The Invasion of the “Dones”Posted: March 2, 2015
Have you heard of the “Dones”? They are those who are “done” with church. They still love Jesus, but find church to be frustrating, or disappointing, or heartbreaking, or simply a waste of time. Some of the articles I’ve seen written about the “Dones” state that the “Dones” have left and will not be coming back.
Well, I am a “Done”, have been since 2004, and no, I won’t be going back to what I left. My perspective about the church and what troubles me about it are similar, but also different from nearly all the comments made by other “Dones” who responded to some of those articles, as well as those made by others who I have talked to personally. I find the problems of the church to be deeper and more fundamental than most of them. But I digress.
I had gone back to a church maybe a year ago. It is a good one. But I went back with few expectations; one, actually. I just wanted to be in community with other believers. That’s all. And even at that, my expectations were low, because I know what institutional church does to people (I have since moved out of state to be part of a community that actually works very well).
I have a problem with the “Dones”, even though I sympathize with them. I’ve spoken and written a lot about the shortcomings of the institutional church (though not on this blog so much). I believe the condition of the I.C. (institutional church) to be dismal, contrary to scripture, contrary to the model the apostles provided, a waste of time at best, producing stunted infants at worst. Harsh criticisms, I know, and it brings me no pleasure to say it; quite the opposite.
Some of the complaints of the “Dones” have to do with never being provided an opportunity to do the Kingdom stuff. Ministry, in other words. That is the stunting effect I mentioned; that the I.C. has succeeded in convincing its members that they can do nothing without its leaders – professional leaders, I might add.
Isn’t there a scripture that says something like, “I can do all things…” Yes, I know, context, but still…
The “Dones” have to take their own responsibility for this. Aren’t we each responsible to examine what we’re taught for ourselves? Here’s an example: One of the primary teachings that keeps us in our pews facing forward quietly is the one about “covering”. No matter what one might endeavor to do, someone will ask, “Who’s your covering?” You can’t go to Bible college without “covering”. You can’t go out in the street and do much of anything if you haven’t been released by the man who is your covering.
My question is, where is that in the bible?
Here are some scriptures that ARE in the bible: “Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you.” (Mt 20:25) “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” (Lk 12:14). “Not that we have lordship over your faith” (2 Cor. 1:24). “Then comes the end when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule, and all authority and power, for he must reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15:24-25). Note that rule, authority and power are among his enemies. Also see Matt 28:18.
Now someone will undoubtedly take me to Hebrews 13:17 (someone always does), which says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them”. Trouble is, the words translated “obey” and “rule” in my bible don’t carry the sense of the original. I believe it was Frank Viola who suggested that a better translation might be “Allow yourselves to be persuaded by your leaders”. In other words, whether you choose to be persuaded by your leaders is between you and God, and none of the leader’s business. You are also responsible for what you submit to. The leader is just a man. Or a woman. They are not God.
A church I know of found itself without a place to meet. It split into several groups, but that process of forming the groups took awhile. During that process, I heard one person complain that they never got to fellowship with their church family anymore. My response was, “What is stopping you from spending time with your church family?” Yes, it’s harder when all these things aren’t done for you by someone else. But this is exactly the attitude that makes and keeps us weak and stunted.
Here’s my advice for the “Dones”: go back*. For the community. If you see something vital to healthy Body life that needs doing, then do it. Is someone hurting? Take him or her out for coffee, and listen to them, THEN pray for them. Do you want to minister on the street? Do it. Do you want to pray for the sick? Go to Wal-mart, find a sick person and pray. BE who you are. And don’t wait for anyone to tell you you’re ready. Go make mistakes and learn, and be humble and loving about it. If everyone did this – wisely, humbly and lovingly – we’d have revival.
So go make your own miniature revival.
*My exhortation to “go back” is rhetorical. The point I want to make is consistent with Paul’s admonition to learn to be content in whatever state we find ourselves. But we do have liberty. It is not necessary to leave; only to adjust our expectations. Likewise, it is not necessary to stay. What is necessary is community, and that possibly can take a variety of forms. I stress this as someone who is very much a loner for whom the idea of a hermitage is very appealing.