The Highly Significant Role of the Dones

At any point in time since the dawn of this 21st century, at least 10% of disciples in our congregations are considering quitting church. Yes, dropping out is
actively on their minds. There are enough of them who have done so that we have a word for them: Dones. They are done with church…not transferring to another church but done with the whole organized religion thing. Books are written about them, articles like this one appear everywhere, and those who are not Dones are worried. The Done trend is disturbing.

What’s driving this Done uprising? Well, essentially, they believe God has left the building (or Body). For many reasons they come to the place where they believe it’s no good anymore, that church is too far from the teachings of Jesus to be spiritually helpful. So, they write church off as spiritually bankrupt. Confessionally, many others of us sympathize. Who among us has not been hurt, angered, and disappointed with church as we know it? Who among us has not wondered if churches just aren’t able to keep up enough to remain relevant and viable? If not, then we are likely only peripheral disciples, not engaging the messiness of being church with other flawed human beings.

So, what are the 10% to do? Where to from here? Are there only two options….accepting what one believes is a spiritually bankrupt institution as is OR dropping out?

No, there’s another option which I cannot recommend strongly enough. Embrace the angst. Don’t run from the struggle. Don’t flee from your disappointment and anger. Walk into the valley of the shadow. And as you do, you will participate in the cycle built into the fabric of our lives as disciples centuries ago: death and resurrection. So go ahead and get miserable. If you aren’t miserable enough to consider quitting your church, then get more miserable. For then you will come to the place where you have the option to die to your own expectation of what church should be.

That’s what God’s Church needs now. We need disciples who are unwilling to continue the charade when they believe the game is over. We need disciples who run out of answers about what’s attractive or slick or cool; deciding that’s not the point anyway. We need disciples who have run out of gas and need engagement from God lest they are done.

For it’s when we are broken, or more like dead, that resurrection happens. When we allow our familiar, cherished, ingrained ways of being church to die, then we grow open to God’s creative Holy Spirit. Resurrection happens, even in church. God is bringing something new out of something old. The Dones among us may be closer to discovering the way ahead than we know. Let’s follow them through the valley of the shadow of death to the other side. Perhaps they can lead us to let the old pass away, making space for everything to become new. So, God’s call for the Dones may be toward resurrection. God’s call for the rest of us may be to become Done, so that resurrection can happen. Through the grace, power, and love of Jesus Christ our Lord, may it become so.

Mark Tidsworth
Pinnacle Leadership Associates