The “Dones.” It’s a term sociologists and researchers use to describe those who are done with church. The Dones were once part of a church, but have become disillusioned for a variety of reasons and have decided to be spiritual without the help of a local congregation. And the Dones are growing in number.
I’m a pastor, and I’ve seen the church from every angle. I’ve been a church kid, a kid whose family left the church, and a young adult who found my way back to the church. I’ve been the pastor of smaller, more traditional churches, on staff at a megachurch, and a planter of a new church unlike any other I’ve ever been part of. And there have been, in my 20 years of ministry, quite a few Sunday nights when I’ve felt the desire to be Done again.
But I’m here. And I’m committed. And I’ll share why, but first, I want to address some of the most common reasons you might think you’re Done with the church.
“The Church Is So Judgmental”
Guilty. The church in America has had a history of perpetuating an us-versus-them mentality toward people who don’t seem to fit in. We’ve been legalistic. We’ve focused on external appearances when God cares about the heart. We’ve rejected people over some sins and not others. And we’ve given the impression that God is displeased with people who can’t keep their lives in near-perfect order.
And we’ve been terribly wrong. The church needs to own this. We need to change this. And to turn the ship around and become a grace-based, love-filled, purpose-driven body once again, we need you.
You see, the church is often judgmental not because it’s made up of Christians, but because it’s made up of humans, and humans are all judgmental. We all tend to assess the people around us to see how we measure up, and if we can somehow outrank others, we feel better and safer. This isn’t just a church thing. It’s a work thing. It’s a class thing. It’s a race thing. And it’s pretty much always wrong.
“The Church Is Full of Hypocrites”
Guilty again. You see one person at church and another in the cubicle and they both go by the same name. We hear preachers and politicians proclaim moral virtues while secretly living very differently. We are actors. But again, we are ALL actors. It’s human nature to wear a mask to avoid the pain of scrutiny and judgment by others. So nobody walks into church cussing the way they did during the game Friday night. After all, we have an image to uphold.