I’ve known about it for the past twenty ears, but it is only recently coming on the radar screens of the national media. It is being tagged “The Rise of the Dones,” the number of people who no longer find the local congregations helpful to their faith and yet maintain a resilient passion for Jesus and his kingdom. Dr. Josh Packard will have a new book out on June 1 called, Church Refugees, which unpacks his research into this phenomenon. He was also a guest on my God Journey podcast last week, and we’ll follow up with part two this Friday.
Next week I will be meeting with a group of pastors in San Dimas, CA who want to talk about this trend and what it means for church life. They have read my book, Finding Church, and resonate with many of its themes and want to know how it might help more traditional congregations rethink their mission and their priorities.
I also came across this article today, Regarding the “Done with Church Buzz”, which grants a helpful perspective for those who are worried about those who no longer participate in a traditional congregation.
Though I don’t like the designation “Dones”, it is catching on in the media and thus will become a marketing tool soon enough and then another label in “us versus them” dualistic paradigm too many people are trapped in. As grateful as I am that we’re talking about a broader view of his church than human institutions can replicate, my prayer is that the conversation shifts from the “going to church”/”not going to church” designations, to embracing a wider reality that includes all of us who seek to be his reflection in the world. His church is a growing family who are learning to live in the love and affection of an awesome Father and to treat others accordingly.
Don’t glory in your church attendance, and certainly don’t glory in being a “Done.” Let’s realize that those designations mean nothing. The only thing that matters is the new creation and how we love one another even though we may live in different expressions of that family. For too long we’ve changed the language of God’s kingdom, for a preoccupation with human systems we’ve called churches, whether or not they reflect his glory or incubate his community. We need less preoccupation with “church” and far more on Jesus and his kingdom.