In the book ‘Church Refugees’ by Josh Packard, there is statistical data of those who will become spiritual refugees and Dones. It is alarming to say the least. The book takes data and tells the story, and what summarized is that almost 25 – 40% of those who are faithful builders of the Kingdom will end up as ‘DONES’. They will continue to Love, Serve, and believe in God, but they are done with Church (as we know it). I have experienced the right hand of fellowship as the scriptures say, and the left foot of fellowship when it comes to church life. I am interested in gathering together these like minded people and discover what might be next.
From the Book: Clearly, the dechurched are outliers in the religious landscape. However, they’re extremely important outliers. They’re the ones who, prior to leaving, showed up at worship every week and tithed. They organized and participated in small-group activities, Bible studies, worship planning, church councils, elder teams, and a plethora of other activities and services that are the lifeblood of churches big and small. They were the keepers of organizational history and played a significant role in defining institutional identity. They’re the opposite of the free riders who consume church resources but contribute little. Indeed, their work and activity make it possible for a congregation to support the free riders who often make up the bulk of church attendees on a given Sunday.
Packard, Josh. Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith . Group Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Over the last 3 months I have been in intercession for this people group. I have been feeling the in between passion that I believe God is reaching out to them. I just can’t shake it. I know that I know God wants to reach out to these great people. These people possess the riches of the Kingdom within their hearts. They have experienced His Presence, and carry a wealth of treasure concerning community life. My heart goes out to you, whoever you are out there. I see you and hear you. In this intercession time, late at night I began to prophesy through writing letters to them. This is one of the letters that God moved me to write.
LETTERS TO THE DONES 2
I don’t know where you are, or how you got there; but in a real way I totally understand. I too have found myself in a strange land. No matter how many times we say it’s just our new normal; it never really feels productive and or makes a difference in any ones lives. I truly miss that.
I find myself becoming suffocated and exhausted with all of this ‘Me’ time. It’s foreign to me. I have been connected to, loved, and served with others my whole adult life. I never knew what it was like to be disconnected, but I do now.
This strange land where we strive to obtain more and more stuff thinking it will make us happy, free, and safe. But in reality it does just the opposite, it excuses me from experiencing the struggle of the tension of community life with others. Within the community life we feel the most alive. We get many things out of community life. We get feedback on our passions, encouragement when we feel defeated, and exhorted when we get tired and lazy. I know you replaced your divine community with a different one, but the new one is not always spiritually based, and probably you aren’t allowed to manifest your divine life among your new group. Community life used to be my drink of choice. When Jesus said I have food and drink you know not of, I somehow think his community was at the heart of it.
I know you still post scriptures and I’m glad and proud that you do. But the scriptures remain in bible form with out the community. The cross goes vertical and horizontal for a reason, because you must have both to experience the fullness of the Divine Life. But when you study and read the scriptures and live them out within the community, you experience the Living Truth and the Word of God! It’s different.
I know it feels like your name is no longer on the hearts and minds of those who called you friend and brother. This is evidenced by the lack of communication from them. Rest assured that you are not alone. There is an army of forgotten soldiers of the cross. If you feel some kind of way about these letters then ponder it and bring it to God and let’s talk about it. We owe it to our years and years of service to the church to help the next generation whether we are there or not. If we don’t build a platform to tell our story, the church will be doomed to keep repeating it’s history.
I would put money on the fact the beginning of you becoming a DONE has to do with as many as one or two people that made your life miserable. In my time as leadership in the church we would always here everyone is upset about this, or a lot of people are saying that about you etc. My first reaction is ALWAYS – WHO says this or that? As my dad would always say, ‘If I’m lying I’m dying’, when the truth comes out its ALWAYS one or at most two people. The trouble is they didn’t come to you (hence the flaw in the system) and once they begin to tell a few folks it becomes a raging wild fire. Bishop Ashe used to tell me, ‘Mark once someone spins out a lie, there is nothing you can do about it but outlive it! A lie is like the serpent in the beginning in the Garden of Eden. But it becomes a full grown dragon in the end in Revelations. But you can outlive it! It does have a shelf life’.
I have hope that there is no leadership in any organizational church that has a bad heart, but I found that not to be true in my career. But we can not let a few insecure leaders drive us from the people that we have connected to, and grew up with in many cases. Whether you want to deal with it at all anymore is not relevant, because God himself is searching you out. Reaching to heal, mend, and stitch up the broken places. I mean we did at one time only want to be like Jesus! Well here’s the example laid out before us:
1. The prophetic picture of Jesus is the Greater serves the Lessor.
2. It is in the brokenness of his life that multitudes were healed and made whole.
Let these letters resonate and marinate. In the Church Refugees book, over and over people confirm that they don’t miss the preaching or committees as much as the actual worship together and those deep friendships that we built along the way. Oh how we miss these things. Not the drama of it, but the beautiful messy way we used to do life together.
I grew up in the 80’s church. We were drilled year after year, day by day to come out from among the world and have no fellowship with them. That they would corrupt you and quench your anointing, and ultimately your seat at the table. I have been studying friendships for quite a while. I read a PEW report the other day that said Christians mainly only build friendships with those of like minded faith. As a matter of fact an astounding 95% will only have friends that believe like them, vote like them, do the things they like to do etc. So we can’t get mad at the church because once upon a time we were those, only now we know the sting of it because many of us are on the other side of the fence.
I feel your pain, I want to hear your story. I want to see what’s next in our journey and what that will look like. I hope you care enough to explore the possibilities that maybe God isn’t done with you even though you are done with His people. And when you think about it, it’s weird to think that we could have one without the other, but here we are!
Lastly the church has changed a lot since you’ve been gone. They have become more embracing and tolerant as to where everyone is at. I mean I NEVER thought I would see a smoking section behind the church! But they finally are getting the message of embracing the flawed while in process of becoming.