It’s Sunday. Did you go to a building for a worship service this morning? Increasingly, the answer given by committed Christians is “no”.
In the past week or so, there have been a number of posts about the Dones. These are the very involved and serious Christians who are dropping out of the organized church. I’m one of them.
About fifteen years ago, my wife and I stepped out of the institutional setting and into a home-church setting. We joined a bunch of other Christians who were trying to follow Jesus after finding pain, frustration, discouragement, or the like in the institutional setting they had left.
My wife and I had been very involved in the organization we stepped away from. I was part of the worship team. My wife kept the books. We taught Sunday school. What we ran into, eventually, was the realities of the struggles for power and position in the organization, and the limits that the structure of the institution puts on the life of the life of the Body. We were done.
Since we left the institution, we have experienced and observed the church in a variety of settings, locally and internationally (vicariously), intimate and organic, large and structured. Throughout it all, my desire to see and experience the fullness of the church has only increased. My disdain of the institution has been tempered. My appreciation of those who seek to work within that system has increased. My idealism has maintained, but it is not about my place in the church – it is about the place of Jesus in the church, and the place of the church in the world.
I see the increases in the ranks of the Dones as a wonderful opportunity for the church to be the church. As I’ve said elsewhere, and will continue to unpack in future posts, I believe that God’s intent is that in every place that there are Christ-followers, they will be a single visible community, connected in relationship. Not a single organization in the way that we’ve thought of church for so long, but a web of relationships that interact in the workplace and the neighborhood, so that Jesus is not bounded by denominations or locked up in a building.
If you are Done, or teetering towards Done, please don’t drift off to go it alone. Especially now, knowing that there are many others who are dissatisfied with the burdens of religion or the insincerity of the country club church, who are stepping out in pursuit of Jesus alive in a people.
If you are not Done, and determined to stay with the institution you know and value, then please stay engaged. Ask questions of those who are stepping away from the organization. Maintain, or build relationships that aren’t based on attendance at your building.
Regardless of whether followers of Christ are in the building or in the neighborhood, they are part of the one church that Jesus established and continues to build. Questions are being asked. Paradigms are shifting. Through it all, the critical thing is that we love one another, prefer one another, honor one another, bear with one another, encourage one another. We have opportunities like never before to share together in Christ, if we will.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Heb 12:1-2 (ESV)
Action: Are you Done? Frustrated with the Dones? Are there people you can talk to and ask questions? Do you understand why sincere followers of Christ might choose to stay in an institution (if you’ve left), or leave (if you are staying)? How can you connect with and encourage other Christians, whether in your organization, neighborhood, or workplace?