In 2006 a book was released by church statistician George Barna entitled: Revolution. In this book Barna brings to light the fact that over one million Christians are leaving institutional churches every year in America. That is an amazing fact! Why are they leaving? Where are they going? And what does this mean for the future of the Church? Using years’ worth of research data, and adhering to an unwavering biblical perspective, Barna predicted how this revolution will impact the organized church, how Christ’s body of believers should react, and how individuals who are considering leaving (or those who have already left) can respond. Barna points out in the book that these people are done with church are not leaving because they are falling away from the faith but because they want something more than the church system can give them. They are definitely done with church. But where are they going?
In 2008 a book was released called Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna. This book basically pointed out our church traditions and mindsets that we have held to for centuries and where they came from. Viola also points out that these traditions and practices did not originate in the scriptures. Viola also offers many reasons why these practices actually hinder the Spirit from getting what he wants in the Lord’s church. For the next few years people who were “done with church” went searching for authentically biblical forms of church.
Now, almost ten years later, another book has been released entitled: “Church Refugees” by Josh Packard. As sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope interviewed over one hundred of what some are calling “the dones”. These “dones” are folks who have left institutional churches searching for much more. Sound familiar? Here again is another wave (or perhaps still the same wave) of people being done with church because they want more. Packard documents that these folks are some of the most committed people in their churches. Many were in leadership, ministry, and very active in the overall functions and activities of the churches they attended. But what is it that they (the dones) are looking for? Well, according to Packard’s research one of the features that they are not finding in their organized churches is authentic community.
“Perhaps more than anything else, what people want out of a church is a community of people who are experiencing God together.” – Josh Packard from Church Refugees
These church refugees are done with church. But they are looking for more. More community and what it means to love one another and the world. But they are also looking for engagement. That is, they want to be engaged in ministry to one another and to the world. They are tired of sitting in the pews, serving on committees, and all of the red tape and bureaucracy that go along with “ministry” in the institutional church. They want to serve and minister but not with all the garbage attached to it.
“I think biblically, it comes through pretty clearly that we’re all priests and we don’t need a mediator. God is too big for one person. We need everyone in full access to God.” – Quote from Church Refugees by Josh Packard
Also, many of the done with church crowd realize that after they leave they can no longer take the same paradigms, systems, and concepts with them and just import them into their new “church” endeavors. They may have left the system but the system is still within them. This is one of the main hindrances in leaving the church to find something more and better. The institution is in us, it’s in our blood!
“I’m looking. I’m looking for something else. We’ve actually had some small home gatherings here, and we’ve done a couple of the home-type gatherings at other places. It just can’t be the same as it was. It can’t be that structure of church that everyone thinks about when you say “church”. So I’m still looking. I’m still hoping, and I’m still yearning for something different.” – Quote from Church Refugees by Josh Packard
Packard also estimates that over 32 million American Christians have left their institutional churches in the last 10 years or so. Again, it’s important that we realize that the majority of these people are not leaving because they are falling away from Christ. Rather, it’s because they want more of Him and are finding that the institutional church system is a hindrance rather than a help in them attaining that goal.
It’s also important that we realize that this is not some kind of movement or trend. It actually can only realistically be called a true “revolution”! Movements and revivals come and go. However, something is now happening that is truly completely turning over everything regarding the traditional church system. This has nothing to do with doctrine. We are referring to “church practices” here. Many of those practices just plain get in the way and hinder what God wants in his Church! Viola and Barna clearly bring this out in “Pagan Christianity?” So the revolution continues. People are leaving and doing something else. But what are they doing? Where are they going? What are YOU doing?
The main question here that screams to be asked and yet almost no one is asking is:
What does God want for the ekklessia? What is God’s vision for the church?
After all, the church is totally HIS idea and HIS dream and HIS eternal purpose so that HIS Son will be fully expressed and displayed!
So… are YOU done with church or almost there?
Are YOU looking for more?
Do YOU want to discover God’s heart passion for HIS church?
If so, you may want to check out these websites:
If you would like to find other “dones” who have not only left but also discovered something very incredible about Jesus Christ and His Body, please click on one of the links at the top right hand corner of this page.
Also, please read some of the stories of those who have been done with church in the right hand column.
So… please stay tuned for more and come back here often!
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