
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“You should go to church to serve, not be served!”
What if you follow this to its logical conclusion? Unless you are some weird anomalous exception who is subject to a totally different set of rules than everyone else, this necessarily applies to everyone in the church. If everyone in the church is there not to be served, (but to serve) then who is there to be served? Everyone is supposedly serving, but who are they serving, since there is no one there to be served because they’re all serving and not there to be served?
These weird false dichotomous bifurcations are not helpful at all.
Daisy, you are right when you say it’s supposed to be two way.
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“Everyone is supposedly serving, but who are they serving, since there is no one there to be served because they’re all serving and not there to be served?”
Well that is a tongue twister for sure…..:)
BIT and Daisy- I totally get what you are saying about the serving. What are we serving? being in the nursery while someone else goes to a class or sits in a pew?
Since being out serving to me means meeting the real needs of those around you- whoever one meets. This could be a stranger, a fellow Christian, a non-believer, an atheist, a Buddhist – whoever the Holy Spirit puts in your path or leads you to. The other day (this is just a simple small example) I went to Chick-fil-let and just struck up a conversation with one of the employers. She was having a rough day, but just a little recognition and understanding blessed both of us. No matter how small or big this is the church. We are the called out ones.
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I’d like to start up a ‘church’ building that meets people’s needs like food pantry, donated clothing, skills classes for free…. have separate independent bible study with no institutional invasion and a hymn sing….. no ‘paid’ pastor…. only volunteers. sermons given by a man who works but gives a message…. perhaps have a garden plot for free outside of. The church.
Funerals that are too expensive and pastors that don’t care about this problem would drive any ‘native american’ away from the church….
lauraraggedy- I like that kind of “church” you are talking about.
A “church” which does not chastise someone for whether or not they made it there on Sunday or gave their tithes. Or a church that really does allow someone to use their gifts.
I know I’ve said this here before (and I’m the KB up there), but we really took our time when we left our first church. My husband was the first who wanted to go and I wanted to hang on (it was opposite at our second church we left). The reason why I wanted to hang on so long was because we had very deep relationships with people. We worked side-by-side on so many different projects and our kids had relationships with each other. The hardest thing about leaving was leaving those wonderful people. I had high hopes of maintaining friendships outside of the church building, but as hard as I tried, it never worked. To this day we are not friends with one person that we knew at that church. As an introverted person who values friendship, this was the most depressing part of leaving church.
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I guess the comment I tried to leave from my smart phone didn’t take, so here goes…
My husband and I mostly fit the demographic described, but if we left for good we’d have some reasons that haven’t been mentioned.
Finding a church that doesn’t lean into either patriarchal authoritarianism or heterodoxy can be a good trick.
It’s tough enough to try and acclimate a larger than usual number of children to the main worship service. Trying to do it with an autistic child in the mix is nearly impossible. My experience thus far indicates that even now, most churches still are not knowledgeable or equipped about ministering to those with this kind of special need (although this is slowly changing). I’ve gone back and forth mentally about whether we would do better to leave an otherwise good church to find one with actual Sunday school classes where we could take our son, while being given a break from having to constantly watch him.
At the same time, I’m a sucker for reverent, traditional liturgies; I’m just not into contemporary styles of worship. It is so hard for me to sing songs from the modern praise and worship genre, but that seems to be the dominant thing today. Any church with a service that feels like a rock concert (and their wannabes) strikes me as fake, hokey, and manipulative.
Not to mention figuring out what I really believe theologically. I’m realizing that I have more and more disagreements with things in the Westminster standards. I really didn’t have much time to think things through when we had to make a decision about membership vows in our first PCA congregation. I’m not sure I’ve yet found my true spiritual home. I’ve considered life outside the institutional Church; I just can’t justify it given my reading of the New Testament.
It’s my understanding that the terms “nones” and “dones” and “dechurched” and so on also include average Joes. At least, that’s most often how I’ve seen those terms used.
Exactly, BIT. Exactly.
I read a book by a Christian psychiatrist duo who pointed that out. Everyone deserves to have his/her needs met, including the person who asks to have their needs met.
If you go up to a preacher or another church person, or another Christian, where ever he or she may be, and admit you need help with X (whatever X is), they should help you. The Bible tells you so far as it is in your ability to help another person, you should do so.
However, most often the reaction of most Christians I am related to, or who have met online, or who I’ve been around at churches is to shame you and criticize you for asking for help or admitting you would sure appreciate help (whether it’s emotional support, prayer, financial help, whatever it is).
Next, the Christian person shaming you for asking for help will usually then turn around and point out how Jesus came to serve, not be served, and how there are orphans in India who have life worse than you, so you should be so busy serving others and feeling sorry for orphans, you should not bother anyone with your own needs.
As the Christian doctors who wrote the book said they told a patient, if it’s wrong for you to get your needs met, then going by that logic, it would also be wrong for you meet the needs of other people. So nobody would be helping anybody.
BTW. I read a book some time ago by an advocate of NC Nouthetic (biblical) Counseling.
This guy actually teaches that God wants you to meet the needs of others, but God does not want you to get your own needs met. IIRC, I think he also taught in his book that you don’t have needs.
I do specifically remember him writing that there is no such thing as psychological needs, even though he seemed to acknowledge that psychological needs exist in other people. So, other people can and do have psychological needs, he teaches, but you do not and should not. That view makes no sense to me at all.
I did not know when I ordered that book that the guy was NC, I would not have wasted my money on his book.
But I do not understand the typical evangelical / conservative Christian and church thinking that it’s allegedly selfish for you to get your own needs met.
You’re supposed to stuff your needs down, neglect them, pretend like you don’t have them, and run around volunteering at soup kitchens and helping ‘those less fortunate’.
I suppose you are right Daisy I just have not seen where (except for a few blogs like SSB and TWW) are looking at the abused of the church. It seems like from what I see the articles are based on those who left the church for reasons of not liking church, being disillusioned with it or being worn out from the busyness of it.
I think many do not want to talk about the abuse because it would open up a whole can of worms- if this type of discussion got out in the open like the Sandusky case people would be leaving in droves (well you would hope so).
In my family, which purports to be Christian, it’s considered wrong to have emotional needs and to show them or to admit to needing help with them.
My mother was okay with me feeling sad and expressing it to her, to cope. I used to have clinical depression. My mother was fine with me going and talking through my sad feelings with her, when a depressive episode got really bad.
My mother did teach me, though, that Christian women should not feel, have, or show anger. I was taught by her to repress all anger.
My older sister and dad are okay with showing anger – they show anger but not other negative emotions, like sadness. They think it’s wrong for a person to admit to being emotionally vulnerable.
My sister and father get angry if I ask them, or they find out I have asked other family, for emotional support. According to my sister and dad, I am supposed to stuff my sad feelings down and pretend everything is fine.
Hypocritically, though, my sister used to phone me up often to vent and complain about her job and boyfriend problems, and she expected me to be sympathetic, even in the years after mother died.
She would refuse to listen to me talk about my problems, though, and then, if I did, she would blow up in anger and not be sympathetic.
My mother died a few years ago.
When I have gone to extended family or my father or my sister needing to talk about her death and how it affects me, I have basically been lectured, scolded, and shamed for it.
Sometimes, my sister gets angry and yells at me if I have tried to talk about the loss with her. I learned years ago to stop sharing these sorts of things with her, all I get is screamed at in return
I have basically been told to shut up about it, just suck it up and move on with life. I have largely gone through the grief, but I had to do it completely alone.
I had Christians in my family and at local churches lecture me to busy myself volunteering at soup kitchens, rather than expect them to be a friend to me, to help me through the loss.
This seems to be common among a lot of church people or Christians I am related to. You are told or shamed into repressing your negative feelings.
You will be told by many Christians that you are selfish or self-absorbed merely for hurting and wanting a friend to talk to about it and be supportive of you.
You’re not supposed to have needs, according to many Christians. It’s peachy and acceptable for everyone else to have needs but not for you.
Interesting that Thom Schultz is at Group….my former church used to use their VBS materials, and it always struck me (beyond the fact that I recognized their sites) that a lot of the materials were seeking to “drive” a mood, not teach about the Scriptures. In my not humble enough opinion, of course.
Might mean–IF I’m right of course–they’ve got a problem identified but not a solution. Not sure.
I am not a “done”, but I must admit some situations that have had me wonder why I bother. My chief complaint is that too many confuse activity with ministry, and that has a lot to do, I think, with those who simply need a rest on Sunday. I think that the confusion of activity with ministry comes from a sometimes pervasive “industrial” mindset among pastors–they are CEO or supervisor driving the workers. (my objection to Group’s music and such, actually)
Had a fun time once pointing out to a former pastor–who was communicating to me an anonymous complaint about my family getting there late at times–that the reliable, affordable mechanical clock was only introduced around 1860, so the historic nature of the church was to be a bit flexible about time.
Might be key, really. If we didn’t have the option of scheduling everything tighter than a corset, maybe we could open up and actually minister to one another.
I am very introverted too. I find most church personalities are extroverted. That makes it hard to feel welcome in most churches I’ve visited.
Extroverts will either find you weird, confuse your introverted nature for snobbery (and thus not bother trying to get to know you), or they just flat out ignore you.
I’ve also noticed that church people seldom want to be your friend Mon. through Fri. They only want to be pleasant to you on Sundays, when you show up to church, and it’s usually kept superficial. You might as well not exist in their universe the rest of the week.
Well, maybe it’s for the best if you keep it superficial.
My experience has been when I assume I can trust a church person, and go beyond superficial pleasantries, and I open up to them about hurting or feeling sad or lonely, 9 out of 10 Christians (as I was saying in a post above), scold me or shame me for having those feelings and/or coming to them for help with it.
These Christians have told me I should focus on God or the under-privileged (e.g., orphans or homeless people) and stop thinking about myself. I’m sorry, but shaming me is not going to make my pain or problems magically vanish, as they assume.
Sometimes, atheists and other Non Christians are easier to talk to, because they don’t lecture you when you come to them needing to bend their ear when you are upset or sad. (Non Christians don’t try to find a biblical reason or biblical solution for your problem or pain, the just console you through it and offer emotional support, which is all I am after anyway!)
The bright side of being an introvert (who is also a home body):
The other blog did a series of posts of a Christian church that is a cult, and the cult was demanding that every member show up to the church building 345,457 times a week to play basketball, attend Bible studies, etc.
Being the couch potato, home body, introvert I am, there is no way that church cult would have gotten me to get off my rear end and to hang out with groups of people a billion times a week, and run around ragged doing all those churchy cultic activities.
They would’ve been lucky for me to get off the couch once a week to go to their Sunday morning or evening service. I just do not have the energy, personality, or interest to leave my house 456 a week to be around a lot of people, no. So, I guess those types of Christian cults only suck in extroverts.
➡ How To Write A Worship Song (song/video on You Tube)
I agree. I’d also add adjectives such as “Lame” to that list. “Desperate” might be another good one.
Most of these churches are the seeker-friendly ones. They are only trying to attract newbies and do not care an iota about building up or serving long time or spiritually mature Christians – the preachers of these churches will even say so.
Because the seeker friendly churches are trying to attract new people often, they think the way to do so is to put on fancy, rock-concert type shows every week.
The preachers at these types of churches will yell from the pulpit, all angry, “And if you expect to get fed at this church, and you demand to be challenged, then leave.” (You can find numerous examples of this at Chris Rosebrough’s “Fighting For The Faith” podcast.)
Speaking of which. (And I believe reading about things like this may also be causing people to become disgusted with churches and drop out).
Family says church refused funeral due to unpaid tithes
Oh yeah Daisy I know exactly what you mean. Oh my heart hurts for you. I felt alone too. A good thing did happen through all the loneliness, however; for me I became closer to God. I felt like He was the only one who accepted me fully.
I am very distrustful of many Christians today, hopefully this will subside. I am glad you can come here and feel completely free to express your feelings and emotions- no condemnation here 🙂
I do not understand for the Bible is so different in its teachings compared to how “Christians” are acting today. Jesus calls us to love and be filled abundantly.
Joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, love, meekness, long suffering, patience, and self-control- these are the fruits of a Christian.
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“I’m sorry, but shaming me is not going to make my pain or problems magically vanish, as they assume.”
So true, and you have no idea how much I relate to this…
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I love this post!!! I feel like I have found my people. Where has everybody been hiding! 🙂 I have noticed that if I have served a church x number of years, then everything was great. However, if I cut back on my service, the response was disappointment. There tends to be no acknowledgement of someone’s lengthy service. Just guilt over choosing to cut back. I am glad that is over for me!!!
As for nouthetic counseling, I consider it to be lacking to the point of being dangerous. I have seen untrained people traumatize counselees due to their narrow world view. Would you trust a person who attributes you child’s bipolar disorder to sin? Does that mean their meds should be discontinued, because they aren’t trusting God? Just a word of caution.
I was talking with some managers from a Christian organization about the Dones, and I asked: “Have any of you have ever walked away from the church for more than 3 months?”
I was surprised at how many, including the most devout Christians in the group. One high-ranking man even admitted that he was on the edge of walking away…and had been at that point for at least two years.
Part of it is —
• burn out
• lack of community (deep meaningful friendships)
• personality (two of them were introverts)
• family stress (illnesses, moving, detachment, etc.)
• lack of spouse’s or kids’ motivation
I walked away from a church that was anti-evolution, anti-global warming, anti-gay rights, dispensationalist, and highly authoritarian.
I’m happy to have found a more sensible church. Even my parents have switched to the new church. My father had become a Done several years ago, excusing his absence by claiming poor health, but now doesn’t miss a Sunday.
Hello, name is Gail and I am a recovering churchalocholic, or in another word, a done.
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Daisy said: “They just ignore those who have left, they don’t watch as people file out the back door, all they care about is the front door. They keep trying to lure in more and new people.”
That’s been my experience.
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Anonymous2 – It seems like relevance is an important piece of the puzzle. If your church isn’t being relevant to what you see that a church should be doing, it’s like spinning wheels. You just aren’t going to get anywhere. I think some churches get stuck in the church-as-business model, how to get people in, but fail to be the hands/feet of Christ and so there must be an internal conflict when reading Scripture and coming to conclusions about what church means in the Bible and what it means in 2015.
I think it’s very cool that your parents have come back to church with fervor. Your church must be doing something right.
Ann – don’t get me going on Nouthetic counseling and abuse issues. They don’t mix well. In fact, they can cause emotional/spiritual harm. I don’t recommend it.
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Yes this is not the way – wholistic counseling is in my opinion the better way; taking on the whole of a person- spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. This type of counseling looks at each individual independently. For some it could mean a spiritual issue for others it is more physical; others it could be family dynamics/abuse.
My depression was both a physical and spiritual issue, but I knew that for myself. In no way would I try to lump everyone else into the same issues as myself, but this is what they do in Nouthetic counseling.
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Julie Anne said,
This is definitely a problem, but it is being done intentionally by seeker-friendly, church growth pastors.
If you listen to Chris Rosebrough’s podcasts, he has done numerous shows about this problem. It is deliberate – preachers concentrate on getting new members.
Seeker friendly preachers and church staff will pull out all the stops to do get new people in the door, such as put on fancy rock band shows, or “dumb down” sermons to lure in new people.
It is assumed that Non-Christians do not or cannot stand deep, or meaningful sermons, and can only be enticed to attend a church service if it’s more like an entertainment extravaganza, hence, all the fancy staged plays, big video monitors, etc.
Of course, these guys generally only end up attracting people who are already Christian who are simply looking for the next cool church.
Their Sunday morning rock show spectacles actually confuse or turn off Non-Christians who attend them.
Rosebrough interviewed an atheist couple once on his show, one who went to one church that put on a Star Wars Easter play, and the atheist couple said they found the whole thing bizarre. It did not prompt them to accept Christ.
Now, if you are already a Christian or actually become one at these churches, the usual progression is that you want to grow, learn more about Jesus, and go in-depth with Bible study.
But you notice that your seeker friendly church keeps putting on the rock shows and shallow sermons week after week.
So you approach your preacher and ask him when or if he can start doing deeper studies.
What happens at this point, according to Rosebrough and other testimonies I’ve seen, and blogs that expose the seeker friendly insanity, is that most of these preachers get hopping angry.
Some of them will either chew these folks out in private, or take to stage next Sunday morning to scream and yell at how selfish the “I want a deeper sermon” guys are.
Rosebrough actually has audio of preachers such as Furtick and Noble, and Driscoll has been caught saying to people, very angrily, get lost, go away if you want deeper study, this church is here only to attract new rear ends in the seats, we do not care about long term members, or people who are already Christians. If you want deeper Bible education, then go home and study it on your own.
These preachers actually admit to neglecting mature Christians to chase after the baby ones, or the un-churched Non Christians.
The Bible teaches the opposite of this procedure and attitude, that church is for people who are already believers.
Yes, Jesus said believers are to win new converts, but he did not say to do so at the expense of “feeding his sheep” (the people who are already in the faith). Church is for Christians to build up, educate, help, and support other sheep (Christians) primarily, not to entertain the goats (Non Believers).
Daisy, oh so true……great comment.
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Julie Anne said,
I had mentioned NC first briefly in a post above.
I think there are many different reasons why people are dropping out of churches in droves, and that is just one more piece of the puzzle.
A lot of churches who are into NC, or similar attitudes (i.e, victim-blaming), shame or neglect Christians who are in trouble or pain, such as Christians who have anxiety attacks or depression.
You will not get sympathy from most of these types of churches, who will tell you to “read your Bible more,” or having depression is supposedly akin to “having a pity party, it’s self pity, so stop being so self absorbed, suck it up, and go help those less fortunate, count your blessings.”
There is just a lot of non-compassionate, victim-blaming attitudes and shaming going on towards people, by church folks, who have mental health problems.
Some Christians even deny that Christians can get depressed or have anxiety or other such issues – there’s a lot of denial about it.
Of course, this whole thing extends to other areas.
I’ve seen, for instance, on this blog and others, Christian women who had to divorce an abusive Christian spouse because they were either going to get killed, or they just mentally could not stand the strain anymore, and their church shamed them or ostracized them for taking measures to protect themselves (ie, divorcing the abuser).
These abused spouses are given stupid, ineffective and even dangerous advice, like “submit to your even husband more, and he will change, but whatever you do, do not divorce him,” etc.
Of course, churches that exploit and spiritually abuse their members are into shaming, criticism, etc, and other tactics of those who finally have had enough and start to speak up and quit.
Churches are not good or loving at how they handle people who are suffering for one reason or another.
Then you have churches that are into an extreme, positive world view (some of these guys are ‘Word of Faith,’ but not all).
You have to put on a fake, plastic smile at every church service, because Christians in these churches are supposed to be “over comers” and only utter “positive confessions” about their bank account, health, and relationships.
You’re not even allowed to have problems or be sad in those types of churches in the first place. You have to be happy-clappy all the time.
Then you have the churches where, if you are actually vulnerable, transparent, and upfront about your struggles or pain with them, they will use it against you – maybe to bar you from leadership roles, to simply gossip about you behind your back, etc.
There are a lot of hurting or lonely people out there who may not have any flesh and blood family left (or who do not get along well with the surviving family they do have) who would love a community of friends who would and could back them up in the tough times of life, or just to share life with, but churches are not providing this, and are not always safe places for a person to be vulnerable and needy.
Instead, you walk into a church these days, and rather than get your needs met, or get community and companionship, you are treated to a shallow, silly, self-help that is supposed to pass for a sermon, a pastor demanding ten percent of your pay check from the stage, and a rock band show with laser beams, and/or you will get shamed if and when you admit you have problems and would appreciate some help.
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Daisy, your observations shed much light on what organized Christianity has evolved into in light of what our LORD says through His Word. Your words pierced the heart of the matter as we see faith in Jesus, alone, for the atonement of our sin and transgressions, to that of the flesh and bone, where man then becomes his own god and boasts and brags of his own glory, his own divineness, and his own road to eternal life minus Jesus, Who is our only mediator.
Julie Anne’s post calls these Scriptures to mind in Matthew 23: 1-15, keeping in mind that Jesus was speaking to the multitudes (that is your average, every day people like you and me), and to His disciples (those who chose to freely follow Him and learn from the Master Himself)…
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
“But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
“They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’
“But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
“And do not be called teachers; One is your Teacher, the Christ.
“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
“And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Then Jesus continues……
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Matthew 23: 23-33
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law; justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
“Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self indulgence.
“Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
“Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
“Therefore you are the witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
“Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
“Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”
Like the strong winds that blow across the farmer’s field, lifting the dirt, sand and silt, the tiny grains piercing the skin and blinding the eyes with a fierce, cutting pain, bringing one to their knees, groping to find the way home seeking shelter, comfort, safety and peace from the storm……………………..so too, is the Word of God, that cuts to the heart, His truth, in addressing man’s sinful desires to lord of over people without the true love of Jesus and His teachings of truth.
How much hypocrisy fills our 501c. 3 churches of our day? How many of us have shown our pastors and leaders extra special attention, with love and gifts, praise and adoration, all the while neglecting the poor, the sick, the hungry, the widows, the orphans, the hurting and impaired? How many of us have given generously, money and tithes (yes, some churches still believe in the lie of the tithe under Jesus) to the church so we can provide healthy salaries and benefits for pastors/leadership, lavish buildings and furnishings, landscapes, parking lots, etc., all the while neglecting to bring meals to the sick amongst us, assisting in paying off our brothers and sisters over inflated medical bills, invited those who are considered filthy and disgusting in our neighborhoods over for dinner/fellowship in ministering Jesus to them, have given the drunkard on the street, begging for food or money from those who ignore or mock him…..a sandwich, a Bible, and a look of love and a kind word to read that wonderful Book of Life in trusting only in Jesus for salvation (not a church building, nor any other man or woman who loves to lord over you….only Christ);
Are we sowing into the systems of men/women instead of Jesus, our Christ?
How many of us have offered an encouraging word of love to those who are hurting, emotionally, mentally, or physically and have told them literally how much Jesus loves them, so much more than any man or woman ever could here on this earth…..but instead have given them a twisted Scripture to beat them over the head in “putting them in their place!”
How many of us have come out of churches where Scriptures are used to control, manipulate, brainwash, and outright abuse the poor sheep? And under “Prayer Requests,” there is a heading “Please pray for the leaders and their families”, all the while the rest of Jesus’ sheep are ignored and tossed by the wayside, left for dead?
Have our modern day church systems become more or less “a brood of vipers” so to speak with people leaving to seek true love in Christ with other believers outside of lordship religious corporations?
And how many of us have sought out true fellowship over the internet in seeking love, encouragement, sharing our hurt/pain and receiving prayer/support from people we do not even know, yet say in love, “I am praying for you, I love you, I am with you and will support you,” instead of “come to my church, give me your money, and I don’t have time for you beyond the Sunday morning church service. If you want to see me, drive in to my church office and I’ll give you five minutes before I have to meet with the leadership.” In the church of my youth, Jesus was the Teacher and Cornerstone of our small assembly, and people cared for one another…..the individual was precious to the whole group…..no, it was not a commune, but a tiny Lutheran church in the middle of no where. And I was loved there, by Jesus, my family, and the Body of Christ. This small church was not pastor oriented, leadership focused or based, nor was it bragging and boasting of the things of this world. Most of us were struggling farmers trying to make ends meet and it was difficult for most of our parents, and yet……”we were loved.”
I am so sorry this is getting long, so before I close, I would like to offer a Praise to Jesus for this internet fellowship. It is through tears of joy, and a heart filled with a healing love that is difficult to define with words, that I can honestly say, “Praise our LORD Jesus Christ for real, genuine fellowship through this blog and others who desire to minister love, healing, comfort, peace, mercy and grace in restoring and reconciling the souls of people to Jesus.” May our LORD be with all of you in being the hands, feet, mouth and mind of Jesus.
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When the “Nones” were named recently…
A believer in Jesus, but, as to a religious affiliation, “None.”
I could relate.
And I considered myself “ONE” of the the “Nones”
When the “Dones” were named recently…
A believer in Jesus, but, “Done” with “The Institutional Church.” The 501 c 3, non-profit, tax deductible, Religious Corporation, that the IRS calls church.
I could relate.
And I considered myself “ONE” of the the “Nones” and “Dones.”
Today, I think about Jesus, and anticipate being “ONE” with Him… 😉
Wow – What a journey away from “The Abusive Religious System.”
First A “None.” Then A “Done.” Then becoming A “ONE” with Jesus.
“None.” “Done.” And now A “ONE.” 😉
John 17:20-23 NKJV
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those
who will believe in Me through their word;
that they ALL may be “ONE,”
as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You;
that they also may be “ONE” in Us,
that the world may believe that You sent Me.
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them,
that they may be “ONE” just as We are “ONE”:
I in them, and You in Me; that they may be Made Perfect in “ONE”,
and that the world may know that You have sent Me,
and have loved them as You have loved Me.
One might be the loneliest number in song – BUT…
In the Bible? Is “ONE” a number? Hmmm?
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So grateful, especially today, for the power of God, the Holy Spirit, working in you and through you, A. Amos Love, for ministering to those of us who need a good Word. You are cherished here by those whom you may never meet personally, and yet will one day meet in heaven in the presence of Jesus.
Julie Anne, can I share a deep hurt here? Even though to some, it may be a laughing, perhaps humorous tale for “church” people to entertain themselves with at my expense at their dinner tables or Bible studies……as is accustomed to some.
I sat in a Baptist church Sunday morning as any other, for I faithfully attended the 501c. 3, serving in many capacities, but never in an important “leadership” position. As the calendar reflected, it happened to be my birthdate on that particular Sunday, coincidentally, the very same birth date as our charismatic (Assembly of God trained) pastor who ruled by virtue of his “special gifts,” in which he frequently reminded the sheep via his sermons. The church board president, walked to the podium to give the announcements for the week and sarcastically said, “I know that today is Katy’s birthdate (as he laughed), but it’s Pastor ___________(name of pastor) birthdate today as well, but since he is the pastor of this church, I think we should sing “Happy Birthday” to him as a congregation! So Happy Birthday Pastor ________.” Several in the congregation looked at me and laughed and I felt like a fool, wishing I had not even attended on the day our LORD chose to bring me into this world. Why did he even have to bring up my name, I never asked for that attention.
This very same church board president and his wife were and are still in very high leadership positions within that same church. Every year, they have typed in the bulletin for the congregation to send “Birthday Cards” to their son, giving the address and making us feel that we are obligated to acknowledge their family member’s birthday, and there is never a thank-you nor any expression of appreciation. It is as if these persons within the realm of leadership (AND THEIR FAMILIES) believe they are more special, more entitled, and more important than the rest of us stupid, dumb, and poor excuses for human beings; I believe Jesus calls us His sheep, and so these appointed scribes and Pharisees use the pulpit system to beat, humiliate, and shame the rest of us into their submission. I felt like decaying garbage in this Baptist church under the mouths of that abusive leadership. And oh, how many within leadership know how to use their mouths to offend, humiliate, to inflict guilt and shame where none is due.
I have found that believers who do not attend the corporate/government 501c. 3 church here in this country are actually more compassionate and can empathize with the hurt and the hardship of those of us who have been abuses by the hands and mouths of abusive religious men and women. And I can only Praise Jesus for these few.
My husband and I have gradually been becoming “dones” for the past couple of years. The reasons are several.
1. On my part, disagreement with the PCA on their men-only leadership position.
2. Lack of community. When our kids were small, we were more involved, but our kids would complain how clique-ish the church was. The first 10 years we were at the church, we made it a point to practice hospitality and invite people over frequently. I can count on one hand (literally) the number of times it was reciprocated. So for the past 10 years, we’ve stopped doing that and have felt less connected than before. So be it. Sunday worship is Sunday worship, and that’s why we went. Of all the reasons why we’re almost done, this is the one that has been most hurtful to me.
3. After 20 years with the same pastor — who really is a good teacher, I have no complaints — I honestly feel like I’ve heard it all. It doesn’t enrich me or inspire me. I get far more inspired and spiritually enriched in my own private prayer life, reading books, and helping out as the Spirit moves me, rather than being part of any program.
4. Someone earlier said something about Sunday being a day of rest, and I agree. I had undiagnosed autoimmune disease until a few years ago and always felt exhausted. Working in the nursery one Sunday a month for 20 years was tiring, but I did it because I felt it was important. Oddly, now that I have a handle on my disease and am feeling better, I am less willing to spend Sundays at church. I want to get stuff done instead!
So there you have it. Some in-the-trenches reasons why this almost-done is almost done.
It is not so much that I am done as that I am emancipated. It is not so much that I have walked away as that I have escaped. From whom? From the very sorts of ones who marginalized Katy, as described by her at 12:12 PM. Yes, there are many such abusive wolves pulling the levers of power and control in institutionalized so-called church.
Well, “These are hidden reefs at [our] love feasts, as they feast with [us] without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” (Based on Jude 1:12-13 ESV)
How ironic that it is due to rise of the secular state that we are at liberty to escape from that Gulag Archipelago that calls itself Evangelicalism. (Our gulag is not qualitatively different from Solzhenitsyn’s, but only quantitatively different, in the degree to which it works it depredations.)
Disclaimer: Not all evangelical churches are deserving of such indictment. Unfortunately, however, institutional religion is much more effective at drawing and empowering wolves, pigs and vipers than at drawing and empowering true shepherds.
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So sorry you had to endure that humiliating experience.
That junk sucketh…
So happy you recognize the fault, the ugliness, lies with “abusive leadership.”
And, the fault does NOT lie with you.
“I felt like decaying garbage in this Baptist church under the mouths of that *abusive leadership.* And oh, how many *within leadership* know how to use their mouths to offend, humiliate, to inflict guilt and shame where none is due.”
And, one of my pet peeves is, “Today’s Abusive Religious System” still “Ignores” and “Twists” the scriptures where Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called Leader. For you have “ONE” Leader, The Christ. Mat 23:10 NASB
And NOT “ONE” of His Disciples called themselves pastor/leader.
Anyone who calls themself pastor/leader, church leader, christian leader…
Ain’t “ONE” of His Disciples…
At best, they are Dis-obedient Disciples. 🙂
Just ask a senior pastor/leader/reverend why they call themselves leader?
When, Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called leader?
And NOT “ONE” of His Disciples called themselves pastor/leader?
Of course you should be prepared to exit – stage left… 😉
Now, I have this from a well respected source…
You, Katy, are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
And, “NOTHING, NO thing, shall pluck you out of His Hand.”
And, “The Lord is Katy’s Shepherd and Katy shall NOT want.”
Snagglepuss! Exit – Stage Left
A. Amos Love, that’s beautiful. Thank you for the reminder.
(by beautiful I meant https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2015/04/23/who-are-the-dones-and-why-have-they-left-the-institutional-church/comment-page-1/#comment-260594, not snagglepus! Although he has his own kind of beauty, doesn’t he…
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Yesterday’s sermon somehow seemed pointed at those who have not made the commitment to sign a paper (church membership).
Frankly, I’m going to a church because I love my spouse, and church is important to him. (Sad, isn’t it? I don’t go to church out of love for God, at least not at present. At least I’m not going to church out of empty obedience anymore. That’s an improvement.)
We had… not argued… debated? discussed? …the whole “do not neglect the gathering together” thing yesterday morning on the way to church, ironically enough, the idea of “nones and dones” and how some people were finding a richer connection with God outside of brick-and-mortar buildings, and then it seemed as if the sermon was pointed at us. A call to commitment.
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Now this is really beautiful…
“I’m going to a church because I love my spouse, and church is important to him.”
Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his *friends. (*Companion.)
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it;
and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
Seems to me, you have exhibited
“The nature of Christ.” – In You.
“The Love of God” – In You.
1 John 3:16
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Oh, Thank-you for the kind Scriptural words in reminding me of Jesus’ Truths. There are times when the affairs of men make too much of an impact in my soul/being and then I do “want.”
And the genteel sheep remind us of who is our Shepherd really is…..Jesus.
May our Father pour out His amazing blessings upon you A. Amos Love.. And I loved how you addressed refugee. Since iron sharpens iron……my dull blades are receiving a sharpening through the encouragement that I find here.
refugee, thank-you for showing us your love.
I got tired if the same people being recycled into leadership roles at my church, as well as being singled out for just the “grunt” work. And when you have forked out almost 2,000 dollars for s new coffee machine for them and they label you nasty for constructive criticism as well as turning their backs on you, what else is there to go?? Go back and take more crisp?? They couldn’t even thank me for buying almost $400 in fresh Christmas greens for a youth mission trip fundraiser, it was way past time to leave!! On top of that I was severely criticized for the beautiful repair job I had done on a wingback chair that was ruined!! These people never learned to appreciate what they had!! Bad attitudes yield poor church growth and lack of membership retention. Plus all the gossip these clowns did.. Church is NOT a proving ground for Yentas!!