Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On Leaving Church

Dec 26, 2014

There are many Christians who have stopped going to church. They have not given up on God, have not renounced their faith, have not denied Christ, and have not become pagans. They simply are no longer going to church. That this is happening is not a matter of doubt, but why this is happening is in fact a difficult question to answer.

One recent article spoke about this trend. Entitled “The Rise of the ‘Done With Church’ Population,” it looks at this scene – primarily in America – but does not offer us any clear indications as to why this is becoming such a problem. The article begins:

John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously and leads others passionately. But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person or another member. It wasn’t triggered by any single event.
John had come to a long-considered, thoughtful decision. He said, “I’m just done. I’m done with church.”
John is one in a growing multitude of ex-members. They’re sometimes called the de-churched. They have not abandoned their faith. They have not joined the also-growing legion of those with no religious affiliation—often called the Nones. Rather, John has joined the Dones.
At Group’s recent Future of the Church conference, sociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best.
For the church, this phenomenon sets up a growing danger. The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support are going away. And the problem is compounded by the fact that younger people in the next generation, the Millennials, are not lining up to refill the emptying pews.
Why are the Dones done? Packard describes several factors in his upcoming book Church Refugees (Group). Among the reasons: After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all. One of Packard’s interviewees said, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”
The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done. Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place. Preventing an exodus is far easier than attempting to convince refugees to return.

church 1Hmmm, interesting. There would be many reasons why people stop going to church. We all might have our suggestions as to why this is occurring. I have my own ideas. Let me list a few such possibilities here:

-Many believers are growing tired of the celebrity culture in our churches.
-Many believers are fed up with the incessant entertainment and worldly amusements found in the churches.
-Many believers are not being fed from the Word of God.
-Many believers are put off by the attempt to cater solely to youth, while ignoring their needs.
-Many believers are tired of just being bench warmers, with no role to play.
-Many believers are weary of the constant need to be “relevant” at the expense of biblical orthodoxy.
-Many believers are looking for the real deal. They want an encounter with almighty God, not just a razzmatazz stage production.
-Many believers are desiring genuine Holy Ghost revival, not just pep talks, self-help seminars, and a me-centred gospel.
-Many believers are starving for the reality of First Century Christianity.

Many more reasons could be mentioned. And this is just my take on things. Having spoken at so many churches and home groups and small fellowships over the years, I can get a bit of an understanding of some of these trends. And many of these believers who have left the church have not forsaken Christian fellowship though.

Mindful of texts like Hebrews 10:25 of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” they still meet with others. But often it is just a very small home group. Often it is just a small band of believers who meet in a small community centre.

They are still eager for God, but have been turned off by so much of the church scene today. Many are repulsed by the celebrity and entertainment culture that runs rampant in so many churches today. They just want to worship Jesus and encourage one another without all the worldly rigmarole.

I have spoken in many of these small fellowship groups. Some of their services can easily last 3, 4, 5 or more hours. They can’t get enough of genuine Christianity and heartfelt worship. But they have gotten enough of churchianity. They are fed up with a church that increasingly resembles the world more than it does the New Testament.

While this move away from the churches may be a way these believers find a new outlet for Christian fellowship, it is obviously tough on pastors and church leaders. One thing they may have to do is slow down, think, pray and ask some hard questions.

But the problem is, so often our leaders are so busy doing church, that they do not have this needed time to reassess, rethink, and re-evaluate. I once wrote a piece in which I made the serious suggestion that some churches might be best placed to actually shut down for a brief spell as the members, and especially the leaders, spend some quality time on their faces before God.

I said in part:

My recommendation is this: it may well be the best thing in many cases to simply shut our church doors and post a big sign on each entry with words something like this:
“Dear friends, sorry but our church is now closed for repairs. It will be closed for perhaps a few days, perhaps a few weeks, and maybe even longer, until a full and thorough renovation has taken place. These doors will remain shut for as long as it takes. We will notify you when the doors will reopen. In fact, there will be no need to notify you, because it will be apparent to everyone when the renewal work is completed. Thank you for your patience.”

Is It Time To Close Our Churches?

Does that sound like a pretty radical proposal? Of course it does. But it may take something radical like this to deal with a church which seems to be losing its way, and is in many ways haemorrhaging to death. When things get that bad, radical surgery is indeed required.

I do not envy being a pastor or a church leader. They have a very tough job, and their work is often thankless, painful and exhausting. We certainly must pray for our leaders. They certainly need it. And they need regular encouragement as well.

But the church is going through tough times now. I certainly do not have all the answers for this. But we must be willing to at least pause and reflect, pray and seek God, as to how we might turn things around. We must at least begin there.

Let me finish with a few great quotes from a few great saints. Their words of warning and advice make for more helpful starting points:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” A.W. Tozer

“Oh for radically Bible-saturated, God-centered, Christ-exalting, self-sacrificing, mission-mobilizing, soul-saving, culture-confronting pastors!” John Piper

“When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“The church has lost her testimony. She has no longer anything to say to the world. Her once robust shout of assurance has faded away to an apologetic whisper. She who one time went out to declare now goes out to inquire. Her dogmatic declaration has become a respectful suggestion, a word of religious advice, given with the understanding that it is after all only an opinion and not meant to sound bigoted.” A.W. Tozer

“The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men…Men of prayer.” E. M. Bounds

[1476 words]

469 Responses to On Leaving Church

  • Down goes the ship, every man for himself

  • What ever happened to the “making of disciples?” So many churches have become nothing more than businesses that provide entertainment and then a lecture with no dialogue by the people. You ask yourself, is there a better use of my time than repeating this same pattern week after week. The churches lack a purpose other than just hold on until we get raptured. What ever happened to fulfilling the Great Commission and discipling nations?

  • I hope those leaving find some others for fellowship.We miss our friends when we miss church. We have a church with no frills and plenty of faults. However we feel we have missed something when we don’t go. You don’t leave your family because it is not perfect.

  • You hit the nail on the head Bill, I am one of the done with. They have changed the gospel to make it more Palatable in short the church has married the world. But the good news is that Jesus said,”I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”. He knows His own.

  • Bill, I’m sort of one of these “dones”, and I appreciate what is said here. The church I was in, years back, went through a split, mainly to do with physical rather than spiritual issues. Radical changes were made to the building’s fabric and the older people hated it. Some of them left entirely, which I found upsetting because some were good friends to me (I was in my early 30’s then). The new pastor seemed to encourage a more modern service, geared to the young…which was ok…but everything started going that way. I left the area not long after.

    Since then, the few churches I’ve been connected with have been totally lacklustre; same old dreary monotones from the pulpit. Nothing of note, nothing inspired.
    I like the “plop, pray and pay” phrase….that’s absolutely it. That is how I have felt. I once read about chapels in Wales that, at the turn of the last century, had revivals where people claimed they saw fire above the buildings. Now THAT’s exciting! THAT’s what we want!

  • Hi Bill,
    I am so glad you have written about this topic. I have been contemplating the last few weeks asking you to write about this phenomena as I meet more and more passionate Christians who have stopped attending the church.

    As you say, these are righteous people who hunger for God and know God more than many others I know who attend church and are doing the whole program thing. They disciple, meet together, tithe, learn biblical Hebrew, listen to online sermons, have huge theological libraries and love to talk about the Lord for hours. It seems it is all just in a different model. It remind me of the difference between homeschooling and schools. The latter has an external, formal institution and homeschooling doesn’t, yet homeschooling statistically is more effective. In my observation, they are highly effective witnesses too, more so than most Christians I know in the church.

    This topic is certainly something I have been praying about as I become more and more disenchanted with current church heresies and programs. I think you hit it spot on with your suggestions.

    One such couple who left the church 10 years or so ago, gave me this book to read by a British minister who left the church. In the book he says why and speaks of his journey. He says God called him to use a different model. I am curious if you have read it.

    He has a second book called Custom and Command which separates the difference between what are customs in the church and what is actually a command from Jesus in Scripture regarding how the God’s people operate as a church. I haven’t read this one but have had it explained to me.

  • But the problem is, so often our leaders are so busy doing church, that they do not have this needed time to reassess, rethink, and re-evaluate. I once wrote a piece in which I made the serious suggestion that some churches might be best placed to actually shut down for a brief spell as the members, and especially the leaders, spend some quality time on their faces before God.

    Our church seems to have managed something a bit like that by being vacant for enough years to recognise what we need to do.

    We now have a regular preacher who’s been here almost two years, patiently laying the ground work for a renewal process, and has been appointed for a 3-year term to continue the good work.

  • This is for me personally, a very timely article in fact. I am not a super regular church attendee, me and my wife might go once a month. Although I feel an attachment to my church, I do see quite a few things that you mention Bill, going on at my church, we have a good pastoral team up there but I see too much of the worldly concepts permeating the ranks, especially our young people, things like social justice/appeasement/pacifism/feminism and your general dose of political correctness. I have no doubt that my view is not wanted up there because I have tried to step outside the square and get people they to see the wider picture but frankly I am just sick of being told that I am too political or too judgemental or too unloving, it does tend to wear you down a bit that’s for sure. However, I have some wonderful Christians friends and work colleagues and we meet to discuss all sorts of Christian related matters which does tend to mitigate my mainstream church building attendance somewhat. Also, I need to point out that I am in no way perfect being loaded down with my own sins, failings and shortcomings. But I keep pressing on because I know that the God I worship has the power to finish the work He has started in me.

  • Here’s the link to a pdf of Custom and Command for those who might like to read it.

  • Bill…this is a more than a relevant and timely message for me. It may be a game-changer. I have been “done” for three years now and am attempting to find a local church that my husband and I can attend and get knitted in together. My reasons for stopping included most of your explanations and a few of my own admittedly self-serving ones. I do desire to get plugged in to a “home” church and might have even found a local one that, although it has demonstrated subscribing to a sober, solid and sound doctrine, is a little light on the ‘Holy Spirit’ and of allowing the congregation to be fully engaged. It is a conundrum…and I am honestly thankful and somewhat comforted to hear that I’m not alone in my search for a way out of Christian City and back to Biblical Christianity.

  • Bill. I too am glad that you have touched upon this.
    I also am a ‘done with’, but reluctantly having over many years sought to plead with a few churches and pastors to
    return to the simplicity of the New Testament church order.

    People leave for their churches for the reasons you give, and in these contexts we can suggest ‘wisdom is indeed justified of her children’.

    I have read many writers who have also sought to ask why this disillusionment is so pervasive in churches in the west.
    Maybe simplistic to suggest one other reason, namely that institutionalism is a real problem, where the “worship service, or “the pastor” is dominant in church life, and the New Testament largely ignored for any practical purposes.

    For those who seek more light on this sad phenomena and suggested remedy I cannot recommend too strongly
    Frank Viola’s book “Re-imagining Church”, and Dr. Jon Zen’s “The Pastor Has No Clothes”. Both very disturbing,
    but each charts the way ahead for those who sorrowfully remain aloof from such churches.
    In summary, it is the old enemy of the true spiritual manifestation of the church which is so often responsible for the disillusionment – in one word – tradition.
    Time to re-evaluate the NT teaching in 1 Cor 12-14, and Ephesians 2. Its not rocket science as they say.

  • Great article, Bill. But again, I think you need to go deeper by acknowledging the fact that the clergy/laity system was never the church in the first place. Yes, there are many godly-men as pastors, but that does not count for the fact that these men are hirelings in a system that splits the church. The “laity” and “clergy” who recognizes this will understand that the system is the problem.

    The “clergy” who fail to understand this do so because their livelihood is dependent upon them believing that their position is called by God. These men and women first had to ignore scripture on ways of the early church to believe that seminary training and scholasticism is necessary for their vocation. Yet, it is the Holy Spirit that gifts and distributes the needs of the local church. The “laity” who fail to understand this have done so because they have a consumer mindset. As if what church best fits their needs. Instead of becoming disciples themselves, these laity set the bar on how far they want to do church.Thus, a pastor that best fits their needs is the one they will honor and protect.

    But woe to the pastor who does not perform to their standards. They are expendable and just as easy to fire as they were hired. The pastor they cannot fire is usually the Senior Pastor who has firmly set a foothold in “his” congregation and has already replaced those “lay leaders” who do not worship his vision or ideas with those who do. Thus, it is easier for the laity person to end the membership and find another church.

    Those who leave the “church” all together are those who seek the true church, and not a system that has proven time after time that it is not the true church.

  • religion= a set of man made rules and traditions centred around the worship of God/gods; pasta= a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine; Father= a man who exercises paternal care over other persons; Shepherd= A farmhand who gives the sheep a pep talk once a week.

  • I appreciate your article and all the comments, but I wonder, and have often wondered, who decides that a church isn’t fulfilling its commission? For years I have heard people say “there are so many ‘dead’ churches.” In whose eyes? It may be that the church you think is ‘dead’ is blessing someone else. Aren’t we judging those churches and their leaders?

    I am a lay speaker and have the opportunity to speak and serve in several churches of various sizes. A few of the churches had a large attendance, several are small—less than 12 people. I can honestly say that, if we allow ourselves to be open to the Spirit, we can be blessed in any church of any size and any “flavor.”

    It’s not always the church’s fault; sometimes “we” can be the problem. One can see it in the comments people make about churches. “The church isn’t ministering to ME. I don’t get anything out of that church.” And my favorite excuse, “I’m not being ‘fed’.” I, I, I, me, me, me. Folks, it’s not about us and our needs, it’s about worshipping our God and offering our praise to Him for His gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. If we leave ourselves and our wants behind, and allow Christ to be central we can be blessed in any church.

  • For too long ‘the Church’ has neglected to inject quality relationship learning for it’s membership. Arrogant pastors and ‘closed’ congregational communities simple curl into themselves….and die. We marry people, but then never give them any real, valuable and practical support to stay married. We offer FREE seminars for couples to churches, and never get taken up on our offer.

  • I could place it in one term, Fellowship. The lack of it. There is a touch on it in the article. The greatest problem is the lack of real fellowship, the imparting of godliness to one another. All we really have in ‘church’ is a hierarchy. A little god on the platform whether in a church building, or whether in a home fellowship meeting. Hence, we have the product of the Great Harlot and her daughters. We have the Babylonain system of Ba’al, The LORD and his subjects. We don’t have Father and His family of equals. In the words of the Son, we have those who ‘lord it over one another’.

  • Hi Bill this is a great article and I fully agree I have recently left a church for that exact reason. It was all about the show flashy new equipment and look at me performance on stage. Santa was talked about more at Christmas than Christ and seemed to be more important and you hit the nail on the head when you said that the Holy Spirit could be taken out and 95% of what we do would keep going. I have found another church and do feel that they are different but this article is so right so many churches are more concerned with being relevant than being godly and in the process of being relevant they lose their impact on the world because they no longer stand out from the world they have just become another performance to try and attract the world

  • Thanks Bill,
    You’re article is very clear and objective and of great importance to me personally .I have recently stepped down from Pastoring a local Church and 21 years of passionate ministry following a series of unpaletable events which affected the minds of too many good people in my Church. Sadly many folk left before I did and the Church is slowly recovering under new leadership. I still love God and His Church but I am finding it difficult to re-settle in a local fellowship in part for some of the reasons you have suggested.
    I know I will settle somewhere in a good Church but that process may take time ,however I believe God has been showing me that great change is coming to the Church soon and Hope will be restored . I have much more I could say but will keenly follow this link determined not to become one of the “Dones”
    Thanks again for sharing Bill
    Rod Smith

  • I think what is being described here can be termed a reaction to church-ianity. It’s often difficult to weed it out however I have personally found that a return to the basic tenets of why I follow Jesus (because He first loved me) allows me to maintain focus AND still function within a church.

  • We hear all to often that “church has changed” or ” come experience the difference ” or “Hey, check us out”. I see almost none who pray, worship, and truly believe for God to bring the increase, without adding the entertainment, performance, professionalism, and the trendy to bring people into the “service that rocks”. How far we have fallen into the world to become like the world, to draw the world into the same world, with the shell replica of a “church” cloaked around it for relevance. What is needed? Repentance, holiness, obedience to the Word we already know, and true Godly love expressed toward the lost world around us, without having the world IN us.

  • Unlike the first Christians who turned the world upside, the present church has become respectable and is desperate to keep in with the local councils. It refuses to get involved in politics or challenge the powers that presently rule this world. It believes its task is “just to preach the gospel” as a kind of therapy to solve the emptiness and unhappiness of people’s lives. But of persecution it has neither interest or knowledge.

    David Skinnner UK

  • The sheep would not be scattered if they were well fed, if they had not been ruled brutally & harshly, & if the injured how been bound up & the weak strengthened. Theology has replaced/redefined truth. 2000 years ago Jesus replaced ritual with relationship and ceremony with celebration, yet still we off theologically sanitized ritual and neglect the most important side of worship, in spirit and in truth. God is building His church yet again, but now in cells not denominations.

  • My husband and I have been ‘done ‘for 4 years. After 30 adult years of being super involved and having contributed in every job possible, we left our church.The church was full of lovely people, vibrant, catered for all ages and was friendly. We didn’t have a falling out or experience an offence as our reason for leaving. Simply – the religion both within ourselves and the religion from external sources (church) was killing us. There was a long period of time when I couldn’t read my Bible or talk to God much because it felt very tainted by my religious upbringing – it was difficult for me to disassociate the ‘religion’ from God – I guess that initial time was like a detox. Over time my relationship with God became stronger again and more authentic. I have gone back to church on the odd occasion but feel so (positively) different now that I feel like an alien trying to make sense of this strange world. I will not denigrate or criticize the churches – there are many positive aspects and I am grateful for the spiritual experiences and general teaching of my past but will say that for me to return would be a massive step backwards. I am very thankful to God that He led my family on this path – it brings me to (happy) tears as I write that God brought me to this place of freedom and genuine love for Him.

  • Oh dear, where does one start? Its interesting, so many dones visit this site. A hundred reasons for leaving the building could be given. I’m already tired, thinking about them! A pastor in America used to shut the church on Sunday, if he did not get the required number to the mid-week prayer meeting,stating it was a waste of time. Now that’s impressive! Sad that the heretic JWs are more committed and enthusiastic, to their cult than a lot of Christians. However they do keep “unspotted from the world” and are tight linked like “brethren” should be. Ditto the moslems. Maybe the end dream of islam keeps them going, when they can steal the infidels property, and rape the infidel women, all in a legitimate manner proscribed by their wondrous spiritual leader mo. I suspect there will be a lot of responses to this article “On leaving Church.”

  • Fellowship is two way. You to me and me to you. Most church services are me (the paid staff) to you and no you to me so no fellowship. In other words the priesthood of all believers is a non entity. We are still living in the OT religious system which was reinstated by the Roman Catholic Church and copied by the protestant reformation.

    I found a book written by Archpriest, the Very Reverend Father Lawrence Cross AO. What a load of baloney. Can anyone believe Paul insisting he be addressed as the Very Reverend Leading Apostolic Father Paul?

    I think when a denomination insists that their leadership is given titles and addressed accordingly, they are not very secure in who they are in Christ as they need to keep having to remind people who their leaders are and how spiritual they are.

  • Thanks guys. This post has generated both heat and light. So let me just point out a few truths to help keep things in perspective. I of course nowhere in this article said that it was necessarily a good thing that people are leaving church (but not Christ). I merely pointed out the reality of this situation, and suggested a few reasons as to why this might be the case. I also clearly said that we must pray for our pastors and leaders.

    And of course I did mention Heb. 10:25 and the need to have some sort of regular fellowship. How exactly that is translated into specifics can be discussed. That is, what form that may take, and how exactly we are to understand the concept of church (the stuff of another 1000 articles at least) is a massive topic of discussion and debate, and that was not something I specifically dealt with in my article.

    But what is interesting at the very least is that so many Christians do describe themselves as “dones”. But as I say, whether that is good or bad, and what can be done about it, was not within the confines of my article. It looks like I will have to pen many more pieces to just keep up with all the issues being raised here!

  • Hi Bill,

    Interesting thoughts you raise. I haven’t read all of the replies here but in my experience, most of the Bible believing Christians I know who don’t attend a church regularly, only have themselves to blame.

    These people have such tight views on certain doctrinal/theological matters that they have no room to move and no respect for other views on the matter in question. They search for a church that is true to scripture in every way, but what that really means is they do things their way and how they think it should be.

    Some classic examples:

    1) The debate on creation and for that matter, literalism of parts of scripture
    2) Must we have communion every time we meet together
    3) Defining what inherency of scripture really means and how we understand the concept
    4) Translations

    There’s plenty more but I think we all get the point. The fact that there are multiple denominations all with roughly the same beliefs on who God is, how he works and what he’s done to me is so blatantly obvious that scripture isn’t black and white to the nth degree that some pertain on every matter raised in scripture.

    Having said that, inline with your original post, if a church hasn’t got solid Christ centered teaching that views the bible in its entirety then that is certainly grounds to find somewhere else.


  • “I am not what you call a civilised man! I have done with society entirely, for reasons which I alone have the right of appreciating. I do not, therefore, obey its laws, and I desire you never to allude to them before me again!”

    So spoke Captian Nemo (no man) to his unwelcome guests aboard the Nautilus in answer to their question about his solitary sojourns.

    And several years ago, as I sat (re) watching this old classic movie from my childhood, with my own children, then 10 and 14, now nearly grown, I understood in a flash that I was done. Done with religious society for reasons that suit me. And done with obeying (or trying to obey) their ‘extra-biblical’ laws. No ill will…no hard feelings…no anger…just: done.

    Out of economic necessity I still work part-time for a church, but it is a job. I have found other, more meaningful Christian, charitable activities and I’m thriving there now. As soon as our kids are grown, and I can find a replacement income stream, I”m outta there. . .

    Thank you for putting voice to what’s been in my heart for years now.

  • Hi Bill, once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    I’m guessing you’re referring mainly to Evangelical / Pentecostal churches? Many of my friends who no longer go to church were simply burnt out. As you say, they haven’t stopped believing in God, they were simply burnt out by “doing church”. I call it the Hillsong ripple effect. I’ve seen the trend of many churches desperately trying to copy Hillsong church, thinking that was the sure way to being a successful large church. I don’t blame Hillsong, nor do I have anything against Hillsong. The problem was the Pastors / Leaders, of our church & others around us, burnt out their congregation with endless & unrealistic demands, totally neglecting God’s word and becoming more of a circus that was only interested in putting on big expensive shows to impress people. People just became sick of it. As for me, I now attend a small Baptist church, that has a very simple service. If I told you the things our former Pastor did and made us do – to appear “relevant” & by the type of glitzy productions he put on and ran us into the ground to produce them, and the money that was wasted…!! you would be appalled. Tragically we were not the only church who fell into that dreadful trap.

    I can see as with everything over History, there comes a time of revival, then growth, then complacency, then decadence. I can see we are now at the stage where decadence is reaching it’s peak, and things are starting to turn around full circle. People are more hungry for a real relationship with the true God. Could we be on the brink of a huge revival? Is the church age moving into a new era as freedom of speech is slowly being outlawed and so the stage is set for those of us who want to freely worship the true God will need to meet in secret like the underground church in China….only time will tell, anyway they’re just a few thoughts….
    Keep up the great work Bill, I really enjoy reading your articles. God Bless you!!

  • I am a Christian pastor in a church in Ecuador, South America, I read this article and I humbly ask to post my comment. By the way English is not my native language, therefore I may have some errors in my writing.
    After reading the article and its comments, with much grief I have to say, that much of what is said may be true.
    But we must not forget that we are the Church, the body of Christ and if the Church has failed then we have failed.
    I don’t think that stop going to church is the solution for the problems in our congregations. I’m sure that we all know that there is not a perfect Church, but one thing we know for sure is that the PERFECT is in us and also in the Church, trying to work in us His perfect will.
    As a pastor I know the feeling of most of you, but the only way out is to pray asking God for forgiveness and to send revivals in our churches. My advice for the Christian people is to stay in the house of God until He manifest Himself with Power. Remember that “The prayer of a righteous man availed much” God Bless the Church.

  • Thanks Bill – spot on as usual.
    I’m a ‘done’ too.
    So grateful and blessed to be able to come on to this site and others, and find words of correction, rebuke, encouragement and most importantly, truth.
    Definitely missing from most churches.

    God Bless you Bill – keep up the good work.

  • Should not this issue be reframed to see things from God’s perspective, rather than just our own? The Church IS “the Body of Christ – with Christ as its Head, and we as his members through faith in the Risen Lord and Baptism. (1 Cor.; Eph). Furthermore, It has been said that “a Christian without the Church is not intelligible.” We need to be: 1. humble to hear Christ; 2. faithful and obedient to the Gospel; 3. Prayerful in all things. (Such is the priesthood of believers (1 Pet.). Surely much spiritual/church burn-out is the result of poor stewardship of our time, talents, & resources… – Pope Francis (30 January 2014).

  • A thought provoking article. If people truly want to have the Holy Spirit move, no longer be married to the world, be used & embrace a first century model then a couple questions arise that I’m curious about.

    1. If the “done” crowd is spiritually mature enough to properly assess the state of the church and identify it’s many faults & failures why are they not mature enough to effectively activate change?

    2. If they must leave why not come together to form a church done “the right way” to set an example & be a light rather than retreat to seclusion?

    I understand some have embraced the home church model and that’s great! I’m questioning those who are done completely.

  • We went to an ACC church for many years but left essentially due to the pastor bullying the sheep instead of leading them.
    We are now members of a church that has a family feel and is congregationally led rather than a single head pastor with a corporate feel to it.
    I’m not very knowledgeable about church trends etc so my opinion in this area is limited to my experience.
    I worry about head pastors who have little accountability and who have bullying tendencies. There seems to be such an acceptance of this type of leadership with no recourse.
    I say this only to point out that many dozen key leaders left and left the church completely, which is heartbreaking.
    People need relationship not corporate style leaders who are so program/result focused that they cause burn out in their people in the process.
    I think this is why people leave the church.
    A lot of these long term, strong God loving leaders are now preferring house churches where the church life style is vastly different from the one we left.
    There’s so much to consider in this discussion and I usually avoid this sort of thing but I’m concerned.

  • I think for me the issue of biblical orthodoxy and genuine spiritual encounter is my prime issue. I’m tired of hearing a watered down gospel and reluctance to embrace persecution for speaking against the wickedness of this world.

  • Fair enough comments, by all but they answer nothing really.Until we are able to consider the inconsiderable and go back to the root no matter what we try will end in disappointment. Home fellowships are not the answer, nor are our traditional or contemporary ideas of church and until we are willing for our God to take them along with this thing we call Christianity and hang them up on the cross and well and truly put them to death there is no possibility of seeing a resurrection or a coming into being of that magnificent body for which we all hope for. The very fact we are still trying to figure it out finds us out. Old things have served their purpose and we need to let them go, they were faulty from the start from their inception from about 200 AD onwards. What we have in comparison with the early body of believers is seriously compromised and certainly not sufficient for the times ahead let alone sufficient for the day we presently live in. If we cannot run with the footmen today how do we think we will run with the horsemen in the future? Evangelicalism Pentecostalism and all the other isms whatever you like to call it has failed. We need to admit what we have called Christianity (originally called Christianism) has come to an end, it will not be revived. Abraham went out not knowing where he was going but being led by the spirit and we need to be the same. The late Art Katz a gift to the body addressed many of these things to the body but in the main was ignored and rejected . His observations were timely to say the least but it is our tendency to defend our calcified religious systems to the death, pride does not die an easy death. As Art astutely noted the very fact we are putting on services disqualifies us from even being an authentic expression of the faith once entrusted to the saints, Jewish saints. Frankly I suspect not much will change until we do in reality come to the end of our plans programs schemes and idea’s to force revival, God only resurrects the dead and I also suspect we have some way to go yet. Though our God is able to speed up that process drastically especially by throwing his people into the fire. Humility and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We have missed it saints, we have been missing it for over a millennium and a half, we missed it way back when we the supposed church became a thing in itself separate from our Jewish Hebrew roots and until we reconnect we will languish in our religious activities. And if you want to go ahead I for one wont be a part of it. I have been done far longer than most! The very fact that we even use the word “church” a divisive word contrived in the 16 century (and opposed by Luther, Tyndale and the Puritans) as yet another tool of separation from our real heritage is condemning on it’s own. I seriously doubt when the last days are upon us we will even be using it and the other traditional words to describe ourselves? Do you realize Yeshua the Messiah is not coming back to establish some sort of Christian Kingdom on the earth? Or that the Jewish people will never convert to a religion called Christianity? The bottom line! It is time to let go of the old wineskins, stop trying to put them back together again and be led by the spirit into being members of Gods magnificent masterpiece, the community (Kahal) of believers that began with Abraham and again comes into maturity at the end of the age to fulfil it’s original purposes as seen in Eph 3:9-11. Abraham the father of the faith life was characterized by a going out from, letting go and leaving behind and we need to be the same. Even lot had to go! and there is a lot we need to let go of. Home fellowships will never do it, they just end up being church all over again, never!

  • Very interesting article that voices what many feel but have not articulated.
    There are right and wrong reasons for leaving a church.
    Discernment and obedience to God’s leading is essential.
    Let the peace of God be our umpire in these decisions and when it is the right decision to leave or stay, peace and joy will follow as well as renewed purpose and power.
    Thank God born again believers are part of His Church wherever it is.

  • Robert, if home churches are not the answer, why did Jesus create a home church model in scripture? I didn’t read the rest of your post as there were no paragraphs which are essential if you want people to read and understand.

    i say that because I taught English to high school students.


  • A lot of churches have either forgotten, put on the back burner, or just plainly or consigned communion to an antiquated time waster.
    The intimacy of communion that takes us to a heart felt, spirit inspired, connection with God in awesome worship has been pushed aside by many churches for the sake of what? Modernism and seeker friendly preaching.

  • I’ve been a Done for many years now. Reason? Most people, when reaching the end of their life-span, have a strong desire to leave behind something worthwhile for future generations – a legacy. The church failed to recognise that the “old-timers” are their invaluable source of knowledge and wisdom. They failed to tap into this source simply because they have no idea how.

  • Thanks Bill for a thoughtful, confronting and provocative article. My Christian son in his early 40s said to me recently, ‘Dad, you think church sucks’. He was close to hitting the mark. My church bores me out of my brain with its sombre, traditional dullness. I have the alternative available of loud, commercial-sounding, seeker-sensitive mentality, but that is just as unappealing.

    This is what I long for and was what was happening in the first century: ‘What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up’ (1 Cor 14:26 NIV). The early church was a participatory house church for every member participation. Today that best happens in some small groups but not in the rock ‘n roll or traditional church services.

    I consider that the Dones are done with one-way communication and ho-hum tradition and call on the church to get back to every-gifted-member participation according to 1 Cor 14:26.

  • I agree with HECTOR FALCON’S comment …….the Church today is lacking in Discipleship…..Churches today go through ‘the motions’ and quite frankly in my opinion. it’s simply ‘works’……the ‘talk’ is money and entrepreneurship…..the Holy Spirit doesn’t get so much as an ‘invite’ to move in the hearts of the people…..the Pastor gets up on the platform and gives the flock “6 steps to change your attitude to move forward”….that’s just the start… very sad….it’s no wonder the Saints move out of a ‘dead’ church atmosphere because there simply is no Life.

  • You’ve obviously touched a nerve with this Bill and that’s great. I just felt to share my two bobs worth also. There’s another saying from Os Guinness to start. Years ago, Os compared the baby boomers, then the current generation, with previous ones. He said then that the current generation was an ‘all or nothing’ generation; whereas previous generations tended to have the ‘significant something’ approach. He suggested the latter was more healthy.

    Another point of relevance, when small groups in churches are dominated overly controlled by church leadership, then this can become a killer to the spiritual life of an individual. Each of us needs to be jealous for the calling placed in our hearts by the Lord. There is a tension here with fitting into the ministry of a local body, because we are also to be part of a body.

    Regarding this, early in my Christian walk I was fortunate to come across the teaching of Hans Burke, who taught of the role of levels of personal relationships, like concentric circles coming into the centre, in the life of our Lord and Saviour. Starting with: the multitudes in Israel; 120 disciples at Pentecost; 70 disciples who were sent out in pairs; of course the 12 disciples / apostles; but then within this it is clear that Peter, James and John experienced a much closer level of intimacy; and Hans Burke finished with the observation that it is clear from the gospel writers that John, above the other two in this last group experienced a greater level of intimacy with our Saviour. Hans Burke’s conclusion was a question: “If intimate relationships were so important in the life and ministry of our Lord and Saviour, how can they be any less important to each of us?”

    On another point regarding this topic, the following 6 part set of audio sermons preached in 1959 by Martyn-Lloyd Jones remains a valuable sources of encouragement regarding revival.

    Chris McNicol

  • Many churches have lost the connection with a supernatural God, many pastors and leaders have lost the sense of servanthood for a supernatural God, my prayer as a lay preacher was, Lord, use me as your servant and let your people hear your voice through me and be blessed. I have gone through theological college, I have a BD degrtee from London Uni. Yet, I am acutely aware that my BD, my commentaries, my Greek and Hebrew must be subsumed under the power of God, working thriough all the academia so that the people see and feel that power of God coming through my words and deeds, yet the theological training insures accuracy of transmission and exegesis of the word. Sadly, human pride in a pastor / leader stigmy that divine power and servanthood, and many can hear the voice of man in many sermons, but not the voice of God, many thinks that an M Div, B Th, BD is sufficient for them to minister to people, to teach and preach to Gods people in a qualified manner. But more than academia, almost a necessity I feel, but more than that, the presence of God being felt by the congregation in their pastor and leader, this cannot be acquired by formal academic training, it comes from God in answer to a humble servants prayer: “Use me. even me, in your service and let your people know I am genuinely your servant, let your people feel your presence as I ministrer to them. Well, how many pastors you know can make you feel that? Then perhaps the done with church will not be done with that church? I have my view on those who are done with church have gone wrong, but perhaps another time.

  • Bill, I have left because of sitting and listening to doctrines made by man, every week, every meeting. Why can’t the truth of what the Bible says be the subject? Haven’t any of these preacher read the bible and not just a few verses based on their own ideas?
    The verses pulled out of context have entire doctrines built on them and they leave me dry, sick on my stomach and sad.
    I have tried a couple of times to go back but as long as the pagan ways are the glorified ways I won’t step foot in the place.

  • Check out the Shalom House facebook site – everything the “dones” want we’re doing with the Shed Happens ministry here in Perth WA.
    When men are at the end of the line God is there.
    Best ministry I’ve been involved with in 30 years.

  • Bill, judging by the huge response, you have really touched a nerve here. My husband and I are so very blessed to be part of a church fellowship which is opposite to the ones previously attended by the “dones”. Three baptism in the ocean next Sunday and a Pastor who proclaims the Word faithfully, with no compromise.

  • Sadly, very sadly I agree. Church has become a club, where hymns which have words etched on my heart, are no longer sung, but where entertainment, stories and jokes have a high priority. Job 28:28 says to ‘depart from evil is understanding’. We know if a sermon has impact, because it changes our behaviour long after the Sunday.
    But surely what matters is that I worship God. My best times are so often alone, standing, kneeling, crying, arms raised, handing Him my heart in prayer and song and tears.
    Roger, I think fellowship has 4 ‘dimensions’. I have to matter to someone, they have to care about me, the ‘us’ has to matters to others, and the extent to which I am loved directly affects how much I am enabled to love others. This last part which is of course 1 John 4:19 is not learned from a text or a sermon, but from walking the hard road with Jesus. So in a sense any criticism of church is a criticism of me.
    The heartache of this situation is not how it leaves me – because I do still love my own worship times, but where it leaves the prodigals. At the top of my prayer is that somehow despite the sugar and meatless stuff in churches, Jesus will find a way to come into their lives.
    Jesus had the same problem with ‘church’ in His day. But He goes around, taking burdens off people, shutting down Mammon and the flesh, and opening the door for the spirit and life of God to change lives. So I end up saying stuff the church, I have to walk like Jesus walked and lift burdens and open doors for God. Not easy!

  • Instead of turning their backs and walking away, the Dones are probably the very people we need. They should thrash back against the dreary platitudes of career ministers who lack the fire of conviction. They could strengthen the gatherings in fellowship and be as salt and light, without being too proud to mingle with people who they see as missing the message. It is jarring and presumptious when someone keeps saying “God wants us to do this and no matter what, God will do that”. I prefer to follow the teachings of Jesus. To affirm yourself as a believer, and to notice the looks askance in the face of cynicism and disbelief from friends and family, is the right place to be, if we are to push back from the toxic culture of secular humanism which is being foisted on us by law. We should remember the Sabbath and keep it holy; the only trouble is there is some confusion which day the Sabbath is. In my mind it is Saturday. The gospel of early Christians was suppressed and it was forbidden to judaise by resting on the Sabbath and they were compelled to work on the Sabbath and rest on The Lord’s Day. Holy communion is for fellowship and a symbolic way to affirm being part of the body and blood of Christ. Christmas celebrations are a mix of pagan and Christian tradition. These discrepancies put Christianity on a shaky foundation. I say: work with what we’ve got. Be of good cheer. Remember the proverb: A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

  • I do believe people of faith have ups and downs, like waves of the oceans…strong sometimes and at other times calm and lulling. I think it is better to go to church because you want to, need to, not because you are in a pattern of just showing up and occupying a church pew. What makes a church to me is the people, and the message….not the size of the church, the grand choir, or stage production. Give me a Billy Graham revival rerun anytime….simple message, applied message to the needs of man, and strikes to their heart and soul. I love conversing with other people in a small group or one on one….being in church, listening to the preacher, sometimes I feel no connection to his message, because it doesn’t connect to who I am, what I need to hear, and needing answers for. Very few preachers seem to even want to preach about current affairs, or what is happening in society. Would Jesus do that? Our needs are now, our hurts and problems are now, the church needs to preach to those issues.

  • I am fed up with the loud “rock and roll” music. The church I attend is good in that we study the bible verse by verse, but because of the music I don’t feel like I have been worshiping God. No quiet songs that make me feel like I am connecting with God on a one to one basis.


  • By the look of the responses to an article which has certainly hit the mark, I may be in a very small minority here – an ex-‘Done with’!

    Several years ago, we moved from an area in Australia where the church seemed so vibrant to another city where we struggled to find a fellowship, especially one where both my wife and I could be happy. For about 5 years, we attended a church where the preaching was reasonable, but the congregation was just so unbelievably ‘cliquey’ that it seemed impossible to be accepted. I had the opportunity to preach one week and, in part, gently chided the congregation for not being more open and welcoming. After the service, a couple of people came up to me and simply said they wanted to be anonymous and simply vanish after the service without getting to know others!

    By chance, we met several couples who felt the same way as we did – all of whom were on the point of leaving – and formed our own ‘after-coffee coffee-group’, i.e. where we would move on after coffee at church to have our own mini-fellowship group – which happily accepted any ‘newbies’ – and this worked very well for another couple of years.

    However, we eventually tired of that and I became a ‘Done with’ and contented myself with my teaching (my wife persevered with other churches) until I even tired of that. Sadly, many of the people coming through ministry training had absorbed the liberal/humanistic view of the Bible and whose closed minds didn’t want to hear about the theological implications of moving from the inerrancy of Scripture (or, for that matter, the creation debate – contra Wes above). It’s interesting to note that it’s the Bible-believing Christians whom Wes, and others, portray as having ‘tight views’!

    Galen, above, also refers to what he calls his “favourite excuse: I’m not being ‘fed’” and 21 months ago, I might have agreed with him accepting I fell into that category. However, after moving to the UK following our retirement with the basic intent of travelling, I now take issue with that view also having now discovered something completely unexpected – a church in England where I am being fed through excellent, Bible-based, expository preaching!

    The feeling of being fed once again after becoming so spiritually hungry has been the most unbelievable experience. I now actually want to go to church again. When we do miss a Sunday for whatever reason, I listen to the sermon (sometimes more than once) on-line. Furthermore, the experience of being back in fellowship is amazing.

    I was recently hospitalised for a month and was blown away by the number of visitors I received from church. When discharged, I was still unable to get to church for another 3 weeks, but had more visits at home. Then, when I finally managed to get back to church, involuntary tears just poured down my face – it was simply so great to be back!

    What I find really sad about many of the responses above is that they indicate that what we have been so blessed to find here is such a rarity.

  • I guess I fit that crowd that has left the church too!. Powerless, full of pride and greedy for self-gain, is how I would describe the local churches. Then there is a few with what appears to be right but, after church if they see you they will run you over or cross over to the other side of the road to keep from speaking. All I want is Jesus and the true power of God operating in my life. Lord help us all!

  • I left the church scene quite a few years ago. The reason: Pastors etc. are not standing up for what they believe. I look for churches that are not afraid to preach their politics. The tax exemption program needs to go away. I will not attend another church until I find one that preaches the gospel and their politics. I wish Doug Giles had a church in my area. I would definitely attend.

  • My Family quit going due to the constant “one verse Charlies”. After doing research of my Church’s doctrine, I found that teaching the true word of God with understanding wasn’t even considered by our Pastor. Our Savior, Lord Jesus told what Churches he found favor with. After sitting in on some meetings, I found our church was more interested in the collection plate take & maintaining their tax exempt status with the government. The only “investments” I ever heard of in the Bible were the ones Lord Jesus made in Man, not some play actors pimping for money.

  • – Gossip: Too much talking at each other or about each other, not enough understanding of each other or coming alongside to support each other
    – Arrogance: Living immorally and blasphemously claiming to be within the Lord’s Will
    – Favoritism: Showing grace to those who can materially benefit you while being harsh to others who can’t
    – Idolatry: worshipping the Pastor, the Worship Music, the Outlined message instead of the Living God

    It’s not always the fault of the guy in the pulpit that this happens. We in the congregation are often the cause of these problems. The only blame that “might” be justifiable to ascribe to pastors is that they don’t stand up boldly against it.

  • One major problem which contributed to my leaving was the realization that the Churches are not teaching our place in HISTORY, and addressing with moral Responsibility the great threatening political/economic/religious ISSUES of our TIMES, and forming prayerful PLANS of ACTION to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM!!! The Pulpits are NOT EDUCATING and INFORMING their congregations. There are no “Davids” SLAYING “Goliath” today.

    The Reformation, the Establishment of Bills of Rights–FREEDOM–written into LAW, the present Islamic threat, the godless takeover of Western Governments by antiChrists REQUIRE united ACTION unto BLOOD if necessary, and it usually IS NECESSARY!

    Ignoring these ISSUES is to ABDICATE our DUTY as CHRISTIAN CITIZENS–which will lead to being physically CONQUERED by the forces of the DEVIL working through antiChristian secular, occult, governmental, military powers.

    There were countless times in history the Church had to STAND with Bible and SWORD.

  • I have been “done” for several years now. Our church had turned into a one family (the pastor’s) operation with only a few other outsiders like me and my kids. I tried other churches but they were either legalistic (to the extent that they wanted to control the music I listened to and the material I read…and how often!) or they were part of the “entertainment” group that has invaded our places of worship. My heart is broken, but I will not attend a so-called “church” where God is not in attendance. Instead I meet with a devout friend or two either at a restaurant, a home, or on the phone and we share in this way and uphold one another.

    I would not be at all surprised if the real church were beginning its exodus to the “underground” as more and more persecution arrives on our shores and as increasing numbers of “Christians” move away from and shun the core values of our faith.

  • People are leaving because of all the reasons you wrote, but also because MANY of us have been LED by the Holy Spirit to come out of the church and to come out of Babylon to the degree we can. Our desire is to walk with JESUS so closely throughout EVERY DAY (not just Sunday), that we begin to talk like Him, and ACT like Him. He is the reason we breathe. He is the reason we LIVE. He is our reason for everything. There really is a peace that surpasses all understanding for those who KNOW Jesus and walk with HIM! Hallelujah!

  • Add also those like me who are handicapped. Mostly deaf I can’t even hear 85% of what goes on, so just watch a mime show. And worse have to duck in and out with my wheelchair disturbing all. A few try on occasion give a one time visit. When they can’t talk me into joining the mime show every week, they refuse to have anything to do with me. The rare visitor knows only the minimum of Christianity and is scared off that I know more and try to share what I learned over 40 years of study. I have had nothing else to do but read and study for the last 20 years after all.

  • The church has forgotten prayer. When fervent, effective prayer is taught and made a priority, God will show up in church.

    “The fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

  • Where is Jesus Christ’s (Yeshua’s) teaching that created Saints and Prophets? What I hear, both in this article and in many of the Comments, is a lack of Christian “meat” on the table.

  • Hi Bill, your article is quickly circulating Facebook among a lot of my friends and co-workers. It really is a reality facing Christians today. I myself left church 5yrs ago for all the reasons above and more. In my circle, I realized that I had been a part and involved in a lot of heresy and end time doctrines like dominionism and the NAR. It took 15yrs for God to wake me up and show me what I had been involved in. I too had my hands in it all. From cleaning the church, to giving financially, to the prayer and praise team, I did it all. When I left, I literally had a nervous breakdown and didn’t even know what I believed anymore. It took 3 yrs of fasting and praying and seeking God for Him to reveal the truth to me bits and pieces at a time. I am now “gun shy” when it comes to getting involved and almost feel sick when I darken the doors of any church. It has made me bitter, suspiscious and on guard. Although I have developed a great relationship at home with the Lord, I still yearn for the relationships built within a congregation. I have come to peace where I am at and even attend a local congregation a few times a month, but have no desire to get involved. I just had lunch with some friends of mine who are senior citizens and it broke my heart to sit and listen to them speak about how the church that they have been attending for years has completely changed as the son of the pastor has taken over and pushed the services toward the younger generation. They have been pushed out of the praise team and their ministry for a younger crowd. Have they backslidden? NO! Have I backslidden? No! We still love God with all of our hearts and seek Him daily. I really think that America is in a state of a “Great falling away” from truth and the basic foundations and principals of the word. It has become all about relevance, political correctness and the youth. I long for the days when I find a church that actually believes in holiness, righteousness and sound doctrine. Lord, hear our cries…………

  • Thanks for the great article. I feel that the “church” that Jesus was talking about is inside me wherever I go. I still have the passion and desire to go to church, but I don’t feel guilty not going any longer. My church has been through a lot of changes for the young and for the old, but the sense of just sitting and giving where I have no control of my tithes makes little sense to me. We now in this economy have family members that are losing homes and cant make rent or put food on the table. I made a decision to take care of my family the best I can and pray to God every day that I am doing his work and the right thing. I love my church, but I don’t feel as needed any longer. I have been Lutheran my entire life, and now would consider any open denomination to go to if I felt the inner peace. Maybe the pressure of funds that went to church are now diverted to help others. I hope this makes sense.

  • So a friend’s child gets a medical thing and then soon shows himself autistic. The whole family life changes now. You’ve got someone in the house in constant pain and mental distance trying to make it in life, probably full of heavy metals which no one seems to acknowledge and deal with. Mom has to stay home and take care of everyone long term. They cannot show at church anymore because the suffering child needs constant supervision.

    So they quit. They aren’t supported.

    And at church they’ll miss future messages on the great medical marvels of western society, how one day there may be tribulation or persecution here (but not yet).

    Meanwhile the suffering family remains home and loses their social contacts because they won’t “stay with the program”.

    The baby boomers in their church will not see what transpired, not having a paradigm to deal with these things in their generation.

    Or a family shows up with a nursing baby and they are kept from entering the worship time because the sleeping baby will silence the Holy Spirit (and the cameras rolling, and the college age hipster environment), meanwhile the mature elders of the church are leaving because the sound level is so loud its unbearable. The sound cannot be turned down, even a bit for those who helped build the church because they are stopping the work of the Holy Spirit.

    One can get better service from a secular institution (not that I’m insinuating that church is a service).

    We grew up on teachings about the Body of Christ, the compassion and encouragement of the Saints, and now that numbers are down, its about keeping those that know their scriptures and the realities of this corrupt society from causing too many waves.

    Teachings are modernistic and simplistic and do not feed the soul.

    Yes, there is much to be done by stopping. Praying together and asking the Lord what we need to do.

    And He may just say, leave your 501c3 behind and become a fellowship of believers again.

    Doners may be on the cutting edge.

  • I agree with all those reasons combined. I may add a few:

    – Wanting to get in to the reality of Hebrew Roots
    – Realize today’s “Church” is not run Biblically
    – Realize there are alot of Pagan traditions in the Church today that have been born from the heretical Roman Emperors who chose to change G-d’s orders/Commandments with Traditions of Men
    – Fed up with many doctrines that keep people blind e.g “It is a Sin not to go to Church every Sunday” (Not based on Scripture at all!)
    – Realize G-d is now sifting the Chaff from the Wheat and we are told in preparing for Yeshua’s return to “Come Out From Among Them! (Apostasy Church’s)”
    – Getting a Sugar Coated message which doesn’t grow a persons walk or relationship with G-d or his brothers and sisters.

  • I pastored for 20 years and planted two small Bible believing, Baptist churches. Now not able to do the work required (I’m 84).I think perhaps to answer lies in the fact we now try to build one church with 50,000 membership instead of 1,000 churches with a membership of 50 each.
    Plant a church, nurture it up to where it is sef-sustaining, then go out and plant another, and another and another, THEN, go out and plant another. That will take care of the sense of not belonging.
    Hell fire and damnation is what brings people to the realization they are lost and need to be saved, and that’s what it’s all about.
    Some folks like big churches ’cause they can get lost in them and have no part in helping build or sustain it, and then go home and pat themselves on the back saying, “We went to church today.”

  • Too many churches are becoming politically correct and following man’s rules rather than the laws that God gave to man. Sinners should always be welcome in the pews of the church. But when we allow people who openly defy God’s laws to preach and force their views on others, that opens the door for people who come to church to hear God’s word to walk out and not return. God gave us the 10 commandments as a guide for a life well lived and when we throw them out, we throw out good people from the church.

  • Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” We don’t have any excuse for leaving church. Leave “a” church if you have valid Scriptural reason, but we are out of fellowship with Christ if we leave His Church.

  • My wife and I have been “done” for several years. The internet makes finding good teaching easy. The bigger problem is fellowship since we live in a very rural area. For a while we had delightful times with a homeschool family until they moved out of state. They found us through House Church Network. I would hope that all who read and comment on this good article would sign up at some home church network so all of us could find others in our areas with whom we could fellowship.

  • A rediscovery of the early Methodist class meeting(s) within the life of a large congregation would go a long way to preserving many from any sense of insignificance. This is where early Methodism grew like fire; heart to heart, open, authentic fellowship was its key. Usually church programs are so structured that intimacy is precluded. No wonder many get to the point of being Dones

  • Too many Churches preach on prosperity, instead of Salvation, they are ashamed of the Cross, the Blood and the name Jesus Christ, they DONT want to “Offend” the unsaved!

  • thank YOU

  • Could it be that Christians are grieved at their church is gradually going emergent and being kicked out or leaving? The “traditional church” is being changed into a “transitional church”, which is being changed into a “transformed church” . This is being done deliberately. These “churches” are caught up in the church growth movement, which is man centered and using man’s methods instead of letting Christ and the Holy Spirit grow the Church. The Gospel and biblical teaching is watered down, so it will not offed the unsaved and the true believers are starving for the deep teaching of the Word of God. I recommend listening to to understand what is going on with the Church. It will blow you away. I left my church and went to another church that still is orthidox and biblically sound.

  • Thank you. Reflecting on your comments, a departure from relevant service has been true for me for a number of years and, while your comments resonate, I do not feel innocent but stuck.

  • We had to stop because of my husband’s illness. But like many I was getting tired. The emphasis was on youth, numbers and dollars, not feeding and fellowship. It is hard to attend churches that say if you are not prospering or doing well, then you must be sinning. They seem to forget that Paul and other New Testament people suffered and they definitely had a heart after God. My other problem are preachers that preach humility yet live in big, expensive homes while the majority of their congregation often barely gets by.

    My hope is once my husband dies I can find a small church that is not caught up in entertaining, prosperity teaching, youth over the rest of the church, etc. but on relationship with God.

  • I found this article riveting and the subject matter timely. We go to a United Methodist church which is a little more than 60 yrs old and has been losing members for the last 10 years. It and its members had settled into complacency about the time the exodus started. It really took off when we had a “corporate”-type pastor – very non-Bible- based preaching, lots of big words (just because he COULD, I guess), and a too-familiar manner with younger women. We lost between 15-20 young families who were very heavily involved in church and giving. Fast-forward through 3 more pastors, and now we have one who is actually willing to change things for the better in spite of what some may not like.
    You see, we had members who had joined the church in the early 1960’s in positions of control. They controlled everything and nothing could get done in the church if it didn’t pass their approval. I know there were earlier posts where (presumably older) posters didn’t like the changes to music, the sound, etc happening. Why, I ask you, do we think church should be “done” like it was in 1950? Or even 1980? Do we drive cars with features like the ones made in the 50’s? I am not saying what is preached should be anything but Biblically-based, but it does not have to be DELIVERED like it was 20 years ago.
    Yes, churches try to attract younger people – who is going to be coming to church and keeping it open so you can have your funeral there? People who are younger now, that’s who! It is not an attempt (at least for us) to drive away older people, but trying to attract newer, unchurched people. If we do not try to attract them, then are we fulfilling Christ’s mission to make disciples of all people? How can we be His disciples if we don’t do as He commanded? I feel that people should try to change and help a church rather than just leave, if they don’t like what’s happening; AND pray for discernment and God’s will. And finally – church is not about YOU, it’s about worshiping GOD.

  • “We are out of fellowship with Christ if we leave church.” A strange comment from someone who seems rusted onto religion.

    One, you can’t leave church because you are the church so you can’t leave yourself.

    Two. Who’s to say that the religious organisation that you attend is the church?

    Three. You only need two or three to be the church.

    Four. The New Testament Church meeting comprised of probably no more than 30 people.

    Five. The NTC met in homes not buildings.

    Six. Their meeting comprised of an ‘agape’ meal amongst other things.

    Seven. No one ‘led’ the meeting. That was the Holy Spirit’s job.

    Eight. if you want to develop a persons ministry you need the priesthood of all believers.

    NIne. if people sit in the pew they won’t stand on the promises.

    Ten. We are commanded to make disciples, not spectators.

    Finally Karen, I found out who Christ truly was after I left the so called ‘church’ so your comment about being out of fellowship with Christ couldn’t be farther from the truth.

  • I would like the definition of “church” explained in greater detail…

    Do you mean a corporation under the authority of the US Federal government? Licensed to operate under Roberts Rules of Order and as a Charitable Organization? I don’t consider those Biblical “churches”…

    Do you mean those institutions that are Romans 13 institutions where the pastor is part of, and paid to be informants in clergy response teams?

    Does anyone find it interesting in this age of deceit and perfectly timed with Rev 3 and Christs letters to the Laodicean church age that Christ must “stand at the door and knock” to get His people to come out of the churches of those days?

    I shall remain far, far away from these institutions, thank you and God Bless!

  • Some interesting discussion here. Some a bit balmy including the long rambling one referred to by the English teacher. In my recently published autobiography, “An Abundant Life” I grapple with some of these issues. Much along the lines Tim Keller has.
    But let me say to the “dones”: get undone! I think it’s important for all Christians to be connected to a church. Actually, very important. Having returned from the mission field again recently we have been attending a church which has a female pastor on the staff who preaches from time to time. Now, I’m not buying into that argument except to say that she sounds like a feminist and more recently like a pacifist. I need to talk to her about that but I haven’t quite summoned up the courage yet.
    But my point is that in all the “churches” of just about every complexion I have attended in numerous countries and cultures in the past 50 or so years there are things I haven’t ‘liked’. But I encourage people to ‘hang in’. In the same way as I believe Christians should be ‘involved’ in politics I believe its even more important for us to be involved in a church instead of just carping from the sidelines.

  • Thank you Bill for being courageous enough to address this issue of the present day church. I am definitely a “Done” after over 40 years of service in Historical and Pentecostal churches in both clergy and laity positions. Although there have been some heart breaking times, there have also been some very fruitful times. God has moulded me and hopefully refined me through it all. However, after years of observation, I would have to agree with others that the model of the church as it has been since the time of Constantine is a “Babylonian” model with the familiar pyramid structure of heir achy. The real problem,however, is in the fallen nature of man which seeks a “king” as illustrated with Israel in the case of Moses and King Saul. History shows us that church movements begin well Iin the power of the Holy Spirit( with or without the clergy style of leadership ) but, over time, become fossilised around a particular truth and end up as lifeless monuments. Whether it be a house church or conventional church, restructuring the way we gather as believers because of obstacles or abuses we have previously encountered May provide some solutions. We need to be careful,though, that we are not putting ” new patches on old garments” both corporately and individually. God not only delivered the Israelites to get them out of Egypyt but, more importantly, to get Egypt out of them. There is no doubt that we are living in extraordinary times where the Enemy knows that his time is running out. The Scriptures very clearly describe these as times of great light and great darkness – the shaking of all things so that only that which is of God will remain.
    I don’t believe that The Lord is really very interested in what expression of the Body of Christ we are in (conventional or otherwise). His call for us is to return to our “first love”. Our response should be to remove all obstsacles, either religious or worldly so that His light can shine through us as the Bride being prepared for the Bridegroom.
    Over the years I have seen several people leave their church for a variety of reasons to avoid “spiritual contamination” and be free of religious hindrances. So often it all starts well but, unfortunately, over time, spiritual superiority, judgemental ism and arrogance begin to manifest. Those who don’t follow their lead are regarded as compromises or worse just as the ones who stay in the original church regard the ones who leave as misguided or deceived. What tribal creatures we can be!
    Your church or fellowship is not nearly as important as the condition of your heart toward Jesus. Whether you choose to stay or go, returning to your first love is not a matter of geography. It is my hope that we all continue to grow in humility, love and forgiveness as we work out these issues with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Sean Bennett has stood-back from the wealth of personal testimony pro-and-con concerning continuing to meet regularly with other Christians in the assembly of the faithful (= local manifestations of “The Church”, to request that “the definition of “church” (be) explained in greater detail…” Meanwhile, Lori Hubin concluded “Church is not about YOU; it’s about worshiping GOD”. These two perspectives meet in the Biblical conviction that “in the Spirit” through water Baptism and Faith, Christian believers become participants in the Body of Christ with the Risen and Glorified Lord as “Head” and each of us as “members”. (cf. 1 Cor. & Eph.). As such, we worship in Spirit and in Truth (Jn.4: 24-25) whenever two or three gather together in His Name to find Christ present amongst us (- according to His Promise (Mtt. 18:20). And we find him present particularly in “the breaking of Bread”. This is the pattern of Church already obvious in the Acts of the Apostles where the believes met together regularly to share the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, for the “breaking of Bread and the Prayers” (Acts 2:42)…”And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b).

  • Agree strongly with comments made by Rob Davidson.

    As one of the “Dones”, I appreciate the article. I would like to add one point and that concerns the common usage of the word “leader” or “leadership” to describe the people who are in fact only church managers.

    Since my youngest days in the “church”, it has always interested me to see that men who have responsible positions at work, have families that are in order, able to to borrow large amounts of money and give substantially to the offerings, are treated like little boys on Sunday as they sit there and are told.

  • The institutional church (large or small, denominational or otherwise) cannot be redeemed; it must be abandoned. In its place we put the One who saved us – our first love, Jesus Himself.

  • I have also been discouraged – certain experiences have affected me with experiences of being unwelcome, judged, criticized, slandered – heavy words but this sums up my experiences at church in recent years. I am serious about my faith and have a gentle disposition, spiritually mature, with gifts of encouragement with a heart for God. I don’t complain but retreat and work it through, however I need to be in fellowship and worshiping the Lord – setting aside the Sabbath for this reason. All day. Sarah

  • This is so very sad. The church is made up of people. People like you and people like me. We are all imperfect, so sadly the church will be imperfect too. Why did the Apostle Paul have to write so many letters to the churches way back just after Jesus walked this earth. Because the people then were imperfect too. However it didn’t stop the church from growing. Satan must be wringing his hands with glee to see that there are so many Christians who are ‘done’ with church. We are playing right into his hands. There are many thousands, even millions, of Christians in other nations who are persecuted and even killed because they go to church to worship God, and they still go knowing the danger, yet we complain about the way church is ‘done’. Be thankful we still have the freedom to go to church, because I believe this won’t always be so. As John Bradford said above….’get undone’, while you can. Be a support to the local church. Yes there will always be disagreements with people wanting to do things in different ways, but this is where grace and forgiveness come into play. Don’t be ‘done’ with the church, BE the church.

  • An excellent article Bill thank you for posting this. I have posted it to my own website in the UK with credit to you of course. This is such a critical subject in these last days – I believe that the church is reverting back to its roots in Acts 2 where believers met in homes. It is not just the entertainment and lack of depth that are the problem. Many of these “pastors” are not called to be pastors and should leave the ministry. They may work hard, but so often they are building their own kingdoms. Many are also involved in Ecumenism and Interfaith which is in fact the worship of other gods which Paul the apostle defined as demons (1 Corinthians 10/20) The Bible tells true believers to “come out of her” (Revelation 18/4). I personally believe that it would be sinful to remain in an apostate church even though there is a mixture of truth and error (a deadly combination). This is the “falling away” of (2 Thessalonians 2/3) which is a sign of the end times. John Piper is not sound in my opinion by the way. God bless you. Treena

  • I’ve been in various churches for over 50 years and they all had both strengths and weaknesses simply because Christians have strengths and weaknesses. By all means leave a church for the right reasons but find one where you can offer your spiritual gifts for the Lord to use, to build up others for the primary purpose of making disciples out in the world.
    If you just sit back and expect to get, you’ll always find reasons to complain.

  • Many thanks one and all for your thoughts, comments, words of wisdom, and viewpoints.

    BTW, if you sent in a comment here but it has not yet appeared, it is likely because you have overlooked my commenting rule about requiring a full name. So if you are willing to oblige, please try again. Of course the other reason will be because I am going to bed for hopefully the next 8 hours!

  • I went to and the first thing I see, in two places, is “Donate Now.” “Thank you for your year end tax deductible contribution.”

    I would love to see all donations NOT to be tax donations. Give with love in your heart, not because you get to reduce you tax bill too.

  • Just as God took the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years because they were disobedient (they had to go all the way down, across and back up)——-

    had the Israelites been faithful, obedient and grateful to God’s provision, they could have just gone across in 4 days). He is taking many people, led by the Holy Spirit, into the wilderness into a much deeper relationship with Him and knowledge of Him. John 17:3

    Revelation 18:4 tells says “Come out of her My people.” He desires His faithful believers to come out of the apostate churches that are “teaching as doctrines the traditions of men”. What denomination is there that is NOT teaching the
    doctrines of men? How many churches are teaching the depth and truth of all the Ten Commandments? Not simply 9, if at all.

    Did Christ Jesus speak and heal only in a church or Synagogue on Sunday? No, He was in a boat, in the towns, He walked. He preached in the Synagogue on the 7th day, the Sabbath.

    Hebrews 12:28,29 tells us that we are to worship God with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Is this the church of today in America? How many people here in America are willing to go to the Cross, to suffer as Christ suffered? We want any trial to be over and done with instead of learning what God wants to teach us through it? Instead of knowing He is refining us because He loves us.

    Carnal rock and roll, comedy and jokes, me, me,me-ism, use of cell phones and Ipads in place of the Holy Scriptures, Contemplative Prayer teachings, slang, shallow words, self-help, financial seminars, potlucks and DIS-obedience to God’s truth in worldly worship is not the “church” that He envisioned.

    Church is not about a building. True believers who seek to “know Him”, obey Him, honor and revere Him whether in a small group, or hungrily feeding on His truth, praying and worshiping him at the kitchen table is the “church” – God’s temple until He returns for His own – faithful saints who persevere to the end

    He tells us that few find the narrow path. The church services today are pandering to the world, the flesh and the devil…and to the government.

    Being led by the Holy Spirit In studying the sermons of long ago preachers, (C. H. Spurgeon, Alexander MacClaren, John Wesley, etc) there is such biblical depth, wisdom and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures to be gleaned from these true men of the Word. There is a great eloquence of words unlike the language of today.

    I have read much here about “not being fed” by the pastor…Isn’t it our responsibility as Christians, who are supposed to know God’s truth to feed ourselves instead of expecting the pastor to be the sole “feeder”??

    What America needs is NOT revival. What America needs is repentance. True, heartfelt repentance, not a few words and off you go.


  • No one believes in our supernatural power anymore. No one believes Jesus when he said “greater things than these shall you do.” We are a faithless generation. People need to see and know supernatural power; no one wants to show it; they don’t believe it. Some still do; Andrew Wommack; Oral Roberts; etc. They are ridiculed; debased; rejected.

  • This is the reason we are now in a Family Integrated Church. We, too, taught Sunday School, led VBS, were on different committees, etc. Both our kids grew up in AWANA and youth group. We now see that it was OUR job — NOT the children’s minister’s or youth pastor’s job — to train our children. We were too busy in the church and sadly, our kids were taught wrong.

    One son left the church after he found out many of the kids in his youth group were lying about being abstinent and partying. Our 23-year-old daughter (who attended a Christian college and was a Young Life leader) just told us that she’s not attending church anymore because she has been burnt out.

    We need to pray for our young people who are leaving the church. We need to stop DOING church, get rid of programs and BE the church. We need authentic fellowship.

  • As a lifelong United Methodist, my primary criticism of “church” these days is its over-organization. Too many hierarchical (and often politicized) levels of management and approval, both local and national, often stymie growth and progress. Extremely simple projects can linger forever as they struggle to maneuver church administrivia. Certainly in any large group of people, organization is necessary, but unless it’s kept to an efficient minimum, it can defeat creativity and actively encourage the “Dones” this article describes. IMO, faith is best encouraged on a one-to-one basis, not by committee.

  • One thing I didn’t read in the article is the transforming of many churches into Political Action groups. People go to church to worship, learn about the Bible, and build their relationship with God and other believers. Both liberal and conservative churches can be guilty of this. I don’t have a problem with individual church people getting involved with politics, but when that becomes the main focus of a church, it’s primary reason for existence goes away. Church should be about God, not political issues.

  • I am not a done, but I feel like I am being pushed in that direction. I am a lifetime member at a church that has been pushing for more and more of an entertainment style. Out of 5 services per weekend, only one is kind of semi-traditional. The rest are all about the bands and lights and screens. Last year at Easter, the new head pastor decided that there would be no communion so there would be more time for more music and hoopla. Many people complained. They were told that they had to be more welcoming to the people who only come a couple times a year. I’m sorry, but if someone is only coming a couple of times a year I don’t believe we should be denying them the sacrament the only times they do come.

    We don’t have as many servant opportunities as we used to because the schedule is packed with kids, kids, kids activities. I like kids. I work with them in my profession, but I think the church should be for everyone. Despite the fact that I work with kids professionally, I was once told by a member that I shouldn’t be a Sunday School teacher if I don’t have kids. Um…ok. I’ve read many articles recently about how unwelcome people without kids are made to feel at many churches, but when I’ve mentioned it at my church I’ve been brushed off.

  • I read the article, and many of the comments. The church isn’t perfect, never has been, and won’t be until we get to heaven. But all these “Christians” who leave the Lord’s bride and criticize it to justify their unfaithfulness seem to forget that they are the church too. Like Micheal Jordan’s ankle jumping off and then blaming Michael for not being able to play in the game, these people set up the church to fail and then blame it when it does, forgetting that they are members of it themselves. This all reflects the consumeristic mindset of American Christianity, which turns the church into a business that must meet the “needs” of its members, instead of a people set apart for worship and the fulfilling of the Great Commission for the discipleship of all nations. When it really comes down to it, people who abandon the Lord’s bride often fail to see their own sin of laziness, idolatry, and selfishness, and bitterness when things don’t go their way. The church doesn’t exist to make you happy, meet your needs, give you self-assurance, or give you social status. It exists for the glory of God, not us, and for the blessing of others, not ourselves. Too many people today would rather worship football, poliitics, hunting, the back of their eyelids, etc, than worship God with His people, and disciple others for the furthering of the Kingdom. It’s time people stop making excuses for their unfaithfulness to the Lord and His people, and step up and serve. Children in Iraq are willing to be beheaded for their faith, and most American “Christians” can’t give God an hour a week to worship, much less serve others in church throughout the rest of the week. This is really sad…

  • @Brent McGuirt
    Isn’t it the case that some ‘churches’ deserve abandonment, such as the TEC Episcopal Church?

  • Thanks guys. There certainly are some times when leaving a church (because of gross heresy, apostasy, immorality, etc) becomes a necessity. Sometimes however God may call us to stay and to fight the rot. I discuss that in more detail here:

  • My experience has been, the larger the church, the more distance between parishioner & Pastor….the smaller the church the more discipleship between the pastor and his flock.

  • I can’t STAND these Praise and Worship Teams. They sing these repetive lyrics, that go on forever. Sway back and forth hands in the air, looking at the ceiling. When the Spirit of God is in the house you can FEEL Him!!!! He left the building a long time ago!!!

  • Thank you for this blog.

  • Thanks Bill. You have, perhaps inadvertently, provided a very valuable service to the Body here by ‘provoking’ many sincere responses and plenty of food for thought.

    “…Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water thru the Word….a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish…holy and blameless…”

  • FEMINIZATION and the establishment of the ‘insignificant man syndrome’.

  • My husband was pastor of a small church here in France for 9 years, but we eventually had to close the church and sell the house we’d bought as a meeting place (our own apartment is too small), because the people left one by one.

    Our church had previously been pastored by an American “missionary”, who invited all kinds of false prophets and self-styled apostles, and the people loved it so!

    So when my husband began denouncing false doctrines, and all that had been going on before, and started preaching from the Bible, and encouraging people to check out everything they hear or read, and measure it according to the Word of God, little by little our so-called members left. Many had itching ears, and wanted to be entertained. We also had a woman suffering from bipolar disorder who turned several against my husband and myself. Others had simply moved away for reasons of work, and a couple or two had got divorced…

    We can’t see ourselves joining any of the churches in our town, because they are full of the people who left our church…

    We started attending a church nearby, but the pastor was very interested in money, and also preached false doctrines, and when we challenged him about them, he said he was “inerrant”. So we left.

    Now we are members of a little church nearly 2 hours’ drive from us; we join them once or twice a month, and they invite my husband to preach too. We are in contact with a number of members in between times, and with other Christians as well, so we are not cut off from the Body of Christ.

  • If you are seeking His Truth, not the opinions of man, or handed down traditions. If you are hungering for righteousness. If you have an ear to hear, then there is only One who can give you the Living Water, because He IS the Living Water. There is only One who can satisfy your hunger because He IS the Bread from Heaven. There is only One who can truly show you righteousness, He Who IS RIGHTEOUSNESS. It is His Blood that washes away our sin. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

    Please take no man’s opinion. Test everything; Yes Everything You Read and Hear. Let His Word by and through the power of the Holy Spirit confirm His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit of the Living God to give you a clear understanding of what He, the Word of God is saying and allow not man or spirit to take away or distort that which the Lord is clearly showing. [1 Corinthians Chapters 1-3: all] He or she who has an ear let them hear.

    Just as in the time the Lord Jesus walked this earth, the teachings of man and the religious traditions followed, lead many astray. This is where many “churches” find themselves today. If you are seeking truth, not opinions; there is One who is truth. Seek Him and only Him, and if He is not the center of the church you attend, if He is not the total focus of the church you attend, then simply ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:) and He will clearly show you, teach you and guide you. If you have ears to hear then with the wisdom and discernment He will give you, have the faith of a child and follow Him.

  • Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27 (NKJV)

    God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Eph 3:10 (NLT)

    I have been involved in church all of my life. I’ve attended and served in a variety of church styles. I’ve been hurt many times, both unintentionally and intentionally. I’ve experienced times of spiritual dryness and frustration with the church, but I’ve never left the church and never will, because the church is not about me, it is about Him. Christ loves the church, and I love Christ. And because I love Christ, I love His Church, with all of her flaws, imperfections and short-comings. The church isn’t perfect and never will be in this world, but the church is Christ’s body, and when all the “parts” work together, the Body is healthy and growing. But if all the parts “disconnect”, the Body suffers, and the witness of Christ in the world is weakened.

    I pray for the church. I won’t give up on the church. And I will keep serving the Lord through the church, because it is His church.

    Thank you for the thought-provoking article.

  • My dear brother in Christ, Brent, the church is not a building and when it ceases to be a church (a gathering place for those who believe in salvation through Yahshua alone) and you have tried to “right the boat”, you will be “called out” to seek HIM elsewhere. “Wherever 2 or more are gathered in HIS name, there HE is, IN THE MIDST OF THEM”.

    You may be just waking up to this fact that the so-called “churches” have changed. You may be lucky enough to live in a place where HIS WORD is still held sacrosanct. If so, I would say you are truly blessed.

    However, many of us are not in such a gathering place. The early church met in the homes of the believers. I see us now returning to that as we approach the Lord’s return.

  • Having been an extremist from both camps (organized / home church movement) for many years and experiencing firsthand the benefits and weakness of both, I think we have come to the conclusion that organized and house churches are important and should play two totally different purposes today. The public resources were generally focused on evangelizing, feeding the poor and caring for widows/orphans (which included children from homes without Christ) and introducing the Church to the larger city community. (“saved/unsaved” together) And yes, we COULD use a building to accomplish this mean, but we also don’t “have to” either! Look around the world how the Church grows without them! This is where a lot of “house church” extremist get caught up at. They sincerely want to save the money and give it to the poor/widows/missions/etc. Even though noble, how many Christians are reached and give in spite of this currently in the US I would still guess it is still much, much, more than the people in house church giving to the same thing! Meaning it’s all a process, even for the Church, the Bride of Christ she still has her problems folks! Meanwhile in the Bible private homes “free resources” were utilized to equip a “city wide” Church to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. And, the common people really did grow up to be these all across the city! To the New Testament believer it would have been a huge step backwards or slap in the face to try to put what they knew as “the Church” (Capital Letter) into any “building” or to limit their future leadership opportunities to sitting in a pew week after week to pay homage to just a few entitled clerics when EACH ONE of them were called to a special ministry to take a whole CITY for Christ- not JUST a little building in one part of town. Who would want JUST that???? For example, if the New Testament scriptures is our example for “what community and Church looks like” believers were not “fed” once a week at “a service” directed “at believers.” Christianity was “The Way!” NO WHERE in the scriptures (AFTER the cross) can you find preaching (one-way) toward BELIEVERS for years on end. They were expected to get in homes and GROW UP!!! HOWEVER, you can find believers regularly going to the Temple and public places for the purpose of evangelism AND going “house to house.” In the scriptures, it was the norm for believers to receive their normal diets of spiritual food “at home.” (1 Cor. 11:17) After being abmonished in 1 Cor. 11:17 they would have never thought of taking food (spiritual or physical) at ANY PUBLIC gathering away from the “poor/hungry” but “ate at home.” One of the reasons New Testament giving is a much better to teach to New Testament believers than tithing!! Both were vitally important to the New Testament believer and they wholeheartedly supported both in good conscience. For example, they no longer supported the religious leaders goals to be pew potatoes forever. So, to that extent the article is TRUE it we belong to a Temple like that. 🙂 However, it doesn’t mean that there COULDN’T be a purpose for the organized public Church today. Just like following the God’s will in the Bible for us is a journey it is also a process of transition for many organized city Churches from tradition TO biblical example. Many are IN this transition and doing a great job of it! Our culture may change but how we relate to “one another” as believers and toward our city shouldn’t- as in the Bible. It a big step for organized churches today to take this step but as they do in their leadership I believe the outcome is going to astronomical in the US. But, it requires an equipping and letting go that many in leadership is still not comfortable with. But, new generations will be comfortable with it, I guarantee it! I hear this from younger generations all the time…it’s a matter of time and there is HOPE for our country! 🙂

  • Hector Falcon asked a good question….”Whatever happened to the making of disciples and fulfilling the Great Commission?” I taught on that very subject last Sunday in preparation for our trip to Burma next week where we have been making disciples for many years now. Not only are we to baptize these new disciples who have responded to the preaching of the Gospel and been drawn by the Holy Spirit to Christ in the NAME (Singular) the Father, Son and Holy Spirit but we are to teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded us (Matt 28:19-20). But notice that in the very beginning of verse 19 Jesus said “Go”….. I like the way John Courson put it: In this verse, the word “go” is a participle and literally means “as you are going.” In other words, “As you are going to the grocery store, as you are going to school, as you are going to Burma—or wherever you’re going—share the gospel.” In this light, the Great Commission takes on a much broader perspective. We’re to be sharing and teaching wherever we’re going, whatever we’re doing. So the question is…..who is to “go”…… we, the church, are to leave the confines of our buildings and “go” to the nations or wherever our Lord leads us and that may only be next door to your neighbor but wherever we go we are to take up our cross and proclaim Christ as the savior of sinners. A true church equips the saints for the work of ministry….a true church will equip you to “go” and proclaim Christ….Eph 4:11. All of us need a church body to love and fellowship with. Everyone of us were given a spiritual gift or gifts by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion and our gifts are for the edification of the saints. If I were a member of the body of believers where you attend church God intends for you to edify me with your gift or gifts and God intents for me to edify you with mine. If you are not a part of a local body of believers who pray for you, love you; share your burdens and your joys and edify you with their gift… will never grow in your relationship to Christ and to His Bride as He intends for you to because you are being deprived of their gifts and they are being deprived of yours. The Church is the Bride of Christ….Christ intends for us to honor her!!

  • Great article. The “new” evangelical church: typically has a pastor that operates as a CEO rather than a biblical expositor and shepherd, “sermons” and “worship” cater more to the unbelieving “seeker” than the flock in which Christ gave His life for, “messages” are cut and pasted to propound church growth rather than verse by verse preaching of the Word in it’s historical, grammatical, and biblical context, life lessons and tips for successful man-centered living are given instead of the humbling God-exalting and life giving gospel of Jesus, man is basically good and simply needs to add Jesus as a spiritual cheerleader! It’s nauseating and I can see why Christians that are theologically astute would lose their patience.

  • We should inquire of the Lord first, He might want some of us to stay and make a stand for truth for a while even as we find ourselves among wolves. But it is the end days, and we are in perilous times and possibly it could be the wheat being separated from the tares, and the sheep from the goats. So don’t be surprised about the falling away. Jesus mentioned to the disciples that they will get kicked out of the synagogues; It could be that at some point those of us who stay and stand for truth will get kicked out from those places that don’t exalt God anyway.

  • I am still ‘attending’ church but I am done. I hate to even put that in words but as I sit here I see it is true. I have a lot of friends who are going out to the poor, homeless, drug addicts… feeling like they are so much better than those attending organized church. I am trying to figure out exactly what it is God wants me to do. I have always ministered, by God’s lead, to those who minister both full-time and lay persons. I am an encourager/shepherd according to my gifts inventory. I have been a professed christian for 33 years but was raised attending church and really do not remember not having a personal relationship with Jesus. That said I have been a part of a non-traditional baptist church that is focussed on reaching the un-churched (there is a church on every corner where I live in the bible belt and they are very family established where many join but are never really accepted fully, they get hurt and leave) and never been churched in our area for 6 years now after leaving a traditional church where I worked mainly with youth ministry. The last year and a half God has said no, strongly to me being involved in any way but attending and praying. I could so easily walk away. Going on Sunday and attending gatherings is just so unfulfilling. The lady who compared it to homeschooling vs public education has me thinking. I do live my faith just like I taught my kids by doing when we homeschooled. Maybe the problem is who I am doing it for. I homeschooled because I felt the compulsion to share my love of the Lord with my children in every area of their lives. I truly felt a homegrown christian would be the best use of my love for the Lord. If I could share the love I had for him with 4 children and they went out to do the same I could do more for the Lord than me alone. Maybe I need to look at how I do church with that same mindset. If I can share my love of the Lord, intimately with 4 and they do the same…I may just be wanting to be a Paul when God has me as a Martha.

  • We’ve become “dones” in the last year, not thinking we would be, but not finding a new sense of “home”. It seems since the rise of “seeker-friendly” churches, there’s been a steady outflow of believers who think first and foremost a church is a body of believers. God is not marketable or a formulaic blend of praise and worship, sermon, giving and communion. Many of your reasons hit home with us, but mostly, we’ve found it hard to find authentic people and authentic relationships.

  • Reading all these comments makes me very sad. So many people have lost the point; lost their way and don’t even know it. A few had succeeded but we’re ignored. I want to urge everyone to go back up near the top and reread Galen Miller’s comment. I don’t know him, or anything about him, but his comment was like a flashlight showing the way.

  • Katherine Fishley says, “You don’t leave your family because it is not perfect.”
    –No, you don’t but when did some mere church building assembly become your one and only believing family?

  • Having been remiss and not reading any of Bill’s material since before Christmas (family, etc is my poor excuse) I find it very sad to read of all the people who are “done” with church, especially those who feel there is nowhere to go. From my perspective in the west of Sydney Anglican Diocese I know that there are very many good Bible-believing churches throughout the Sydney region of various denominations and varying “worship” styles (not to mention music styles!!) . While other parts of Australia may not be so blessed it is hard to believe that at least in cities there is nowhere to go. Even in most country towns I hear about there is at least one faithful church, and often more.

    Many churches and pastors and itching-ear church members have certainly lost their way, but I suspect that at least some of the “done-ness” is simply an excuse by those who go to church more for themselves than for their fellow saints. We all like to have the kind of church services we like, but if we can’t at least we can still be tolerant and meet regularly with fellow believers in a properly-regulated church, small or large, denominational or independent.

    Those I do especially sympathise with are those who have a Biblical church nearby but where the “band” and the highly-amplified singers are about thirty decibels louder than a large pipe organ at full blast.

  • Great article and excellent comments too from the “dones”- many of which I fully understand as I too have sadly given up on regular weekly church going church, as much as I loved it for so many decades.

    The part I miss most though is the absence of true corporate worship. I can’t find that over the internet of in small home gatherings. In fact, I long to be a part of building a meaningful believing community that serves our community but the politics and CULTURE of church and our very own culture gets in the way! As such, it’s not any of the reasons Wes Wright or Rachel Smith give. Read the comments from the dones! Nor will it work trying to build a sort of “done” church and make it right, as Mike Stehr suggests.

    Glane Miller says, “Folks, it’s not about us and our needs”
    –Yes, you are right BUT that ALSO has to include the pastors. For most churches it is in fact very much about the leadership! (Insert “he, he, he” for “I, I, I” and you get the drift. I am so done building ANOTHER man’s personal vision of how church should be or building some man’s ministry and following over building Gods, irrespective of whatever church anyone goes to.

    One of the main issue as stated, is that corporate church is incredibly PASTOR-CENTERED! The head pastor, no matter how good he is, is more like a CEO here than a shepherd willing to sacrifice his own comfort for the sheep. (Perhaps we could learn something about that type of sacrifice from our Catholic brethren? I don’t know.) I say this, having attended a variety of different denominations and seeing the same thing over and over, and more so as time ticks away.

  • Wow lots of comments here, sure is a topic we all feel strongly about. I am 56 and so sad about our church experiences, never more than a social club and no family love. The Baptists here all homeschooled and if you were a working mom you were shunned. The Methodists have no volunteers so us, not members yet, were volunteering for their ministries. It is going to take a crisis or a shutting of churches to spur people to wake up and reach out to stand together as believers and really live as Christ told us to. Too many divisions now, One religion “better than another. My sister in law shunned me for not being Catholic. People want their friends outside of their church so why be friends to new people you meet that come to church. I worked a tough job in an inner city school and tried to share my pain and the minister’s wife smiled and said ” I am sure you do a good job. No support. I went to a woman’s retreat, the question for the icebreaker was ” If you were an animal what animal would you want to be.? Well, God didn’t make me an animal !!! I so could not relate to them!!! I grieve daily for the lack of fellowship and prayer support for my life. I volunteer and am the only one doing the job. Then they get mad at me when I have to take a day off. My husband was hospitalized and I told the place to find another volunteer and they wouldn’t let me step down. I feel so alone in the church.

  • This side of Eternity, to expect a Church free of spot or wrinkle, is to expect saints to be free of spot or wrinkle; these expectations are not realistic. Lone Ranger Christians are easy targets for the devil. The banana that leaves the bunch is the banana that gets peeled. Find a group of strong, likeminded believers, get plugged in, and pray for those in leadership of the Church. Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

  • I was done a long time ago. The church became more interested in its idea of social justice than in the church history of saving souls.

  • One thing for sure, it must be God moving his people. I have been like this for years. When I was going to church, it was boring it seems like no one study their bibles like they should or biblical history. Same old routine year after the year. Well you said it all Bro. Muehhlenberg. been there had that experience. Plus I have had the most blessed koinonia with other believers since I stop going to church. I have lead people into discipleship, pointing them always to Jesus and History concerning faithful saints and how to interpret scripture and how it has come to be. and I always point in the direction they should go and tell them, to dig it out prayerfully.

    It has been so much deeper joy and fellowship with others and God! Don’t want to say to much long winded here.

    I liken to this, sometimes we feel like Elijah! “Lord, I’m all by myself down here in this valley” and all of the rest of them has sold out” now that is my paraphrase. Thank God he always has a remnant according to grace!

  • David Morrison: We all like to have the kind of church services we like, but if we can’t at least we can still be tolerant and meet regularly with fellow believers in a properly-regulated church,..
    –But you can’t meet regularly if its either all fluff or pretty much one man’s show (the CEO/Pastor) and his vision.

    ..but I suspect that at least some of the “done-ness” is simply an excuse by those who go to church more for themselves than for their fellow saints.
    — I suspect you have not read the myriad responses here fully as you will find MANY of the “Dones” have indeed poured out their lives serving. I know my family I did for decades but never really made any lasting friends/fellowship. It all came from outside the particular church attended.

  • “f you are not a part of a local body of believers who pray for you, love you; share your burdens and your joys and edify you with their gift… will never grow..”–John McCarty

    –This predictable line of reasoning clearly shows just how much the church attending believers don’t get that just b/c you leave corporate church doesn’t at all mean you leave fellowshipping with other believers and sharing together–i.e. “doing” church instead of “attending” church.

  • @George Miller — Again, it seems to me the assembly attending believers equate leaving the attendance aspect as leaving church! But no, we don’t leave church – we simply “do” church and maintain worship, fellowship and service which is what church is all about anyway.

  • Thought provoking article, for sure. As with many of the commentators, I have found myself becoming more and more disillusioned with the state of the modern-day, new testament church.
    For me, it is all about the self-centered, insecure, unfriendly and apathetic church attendees that seem to make up the majority of many congregations. My experience with church leadership has been largely good and healthy, but the masses are so sensitive, so self-serving, and so very happy to hold grudges and act unChristlike towards others. It is an abomination to the Holy Spirit, this willingness to act so poorly to other believers ! The approach of the church seems to enable these needy personalities to remain as they are, imperfect and content to remain that way. So, they go about their attendance; void of warmth, genuine concern or sincere love for others. I am not an overly needy individual. Rather, I have been very involved for many, many years. Yet, the lack of real care between the average attendee has taken it’s toll on me and I no longer find fulfillment, pleasure or anticipation in the ‘routine’ of worship.
    I realize the need for corporate worship, but I am not sure that I will refrain from going the way of the ‘dones’ that you discuss in your article.

  • @Pat Treat – thank you, but you are missing the point that the church has indeed cecome all about “I/I/I” but the “I” is so often the pastor himself as American churches on the whole are run like that where the pastor is more like a CEO. I am more about building God’s kingdom than any one man’s personal vision and am doing it far more effectively outside the politics and constraints of the corporate assembly. I suspect many dones say the same thing. So many more and real relationships with real people, believers and non believers alike. God is please with that and indeed is worshipped in that too.

  • Tired of sitting in church, talking about action? Then get out and DO the gospel! You did not work to earn your salvation, but now that Jesus has accomplished that for you, you get the privilege of loving others in his name. You get to be that person with rivers of living water flowing from God, through you, to others. And you are going to get soaked in the process. Gal 5:6 … all that counts is faith expressing itself through love. When you get charged up by the Spirit working through you, go get some of your friends at church and train them to do the same thing. Religion cannot withstand the Holy Spirit at work. You will be transformed.

  • @Jeremie Hamby – Leaving the attendance of a church, being DONE with that does not at all mean that one leaves the assembling of believers and having relaionships with others, let alone serving others, in and out of the faithful. It simply means not “playing” church.

  • I would like to make this note: there are many who have left is following the spirit of God and we know it. For we know Jesus voice and we follow. We know that we are the church that is made of no human hands… and carry out our mission, we go, we give, we obey with his help. We will not follow another! As far as fellowship with other believers, he somehow bring us together! Where two or three are gather together in my name, there I’m in the mist of them. We are not sad we are free!

  • Last Sunday at our church, 2 interesting things happened. 1) Half of our “Explorers” class didn’t come (Christmas holiday). Our teacher had such a good interaction with the 15 or so of us that came that he jokingly told his wife to send an email out and tell the half that didn’t come to please stay gone a couple more weeks. Class was great. 2) Our usual worship leader was not there in service. His replacement was phemonal. There was such a freedom of worship that I haven’t seen in the church in a while. Change is sometimes good. But, what is really missing in most churches is the New Testament “signs and wonders” that was in abundant display in the first century church. I grew up in a church that had them and I miss them. Can’t find a church that allows them anymore. People don’t have “experiences” with the Lord anymore. These experiences, though sometimes emotional, are life changing. Accidently saw a well known church on tv today. At first I thought that I was watching a rock concert, complete with mosh(?) pit, smoke, flashing lights, etc, until about 3 songs into it, the leader mentioned Jesus. What a shame.

  • I am a doner. I am done with the church continually changing to try to become a mega church and aquire more members. I am done with leadership acting like children fighting over a toy and the pastor being treated like royalty. I am done with judgemental namby pamby Christians who take it on themselves to purge the world (and their precious churches of sinners) instead of concentrating on the message of Jesus. I am done with sing song Christians sing songing an overdone-tired message instead of being bold and and keeping their eye on the Master -seeking the answer to and nitpicking about doctrine that simply doesn’t matter in light of spreading the love of Jesus to the world. I am done with church trying to beat the devil out of the world instead of loving the world and showing by example. The church today would be better off handing out duct tape and blindfolds instead of church bulletines-maybe then it’s members could concentrate on the Message! Don’t call me a Christian-it has begun to leave a bad taste in my mouth.I am a person who loves Jesus and has decided to let Him be first in my life!

  • I’m not “done with” if it’s worth fighting for then I’m not done.
    Jesus Christ went to the cross for us. He wasn’t done with us so why should we throw in the towel and “be done with His church” We love Him more than words can tell so lets stay in the fight for that love.

  • Good article Bill, thing is, we take in lots of people who comment the same way that many have here. Then we start to have open dialogue and found them on nothing else but the foundation of scripture. Many who whinge and complain as some do here, and with some validity, themselves are apostate to the Word. They bolt without a scripture to justify what they are doing, then they slander those of us who adhere to the Word of God and stand fast when suffering and temptations come.

    If ive heard it once ive heard it a thousand times, I just look them in the face and say ‘God will judge them, but what about you?’ Id say a good 90% of the whingers who complain and point the finger themselves are apostate to Scripture. Its like God hears their ‘this is wrong with the church, that is wrong’ claims, rolls His eyes knowing their hearts and says to Himself ‘ok, lets give them a go with a Ministry that will follow the Bible to the letter’. A year later, theyre gone lol.

    My point is, whinge all you like, and you no doubts have good scriptural reasons, but then examine yourself as to how your walking in the Word and how youd go in fellowship with a people who do it everyday. pfftt!

  • Reading through all the comments was just as interesting to me as reading the actual article. It seems to me that there is a common thread among the “Dones”. A good number of them are echoing the call of the Holy Spirit to “come out” of the Babylonian church system that has firmly established its presence in the world. I suspect all of the “dones” have heard this same call even though they may not all realize that it is God calling to them to leave the false church. They may be in different circumstances, but they are all hungering and thirsting after the true Word of God, and not the watered down, ineffective, so-called “gospel” that is being preached in a majority of churches today.

    We ARE living in the end times, no question about it. Anyone who says or believes differently is deluding him/herself. All you have to do is turn on the TV or other media source and then compare what you are seeing/reading to what the Bible says the world will be like in the end times right before Jesus returns. The signs are everywhere including in the “church” that has been overrun with false demon doctrines. That is why you are seeing such an exodus out of the corporate church. The remnant is feeling and hearing the Holy Spirit urging them out of the church system. He is gathering his remnant together.

    I will admit, happily so, that there are still a few good churches out there led by shepherds who still love the sheep enough to teach the truth. But how much longer will they last in this world that is so anti-Christian?

  • Wow Bill, you certainly hit the jackpot this time…sadly.What a response! I had to agree with everything you said. Have found myself saying all those things in recent years. We are still hanging in there at church but don’t feel we really belong, for just about all those reasons you pro-port. We haven’t felt we were any use other than to warm a pew for many years now. However we keep praying and have been blessed to have para-church groups where we find kindred spirits and play our part and have real fellowship. However I am so sad to see many of our young people not growing in their faith, and their talents not used. Hardly any even sing the songs anymore, let alone play any other part. It is easy for them to slip away without being missed. I feel something new must be on the horizon – God is not dead.

  • We have so many words here, when the answer is so simple considering the fact that USA Church has more potential than any other country:
    -demonstrate the difference through actions & words
    -testimonials every time we meet
    -different people with calls to participate in sermons
    -marketplace ministry in our spheres of influence
    -minimize missions overseas NOW making USA the mission field
    -stop massive evangeilistic events & start focusing on building relationships
    -cross ethnic barriers focusing on the community not the buildings
    -stop wasting money & time on events.

  • Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior of the World. He has overcome the world, and we are to be of good cheer. He has destroyed the works of the devil. His blood is the propitiation of the world’s sins. And everyone will be salted with God’s holy fire. Peace to you all and Happy New Year! May we all learn to rest in His finished work.

  • Thought provoking indeed!

  • I definitely fall into the category of a “Done”. The author’s description fits me to a T – I am now 51, have been a Christian for 46 years, still very much love Jesus, and still crave Christian fellowship. I have served in just about every position within a church that a lay-person can (SS teacher, Finance committee, search committee, music ministry, etc). I was one that the pastor “counted on”.
    But I haven’t set foot in a church in 6 years now. I have read many of the comments below – and am astounded at how many of them seem to pay lip-service to the “we need to change” – but the tone of the reply is still to blame the ones who left.

    This article is a start – but I don’t think it really goes quite far enough. After having 6 years to contemplate this – I believe the problem is much, MUCH deeper. The items listed might be “reasons” a person left:
    “the music is too much of a production”
    “we’ve heard this before”
    etc. etc etc.
    But IMHO, these are just the small items – the “straw that broke the camel’s back”. They are symptoms of the REAL problem. So what is the REAL PROBLEM:

    I believe the REAL PROBLEM is that churches have become focused on the wrong audience.

    Over the past few years, I have started keeping bees as a hobby. But as my hobby grew, I have developed a reputation for helping others who want to start keeping bees. So I have begun to get asked to give talks, do presentations, and teach classes – often to very, very different groups.
    One of the things I have discovered is that for the presentation to have any meaning – it must be directed to the correct audience. If I am talking to a group of retiree gardeners, I can’t use the same talk I give to 3rd graders.

    So what audience has the church been trying to reach – and who SHOULD they be directed at? In other words, where is the church missing the boat? I believe the problem lays in a mis-interpretation of “the great commission”. Go ye therefore and teach the world.

    For at least my entire lifetime, I was taught that this is why churches had mission programs. Entire denominations have been created to fulfill this. In short, the church has taken this to mean that their main audience is “the lost & the unsaved”.

    I believe this is a grave error.

    The great commission was never meant to be given to “the church” – as a corporate entity. It was given to “the church” – as *INDIVIDUALS*. Each one of us – personally – is supposed to do this. It should be read:
    AS WE GO through the world, teach and create disciples.

    So if the church is not supposed to have “the lost” as their audience – just who is the audience supposed to be.

    Answer: US. The “already saved”

    In other words, this overwhelming focus of the church is *supposed* to be IN REACH. Meeting the needs of those ALREADY HERE. It is supposed to FEED THE SHEEP (not go out looking for more sheep).

  • Bill,

    I attend a church that has what you say is missing in the more modern churches. Everyone is a volunteer, from our bishop to the people who serve. Weekly services include talks by our youth and adults about topics centered around Christ and family. We all have jobs that we do weekly. The men also visit families monthly in our Ward. Women visit other women monthly. This is our way of giving support. We are divided into groups by where we live and we attend at a certain time each Sunday. We are not perfect and some have left because of their disagreements with the teachings or disagreements with others. I don’t think that you will see many other churches where service to others is as important. Daily service is given to our sick and injured. Meals brought in when needed. Service is given to community members as much as to our church members. There are other churches that also maintain the traditional services, not as many as before but there are still some out there.

  • After reading all the comments above it sounds as though every comment came from a member of a denominational organization, talking about the music, smoke and lights and holy ghost healings. Folks that’s the problem you DONT belong to the LORDS CHURCH that was started in the 1st century as you read about in the New Testament, the Church of Christ where through Faith, Repentance, Confession and baptism the Lord adds you to His Church Acts 2:47. All the TV preachers you see are doing it for the money and fame, they tell you to touch the screen and repeat after them a sinners prayer that is not in the Bible or they will send you some holy water or prayer cloth, folks it’s all about the money you don’t find any of those things in the Bible, some of them are tell me what I want to hear, make me feel good, I’m sorry but that’s what’s wrong with this world they have been listening to man made doctrines and not God’s word we don’t need any other book or a creed, we need the Word of God, The Sword, the Bible; that is what we are going to be judged by, we are commanded to not forsake the assembly Heb 10:25, and to partake of the Lords Supper every first day of the week, Acts 20:7 along with lay by him in store as God hath prospered us. 1 Cor 16:1-2. You cannot do these commands if you have decided to stay home. Find a Church of Christ in your area and start attending there and you will see what you have been missing, I am sure you will not want to stay home anymore…

  • I have read through most of “the shorter to the point” comments as long ones tend to lose me and appear egotistical as well as tunnelled visioned.

    Everyone has a place in God’s Heart wherever they may be. There are many situations in our lives when we need to call upon God to help, guide and share us ourselves with others. Conversely we are helped by God to lead a valued life whilst on this earth.

  • After 43 years of full time ministry I’m now retired. I probably fit in the “done” category in many of the categories mentioned.
    Though many of the comments above hold truth, there is one ….the most important one….yet to be mentioned. Talked around, but avoided.
    The living, breathing and active presence of God that will make the difference in church services and in the lives of those present. Of this I am confident. When Jesus shows up, lives are changed. That is what people long for. You CAN’T walk away from that.

  • I certainly do not have all the answers as some claim to have. What is known to me is what I am responsible for. After having done 20 years of hands on prison ministry, it is astounding to me how many “free” people think they have problems, and what they think problems are. Would those who think they have all the answers be better off trying to effect positive change in the body instead of adding to the problem that already exists? As the adage goes, ” If you are not a part of the solution, your are a part of the problem”. If the church one is a part of is not suited to your views, you can sure find one that is. My biggest question to the “dones” is simply this…”What have you done for Him lately”? When you leave a church and do not go back to be a part of the corporate anointing that happens when we all meet together, what do you do to effect change in your own life that results in change to others? A change that shapes ones destiny for the good, is a legacy others will remember about you. On your tomb stone will be a series of numbers that will look something like this 1954 – 2014. The dash in the middle is the most important part of that group of numbers. What will you do about the dash?

  • God’s Word is clear as He warns His own over and over and over…many times, no just once, especially in these times. He tells is to beware of, be on guard against false teachers. He warns of false preachers and “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

    He does not tell His own, His faithful, to stay in a church where there is false teaching and preaching. Mathew 24 is very, very clear.

    As is Revelation. For those who choose to stay under any circumstances, even after acknowledging and exposing the false teachers and preachers…remember “the Narrow Path is the only path to eternal life.

    He tells us to “test the spirits.” How many really do!

    We can choose to stay on the narrow path in Jesus Name and stay close to Him. Or we can choose to stay on the wide path that leads to destruction.

    Many churches today are following very false teachings and there will be many more to come, and those who do not know Him, do not know His word will stay and try to “fix” the UN-changeable.

    God is shaking up the things that need to be shaken. He is waking up those who have Holy Spirit eyes willing to see and the ears to hear.

    Many will not see or hear – sadly, to their destruction.

  • Much of the teaching{preaching} today is not a representation of a sound biblical interpretation of the truth that sets us free. Most teaching that I hear is based on being opinionated{ heresy} Or not a true biblical interpretation that produces discipleship. I’m not saying that people aren’t saved, I just saying they are not being fed with the whole council of God’s word.

  • I’ve been seeking the Lord and working on a solution for this problem for many years. I believe I have an answer- a “method” that involves “the man”, an outlet for the living water that’s bursting at the seams of so many believers.

    It is a simple, Biblical plan that allows/offers ministry that comes alongside organized western church, without requiring or asking anyone to leave their church. It involves a neighborhood based fellowship and outreach that will reach unsaved neighbors while simultaneously infiltrating and injecting life into each member’s regular church (through the relationships they already have there).

    It involves volunteering as neighborhood chaplains, going door to door, offering spiritual and practical help and also having neighborhood Cross Training meetings, in homes, focusing on evangelism, apologetics and discipleship.

  • Thank your for this article. I suppose I am a ‘done.’ I don’t feel like church yoga (a borrow spiritual practice) to meditate and be closer to God. That is what prayer is for. I don’t feel like the mega church. I don’t feel like fashion shows to have have nicely dressed feet to be closer to Jesus. I don’t feel like socializing falsely with people I cannot stand to be around. Tithing is so much more than a dollar bill. No more electronics etc. I have had it all my life in one religion of choice or another. I want to learn about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the word and all the history surrounding it. I can’t get enough of it. (Not just a point of view from a religion either.) I set out to do just that but in an academic setting. I am now closer, more content, and able to learn more. I spread the word of my learning. I work in my community feeding those who are in need on my terms. I have a relationship with God and Jesus and have my truths and beliefs. I give more than a tithe in cash but a tithe plus in my time which is more valuable. Churches have forgotten that socialization of like minded people do not have to be in a church setting but where two are more are gathered in His name, discussing Him, living and conducting themselves the way God wants us to is very pleasing.

  • Most have totally missed it. The truth is, very simply, “There is no “Church.” We are fractured, splintered, self absorbed and more interested in ourselves and our wants than we are in God. Most churches I have associated with are much more social clubs than “sacred” assemblies lost in the wonder and Glory that is the Lord God Omnipotent. In this day of social media, many simply do not need another meeting making demands on their time.

  • About 2006, I once had a “flash vision” during prayer where I saw large prehistoric snail looking creatures leaving a black trail rolling over, unable to right themselves. As they rolled over, brilliant light burst upwards from their black footprint. It was if I heard the Lord say, “This is what I am about to do to the churches. Look in the Gospels and see how many times my Son mentioned ‘church.’ (It’s only twice, both in Matt) “Now look how many times he mentioned ‘kingdom.'” (Over a hundred.)

    Then I heard, “Church was your idea. Not mine.”

    I suspect it’s really nothing more complicated or mysterious than that. We are busy building “addresses” while the Kingdom languishes at our feet.

  • A great read and lots of great points made!

    I spent close to 20 years in a mainline denomination and towards the end I just had enough. I got tired of the way I was being treated. And not just myself but so many people I’ve known as well. I was in volunteer situations where things went along fine for years till one day I went to do my job to discover I had been replaced and nobody had the decency to talk to me about it. It’s like I didn’t count. And this happened a lot. I learned my forgiveness does not modify the behavior of others.

    I realize the church is not perfect, nothing is, no person is except the Savior. But a lot of Churches treat people like dirt. A friend once related to me how he was injured on the job and was in the hospital. No one from his Church came to visit him. But the guys from the local Moose Lodge did and took up a donation and gave it to him. His Church eventually sent him a notice that he was behind on his tithes. Telling, huh?

    I will say I got better treatment in a non-denominational Church. The Church is really a microcosm of the outside world with all of its goings on. No wonder those of us that still believe in Christ are leaving and searching for some other home.

  • I can’t agree with Delbert Freeman. There is the Church of God, and the most important manifestation of it on earth is the local regularly-meeting group of Christians, meeting deliberately as the church. If we are Christians we do need to meet with fellow Christians on a frequent basis, and our fellow Christians do need us. Social media (so-called) are poor substitutes if the real thing is at all possible.

    Julia Burns doesn’t agree with the idea of socialising with people she doesn’t like. I hope that is not an implication that we should be so selfish that as Christians we have fellowship only with people we like.

    O to dwell with the saints above,
    In the land of light and glory;
    But to live with the saints on earth below:
    Well- that’s a different story.

    But we have to live with them. Or try.

  • One of the biggest problems is that the number of churches has decreased so dramatically, so I would have said “I think it’s up to the ‘Dones’ to find a church that does preach in the way described above” but sadly you’d probably have to go a long way to find one. There are two points which I’d like to raise though: “Many believers are put off by the attempt to cater solely to youth, while ignoring their needs.
    -Many believers are tired of just being bench warmers, with no role to play.” These are completely selfish reasons not to attend a church. The most valuable thing I’ve learnt since coming to my local church is that I cannot complain about the things where I can make a difference. If the church is not catering for the needs of a particular age group, be the person who is not only willing to make practical suggestions, but willing to take on some of the responsibilities to cater to that age group. e.g. If the teenagers aren’t getting taught, lead the teen group and get a roster going. The second point follows on from that. If people are “bench warmers” then they are not volunteering their service and spend their time moaning about having no role in the church. You create your role by stepping up to the plate. Serving coffee/doing sound or AV/teaching the toddlers… These are all ways to lay down your life to the Lord in sacrifice. These things are noticed (not that we need to be noticed) and these are qualities that make good leaders. I think what that point in the article was touching on was more that people want to have a “position” in the church. We all have roles to play. Even something as simple as praying for someone or giving a reassuring hug (if time or kids prohibit you from serving). But positions are earned. God places people in positions of leadership when He sees the right heart. That’s not going to happen to someone like the guy called “John” in the article. God knew that John would give up on going to church one day. Why would God have placed someone like that in leadership? We attend church as a response to Hebrews 10:25. We don’t go to church expecting it to meet all our needs. We go to church expecting that God will use us to meet the needs of others. These I believe are the key reasons that we should attend a church that peaches the truth. If the church lacks in areas, we must be part of the movement to change.

  • Happy New Year everybody from down under! Thank you for passing on the dones research Bill. It is an important addition to other disturbing church research. Many people, like readers in your posts, are legitimately concerned trying to wrap their collective heads around the issue.

    We in Australia may be able to assist here. Why? We are further down the post-Christian culture track (and the UK and Europe are even further ahead of us!). That is, many people don’t believe in God, let alone go to church!

    This, in turn, creates anxiety and questioning among many church goers. As a clinical psychologist I work with Christians and church leaders on a day-to-day basis (my PhD was on clergy stress, loneliness and abuse). As you can imagine, it is a very sad story. For those interested, Hard to be Holy and Built for Adventure are free Christian e-books that aim to unpack this issue in a reader-friendly way:

    Keep up the good work!

  • I’m a been there done that person too. After 25 years I had had enough. I and others have spent years fighting poor leadership, false prophecy, false teaching and apathy in the NZ Church. I’ve written a book on how the Church should be far more active in the western world. Its called Issachar’s Call: A Manifesto for Resurrecting the Christian Church and Western Civilisation. Its available on Kindle.

  • PS re Delbert’s earlier post “Most churches I have associated with are much more social clubs than “sacred” assemblies”. I agree and I find the Lifeboat Story below (anonymous) a useful metaphor for the church:

    On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a simple little lifeboat station. It was just a hut, with one boat. The crew members were very brave, and at great risk to themselves, often put out to sea to save lives. They became famous. People who were rescued, and others of goodwill, began to help. Money was donated. Many others joined and an organisation was formed. A bigger boat was built. Some of the new members felt that the station deserved a better building. A nice big one was built, well-furnished and decorated. It became a kind of club. Photographs of lifeboats and rescue operations were hung on all the walls. As time went on it became harder to get members to go out to sea on difficult missions, so the members hired a lifeboat crew. The club became a hive of activity.

    One night while a big social function was taking place a large ship was wrecked. The lifeboat crew managed to rescue many people. They brought them back to the new building. They were wet and sick, and not at all like the club members. The place was in chaos and got very dirty. At the next meeting a decision was taken to build a shower room outside where shipwrecked victims could be cleaned before coming in. Some proposed the motion that the lifesaving activities should be suspended as they were playing havoc with the other important club activities. A small group insisted that lifesaving was what it was all about. They were voted down. This group left the club and built a humble lifesaving station further down the coast where they did heroic work. If you visit that seacoast today you will see a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent, but unfortunately most of the people drown.

  • Leaving the church can help…but only if you find Jesus “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13).

    As 1st-century Jews found Jesus by leaving Israel according to the flesh so we can find Jesus by leaving the church according to the flesh.

  • What an excellent article. Our Session (board of Elders) has been prayerfully looking at our vision for our congregation for the 21st Century. The key element we have been led to is making disciples. We are already a church that has and values a pastor (teaching elder) of the mold that Piper described: ““radically Bible-saturated, God-centered, Christ-exalting, self-sacrificing, mission-mobilizing, soul-saving, culture-confronting …” He is young in years, but old and wise in the Word, and we treasure his leadership. (For churches looking for such pastors, my experience as a Stated Clerk of a Presbytery has shown thar Reformed Theological Seminary uniformly produces such pastors.)

    We are also including de facto as well as elected leaders in doing the very kind of “renovation” the author recommends while keeping the doors open in our 280 year old congregation. The Holy Spirit has not withdrawn from His church and all that is needed for a Gideon-like 300 to take up the challenge of re-igniting the zeal for mission “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end…” of the block–local mission by home-grown disciples as well as foreign mission. Do that and watch the so-called Dones run, not walk, back to that Great Commission directed congregation..

  • I can understand why so many people get turned off with the so called New Church movement ..More want to increase the younger crowd so they have entertainment not bible teaching. Find a church that doesn’t have bands, but does have communion every Sunday and only teaches from the bible. They still exist, try a local church of Christ for example.
    Or some other church that puts more emphasis on the bible not on entertainment and money..

  • Bill,

    I am a pastor. So here I am, the first day of 2015, doing some soul-searching, evaluating, planning, goal-setting, etc–and a friend sends me your post. As a pastor, we are impaled on the horns of a dilemma. People are fleeing traditional churches that preach the Word because they don’t like “being judged.” But how can preach God’s Word without bringing conviction? But you say people crave this. Where are they? And have these people who desire “genuine Christianity” and “Holy Ghost revival” thought it through? Have they considered the consequences? I can think of two immediately. 1) You must be willing to pay the price–which means personal repentance; and 2) a reaction from the world called “persecution.” Jesus said to the sons of Zebedee: “You guys don’t know what you’re asking for!” We live in a “persuasion-free” society. I know you are right that people are done with church. I hear from them every week. Problem is–they’re pastors!

  • in the great commission Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit. teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo. I am with you always even to end of the age.” This means the disciples are to build churches among the believers, a breathing living churches that will spread throughout the world continually growing, not dead churches inside beautiful buildings.

  • I was born into Lutheran faith, progressed to Methodist, American Baptist, Baptist, Non-denominational, Pentecostal and Charismatic…and now I am a ‘Done’. Basically, every church was the same format, just different emotional levels. Did I love the people? Oh, yes! But one by one, I left the buildings, as there was no place to grow.

    Jesus never said to make converts. He said ‘Make disciples…’, and this is the greatest error in the Church today. Life in Christ is not about going to church – it’s about BEING the Church…the hands, feet, heart, mouth of Christ. We died, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3 and others). This is the new position of a believer. It’s not about our ‘feelings’ or ‘needs’, which is the focal point of many institutional churches, but are called to obey His Word, and act when He says act, and speak when He says speak…move when He tells us to move. We are His – and happily, He is ours.

    Every single believer has a part to play, and without that part, we limp. With the model of today’s church experience, there is no place for every believer to bring his or her part. We are seriously limping.

    My husband and I are done – but as a result – we have begun! Being done with the “Christian-in-a-bottle” society has freed us to boldly flow with the Spirit and move when He says move….without repercussion from ‘leadership’. We are leading people to faith in Christ. We are seeing many incredible miracles. We are making disciples of new believers with foundational truths from the Word of God and equipping them to move by the Spirit in confidence – as they bring their gifts and callings to the world.

    Leaving the institutional church was the best thing we ever did. Our passion for Jesus Christ has never been stronger. Our relationship with other believers has never been sweeter. We are in constant communion with those of like-minds – and our conversations are deep and fulfilling. We are encouragers, and are beyond excited about this mass-exodus from the buildings. Miracles and signs and wonders were never for the interior of a building – but for a sign to the unbelievers to point the way to God. He IS the Great I AM.

    It’s thrilling to see Christ at work! The gates of Hell will NOT PREVAIL against His precious Church … for HE is building it.

    Thank you for this article of truth.

  • Bill, great article and good investigation technique, I do have to agree with Galen Miller who said that maybe “we” are the problem. We are the church, there is no church without its people, we are the bride so in that aspect and view people are unplugging from the daunting task of forging forward through a difficult spell. If a son is hungry who would give him a stone? Likewise if the part of the church sees another part lacking why wouldn’t you give yourself to assist and allow Jesus through you to fix the problem? Self service is another aspect of what the devil wants, the fact that we have the need to unplug or the desire to unplug gives way to the devils devious plan of not being united. If you see someone or something failing, I apologize if it hurts your feelings, get off your self serving behind and do something about it! I’m tired of hearing that Christians want to be loners rather than deciples, if you are a believer, you are a deciple, be that believer that believes in correction rather than finding faults. Did Jesus look at you and find fault or did He offer correction and support? Has He heard your pleas, listened to your prayers are your prayers and pleas surrounding the rhelm of “me” wants and not what Jesus would desire! Believers understand that everyone grows weary, everyone goes through growth spurts, however you of knowledge, you who sit yourselves on pedestals, humble yourselves and ask Jesus what you can do to help the church grow not separate yourself from the people that need you the most! Babes are looking for your guidance as believers and children of the Almighty God! Don’t separate yourselves for your own personal desires. Your desire should be for Him and His church, His people, His calling, what He wants us to do, not what “we” want. I say LEAD in difficult times, don’t shy away from the task at hand, don’t show separation to our younger believers, the babe’s in the church that need guidance and fellowship from us. You say fellowship is lacking, allow the Lord through you to bring it back, you say a leader is lacking in service to our Lord, be an elder, be plugged in and allow our Lord through prayer to change it, you say you want the Holy spirit to move again, pray and get a group together to pray with you, that your church may be revived! No church needs to be closed for repairs, John didn’t stop for repairs with the thorn in his side…he forged on doing the Lord’s work. All of you who think the church is lacking, I challenge you, pray to Jesus that He uses you to do something to fix it, be that believer who puts “me” on the back burner and forges forward with the Hand of the Lord ready to do His bidding and allow change through you because without Him nothing is accomplished. Give glory to God, for you are not the reason that the church is failing, it’s your faith that Jesus can change what’s around you. Forge on brothers and sisters in Christ, let no man, entity, thing or being, separate us from our Lord Jesus Christ! I also apologize for all my grammatical errors, Jesus didn’t require us to be English majors to give and receive the word of God… 🙂

  • I’ve been grappling with this issue for several years. My wife and I started out in ministry over 34 years ago (while in seminary). Now that I’m in my mid-50’s I feel as tho today’s church has put us out to pasture, so to speak. I was leading worship before many of today’s worship leaders were out of diapers (late 80’s), yet we are treated as tho we have nothing relevant to share as “fathers of the faith.” Is it because I refuse to wear skinny jeans and grow a beard – LOL!?

    Many of the men and women of God – fathers and mothers of the faith – who raised us up in ministry during the 80’s and 90’s are no longer with us. Yet, try as we might to fill their shoes, my generation is looked upon as outdated, old-fashioned, and non-relevant for today’s church by the self-centered millennials running it. They don’t ask for help because they already have the answers. Or do they?

    I don’t want to say “I’m done with church” but it becomes increasingly difficult to stay motivated to attend when I look around in a church of literally thousands of members and I rarely see anyone my age in the congregation, definitely not on the stage, nor on staff.


    HEBREWS 10:25-26; EPHESIANS 5:25; ACTS 20:28; COLOSSIANS 1:17-18; MATTHEW 16:18; MATTHEW 18:17: MATTHEW 5:15-16; REVELATION 1:20; III JOHN 6; ROMANS 16:5; I CORINTHIANS 1:2; II CORINTHIANS 1:1; GALATIANS 1:2; COLOSSIANS 4:15; I THESS. 1:1; II THESS. 1:1; REVELATON 2:1, 8, 11,12, 18,29, 3:1, 6,7, 13,14,22, 4:1; 22:21

  • One reason many leave the Church is because they are hurt within the very walls where they expected to find comfort. Years ago I wrote a group workbook on the subject, now available digitally in a different format with additional material at the website listed. The book is entitled “Baaad Sheep – When God’s People Let You Down” and focuses on biblical reconciliation with the controllers, wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing, gossipers, etc. who hurt us.

  • As an ordinary pew-sitter I agree with Dr Whetham that many clergy suffer mistreatment from their congregations and/or denominations and sometimes from their fellow-clergy, especially if they are being faithful to the Bible and their Lord. That is a well-known serious problem and all of us who are “lay” Christians must do all we can to support such people.

    The implication that some non-clergy Christians are not churchgoers in some form because the world is getting more godless is a very worrying idea. That almost sounds like desertion when needed most. Nominal believers will of course tend to jump ship when the going gets tough, but it’s hard to imagine true Christians not wanting to meet regularly in some sort of church, even if for their own comfort. Finding a faithful group to meet with can take a bit of trouble in some places, but in a country such as Australia any reasonably large centre will usually have at least a faithful remnant which can be sought out. In the greater Sydney region we of course have almost an embarrassment of good churches compared to many areas in Australia and around the world.

  • I quit going to church 11 years ago as I was tired of the show-off soloists in the front of the church butchering hymns just to glorify their own voices; the generic watered-down sermons; the secular (eg Valentine’s) parties; the people showing up late for church, the constant commotion and chatter during the services; the makeup and fancy clothes. There is not much modesty and primitive Godliness. I do not like the modern Bible translations that God has most likely not had any part in. People want their ears tickled and love to be flattered; I want God’s truth.

    It’s a sign of being in the end of the end times. I want to hear about Bible prophecy. I pray, I think about God, I read and study the Bible, I watch YouTube videos of the kinds of sermons that interest me, etc.

    Sorry for all the I’s and me’s, but I do not find being in church an uplifting experience. It is heartening to see that I am not alone in all this. Thank you so much for this article.

  • Leaving a church – building and friends – is never an easy nor a quick decision. Over time people who have left the “church” have been labeled as “backslidden”, warned that they will lose their “religion”, “loose their faith in Jesus” etc.

    For many, those labels could not be farther from the truth. God is calling His own out of “organized religion” to prepare them for what is ahead. Most churches today continue to minister at the “milk” level…never delving into deeper “waters of the “meat” of the word.

    God prepared and set apart Moses for 80 years, Paul was put aside for 3 years. During those silent years God was preparing His own for far greater works just as He is preparing His own for a far greater task ahead.

    The “milk” of the word just will not do for what is to come. And in many cases, already here. He is preparing His remnant Holy Spirit filled, Holy Spirit let “church” of faithful believers in Christ Jesus. He is preparing His own. He is strengthening His own in His pure truth.

    When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, any distraction away from God’s Word – His Truth – is an annoyance. We cannot get enough of His word. Devouring God’s truth with open eyes to see and ears that hear… like nothing I have ever heard in any “organized Religion” church…ever. He reveals Himself and His truth. He is opening the books that He told Daniel to seal up until the time of the end.

    Going back to any church……after spending years studying, seeking His face in true worship, praise and truth, Holy Spirit led and guided, and feeding on His word daily for hours at a time…..would be like going back to kindergarten.

    He is preparing many for what is to come. To God be the Glory!

  • Interesting observations. My husband works for a major ministry, and I write, travel and teach. We love the Lord, tithe faithfully, and stay heavily involved in Kingdom exploits. But we have been “done” for over two years. We don’t miss our church friends, because we are actually involved in people’s lives, not just seeing them artificially on Sundays. We didn’t become offended and leave. We just can’t see a real reason to attend what is available to us in our culture. We hosted an international group for several years and loved that until our church shut it down because it didn’t match their exact definition of a neighborhood “house church”, their inflexible vision that year. Our global friends don’t put God in a box, and flourish building relationships, doing life together, worshipping and sharing with one another how God is actually showing up in their lives. But saying we are done probably isn’t as permanent as indicated in the article. Our eyes are wide open watching for what is happening in our city, region, and nation that is worthy of alignment and our involvement. Our hope and desire is that “something” materializes, and when it does, word will spread fast!

  • Michael Flores-“…humble yourselves and ask Jesus what you can do to help the church grow not separate yourself from the people that need you the most!”
    — Seems like you are seeing it too B&W. Leaving the attendance of a church building does not mean one is “separating” from other believers or the the church as a whole. In fact, if you read the comments, you will find that MANY have found themselves freed up to truly sever and BE the church, rather than “play” church, as it can so often be otherwise.
    You left us with a challenge but may I please challenge you also the same? Perhaps seek God and ask if it’s not possible to build God’s people and kingdom, serving others and be the church w/o having to commit to one particular assembly at any one church Building? Surely it is! Indeed it is!

  • Ron Black asks: “My biggest question to the “dones” is simply this…”What have you done for Him lately”?”
    –Answers are in many of the comments above but here are some for me:
    Volunteered in a homeless Shelter
    Made relationships with the poor/homeless/druggies, etc
    Fed the above
    Opened up my home to the non believers I work with and my neighbours
    Visited the sick and old and dying
    Prayed with the other outcasts, hurting, divorced, sick or otherwise believers, been a true friend and brother, not just someone who will see them next Sunday.
    And so on. I hope you get the drift–church is to be done, not attended only.

  • Well Bill, you have stirred up mighty rushing winds with this article and in some of the comments i get a sense of the self obsessed quitter. Never the less we all are entitled to exercise freedom of choice. But for those who have quit i want to encourage you to seek God for the church that He wants you at. You know God does direct our path so get out of the way and let God!

  • To Michael Mercier — Being “done” with attending any church building’s assembly does not mean one if done with being the church and continuing to fellowship. worship, serve, etc! Yes, the church- as in the body of believers and His representation on Earth is worth “fighting” or “living” for and, yes, believe it or not, God can show you how outside the 4 walls of any one man made church building!!

  • William Michael- With respect, I don’t think we are talking about the 4 walls of a man-made building. We are talking about a group of God’s people- the body of Christ- meeting regularly as God’s people. They may use the same building every week, but that is not what is being referred to here. Church can validly be done very differently, but at the minimum there should be people who meet regularly to pray, hear the word, enjoy the sacraments (both of them, but the Lord’s Supper at least a few times a year) and have some kind of discipline and accountability to one another. Other good activities done as Christians are of course highly commendable but can’t take the place of the saints gathering together as the church. These gatherings must be open to any non-disruptive and repentant Christian who wants to be part of the group, and that is a reason why some home groups don’t seem to qualify as churches in the NT sense.

    There are obviously some serious and perhaps temporarily valid reasons why some people are “dones”, but it is a serious problem and needs to be addressed and not justified in principle.

  • I recently left a church where I was serving on the worship team. I have been a worship leader at a few churches. I find the same culture at all the churches I’ve been a part of. The staff is passionately in love with God but, people are another story. Some say the opposite of Love is not Hate but indifference. I have heard from many “Dones” “I was out of church for a month for surgery and no-one called or made any attempt to contact me.” While the Pastor can’t keep track of everyone in a church with any appreciable number of people, someone should. The culture of the church is set by the pastor. What programs are put in place to keep the closeness of the church? I’ve never seen any. I’ve often thought of a tree structure where Everyone in the church is connected to someone else. Discipleship and relationship flowing out from the pastor, leadership and devoted Christians to ALL members. It seems an attitude of biblical help, support and development should be the culture. In my experience, the church only offers isolation outside of the inner circle of the pastor. Judgment, condemnation and rejection are the prevalent culture. When I am at church, I feel lonely. The pastor and the others involved in the church act indifferent toward me as an individual. Indifference is our societal norm but, should not be the norm of God’s people.

  • Making disciples is a boring process that those who are “Done” seemed to be bored with from this article. There is nothing exciting about memorizing scripture, quiet time, or prayer. We want growth to be as easy as a few Google clicks. Technology has bored us, yet God does not bend to our demands. If a man or woman wants to know God then they must spend time with God and spending time with the saints and taking the sacraments are God’s means of discipleship.

    We want God on our terms and our time table. Those who are “Done” are not done with just church, but are basically done with God for they say I know a better way. I am not saying go to the Entertainment Driven church, but fellowshipping with the saints and taking the sacraments (a means of grace) and putting ourselves under the authority of a local church are the means God uses us to grow in the New Testament.

    Those walking away from church are walking away from God for that is the means that God is using to grow his Kingdom. Christianity is not about us, but God’s glory and God’s glory is found in His Bride the church. Like it or not.

  • Interesting article but I think that you missed one point of why some people are “done” with church …..I think with some it has a lot to do with their jobs. People are working longer and harder at their jobs through the week and Sundays seem to be a day when they don’t have to rush to get somewhere. I believe that some are being asked to do more at their jobs then people were asked to do years ago… are more stressful, the workload is greater, the demand greater and people just want to decompress on the weekends….all weekend. I think some people just flat out don’t want to have to get up on Sunday, get ready and go somewhere. The lure of gathering with other Christians just isn’t strong enough for them to make it worth the effort. They are perfectly comfortable to gather with other “people” throughout the week, whether they are Christians or not. By the weekend, they are mentally and physically spent. I think overworking and busyness is one of Satan’s tools to keep people out of church.

  • I am currently a “done”. I have used basically every reason listed by others. Yet, as I have read these posts, I feel cut to the quick.
    Because deep down, I know, I am being selfish.

    The problem for me is that a great many of the reasons I left are actually valid. That is, valid from my perspective.
    Many of these reasons were valid to others also because many, many people left. Yet somehow, deep down, when I’m being honest with myself, I feel the real root is selfishness.

    I’ve felt hurt, frustration, disappointment, anger, all for “righteous” reasons. Poor leadership, empty teaching, pushing for “young” leaders instead of those spiritually strong (regardless of age), lack of vision or direction. I honestly felt our head pastor needed to be “saved” first because I judged his actions to be too worldly.

    I thought I should have a “say” in certain areas, (only because God had done His work using me a few times so I thought it was me!) but no one asked for my opinion.

    My problem now is how to go back. We have visited many local assemblies (I don’t call them churches because we believers are the “church”) and as they are filled with people, none are just right, let alone perfect.
    The same problems still exist, poor teaching, weak worship, etc.
    The real issue is I think it’s all about me.
    If I truly was walking in the Spirit, be being filled daily, shouldn’t I be able to go anywhere and discharge His glory as I worship Him?!
    I have been fortunate in the past to be part of a fellowship on two occasions where it was truly Spirit filled and Spirit led. Having tasted that, it’s hard to endure less.

    As it is always easier to quit than tough it out, I think I am wrong to be done. Yet at what point do we continue to support and follow bad leadership? If we don’t do something, aren’t we contributing to the problem. But is leaving “doing something”?
    I want more. More of something real. More of Him!

  • The last two paragraphs are offensive when juxtaposed. The failing church is referred to as “Her”. She has lost ‘her’ purpose. Then it goes on to the other writer saying it needs good men, men of prayer. I maintain that the church needs men and women of prayer.
    I truly believe the part about people wanting to be participants and “play”. But I also believe that many young people do Not want to “pay.” They haven’t learned to tithe and there is a biblical statement on tithing 10% of your income. I believe the ‘Unchurched” do not want to follow this biblical mandate. I would like to ask these unchurched what are they doing with this 10% not given to a church. I believe they are spending it on self-gratification. They are experts at judging the churches, the church services and forming opinions about the leaders and the congregation, many of which are probably mistaken.These are the same people who can never give to others. And if you can’t give money, how are you going to contribute time and service to a church? The church is Christ’s bride. I am saddened when people suggest closing the doors because it’s made of imperfect humans.

  • Wow! Look at those comments! You are right to some degree Bill but no more right than many of the people here. God told me I had a job to do the other day but because I was so busy doing Christmas I did not see this at the time. I apologize for my tardiness.

    It was all prophesied:-
    Rev 12:4 … and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
    Rev 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

    The woman is Israel. The child is Christianity (the Christos). The man child is Jesus (the Christ). The attempted devouring of the child was the dark ages so we see that the church that emerged from the dark ages was one that the devil thought could be used against God.

    Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
    Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

    So the Devils is now using every trick at his disposal to destroy the Church and we need to respond. That is why Paul wrote:-
    1Co_14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

    So the idea of church being totally one way traffic from the minister or the “Worship Leader” to the congregation is simply not there. That particular concept means that the church is limited by the minister’s capabilities and provides an easier target for the devil to misdirect and limit the church. The devil’s thinking is that it is easier and more effective to deceive one person than a whole congregation – which, of course, is true.

    My personal experience is that churches work when time and space and reverence is given to invite the Holy Spirit in. As in Acts 2 – being in one accord in one place.

  • This is so sad I scarcely know where to start. There is a key phrase in the article: “primarily in America.” The “Dones” are, for the most part, filled with pride and self-centeredness. Concerned only about their perceived “experience” with God, they abandon the local church and her labor of evangelism and missions. Safely ensconced in the comfort of their home and surround by just the right people, they validate one another in their self-absorption. Meanwhile, a lost world goes to hell.

    Imagine a believer from a persecuted country walking into what they have rejected. Can you imagine what their reaction would be?

    While I was quite aware this was happening, the validation of this trend is the most disheartening thing I’ve read about the decline of the gospel in America in a long time.

  • A magnificent post Pat. Well done. Truly Inspiring.

  • To Michael Mercier, All the dones that I have heard about and know of have got out of the way and let God. Let God have the pre-eminence, not religion and form.

  • William, to add to your excellent posts, scripture says that the New Testament Church went from “house to house.” it does not say that they went to ‘A’ house to fellowship. If they went from house to house, then I have to assume that today they went to Bill’s house, tomorrow they are going to Fred’s house, the next day they are going to John’s house and so on and so on.

    Committing to a meeting taken place in ONE house all the time seems to be a foreign concept to the New Testament Church.

    Just turning up was not a problem as those that could brought food towards the agape meal which was the centrepiece of the meeting.

    In my reading about the life and times of Jesus, in Middle Eastern culture, if you visited someone, it was AUTOMATIC that the host laid out food and drink for you as it was common courtesy to do so.

    Today’s meeting would be considered weird and impolite as no food is offered.

  • For those of you that say we should stick with institutionalised religion and get involved, it is not as easy as you think as I found out. In my first church in Australia having come from England and a church that lived out the priesthood of ALL believers, not the chosen few, we had a prayer meeting for the Federal Election that day.

    At the end of the meeting the pastor asked if there was anyone who wanted prayer for themselves. A lady said she wanted prayer for her husband who was unable to leave his bed.

    As I had operated in the gift of discernment regularly in England, I said that we should pray over a handkerchief and for her to put it under his pillow without his knowledge.

    This we did and she did and as a result her husband was healed. later I was told I should not have done that because it is the pastor’s job.

    Has anything changed since then? Sad to say no. Leadership hears from God for the fellowship so that means your involvement is dependant on them.

  • Oh good grief! Why are we fighting? Why are we JUDGING one another here? You cannot possibly walk in another’s shoes. We didn’t LEAVE the church. Our churches LEFT US. We are all still believers. We are all still followers of Christ. We are all trying to meet up with other believers. I have a circle of fellow believers that commune regularly. Just because we are not in a BUILDING, does not mean we are done with Yahshua! Get a grip! You do NOT know what passes for “church” in my area. You haven’t seen them talking about “gold falling from the sky as an act of God”. You haven’t heard them talk about “other” churches. Christ is not in a building, folks. He lives in each believer’s heart! Paul didn’t go to church. HE STARTED THEM! We are all given different gifts. It makes me so very sad to hear the “churchers” attacking those who have left a building filled with apostasy AFTER TRYING FOR YEARS (USUALLY) TO RIGHT THEIR COURSE. I am appalled at so-called Christians disbelieving those of us who have been “called out” of the church scene in our area by God.

    It lets me know that INDEED we are in the End Times. We have begun to adhere to an assembly rather than listen to the Word of God. I will pray for those of you who have so heartlessly and wrongfully judged those of us who have left an assembly to seek our own.

    I believe in the Jesus of the Bible. Too bad there are no churches in my area that know Him. He is in my heart. He guides my steps. I meet fellow Christians all of the time, BECAUSE HE PUTS THEM IN MY PATH!

    I will follow Yahshua, y’all can follow your assemblies. It is my sincerest hope and desire that those who are remaining in a “church” are still in one that honors Yahshua. I was not. When that happens, it ceases to be a church. I’m sorry that you can only see a building. I’ll pray for you. I’ll also pray that you don’t have to leave yours. My experiences on three continents has led me to this decision. I’ve been with some very wonderful churches, but not in my current area.

    I can’t and won’t judge your participation in the assembly because I don’t know you or your assembly. It is un-Christian for you to judge those of us who have left after much soul-searching and prayer without knowledge of our situation.

    Please pray about this and ask YHWH to explain to you why this is happening and why it is increasing. I pray it does not come to your neighborhood. But do not be blinded by the building at the expense of following Yahshua.

  • Charles Brown, there is no way you can made this ludicrous claim if you’ve read the comments from the Dones of how they are often reaching more people with the gospel now, building more meaningful relationships with other believers and non believers, etc (ie. doing church).
    The only thing “abandoned” is going to some building and calling that church!

  • David Morrison – “I don’t think we are talking about the 4 walls of a man-made building. We are talking about a group of God’s people- the body of Christ- meeting regularly as God’s people.”

    David, “Meeting regualrly as God’s people” is something Dones do! No, no official church is needed.

    You and others may not be talking about the 4 walls per so but it equates to the same as you again it essentially stating that it is apparently impossible to meet regularly with other believers if not in some sort of corporate church, usually that has a building with it but not always.

    The reality is though as many have written above, one if actually often MORE likely to have real, sustained, live giving fellowship when not constrained by any one church.

  • Many of the posts here indicated a confusing array of ideas of what the “church” is in the New Testament. It seems clear to me that it primarily means Christians assembling themselves together, each local gathering being a local manifestation of the great spiritual eternal church which consists of all true believers, past, present and future, the church for which Christ died. We will all one day be assembled in that sinless glorious assembly and it is surely important that we meet together now as a foretaste of that.

    Whether the local gathering moves from house to house or building to building hardly matters, except that using a set location makes a regular gathering much easier to organise.

    Denominations are not churches in the biblical sense, but they can be of great service to the churches if they are run by godly representatives of local assemblies.

  • Roger Marks- Yes, good points about visiting each others homes not just one place and to that I would add that the assembly of believers was very much a love FEAST, not just a thin wafer and a little bit of juice squeezed in after a slotted time for worship songs and before the hour monologue from the CEO paid pastor!

    To really be a body it’s easier done when you are in the same neighborhood where you meet other believers regularly, not for a 35 minute slot every Sunday or what have you. That does nothing but leave people left out, isolated and lonely. No, we don’t “leave” the church as those critical of the “dones” seem to default to in their thinking, as if there is no other option, but we actually DO church, not simply attend it and with that, no it is not selfish. In fact, it can so often become more selfLESS as one isn’t reliant of a few staff members to carry the load.

    If anything, I think this is the work of the Holy Spirit to prepare all of us for when official assemblies/churches do close down and the church has to go underground. If/when that happens and persecution runs amok, God will have already had people stationed and prepared for those only used to “going” to church once a week or soas it were.

  • Pope: ‘Without the Church, Jesus Becomes an Idea’ at Mercy of Moods, Imagination
    In New Year’s Homily, Pope Reminds How Mary Gave a Human Face to Christ, So We Can Contemplate Him
    By Deborah Castellano Lubov
    VATICAN CITY, January 02, 2015 ( – “Without the Church, Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the Church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods.”
    Pope Francis made this strong statement during his homily given Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica, when warning faithful of what happens when one undermines the beautiful relationship and inseparability between Jesus, Mary, and the Church.
    The mission of the people of God, the Pope stressed in the homily, is “to spread to all peoples God’s blessing made flesh in Jesus Christ.” He pointed out that Mary “is the one who opens the way to the Church’s motherhood and constantly sustains her maternal mission to all mankind.”
    The Pope further reflected on Mary, as “the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus, the model of the pilgrim Church,” and discussed what her acceptance of God’s will has accomplished.
    “No other creature has ever seen God’s face shine upon it as did Mary,” Francis said. “She gave a human face to the eternal Word, so that all of us can contemplate him.”
    In addition to contemplating God’s face, the Holy Father invited those gathered to praise and glorify him, “like the shepherds who came away from Bethlehem with a song of thanksgiving after seeing the Child and his young mother.” 
    Francis stressed how closely united Mary is to Jesus and how Jesus cannot be understood without his Mother.
    “Likewise inseparable,” the Pope continued, “are Christ and the Church.” He noted the salvation accomplished by Jesus cannot be understood without appreciating the motherhood of the Church.
    “For the Church is herself God’s great family, which brings Christ to us. Our faith is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ … Where can we encounter him? We encounter him in the Church.”
    Saying the Church’s activity and mission are expressions of her motherhood, the Pontiff said the Church resembles a mother “who tenderly holds Jesus and gives him to everyone with joy and generosity.”
    “No manifestation of Christ, even the most mystical, can ever be detached from the flesh and blood of the Church, from the historical concreteness of the Body of Christ.”
    “Without the Church,  he continued, “Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the Church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods.”
    Noting Jesus Christ is the blessing for all of humanity, the Pope said that the Church, in giving us Jesus, offers us the fullness of the Lord’s blessing.
    “May this gentle and loving Mother obtain for us the Lord’s blessing upon the entire human family,” Pope Francis prayed, adding that on this World Day of Peace, “We especially implore her intercession that the Lord may grant peace in our day; peace in hearts, peace in families, peace among the nations.”

  • I fear that some “dones” are strongly generalising and even unfairly parodying what goes on in church assemblies and what “churchgoers” believe about buildings, the Lord’s Supper and so on. There are certainly plenty of churches around which do not honour God, but some comments here seem to be denigrating churches generally, including the many thousands, small and large, meeting as faithful assemblies of saints in most parts of he world.

    I’ll make this my last comment on the subject and go back to typing our service roster with its names of people who read services, read the three Bible readings, preach, do the practical preparations, play the organ and assist in Lord’s Supper services. Some people don’t like our prayer-book type of service with leaders sometimes in simple robes, but to leave church attendance altogether for such reasons would be very serious.There are of course many forms of church, and ours is one of them.

    Each other service in the parish is also a church, some varying considerably from us in the way they do things, and people from the several services join together in fellowship at times. I must admit we are well-off, as is the case in much of the Sydney region, but certainly in Australia there would be few if any large towns and cities where there are no assemblies one could attend in all good conscience.

    I hope I do have considerable understanding of the “done” problem, but a little correction of some excessively pessimistic views seemed necessary.

    But as repetition is beginning to set in…

  • Think churches need to become less risk averse regarding giving folk opportunity to grow……have a sense of call and vision that isn’t interpreted as oppositional to that of leaders.
    I think church should be a life-style (like Acts 2) not a weekly event.
    I still believe in church and that the Jesus in you is beneficial to my life and hopefully the Jesus in me can help you too.

  • This man seems to have a solution to the current problem that I think is well worth listening to.

  • I am one of the ‘done with’ for the simple reason that entertainment seems to be the norm. This seems to indicate that the churches believe that the message is not enough to bring and keep people in churches.
    The weakest link in our church is the sermon; there is no ‘take-away’ just more historical lecturing.
    I love Christ’s messages about love, service and forgiveness these are messages that we are to carry by demonstration. The hymns are nice but not really necessary.

  • Maybe God is done with the church too. Jesus is the best pastor and teacher. The church has become too man centered and controlling.

  • What ever happened to hospitality and fellowship. Inviting someone over for dinner after church, getting together for a Super Bowl party, Church picnics? Why put the Holy Spirit in a box? What are these churches afraid of, real revival?

  • Surely we must distinguish between the value of “spiritual friendships” and “Church”. Together, they constitute the “agape” phenomenon – which became disorderly even in Apostolic times (Acts: Cor.). Yet both aspects of spiritual “sharing” response to the gift of faith are desirable. The “breaking of bread” in the church “assembly” was and is where the loving presence of the Risen Lord was and is especially “known”. That re-enactment of the “Last Supper” is always preceded by listening and receiving the “Word of God” in Scripture; but much study and sharing of “The Word” is at the heart of personal growth in “spiritual friendship” and the vitality of Christian Marriage (Col.3). We receive Love from God and pass it on to others – the world being our Mission-field.

  • I have been a pastor for 25 years. I understand and agree with much of what is said here, and yet…

    In my time pastoring, those that I have seen leave for many of the reasons mentioned above, do not become part of the solution, but only continue to point out the problems. In my experience, they have gone from being church members, to small groups that gather, to groups that quit meeting, or to groups that meet but do not meet spiritually.

    Eventually, many who leave do not correct the faults of the church by doing those things themselves. Every mature believer can disciple someone. I hope that all of you are. If you are, fantastic.

    Jesus said that He would build His church. If you have left your church, fine, but be active with Jesus in building His church.

    To me, it doesn’t take much spiritual maturity to point out the problems in a church. It take maturity to speak up, but it takes even more maturity to do correctly what the church is dropping the ball on.

    I don’t defend the church, but I love the church. She is Jesus’ Bride. So whatever “church” looks like to you, be fully engaged in not just tearing down, but building back up. I agree that sometimes tearing down is needed, but it’s so that things can be built back up.

    Blessings in Jesus…

  • Thank you for continuing this thread.

    In Jesus’ word to the church’s, he addresses the church in each city as if it is one body. I wonder if in actual fact a number of house churches or meeting points were conglomerated as the “Church” in each city addressed? If this is the case, it may be possible to change service tactic or location or group but each believer makes up the essence of the church in any area – so there is no way to be a “done”?

    There seems to be an assumption that the church in the first century was ideal – this may be so for a very short period but 5 of the 7 churches in Revelation were counselled to repent.

    The Christian life ought to be a life of repentance, this is true for me and it has to be for assemblies and the whole body – this is grace for grace, faith to faith, glory to glory. Jesus is preparing his church and he knows his own. I do not believe He is so much concerned with practice or government as He is with character and fruit.

    My desire is to be led and to be obedient to the Spirit of God to grow in Jesus ; this includes the topic of discussion as to where to worship and how to participate. In this I am ever learning to hold certain things loosely and the important with a tight grip.

  • I miss the spirit-led worship. It is great to ” cater” to the younger generation and have some “performance” qualities in church, but something is missing when on some Sundays, the Holy Spirit was so present during worship that the agenda of the service was changed, and worship just continued. It’s as if the Holy Spirit threw a nice, cozy blanket over the service, and instead of staying with the planned order, the congregation was able to just spend time snuggled up under that blanket……THAT’S when it REALLY feels like we’ve been to church.

  • Great observations: I liked this quote from a “Done: ““I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”
    It’s time for church to offer a radical alternative: Spirit-led, participatory church.

  • I totally agree with everything said here. I long for the old church, where the Gospel is preached, & there was love, caring & a strong mission. Our churches today have turned too political & judgemental. Politics have no place in the church. All they seem to care about is building bigger churches, entertaining the young people, bigger numbers, etc, & have lost their way, as to what the true mission of the church is. For all these reasons, I too, have had a problem finding a church that I really feel comfortable & enjoy going to. Still looking but do not have much hope that the church I grew up in, is still out there.

  • My wife and I left a church we’d attended for 7 or 8 years. We’re ministry-minded – but, there was no place for us in ministry there – and “church” was getting stale. There were no missions, no outreaches, just sermons and spiritually-dry music. Sermons are fine – but, all we got to do was HEAR about Jesus – not really EXPERIENCE Him. On a friend’s invitation, one Wednesday night, we attended a mid-week meeting at a small start-up church in Ventura, CA. It’s called “Saticoy Church”. They rent space from an Hispanic congregation. We felt the power of the Holy Spirit as soon as we entered the room. The people there were on-fire, and overflowing with love. As it turned out, nearly everyone was involved in ministry – even the teenagers. There were worship leaders, missionaries, a couple of Christian authors, evangelists, a pastor and his family who are preparing to plant another church – even a Messianic rabbi and his wife. The church was involved in ministry to gang members and the homeless; a group of business people visited those of us who own small businesses and prayed over our homes and businesses; the pastor, Rex Holt, took a team to Haiti over Thanksgiving. In the congregation was a homeless family who finally got jobs and a new apartment. Everyone came together, and surprised them with furniture, clothes, kitchenware, etc. – and surprised them with it, when they arrived at church. We experience the Holy Spirit in action. I believe the difference is, people come to church EXPECTING God to show up – and He does! We’ve even seen amazing miracles take place. My faith is growing in leaps and bounds for the first time in many years – and we’ve already begun using our giftings to minister to the body of believers. In short – God led us to a true First Century Church.

  • Such a variety of responses….isn’t that the point? There are many parts of the body of Christ, and each one us has different needs, different talents, different missions. Our walk with God is unique and special, I don’t believe we should be cookie cutter copies of each other. Remember, God is in charge and leads each person the way He desires. He has a plan.

    As far as the church, the building…I believe it is a place to support one another, get spiritually fed, relieve our stress, burdens, and doubts. A church is a place to regenerate, strengthen us. How a church does that for their congregation? I think the pastor needs to know his congregation, be involved, know them. The larger the church membership, the less the pastor really knows you, maybe not even your name! But despite peoples dissatisfaction with the church, we are all family, no matter where we are.

    I would hope if you are in church, you really want to be there to praise and have fellowship, but don’t go if you think you have to, or you are bored, or you are sitting there with resentment toward the pastor or others in the congregation. Focus on God, and only God.

  • I am near to be being “done” and the reason is the church politics. When I go to church I don’t want to feel like I’m going to a job in the corporate world. Tired of trying to serve on committees and feeling like I’m back in Jr. High with a bunch of cliques and mean girls. Am hearing this more and more from others as well.

  • For me, it’s the people. I’m tired of the self righteous, judgmental, gossipers, stab you in the back crowd. I know not everyone in church is like that, but a large percentage is. If Christian’s are really suppose to be differant, then why is some of the meanest people that you will ever meet active in church. They are deacons, Sunday school teachers, committee members. There is enough evil in the world, why would anyone want to associate with that in church. It’s a frustrating situation. I know I need to be in church, but I don’t want to be around that. They have a form of godliness, but they deny the power that can make them holy.

  • Wow, there are a lot of comments to your article Bill. It is a very important topic though and will add my two cents. I am 57 years old and am one who has “been in church” all my life. All those years in Baptist churches. About 8 years ago God convicted me to study the decline of the churche in America and the shocking statistics of the Millennial generation turning their backs on Christianity and church. It has been a very enlightening and also discouraging period in my life. In short we are losing in all ages and demographics and we know the scripture is clear God loves all people and does not want any to perish without him. Arguably though the future of the Church does lie with the young, we have to reach them.
    There have been many who have commented on both sides—“church is too contemporary” or “go back to our traditions” and every opinion in between the arguments could go on until Jesus returns and probably will.
    I would offer a few conclusions I have come to over these last 8 years.
    1. We are all sinners—either saved or unsaved
    2. All of us tend to think of ourselves.
    3. No individual or group likes to change and always resists it.
    4. Without good communication and education change will always be hard and painful. Even with good communication and education there will be some dissention.
    5. No matter what kind of church you are part of it will not reach everyone. Define what God is leading your church to do and do it, leave the rest to him. Also be open to supporting other churches in your area who are reaching those that you are not, whether it be old or young.
    6. If your not growing spiritually look in the mirror first, chances are you are the biggest problem. To go along with this, it is your responsibility for that spiritual growth, if a small group, house church, mega-church or anything in between is where you are honestly growing in your walk with Christ, that’s where you should be.
    7. No church is perfect and if it was when you joined it wouldn’t be anymore because you are there, see no 1. If they are preaching the truthful word of God in regards to salvation and discipleship chances are you can find a home there.
    8. Every single one of us, including pastors, elders, deacons, etc. need accountability. We all need someone to tell us what we need to hear not what we want to hear. If you don’t have that person, pray hard and find one.

    I could go on but will end with a few final thoughts that drive me on to advocate and research church growth.

    One—Jesus said I came to seek and save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

    Two—Excerpt from video The Changing Faces of Worship—“Many Churches have chosen to keep their traditions and lose their children”.

    Three—Excerpt from Who Stole My Church—“You need to think about the fact than any church that has not turned its face toward the younger generation and the new challenges of reaching the unchurched people in this world will simply cease to exist. We’re not talking decades—we’re talking about just a few years.” Preface pg. 8

    Four—Excerpt from WSMC— If we don’t have some system of checks and balances that comes through frank conversation, even criticism, then we’re going to be in trouble.


  • Renee Matthews–but all these things mentioned can be just as easily (if not more so) done outside the confines of a church assembly building, and in one’s homes with others! Again, no need to attend anywhere to make these things happen.

  • Bill Walden–Yes, and many of us here (who are dones) LOVE the church to and guess what? The church is not any one place where one attends. It is all round you if you do church….and we don’t even get salaries to do it as you may as a paid pastor!

  • I LOVE what Vickie Cornell writes above. So true. Definitely the part of attending church I miss the most. In fact, mentioned that in my very first reply here. That is the ONE thing hard to replicate outside the walls of a larger assembly. If only it was still that way though. I’m sure (and hope) it is in a some churches.

  • Thank you for the rich dialogue re church with or without walls. I particularly liked recent posts re the Spirit-led life and the need for mentoring. Taking active ownership of our faith rather than be passively entertained is a challenge for all of us.

    The bigger problem is that we’re living in a post-Christian culture and there is a mental and spiritual tsunami approaching. The bottom line is we are ‘all’ called to save the lost and equip the saints in these challenging times. So, whether we do it from within the walls or without, doesn’t really matter.

    “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Luke 10:2). “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35).

    As we know, a worker in the harvest means being in the world but not of it. I personally thank God for the dones because they typically wrestle with religion (eg see problems with an attractional model church to a post-Christian culture) and wrestle with real relationships (saving the lost and equipping the saints in the world outside).

    The good news is God loves his church (with or without walls), he’s coming back for it and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (read we’re on a winner!)

    For those interested, in the church without walls read Built for Adventure: Toward mystery, meaning and mental health. Free e-book

    Thanks again Bill for providing the forum for this lively discussion – long overdue and needed!

  • This is all Bible Prophecy unfolding right before our very eyes – the falling away, the lukewarm Laodecian churcfh, the 7th and last church of the ages – never to be an eighth.

    There are many ass-u-me’s here – assumptions and judgments of others. Those who are Holy Spirit led will be obedient to their God. They know Him and they “test the Spirits”. They will be obedient to His leading.

    God never tells His own to stay in any church that is NOT teaching His word…as many churches today are NOT. They will do as God commands in Revelation 18:4 and come out of the apostate churches, or will a knowledgable pastor will start also being obedient to His word and have a call for repentance and redemption for his “organized “religion” church.

    If a pastor is Holy Spirit led to be obedient to God’s word and not the world…He will succeed. He may only have a handful in his congregation and that is just enough.

    Not according to His word.

  • Here is an interesting link of an article that addresses some of the points above.

    I have been reading your site Bill for a while now and always find your commentary very interesting. I must say though the negativity in the comments above is extremely depressing.
    My husband and I are realitively new Christians- we have been attending a wonderful, smallish but growing bible believing church for less than three years and have loved being part of a Christian community especially when most of our family and friends (in our 30s) are atheists or indifferent. We definately need mature Christians to mentor us – not be part of the ” dones” – especially as we don’t know any Christians outside of church!

  • Whether conventional or unconventional where there’s a dissatisfaction, there will always be a product. Where there is a successful product, there will always be a franchise . It’s the American comfortable way.

  • Thanks for all the comments. Just a reminder: if you posted a comment here but it has not yet appeared, it is likely that you have not followed my commenting rules which require a full name. So if you want to resubmit your comment here with a complete name, feel free thanks.

  • I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think Your like; but I’ve heard the tender whisper of Love-in the dead of night!
    There’s no Holy Spirit. There’s talk of or about the HS. But there’s no HS. I think jesus is bummed out that we’ve reduced Him to a doctrine. I’m done.

  • Hi, my name is Joel, and I’m a Done.
    Bill, your article accurately describes the sad, present reality in my family’s life.
    While I have no very direct need to worry about this topic, (since our home church has been doing very well for many years) one of the most non-biblical aspects of churches for centuries has been the ‘office’ of ‘paid permannent pastor’. The poor guy is trying to do good, has huge expectations placed on himself by himself and the members…yet has no biblical basis for his ‘office’. Yes, he has clear biblical basis for his function, but not his ‘office’. We members should not just hire him to ‘do our spirituality’ for us. This subtle attack of Satan ahs caused much spiritual damage for centuries. The ‘Done’ man in your article has now realized this – and is getting out of that ‘community/church’ that practices ‘church’ in t hat manner….as has my family…as you have obviously seen in your travels around the world. Thanks for your observations…and possible solutions for some groups.

  • Pat Banttari got a point in what she said. Also, it is so sad to meet in a church building where the presence of the Lord is absent or barely noticeable. It’s all about Jesus, for Jesus, because of Jesus, and through Jesus, but unfortunately it has become so much about everything else. Those who want little of Him have got the church services catered to them. We crave his presence in the congregation, but too often there’s no room at the inn. Jesus is the fountain of living water, every other well is dry. You can’t quench people’s thirst with a dry well.

  • I was an active lay leader in an unusual small ELCA church that was put on the all too popular prescription for small churches. Ignore them for 10 years, declare them closed and claim their property and money because they know best how to use member offerings. It’s all illegal if you follow Lutheran rules but courts won’t get involved in church issues. Denominations don’t have to follow their rules. They hold the keys to the church, don’t you know!

    They wanted our endowment. They needed our endowment. And so they refused to recognize five-fold growth in two years that was a result of reaching out to new immigrant communities. They could have been proud of us. Instead: “You are not allowed to do outreach without our permission,” our bishop said. Huh?

    They sued us in court for six years for resisting their “wisdom.” That kept us tethered to them when we might have drifted away.

    And so I could be a Done Christian. But that leaves the fox in charge of the hen house and I still have affection for the hens—and the true Henkeeper!

    Took our ministry on line. Our small church reaches more people every year than it did in its 100 year history as a neighborhood church. We do it without a denomination and without a pastor. Although it hurts to be shunned and excluded, it feels good to still be a church in a new sort of way—free at last from the things that were holding us back in mission—the medieval expectations of denominations that view lay people as dependent.

    We need to leave the Middle Ages and love the people who are alive today. If the church does not recognize the talents and skills of it lay members, the bishops will soon be holding the keys to lots of empty churches.

  • The church has become an institution of give give give and do do do. It is living in the Old Testament under the law which Jesus came to fulfil and deliver us from. The church is full of people who feel condemned and worn out because they don’t feel they live up to the expectations of leadership or worse of all, God Himself. We need to know that we are loved, forgiven, made righteous, accepted, secure and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. We are saved by grace and grace alone. It’s not about do do do but done done done. We need to rest in the finished work of Jesus and Leaderships efforts to conform us in to its own image and not God’s image.

  • Interesting article. I recently left the church that I had spent nearly 20 years at (even served as a deacon, SS teacher, etc.). My wife grew up in this church and had never been a member of another church. We could no longer follow the pastor’s leadership, we felt that he was not meeting some of the biblical requirements of a pastor (see below). We left s a result and had the fortunate opportunity to visit many churches over the last year. Because we had been trying to be faithful to our church, we had been to only a handful of different churches over the past 2 decades. What we observed at the churches that we visited was invaluable.

    I think that there are two sides to this issue of members leaving.

    1. Members
    2. Leadership (Pastors)

    It is easy to address members who are empathetic and are satisfied with staking some real estate on a pew. Or other members who are needy and constantly looking to be served. Easy targets that can be found in every church. What I have observed is that there are still many people who are hungry to be fed and willing to serve the Lord in various ministries. We are currently going to a church in a college town. There are between 200-300 college students attending this church that does not “entertain” its’ members. This has been so encouraging to see the next generation eager to follow Christ.

    As a Christ follower, I take ALL the responsibility with my walk. I will not use the failures of others (either members, pastors, or churches) to be an excuse for me leaving the faith. It is my responsibility to forgive and forget when harmful things are done to me. Many ex-members carry grudges from their previous church. My advice is to forgive and move on. If a member or pastor has done something wrong, you are commanded to forgive as Christ forgave you. If the Holy Spirit is guiding you to leave that membership; move and trust that God has a place for you in another membership (1 Cor. 12:18)

    It is a little more difficult for most to address the failure of pastors. I’ve heard it said (from the pulpit) that we should never talk bad about the pastor for “he’s God’s man”. This followed by the speaker saying that he recalls two men who died when they went against the pastor. I am in full agreement with supporting your pastor, but not at ALL costs (especially at the cost of a church). Pastors are men who fight the same temptations as the average member and they don’t always resist. If you go down the list of biblical requirements for the pastor, your pastor should be able to say that he has met these requirements in the past and is diligently working on keeping them. Always error on forgiveness. But there comes a time if you believe that your pastor is not fulfilling these requirements and either doesn’t see the error of his ways or if he does and is unwilling to change; then I believe that it is ok to leave that fellowship. I have heard some horror stories about pastors who have failed at maintaining these requirements and refuse to change.

    As I said, there are two sides to this story and most commonly the members get most of the attention. Sadly, the leadership of many churches is failing their members and causing many to leave.

    Pastor Qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7

    Above Reproach – An accusation of sin won’t stick to him.
    Husband of One Wife – He must be faithful to his wife. He adores his wife and doesn’t flirt with other women.
    Self-Control – He is the master of his behavior. His behavior doesn’t control him.
    Lives Wisely – He makes good choices.
    Has a Good Reputation – People at church and in the community think highly of him. He is respected.
    Hospitable – His home is open to others.
    He Can Teach – He has gifted insight into the scripture and communicates well those insights to others.
    Not Addicted to Wine – He never gets drunk or over-indulges in alcohol.
    Not Violent – He resolves conflict peacefully.
    Gentle – His manner and words are not abrasive …he has a good “bed side manner.”
    Loves Peace – Is someone who works toward peace in every relationship he encounters.
    Does Not Love Money – He is not consumed with his retirement fund or the price of gas.
    Manages His Home Well – His family and home are in order, not in chaos. His children are polite and respectful. His finances are in order.
    Not a New Christian – He has proven experience as a faithful follower of Jesus.

    Other Pastor Qualifications in Titus 1:6-9

    His children must be believers who are not wild or rebellious
    Not Arrogant – He must be humble, thinking of others first. He has a servant’s heart.
    Not Quick-Tempered – His anger does not flare up at the least provocation.
    A Strong and Steadfast Belief – A conviction in the gospel that does not waver.

  • I like your post. Even more I like the Spirit of it.

    When we focus on the Good-News and forget about building an empire of dirt… the pews (or our houses) will fill up to overflowing.

    People need to understand forgiveness and the agape love-your-enemy-as-yourself kind of teaching Jesus taught.

    The goodie-goodie people teaching Orthodoxy are the very vipers who got their tables flipped and their hypocrite rear-ends whipped. They are the ones Galatians warns us about with all that heavy millstone talk (yikes!)

    We have students all over the world who want to learn about this Good-News kind of love, but our ‘teachers’ are too busy begging for money to keep the lights of their empty buildings on. The doors are locked, shuttered all week, only to open up to the upper crusty class country clubbers on the weekend. Mostly to let money in that should be directed to the poor, needy, and fatherless… People are getting wise and don’t want to waste God’s 10% anymore!

    Teaching God’s Word should not be a vocation at all. The Good News should be freely given to all by those who truly have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    The American expression of ‘worship’ is too focused and defined by Mammon (building a business) and not enough around the Word of Life.

    People are getting wise to the fast food Crystal Cathedral empire of bubble wrapped sepulcher pedestals and bigoted phobic anti everything ranting that passes for ‘preaching’ for some.

    When we praise Him, He will heal our land. When we seek Him we will find Him. When we see Him, we will help shine our light along the way for others – for free.

    Anyone casting judgment doesn’t understand the Mystery at all.

    When Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists, are surrounded by Deacons and Elders who understand the Man the Mystery and the Mission, and are not distracted by the honeypot trap of Mammon – – – then we will see a firestorm of change and not a made for TV scripted event every weekend.

    Just my $0.02

    Wanna know more about this Jesus (Yeshua) guy? I’ll share for free. Don’t worry ether. it’s not a introductory offer. You will never be billed by me – or Him. He already prepaid your scholarship :{D

    Much love – Jim

  • People leaving the church is not a new thing. I am 58 years old and have been going to church all my born days and this is not a new thing. People are going to come and going. Always have. Always will , til the Lord returns.

  • Ms. Gotwald,
    Wow, very adroit description of the sad, rather shocking to me, situation you were in…very accurate reference to the centuries-old denominational mindset…that has helped in some ways, but hurt in more ways. Thanks!

  • Very true….It’s like the quote “People everywhere are leaving the church & going back to God.”

  • A church without a mission is missing.
    Jesus loved all and spent his short ministry, not just helping those in need, but making a meaningful difference in the lives that were once hopeless. It seems to me that many churches have really lost this simple focus.

  • The problem is, we left and nobody even noticed. How can you feel a part of something when you go AWOL and there isn’t one person who cared enough to ask why?

  • Sadly, Church has become a stage, where the actors attempt to out perform the other. Where those in the audience have no voice, and they’re never given a chance to be anything but a pew warmer. Church leaders no longer want the bother of helping the meek become bold. They want to take talented members and make them anointed, instead of taking anointed members and making them talented.
    I have been churchless for a couple years now. My last bit of church was a having Devotions, and singing hymns at the local nursing home on Sunday mornings. The BEST Church I’ve had in some years.
    Unfortunately I had to quit due to some health problems but I’m feeling better now and plan to begin again shortly.

  • Sad to say, many will use this article to justify the lack of church attendance. If they really loved Jesus, they would love people, and seek ways to grow, serve, and strengthen the body of Christ. The local church can and do provide many more ministries than a group of anti- establishment people could every do. No thanks, my church is not perfect, but I learned a long time ago that what I put into worship is what I get out of it. The church is not there just for me, but I am there for them. If we could get more people to realize that, our churches would never be the same! Many are missing out on so many blessings by focusing on the negatives of a church. I hate to be them.

  • The church is sick and it is not God’s fault….we left the church about six years ago and find more peace at home. We were workers and leaders in the church and gave it our all. Then for seven years after that I did jail ministry and gave it up due to health problems. I do not want to do anymore pot luck dinners or cantatas…church is just a lot of busy work with little substance. I prefer to worship God at home with the music that touches me…not the new rock music and chanting of the new age church. Music with annointing ministers to the people…when people just stand and try to clap to the beat while the “team” sings some chanting words…no thank you. I don’t believe that the night club atmosphere with the darkness and light shows adds anything to worship. God is saying to me….”be the church” and stop worrying about where you are going to go to church. For now, that is what I intend to do.

  • Make a difference follow Jesus in the word of God and get your eyes off of people and serve Jesus preach Him, love him follow him. The Church is His Bride

  • The truth is not being preached, nor taught from within.
    Why would anyone want to spend time when they can learn more and ‘enjoy’ from an hour of TV?

  • Well I’m comforted to know I’m not the only “done” in the world. I’m still questioning ,seeking and looking for a church I can identify with.But, if I don’t thats OK because it’s better to go hungry than eat tainted meat (for sure)! I am comforted by the fact that God’s word will not return void and that the true church will like the Pheonix of mythology rise from the ashes and fly again. In what form I’m not sure, that’s not important it’s the substance that matters.

  • I’ve heard many people say “You can’t talk bad about the church” or “The Church is bride of Christ and we must accept the Church, whatever it is.” These concepts are very explicit in the bible but, the church is not a denomination, building or even a congregation. It is the people who love God and have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. They place their faith in God and have a burning desire for him causing them to seek more of him. The church most resembling the Church of Christ in the bible is taking place in places like China where they are persecuted for their beliefs. We are very comfortable in our Sunday church attendance, never really practicing our faith. We don’t even fellowship, just attending, singing, listening and leaving. Never even fellowshipping with anyone while there. Are we witnessing, taking care of the poor, fighting for the faith. I once worked with a strong witnessing church. They practically attacked people on the street to spread the gospel. Perhaps not a good representation of the heart of God or the ministry of Christ. Their philosophy was that if anyone they meet is going to hell, they have to go through them. An admirable sentiment if somewhat misguided in the application. They had a burning desire to do as God requires. Where is our fruit? We should be at city hall, prisons, church and in the streets proclaiming the truth. Not all people have the same gifts, but, it’s not a matter of doing one thing or the other. It’s a matter of doing something.

  • I would say that most churches represent mystery Babylon. If we seek Jesus, who is truth. He has establish His church and will add to it daily. Many who claim to be sent by God are not. He commands us to come out from among them.

  • I guess the question is: who is the church?

    Could it be that those leaving the “church” are searching for the true church – the one made without hands, because they are not finding what they are looking for in the nominal systems. The nominal systems not being the “church” at all, but Mystery Babylon the Great spoken of in Revelation.

    2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
    2Co 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
    2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
    2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
    2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

  • What are you looking for, a church to attend or the Lord Jesus Christ? They are two very different things. When I was searching for Him, the Truth, I found Him by His grace as promised. I was home, and needed search no more, praise God! I learned that Hebrews 10:25, the assembling of OURselves together, applied to other like recipients of His grace with whom He gathered me. It was His work – the Lord is the Assembler of His body, and always has been. His ways aren’t men’s ways. That’s why He calls His people out of men’s systems to walk with Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth. See

  • Lane Roberts, may I suggest to you that you clearly have not read most of the comments on those who have left church. If you had, you would find out that many of us were actively and hugely involved in giving at our assemblies, not going just to be served and are still doing ministry now. In all due respect, you have a very shallow judgment of those who don’t do church like you. You are missing out on putting God in a box.

  • I really like church always have, its not perfect but for me that is not a requirement of attending. I am lucky enough to work for a church now, I love seeing people get helped through this very imperfect church just as I have been helped and continually challenged to focus my life and my family on the stuff in the bible. I really don’t feel any need to talk about the methods we have come up with (I did say ‘we’ as there was no rock’n’roll or LED lights etc in the bible), I don’t care about the methods as they are by opinion only the tools that humans have selected at the moment to try and help people stay connected/get introduced to their bibles and other Christians, ultimately living knowing they are/can be forgiven and can share this simple message. As far as modern approaches being worldly, far out Brussel sprouts, the world I know is not even close to the styles of communication or anything at all found in church as I know it, heck lets get real mate. It’s a given that there is always going to be ugly stuff in church life that needs to be delt with, leaders letting the spotlight go to there head is very ugly obviously, the list of ugly is long so lets try and make it as short as possible because this will ultimately point more people to Jesus, the bible gives us clear ways to go about this process. I personally need the church to stay strong and for as many people as possible to help keep it strong simply because I really really want my kids and others to have the same upbringing as I had, locked into to a very imperfect church life which amazingly (by the holy spirts power, must be him, can’t be church leaders like me, for real) directs people to living a life for christ. I have let go of many of my own personal opinions re the methods used in church because I see the value of church as we currently do it, and because I would love others to have what I have so underservable received. Its super hard to see the true intent of some organizations if you personally don’t think the methods employed to reach the organizations goals were the best choices, I understand that. If we could see only the simple goals of a particular church then maybe we would get onboard. I know that Jesus prayed for unity as a key element for his message of salvation getting out (john 17:20-21 etc), I think that the very very hard thing about unity is that we have to let go of our own opinions of method for the sake of agreeing on the main outcome we are working towards. I think the more people that can do this the stronger the bride of Christ becomes. There are non-negotiables (tenants of the faith) and there are opinions on method, I hope that I can by the HG’s leading know the difference, if a church is preaching against a non-negotiable I will run for the hills, but a difference in opinion on method (I hope) will never sway me. For all the crew on this blog I pray that its more than a problem with method that has changed your mind on church as we know it. Unity is a big deal and takes a lot of work, ha maybe that’s why the church is called the bride of Christ. As any married person knows, it takes heaps of work to stay united but its worth it. DISCLAIMER – this took 20min to right cause im slow, I didn’t check the grammar or spelling, my method of communication is very imperfect please try and see my intent rather then only see the many mistakes, now im just having fun. sorry

  • Thanks Mark, but if you in fact read my article and the comments here, you will see that almost all of us have been speaking about far more weighty matters than just mere methods.

  • Just a couple of points.

    Ralph, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are not pastor qualifications. They are Elder qualifications.

    Mark, I did not read your post as there were no paragraphs which makes it very difficult to read.

  • I relate to almost everything everyone here is saying. I was raised in the (liturgical) church. I left the church in college. I became committed to Jesus Christ in the “Jesus Revival” of the 60’s and 70’s. What I see lacking is the HOLY SPIRIT…the third member of the Trinity, the One who births us. I return constantly to the Scripture verse: ‘if MY people who are called by MY name, will pray and seek my face I will hear from heaven and heal their land.” I see deep, intercessory prayer lacking. I am waiting for another move of our Mother…the one who birthed us…the Holy Spirit of God. Meanwhile, prayer, prayer, prayer is needed. Deep, individual and group, prayer. Cry out to God, Remember the church in Acts was “together with one accord” and they were praying! I am saying all these things daily to MYSELF. I still do not attend a church regularly, I still feel like a lost sheep. Jesus, find us all!

  • Thanks for this thoughtful post. Maybe inadvertently, the person who posted this link on Facebook, where I found it, brought another reason for some of the “Dones” to mind. The beginning of the previous “share’s:” introductory comment was cut off by space constraints, but said something like “Why do some Christians leave the church? Entitled….”, & the title of the article is missing. Although it wasn’t a comment, yes, some Dones leave the church because of an entitlement mentality, a worldly way of thinking which has infiltrated the church too, & is even the basis for some growth strategies!

  • I must say that in my experience attending a fantastic church, that despite the endless hours of labour and ministry given by the leaders, many still walk away. And when they do, they always look for some emotional, un-scriptural reason to do so.

    Of course there are churches that are not following the word, or even trying to do so, but there are also many others who are doing their best to adhere to the scriptures and adequately shepherd their flocks.

    Instead of complaining that the music isn’t what we like, or that the preaching is too long, or the minister made us feel bad when he told us we need to stop (insert sin here)ing, maybe we could respectfully look to discuss any issues with our ministers and use the Bible as our guide in discussing these issues.

    Ministers are human too. They will make mistakes. Perhaps we could try to extend the grace to them which we would like to see extended to us when we fall short.

  • Mario Del Giudice – Thanks for your comments, It’s good to hear everyone’s point of view. You make a good point which may be applicable in some cases. From my experiences as a church lay leader, pastors generally don’t want to discuss any issues and become offended when people do. My comments to a pastor about ways to improve the web site and other minor technical issues fell on deaf ears. I was once told by a pastor that “people were put in his church to learn from him. He wasn’t put there to learn from them.” I’ve found this mentality to be wide spread. I don’t think you can imply that the un-churched are simply unable to extend grace as we expect to receive it. Several times I have had pastors treat me well as long as they needed something from me. Then, turn around and reject me when I am no longer fulfilling a crucial need. In worship this seems to be common. I still love these people and I forgive them. I know their sins can be just as forgiven as mine. However, fellowshipping with them is difficult and painful. I still go to independent bible studies and do worship for events such as the local pastor’s breakfast. I feel though, I am not wanted at the church unless I keep my mouth shut and just attend church on Sunday mornings like a “good” Christian.

  • Your article hit the nail on the head for me. I left a year and half ago and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I wanted to hear God speak to me, not someone telling me what to do. I take more time for prayer and studying the word not just quoting scriptures. I’ve found that I serve such a loving and wonderful God who has more planned for me than I could ever imagine. Over the years I realized I had done church work, but the work of the church is to reach others. There are many lost and hurting souls, we won’t reach them if we’re at church all the time expecting them to come through the doors. No more meetings, practices, retreats, bible studies, building churches, teas and the like. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. I’ve joined team Jesus for the work of the harvest. Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.

  • Gwendolyn, I love the “team Jesus” bit. Right on.

  • @ Keith – I understand that we can have run-ins, and ministers can and do make mistakes. Many are even just hirelings as the scriptures put it. But let’s not stop looking to be under shepherds just because we’ve been hurt by hirelings. Let’s do the right thing and seek to be within the Christ ordained and implemented structure of the church wherever possible. The word “Christian” was first used in Antioch to describe the “Disciples”. It’s not easy to be a disciple if you’re outside of a structure of organised discipleship.

  • Heard you speak on Trunews tonight. Thank you for addressing this issue. We must worship God alone, and return to His righteousness.

  • I find it easier to confess my sin’s outside the church. I have grown in my faith of Jesus Christ sense going to alternate meeting. I am learning to repent and grow when working in the real world. I have stopped being a Sunday morning christian and a Monday morning heathen. I have more empathy for those suffering in their addictions / sins.

  • I listened to your interview on trunews and it was good. The point is and was never mentioned is PEOPLE HAVENT LEFT THE CHURCH….THEY HAVE LEFT THE BUILDING. is my blog and goes into this in detail.

    so we must distinguish between the building and the church and then this all becomes very clear. Yes people are very tired of what goes on in the building…thats why they R leaving….but they have not left the Church just the building.


  • Thanks for the advice Mario. It’s easy to be a discipleship of Christ through the bible, but, I am currently under the discipleship of a group of pastors as well. I attend a bible study every Wednesday and we function as an organism. We love God, and love each other. The Church organization as it is today doesn’t resemble the church of the bible. The Church are the people who are Disciples of Christ. The structure should resemble less of an organization than an organism. All the diverse parts working together to make the whole. Recently, the denomination of a local church “benchmarked” the church to see why it had such a high level of growth. Looking at the sermons, worship, leadership style, etc. The basic criteria of this benchmark is prosperity. A concept this denomination outwardly rejects. But, as a society, we and the church organization have a tendency to measure the spirituality or value of a church organization by it’s size or growth, hence it’s prosperity. The message to the church in Laodicea addresses this concept. Revelation 3:17 “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”. Wealth in itself is not evil but, the love of it is. What should be the measure of a biblical church organism? I suggest it is providing for the members, providing for the poor, spreading the gospel (not just preaching it in the 4 walls), growth of it’s members in love for Christ etc. I have not left the church, I am the church.

  • Where does the judgment of a nation begin? If you know the answer, the upcoming period of time should not be much of a surprise.

  • Churches today are not patterned after the new testament church. I spent most of my life in the church system before seeing it for what it is . Charles Elliot Newbold sums it all up very well in his book” The Harlot Church System.”
    The Church is not an organization it is an organism .
    Jesus and the Apostles would be unwelcome in the churches of today.
    Victoria Osteen hit on why a lot of people are drawn to their type of church .Here is a short video

  • @Mario Del Giudice – Respectfully, after reading through your various comments it seem fairly clear that you have not taken the time to really read the comments of those who have left going to some church place (the unchurched). If you had read them I doubt there is any way you could make many of the assumptions you write here. for example–it’s difficult to grow outside of attending church, or stop complaining and talk to your pastor and so on.
    Finally, yes God ordained the church but again, that does not mean he ordained the typical attending type church many do now. In fact, I would say, it is very very far from what he wanted and in fact church can just as well be found outside of driving to and attending any one place! that limits God and limits our own ministry to others, let alone narrows our fellowship in what can be a rather unhealthy way.

  • Solitary Christianity is an oxymoron, so each Christian should link with at least some others on a regular basis.
    There is much to be said for small (less than 50) congregations. Maybe not everybody’s cup of tea, but when the numbers are small everybody has the opportunity to contribute. Even better if there are connections with other congregations, some smaller, some larger.

  • Thanks Bill. It is sad to read the situations of many writers. Some of the issues with pastors and doctrine etc is overcome by the early teachings of the church. The essential thing for me as a catholic is the doctrine of the real presence of Christ. That Christ said he will be with us until the end of time. My faith teaches me that Christ is truly present when the bread and wine is consecrated by the priest and that consecrated host is reserved in the tabernacle. We can thus visit Christ in our churches any time of the day. This gives us the supernatural, real present of God at all times and a sense of quite prayer and reverence in our churches. We try to live this deep sense of connectedness with Christ present in our churches and in ourselves each day when we live in the state of grace. We generally have a uniform standard of liturgy and doctrine throughout the world. Even if we have issues with our parish or the priest everything else is standard and most importantly we have this deep prayer life which connects us to Christ and his sacraments and therefore his church.

  • @William Michael – I’m sorry if I’ve given the impression of being judgmental towards every person’s situation, but over my still relatively few years following Jesus, I’ve watched way too many people make the decision to walk away from a very good church, because in truth, they want their sin, do not want accountability and prefer to congregate with others who will be part of their “bless me, but don’t judge me” club.

    Even Paul, who was extremely well versed in doctrine and persecutions and was a natural leader did not suddenly decide on his own to just pick up and go and do his own lone ranger style thing. He was released along with Barnabas by the ministry that he was under in order to spread the gospel.

    Whilst small groups have their place, if they are not in communion with a wider body, it is far easier for them to fall into all forms of heresy. The last thing Christianity needs is a few hundred or thousand more little splinter groups with their own pet heresies, which can easily come about because too many Christians are willing to simply accept what they’re told without actually bringing things back to God’s word like the Bereans in Acts 17:11.

  • There are enough people represented here in these comments who have dropped out of fellowship for everyone to get together and start over, in terms of planting Biblical, back to grass-roots home churches. Just needs some of us to open our front doors and get to know each other over a shared meal and soul food in the scriptures. I haven’t dropped out of my fellowship, but am happy to have church any and every day of the week. My door’s open…

  • @Mario Del Giudice, your logic sounds like the Catholic church warning of Protestants breaking away and that that was heresy. In fact, in reality there is so much heresy in the church itself with their CEO pastor model.

  • Mario, in case you have not noticed, we already have thousands of splinter groups They are known as denominations all of which have their pet heresies.

    I did a two year study of the New Testament Church during which I wrote to several denomination leaders about my findings and how they were contrary to what their denomination does.

    In every case their reply was “Yes, but…. and the but was an excuse for the denomination ignoring scripture and elevating denominational tradition as the yardstick for faith and practice.

    What’s a few more when you have most churches splintered and refusing to talk to each other.

  • I left the four walls of church safety and struck out by faith traveling the highways and byways of North America; with no money, no home and no vehicle. It only took me 35 years to finally obey the Lord Jesus Christ and do what I was equipped to do all along. In my journey – my Lord has sent me a larger “church family”; more encouragements and more opportunities to minister the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus Christ – making disciples of men than in all the years I sat in a pew in silence. No more mediocrity.

  • Thanks for this article. I am one of those who left the organized church scene back in the 90s. The main problem for me was that in 3 different churches we attended, there were major problems following the Bible and actually doing what it said regarding meeting corporately.

    Church was not opposing the world, but was copying the world in many ways. After someone said to me “don’t you feel bad not attending church?”, I then prayed and asked God why I didn’t feel bad. His answer was simple: “I did not call you to that,” is what He said to me.

    Done is exactly the right word for where I am. Organized churches here give me the uneasy feeling of hypocritic fakery. I am not perfect nor do I expect it from any man, but I do expect earnest seeking and real experiences with seeing God move.

    I left because of 3 things: 1. No respect for people lead to hollow, fake relationships with no meaning among the congregation. (I never could count on these folks to genuinely be interested in my family nor could I break into their circle to become a friend because all these real circles were closed)
    2. No doctrine was taught in another place, and worship was stinted and stunted.
    3. Outright heresy was allowed in a 3rd location and when I prayed with tears inquiring of God, he asked me where I thought the wolves in sheep’s clothing would appear, the world or what appeared as the church?

    I left to protect my young family from false teachings, spiritual drivel, heresy and phony relationships. If you have a church that is true to the Bible you will fill it to the brim with the thirsty, hungry folks who seek a true relationship with God.

    I am not interested in programs, nor being told to “do” this or that to fit in. I believe we must be furthering the kingdom not by being friends of the world, but by being friends with Christ. They are polar opposites and I have yet to see a church standing like a thorn in the side of the culture. As a result our culture is diseased and the cure is never uncorked. It remains on the shelf in the imposter emerging churches and the irrelevant traditional denominations which left their first love decades ago.

  • I was a Worker in the Church, passionate to do this and that for everyone in the Church, went out of the way to help people any time of the day and night, but one fine day, 3 families along with us i.e. 20 believers were thrown out. Our fault, our Church slowly started celebrating our leaders birthday, baptism day and holy spirit day i.e. when they received all these. Our pastors also started keeping photos of leaders and burning candles, and every Sunday instead of the Scripture, talking about how the leaders did this and that for the Lord, slowly believers started praising and extolling the leaders and caring much for the leaders, touching their feet, it became a deity worship for most of them. We refused to be drawn into all these. We told them point blank, Praise and Worship God, Extol Him for He is a Spirit and we have to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. 12 years we sacrificed our life in Church construction, were very happy, that we were like living stones, fitting in some small gap, but was all in vain. Please pray for our family, we are born and brought up in this Church and feel very bad, when people don’t talk, don’t come to our house, don’t attend any function or funeral of ours. Really very very sad. Lost faith in other churches as well, fearing that the same characters will be there too.

  • @ Roger Marks – I agree that it is an issue that so many denominations would prefer to hold to their manmade traditions instead of the word of God, but let’s not exacerbate a problem, just because a problem is already there. You don’t spot a bushfire and therefore throw some gasoline on it, simply because “Oh well, there’s already a decent sized fire”. If anything, we try to bring unity about by coming back to God’s word.

    Of course, many will have different understandings of what the scriptures say, and that may prevent many from coming together for one reason or another, but if we’re truly willing to humble ourselves to the word and be willing to listen, then surely through submission to God’s word many can be unified.

    As I’ve said in a previous post, I personally believe that the church I attend is fantastic. The reason for this is the fact that the leadership are humble enough to allow themselves to be challenged by scriptural arguments if a person happens to believe that they may be preaching something in error. They know that they are human and therefore fallible and can make mistakes.

    I’m absolutely certain that there must be other churches of this calibre out there, and I therefore put it everyone, that we must genuinely search these sorts of churches out, or at least be praying to be lead to such churches. The church does not have a use by date, and all that this continued splintering and division will do is destroy the faith of many who are weak in the Lord, or even destroy the perception of many of the lost who are seeking truth.

  • @ William Michael – As one who was raised a Catholic, but am now a born again Christian, I couldn’t help but chuckle at your comment. At the age of around 20 I picked up my Catholic Good News Bible and read it from cover to cover for the first time in my life. It was through reading the Bible that I realised the grand difference between the early church of scripture and the Catholic church. This lead me to ask God to show me a good church, which he did.

    My point however still remains valid. God instituted the church. Jesus founded it and told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I don’t know about you, but I think I would rather be part of a good, genuinely Bible following church, which Jesus has promised in his word that the gates of hell will not prevail against, than being one who is easy picking for the devil because I’ve chosen to do my own unbiblical, church free version of Christianity.

    All I’m really trying to say here, more than anything else, is don’t give up on looking for a good church. They do exist!

  • @Mario Del Giudice Where is that church brother? That’s the one I would go to.

  • Some simple rules in looking for a good assembly of believers to fellowship with is to keep in mind the building is not the church the Bride is the church. The elders are fellow believers and they know Jesus said “he that would be great in the kingdom shall be servant of all”. One last point is to keep in mind the Harlot (the false church) wants to be paid (tithes etc.) for making you feel loved the true Bride doesn’t.
    Jesus as well has the apostles warned there would be false teaches, prophets and pastors. Evil men deceiving and being deceived.Be careful who you entrust your soul to.

  • Mario Del Giudice, the point was that you talking about “breaking away” etc as somehow leading to heresy is no more true than Protestants leaving the catholic church or that heresy can just as easily be found within any church building assembly.

    Saying “don’t give up looking for a good church” shows just how biased you are to thinking of church as being a certain assembling place in some building somewhere! No, instead, why even look for a church at all? Church is NOT any one place. We are the church. BEING/DOING church is FAR FAR more Christ centered than GOING to some church!

  • @Jason Joseph — I’m sorry for what you went through. The road is littered with such poor examples. All this to say that you use this to consider yourselves FREED from the false man-made structures of CEO centered pastored church meetings in one locale. That was never God’s intent. Find other believers to fellowship with NOT based on where (or if) they happen to attend church but rather on their fellow love for the Lord. You too, if not already, will quickly find a very hurting world out there longing for real people to connect with and love on them as true believers can provide, especially when not withe the baggage of church building politics.

  • Mario, let me tell you about a “good church” that I attended for 10 years in England. It was based on where two or three are gathered together in my name I am in the midst.

    Most churches don’t gather in the name of Jesus. They gather in the name of the AOG, the Anglican, The Methodists, the Baptists, the Uniting and so on.

    You can’t gather in Jesus name and the denominations name. It is either one or the other.

    This church I am talking about was a two or three church. They met in a lounge room. Nothing more was needed apart from the Holy Spirit which they had in full measure.

    As a result of this two or three and the Holy Spirit, the church grew and grew and grew and grew. No advertising, no web pages, no leaflets, no promotion of any kind but it still grew and grew and grew and grew.

    So why was that? Simple. It was the real deal. They met in Jesus name as the church had no name. It was simply the Church at South Chard.

    Now if you meet in Jesus name at the behest of the Holy Spirit you are going to get dynamite. The real deal and you will grow.

    When I joined they had been going for 10 years and people were coming from all over the country, from Europe and America. These people wanted to experience the fire. They became the publicity machine because they went back home and did the same thing.

    What was different about the church. it did not belong to a denomination. It met in Jesus name. The whole programme every week was controlled by the Holy Spirit. No platform, no pulpit, no preacher, no programme no nothing except the Holy Spirit telling various people what to do and when to do. The meeting was Spirit filled from start to finish. The longest one I attended was six hours. No one wanted to go home as the Holy Spirit was so powerful.

    It operated like this for 30 years and then it died down to re-evaluate and I hear that it is rising from the ashes again.

    I would like to think it would happen here in Australia but I have my doubts as when I speak of it the first question is always the same “What if something goes wrong?”

    Why would it go wrong if the Holy Spirit is in charge? People do not seem to worry that it is going wrong every Sunday with people in charge.

  • @ William Michael – The truth is that in many cases, breaking away is not necessarily what leads to the heresies. What leads to heresies is that those who often form the breakaway groups are not lead of the spirit (not the Holy Spirit anyway), are not well studied in the Bible and worst of all are not in humble subjection to God’s Word even when the word is brought to them.

    That is where Martin Luther is a different case, since he was a minister, trained in the scriptures, well studied, and furthermore, he at the very least was willing to approach his church with scriptures and discuss where he discerned there was heresy within the church. He broke away as a last resort after trying to reform the church he was a part of. He was the one effectively cast out because he followed God’s Word. He didn’t just leave and start his own little fellowship group and call it a church.

  • Over the years I too have left a few churches, for various reasons, some of them good and some not good. I have seen a church change to fit the new mould after I was told that that would not happen. I have moved on because the church I was in no longer met my needs, while it did not fail in any major aspect. I have also moved on because I have been sent elsewhere by the minister over me.

    Whatever our reasons for leaving churches, we need to ensure that are biblical and not self focused as some of my reasons have been. We should also seek to continue to fellowship some where and not just do our own thing, as I have also done.

    Few churches will measure up to everything that we think that they should be. My father had a saying that “if you find the perfect church don’t join it as you will ruin it”. Instead of trying find the perfect church, or one that meets your perceived needs, trying looking for a biblical church where the word is held up above opinions, traditions and what is convenient for the flesh. Yes, that is getting harder and harder to do, but don’t give up, even if you do have to start your own assembly and then seek to get a biblical covering.

    The church that Mario is referring to is not a building, as the ministry don’t have any buildings of their own. It is very much the people, no matter where we meet, or how few. They don’t pretend to be perfect, but strive to follow the word. They are more like a family of believers than any other church that I have been a part of. The ministry over the churches makes itself accountable to anyone who considers that there is any unbiblical speech, or behaviour, in the churches. If you can bring sound scripture to show that what a minister has done is wrong, then they will be held accountable. How many churches do you know of that will do that? How many ministers will humble themselves and correct an error that they have made and seek to grow as they grow their congregation?

    When Mario is referring to people doing their own “church free version of Christianity” it is because we have met plenty who have done just that. People who, when we speak to them, have all sorts of excuses for why they don’t fellowship with anyone else. Many of their reasons for leaving church are due to unbiblical conduct within the church that they left, as several here have mentioned. However, the objections to attending a new church often include some very unbiblical reasons, including holding to denominational traditions rather than what the word says, or an objection to accountability. I also see given here a number of unbiblical reasons for not being part of a church.

    We have had people come in who get all excited about the move of the power of God in the place, but disappear when given the word and the call to discipleship. We have met people who say that they want biblical discipleship, but when they are shown from scripture what that entails, they run, without giving a biblical reason for doing so.

    At the end of the day we can all talk about our experiences, but what is needed is to follow the Bible. If the church that you are in does not look different to the world then you are in a club. Bill has written on this issue too. If they are not following the word and won’t change when respectfully challenged with sound scripture and have no sound biblical response, then they are not a biblical church. In those cases you need to find a real church, a biblical one rather than forsaking meeting with other Christians.

    Biblical churches are still out there. Places where everyone is called to be a participant in doing the work of the gospel in building the kingdom, rather than just propping up someone’s ego, or coming to watch the show. Yes our congregations may be small, our meeting places rented halls or people’s homes plus our services long and different to what most people expect. However, we still seek to follow the biblical pattern of having ministry oversight rather than just doing our own thing. It is by keeping each other accountable to the word that we continue to grow in our faith rather than drifting off the word ourselves.

  • Well said, Mr Bachelor!! 😀

  • I keep hearing about being part of a “biblical church” but as I see it there are very few that are biblical. Most of them are denominational, meeting in the name of that denomination whereas Jesus said “where two or three are gathered together IN MY NAME, there I am in the midst.

    You either meet in Jesus name or the denominations name but you can’t meet in the name of both because the chances are that they will be at odds with each other.

    If your church has a notice board that says Baptist Church or Methodist Church or Anglican Church or Roman Catholic Church or AOG church etc. you are not meeting in Jesus Name. You are meeting in the name of that denomination so it is no wonder nothing is happening.

  • Roger, I agree with you to a point, but even within some denominations that are off track, there are those churches that are still holding to the word and fighting to stop the unbiblical changes that are creeping into many of their fellow congregations, often from their oversight. Not every denomination can be painted with the same brush either.

    However, there are also ordained ministers who are leaving denominations, but are not forsaking biblical oversight and accountability. The Word must held up higher than denominational affiliations, but congregations still need biblical structure if they are going to be called churches, not matter how few, or how many, meet together. Paul left Titus in Crete to set things in order because the congregations needed proper structure and leadership to keep them accountable and Word based.

    Oh, and by the way we don’t have notice boards, as we don’t have anywhere to put them. 😉

  • @Mark Bachelor – I have to admit your “church” sounds as good a a model as any I’ve heard of. that is great and I’m happy to read there are some decent ones out there.

    A few points that come to mind here: You note that “If they are not following the word and won’t change when respectfully challenged with sound scripture and have no sound biblical response…” –The issue here, of course, is that “they” might in fact think they are indeed following sounds scripture! The issue always come down to the fact that each of us have different interpretations on scripture and what is most important! Thus you get some so called “bible only” churches that insist you must be baptized to be saved (Baptists, Church of Christ) etc or 7th Day Adventists that insist the Saturday sabbath only counts, etc. Ironic that all these so called Bible centric churches are so varied, and so we have 33,000 different Protestant denominations with almost ALL claiming to have the most accurate sound scripture interpretation and application!
    What to do then? IMHO we must go with out conscience and let other do likewise. for some that may be normal church attendance, for others, it;s anything but a man made church hierarchy and paid pastors–not seen in scripture either.

  • @Mario Del Giudice –Yes, I know the story of Luther and agree. to your points, I guess I’ve kind of added to them with my reply to Mark Bachelor who also seems to go to your (exceptional) church. Thanks.

  • @Roger Marks –that sounds like the kind of church I think most of us would dearly love to be a part of. There are indeed some good assemblies and I think the best are often found where people aren’t dependent on a salary as paid pastors so they are perhaps more free to minister. With that said however, the very best assembly of believers I’ve ever been a part of was in fact an Anglican church in England, of all things. Wonders never cease. There is DEFINITELY nothing close to that here where I am now.

  • Yes, both Mark and I love our church and with good reason. Judging by what I’ve read in the comments here, there seem to be very few churches left who are willing to preach the hard word out of fear of offending tithers out the door.

  • Very insightful on so many levels. I grew up in church and by the time I was 30 yrs old, church was just something I did because I was suppose to go. I still loved the Lord, believe in his word but there was nothing drawing me to church. I spent the next 20 years bouncing from church to church trying to find some place that made me “want” to be there. Finally, 6 years ago, I visited a church and it has saved my life. Not because its super fancy, not because we have professional worship team, but one reason only…Our Pastor preaches from the Bible without excuse or apology every service…Sunday morning, Sunday night and Bible Study on Wednesday. I truly thought I had heard every possible sermon, every message, even can quote a bit myself of the Bible. But nothing ever like this!! If you want to be fired up, challenged and your toes stepped on all at once…check out a message or two online at If you live in the Northern Virgina area, we are located in Marshall,Va. come by for a visit. All the info for services and directions is on the website. Don’t give up now, Jesus is coming for those who are watching and looking for his coming.

  • Terrific piece. Very balanced and well-thought out. You can tell in reading it that you speak from experience in the trenches.
    You hit on some very interesting ground and I resonated with many things. I have been a believer for nearly 30 years. Currently I am a lay preacher and I am teaching a study with a small group that I upload to I don’t mention this to plug it, but to highlight the response I receive from the message. I have a high view of the Hebrew scriptures and when you approach the Bible from a Hebraic mindset, committed to sound scholarship, the scriptures literally snap into focus and come alive in a fresh new way.
    This wouldn’t be relevant to any of you except to emphasize that a common theme in this thread (and in your article) is the fact that many folks are dropping out because they believe the church has lost its relevance by trying so hard to be “modern”. We’ve stripped the gospel of its teeth and power by preaching “easy-believism”, and the evangelical world has sadly seen a rennaissance of the old Marcionic heresy of “Law vs. Grace”. As a result, we’ve thrown all standards out the window and focused completely upon prosyletizing unbelievers.
    We are supposed be discipling the folks that God brings our way, not prosyletizing people to grow the numbers of a ministry. People can tell when they’re being fleeced, and to push the analogy, the sheep are running away. American church has become American Idol…a money game. The gospel of repentance is not taught anymore except in stodgy, formal, sour denominations who use the term to beat people over the head with the word.
    We need a move back to true biblical teaching and to integrating the full counsel of God into people’s lives in a practical and communal way.
    The false religions of the world are happy to take them folks, and that’s where many of these folks are going. Many of them are NOT staying in the faith, but in fact are embracing Eastern religion and mysticism.
    We’ve lost our salt, and it’s our own fault we find ourselves in this postion. Great article. Thanks for writing it.

  • Vickie, that’s great. Never been to VA but good to know. 🙂

    Mario– yes, that is true which is a sorry state of affaris for not just the pastor but the church as a whole setting up something unbiblical and trying to apss it off as New Testament biblical. In fact tithing was nailed to the cross. Yes, give but never does it say one has to tithe to one’s local assembly/church. In fact, render unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s would include money itself surely. One can just as easily commit/give time and it is up to one’s spirit led conscience where one gives. For me, I’d rather build the kingdom donating my time and resources to homelessness, Word vision and groups that help the worst offended out of se-ual trafficking, etc, that give to some church’s building fund, carpeting or some full time pastor’s salary.

  • Hi William,

    Will have to respectfully disagree regarding tithing. Tithes are a necessity, and a bare minimum. When Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s it is because the money bore Caesar’s image. But we bear God’s image, therefore we are meant to give our whole selves to God, including funds for the sake of furthering the Gospel.

    I see no scriptural evidence in the NT to suggest we should not tithe.

  • Yes, I figured you’d interpret scripture as such as do indeed much of the US modern evangelical church. However, our money bears the image of the US govt, not God or ourselves made in his image! Believers also bore God’s image in Jesus’ day too, no? the principal still applies. You see, there’s the honest difference of scriptural interpretation.

    Rather than convince you further, which would be pointless as I’m sure you are equally convinced in your interpretation and conscience as I, I will direct other readers to look up the book: “tithing: nailed to the cross” if they’d like more study on this.

    Personally, to me, the offering plate and expectations of tithing to one’s local church is a cop out of true faith that God will lead others to give as led by the spirit than under some man-made legalistic compulsion. Giving of one’s time especially in this era of the tyranny of the urgent where we are all so busy is equally as good as cash.

  • Well said William. You are so right when you said that tithing was nailed to the cross. The word tithe regarding money does not appear in the New Testament (done a complete study of the subject) and nowhere was a pastor paid to run the church in the New Testament (again a comprehensive study). They are both products of an apostate church which is more interested in maintaining an organisation rather than facilitating “HIS” church, which needs no building outside of the home.

    I know that there are plenty of people that are aghast at such an idea but when you open your heart, eyes and mind, truth comes flooding in.

  • I said it earlier in this thread but my door is open. I want to ‘do church’, ‘be church’ – whatever phrase one chooses to use, with any disconnected ‘family members’ in my area. Longing to meet you and worship with you. I’m still in fellowship, but I’m always up for more. I’m in Mt Gambier in SA. Let me know if you’re nearby. I’m happy for Bill to pass on my email address if you’re down this way and want to get in touch.

  • Hi William, since I’m not from the USA, nor have I ever been there, I tend to prefer to base my opinions on the scriptures rather than some random who writes a book. Tithing has been a constant from even before Moses, and since Jesus is the High Priest of the order of Melchisedec who received tithes of Abraham, and Christians are now the spiritual children of Abraham, I’d rather do as he did and be wrong about it, then not do it and be wrong about it.

    As I said earlier, there is not a single iota of scripture in the New Testament that suggests that tithing has been done away with.

  • Tithes are a form of worship to God, but what is a tithe for? I would assume most tithes are used for the running and expansion of the church as a business. This is what I have seen in the Churches where I was in leadership. Should we be building a Stadium for us to worship in, when there are homeless and starving people just outside? I would suggest the first purpose of our giving should be for the help of others. There will still be enough money for the building we want to congregate at. Do you know how much of your tithe is selfishly used to fund a bigger and better building with more sound and lighting and a bigger stage? These uses are only to make your life easier. Or, how much of your tithe is used for funding selfless activities such as feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and providing medical care? The early church worked this way. The NT says this about giving.

    Acts 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. Acts 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

    Matthew 19:21
    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Acts 2:45
    They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

    2 Corinthians 8:14
    At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality.

    This doesn’t sound like the NT is asking for people to give to the church so they can build a new sanctuary and ignore the needs of the community. What percentage of your tithes go to selfless pursuits?

  • The Apostle Paul repeatedly addresses the issue of giving to support ministers, even though he did not always take wages of churches. For the Corinthians it seemed to have been a big issue so he had to rely on other churches to support him while he ministered to them. However, even when he did this they still seem to have issues about giving. 1 Cor 9:7-14 2 Cor 11:8-16

    There seems to have been a similar issue with the Thessalonians (2 The 3:7-9).
    The writer to the Hebrews also addresses tithing, (Heb 7:1-8) pointing out that it pre-dates the law, so that it was not “nailed to the cross”. This why it is good the read the whole Bible instead of a book that teaches contrary to the Word.
    Paul also addresses issues of giving in to support ministers in Philippians (Phil 2:25-30, 4:10-19) and Galatians (Gal 6:6-10) apart from the other more general reference to giving to others.

    Satan’s kingdom is well financed, but is seems that many who call themselves Christians chose to not play their part in supporting God’s kingdom. They miss out on the blessings associated with doing so due to being put off by those who misuse funds given to them while preaching a “give to me and God will make you rich” message. Thus the ministers who are about the work of the gospel often have to maintain another sources of income, like Paul with his tent making.

    Working full-time to be self-supporting while trying to run a church is not an easy task. Those of us who do so, continue to do it because we are not hirelings, but it does mean that the work suffers as we are not available to minister as much as we would like to be.

    In addressing the Pharisees, Jesus said that they tithed on even their herbs, but they forgot about other issues (Mat 23:23) he tells them they need to do both, not leaving their tithing undone. If Jesus says that it is appropriate to tithe on even things like herbs grown in the garden, how much more so is it to do on money?

    I thank God that I am under a ministry that teaches the whole Word, not the opinions of men.

  • I’d like to offer my perspective here. I’m only 35, just a year or two older than the millennial generation. I didn’t grow up with any knowledge of Jesus at all. I had never even heard of John 3:16.

    Stay with me here, because I do have a relevant point.
    Once I hit college, the seed was planted and I was baptized. At that time I knew Jesus as my savior,, but went for the next decade-plus not making him Lord. When I became a believer, I weighed around 400 pounds at age 19. I grew up being super morbidly obese basically from age three.
    In late 2011 I began a journey of trusting God. I had continued to gain weight throughout my 20s and weighed around 600 lbs. In addition, I had the vision conditions that left me unable to drive a vehicle. The condensed version of my last three years is that I’ve lost nearly 350 pounds while being diagnosed with a curved spine (scoliosis) and vision issues that have left me still unable to see well enough to drive.

    As I’ve obeyed the Holy Spirit’s promptings in this season, my faith has grown to a point I had never experienced. I’ve started to believe God for healing, true physical healing for conditions that are not curable from a natural perspective.
    One thing I have obviously lacked in these few years is true Christian community. I retained only a few college friends who are great for surface-level fellowship, but don’t have an individual faith that allows for real life-giving conversations. After being primarily trapped among family members who aren’t Christians, I’ve found myself yearning for the day I’m healed and can finally have true community.

    I’ve realized just how important it is for true maturing Christians to have time amidst one another. I dream of an Acts 2 type of church where we essentially do life together. I’ve had fellowship and it’s not fulfilling. I think if Christians would cultivate their own faith they wouldn’t look to the church to cater to them. They’d be the church!

    Consumer Christianity consisting of hearing a sermon on Sunday morning and then scooting our early seems to be the norm. I know now that when we get fed privately, we’re able to feed others corporately. As it stands, it seems many of the “dones” would be wise to get back in church, but focus more on what they can give instead of defaulting to what they can get.

  • Hallo Mark. You say that you thank God that you are under a ministry that teaches the whole word, not the opinions of men.

    So let me explain. I did a study of tithing because I had been told that tithing does not appear in the New Testament. My study revealed that was the truth and the teachings that it was there were the opinions of men who used verses to support their teaching rather than letting their teaching be based on the word.

    Your first sentence shows this to be the case as Paul’s writing in actual fact DOES NOT address the support for ministers. His teaching is solely regarding support for APOSTLES.

    The reason for this is the fact that in the New Testament Church, there was no such thing as “A” minister or “A” pastor that ran the church. That being the case, he would not be telling people to support those that did not exist.

    Churches in the NT were governed by a body of Elders chosen from within the fellowship that had shown their integrity and spirituality all ready. They were always the older men of the fellowship.

    So in fact, when it comes to tithing, you are relying on the opinions of men, not the whole word of God.

  • Hi Kevin,

    That’s why we need to look to be part of a church that always points us to the Word. The church Mark and I are a part of doesn’t even have any of it’s own buildings, which means without tithes, we wouldn’t even have a place to congregate. We lug in the equipment each week and pack up all of the equipment into trailers at the end of the services.

    But despite not having a building we can call our own, we still seek to preach the gospel constantly to our wider communities, our ministers encourage us to make sure that we all have our own genuine relationship with God through our own personal word and prayer time. We’re encouraged to have civil scriptural discussions, and even to bring the word to our ministers if we believe that they have strayed off the word.

    Not every church is like ours, but that also means that not every church is like the “businesses” you have described. While there are many hirelings, there are also many shepherds. Look to submit yourself to a shepherd who will grow and disciple you in the faith according to God’s word.

  • Without tithes Mario you would have a place to congregate. It is called homes just like the NTC did.

    And where are we told to submit to “A” Shepherd? We are told to submit to one another and the five ministries are there to serve us, not have authority over us.

    Jesus is our shepherd and high priest. We need no other.

    Back in the 70s there was a “shepherding movement” where everyone had to submit to a shepherd. It was a disaster and many lives were badly damaged as a result.

  • I know what the solution is for this problem and some of these commentators have touched on it. The solution is making true disciples. They do not teach this in most seminaries and a pastor cannot do or teach what they do not know or have. It goes far beyond preparing and giving sermons. I know why people are disillusioned, I used to be one of them and I was one that was “Done”. What I know, the very teaching that God gave me, is the answer for all this. I just wish people would listen, but most people don’t want to. If we continue to be led down the path that salvation is enough and all we need to do is just continue going to church we are in trouble!

  • Regarding tithing…’s unfortunate that this thread is now being dominated by this debatable issue when the main article addresses a far more important overall topic….but I wanted to chime in briefly.
    The reason that tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament scriptures is that the concept of the “tithe” is understood by the Apostles to be in regard to the Laws of tithing which are spelled out in the Talmud. The basic “tithe” was and is the “first fruits” of the land. This means produce, like oil, wine and such. An observant Jew actually contributes well over 20% of their income if they follow the Torah.
    The injunction to Gentiles regarding “tithing” is to seek the will of the Lord and to give cheerfully as one is led. This follows the same principle as found in the gathering of supplies for the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus. “Those who have the heart to give…”
    I take exception to the false concept that tithing was “nailed to the cross”. This is a ridiculous idea. The only thing nailed to the cross with our Lord was the penalty for our sins.

  • At age 61 and in the church since age 19, my husband and I are Dones for six years. One of our main reasons is: I no longer believe pastors should be completely paid by the congregation, I believe they should work full or part- time, depending on their family’s needs; church buildings should be plain, and programs done with. A weekly church service, the whole family together, a poignant message, maybe fellowship after. We have been programmed-and worn- out! Financially drained by staff salaries, church expenses, etc., countless volunteer hours. Teach your children and grandchildren through your actions, talk time, bible reading together, at home.

  • I did that. We meet at my house twice a month and stay in touch via facebook for prayer for others needing it. Works for us.

  • I have attended Bible believing, gospel preaching churches all of my life (and still do). However I have always felt that something has been lacking. To put it simply would be to say that very few people are really interested in my thoughts and opinions.

    Matthew 23:8-12 contains the very spoken words of Jesus and yet this passage receives little attention in the Christian community. I think that many Christians would be surprised to learn that Jesus instructed His followers not to appoint leaders or teachers among themselves but rather they are to consider each other as brothers (meaning that we are to consider ourselves as peers or equals).

    I greatly appreciate and am encouraged by the two small group studies I attend on a weekly basis. In these two Bible based studies (not affiliated with my church) there really is no “leader” or “teacher” and all participants have an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions. We don’t always agree on what we consider to be the correct interpretation of a given Bible passage but we are united by a common hope and conviction. Our bond that unites us is our common hope in the atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the confident assurance that one day we will be glorified with Him.

  • Rather than suggest anything contrary to one’s own interpretation of scripture is somehow “ridiculous,” let’s all simply agree this simply shows how getting back to “what the Bible says” is not a clear cut matter!

    We should all be equally convinced according to our conscience and what we sincerely believe scripture mandates. For my household, that means not attending any man made religious institution with salaried pastors who are more like CEO leaders than humble lowly shepherds who consider their flock better than themselves, who simply pastor and let others with the gift of teaching teach, and so on. That means too giving my time and resources to those placed in my life and to my local community as well as any charity the Spirit leads me to for the glory of God.

    Conclusion: You do what you believe you are called to, and I & others here will do the same but please don’t have the turn-off-able audacity to suggest (and actually think) that only your interpretation of scripture is accurate. That would be silly, naive at best or proud and divisive at worst.

  • @Kevin Ash — so true that we need christian community to grow. And so many of us (dones) have found that far better from home than attending any church and servicing their man-made programs/traditions that have little to do with glorifying God or building REAL christian community.

    To your question, “..many of the “dones” would be wise to get back in church, but focus more on what they can give instead of defaulting to what they can get.”
    — Funny, many of us dones could say the exact same thing to those who GO to churches every week, hoping to get something out of it, rather than BEING the church every day. It goes both ways! Yup, I do church, believe it or not, but NOT in any one building. And we are able to GIVE far far more now. many above have also stated when they left the church building.

  • Praise God I am NOT a doner. I go to church to Praise and Worship my Savior for what he did for me on Calvary… It is not about me, me, me, or I, I, I….. It is about Jesus and his blood he shed on the cross…. He deserves our Praise and if that was the only thing we did every week, over and over, I say Hallelujah he is real, he is rightly to be praised… Man will always fail you, but Jesus never will… Start with what you can do for Jesus, not what he can do for you…

  • You have missed the point Angie. The Dones want to do much more than they are allowed to do. if you are not a paid professional, you are consigned to the bit jobs that do not in many cases utilises your gifting and abilities.

    Even more so, the Dones are often much more gifted and anointed than the one selected by the denomination because they have ticked all the boxes so they have to sit and listen and be told what to do by someone who has very little or no anointing.

    In many churches there are people who have knowledge of the Word far beyond the paid professional but they are not allowed to utilise it because it would show up the preachers shortcomings in that area.

  • Although I can completely sympathize with the “Dones”, I would encourage all my brothers and sisters in the Lord to never ever stop seeking out fellowship with other believers. Years ago I myself stop attending church for about a period of two years. However I have since found that true Christian fellowship with other believers (where everyone has a chance to share) is absolutely vital!

    Several of the comments in this blog have criticized the idea of going to a church that has a hired minister. I hope I don’t offend those that attend churches that have professional ministers but I will say that there certainly are places of Christian worship where no one is paid.

    First of all there are small group Bible studies that can be found all over. I personally attend two different such studies each week that are close to my home. In both of these studies everyone is given ample opportunity to share. This is very important to me. One is a study that is a affiliated with a church that I do not attend and is comprised of about ten men. The other is an inter-denominational study of about eight guys represented by five different churches. I love these studies and I get great encouragement from them. I would encourage everyone to seek out and attend a small group Bible study.

    Another place of worship, where no one is paid, are home churches. I have only attended one such church (for two weeks) and I have to confess that my experience was not that positive. The people were friendly and I appreciated the opportunity to share but the main topic of discussion was to criticize mainline churches. I doubt if my experience is typical of most home churches and I certainly do not want to give home churches a bad rap. I am sure that there are many fine home churches to be found.

    A third place of worship, where no one is usually paid, are the Plymouth Brethren Assemblies. These are small churches that can be found all over the U.S. and Canada. These churches have elders but they generally do not have a paid pastor. These are Bible believing, Gospel preaching, conservative churches. The Assemblies that I have attended use a number of different preachers (usually unpaid). One man will speak one Sunday while another man will speak the following Sunday. The Plymouth Brethren Assemblies consider themselves to be non-denominational. They do, however, take a fairly dogmatic stance on most every aspect of the Bible.

    As someone who himself for awhile quit having fellowship, I can understand why a committed Christian would do so. I personally believe that Christ intended that the local place of fellowship be a place where everyone is encouraged to get involve in some way and where everyone’s thought and opinions (with the exception of obvious heresy) are valued and allowed to be expressed. Unfortunately many churches are dominated by one or a few select individuals (not necessarily bad individuals) while most of the others members are never given much if any chance to get significantly involved nor are they often allowed to share their thoughts and opinions. If you attend such a church and find yourself discouraged as result, I would encourage you to never ever give up on Christian fellowship. It’s one thing to leave your church. It’s quite another thing to cut yourself off from Christian fellowship.

  • @ Roger Marks – Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

    It looks to me like shepherds do have authority. It seems to me that those who refuse to submit have pride issues to deal with.

  • Sorry Mario, but it is the Elders who have authority. Shepherds have a ministry and in both cases they are to serve, not to laud it over. The literal translation of the Hebrew verse is “To convince, pacify or conciliate those who lead with authority and be weak with surrender for they are kept awake for your spirit as they must give account…..”

    No mention of shepherds (pastors) and we always forget that the Elders must give an account of their Eldership.

  • For Angie and Mario especially…

    ‘Going to church’, should never be a measure of whether a Christian is somehow better than another, yet it is the first question out of a believer’s mouth upon meeting another Christian. “Where do you go to church?” There are those who judge everything according to where you attend, or don’t. There is a perception that anyone outside their own particular church affiliation/building is somehow less or in error. This is hideously wrong. And, why is the assumption always made that the person who leaves is the one who is the problem? Is leadership ALWAYS right? Clearly, the Bible doesn’t instruct us to ‘go to church’, but rather encourages us to BE the church – the arms and love of God to the world. Having said that, let me explain why we are ‘Done’ in the hopes of giving you another perspective.

    Re: Submission? For years we diligently tried to be acceptable to the ‘inner circle of leadership’ at the different churches my husband and I attended, but were not accepted. These circles are tight and closed to anyone outside. The last church we attended, we sat in absolute obedience, submitted to ‘leadership’, did whatever jobs they wanted done, cooked meals, sewed curtains, we tithed, and basically participated in just about anything we could so that they would see our hearts, and maybe someday allow us to share the passion God had put inside. We have such a heart for missions. When I would ask about the possibility of sharing, they always smiled and said, “Your gift will make a way for you”… quoting scripture. But then, they were the leaders…so we waited…and submitted…and jumped through their hoops, and waited some more. We never missed a prayer meeting, never missed ‘church’, never missed any outreach, etc., and we didn’t mind, for we thought we were doing the right thing, that it was required of us. How many times I was reduced to frustration and weeping – I so longed just to be used by God. My husband was far more patient than I, so we pressed in.

    We met someone who was a part of a large ministry and we were asked to submit a letter from our pastor which would give the ‘OK’ to come and share our hearts at a missions conference they were having. Finally! Excited, we went to my ‘leadership’ to acquire a letter of support. At a planned meeting, in front of all the leadership, the pastor regretted to inform us that he could not give us the letter because he, or the other leaders didn’t ‘know’ us. Now, we had been there at that time about 5 years…faithfully. But then, they shocked us further by adding, “Perhaps if we saw you clean the toilets once in awhile, we would know your heart better. Do you understand?” I kid you not. We thanked them, walked out and never looked back. Not one of them has ever called to see what ever happened to my husband and I. This is Godly leadership?

    Moving forward, we forgave them, released them to God, and moved on. That was 15 years ago. Jesus said, “GO into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…” He said it, so we do it! Jesus is our covering, and our confirmation. We treasure Him and His Word. My husband and I have traveled around the world, seen countless miracles and led thousands to the Lord. We enjoy a wonderful network of other Christian ‘Dones’ throughout the world for sweet fellowship and with whom we stay accountable. We don’t ‘go to church’ anymore and thankfully, are not bound by chains anymore either.

    It is the absolute love of God and the heart to do His will that has driven many of us out of places that were shallow, limited and self-contained, yet this forced us into a satisfying, relational, productive walk with Holy Spirit as Christ Jesus lives His life through us. And THAT is what it’s all about.

  • Joy, your story is sad and wonderful. Sad that you had to suffer such arrogant leadership but wonderful that you had the sense to walk away from it and as a result all those people are in the Kingdom of God as a result.

    I am reminded of the story of Hudson Taylor who had a passion to go to China and preach the gospel. Every mission organisation he applied to turned him down so he went on his own and as they say the rest is history. A mission organisation came into being and as a result of his faithfulness we now have a vibrant and growing church in China.

  • I agree with Traci Swenson who posted here. I needed a detox period from my religious training. We did a home group for about 4 years, then returned to the church environment. I love my church, however, I get that feeling that the connections at times are not happening. For me, when things become toooo non worldly, if thats a term, it gets weird. Like, only Christians homeschool, or no dating allowed, or things that are being attached to the walk with Jesus, its like, come on people. this is getting too weird. I am rambling here, forgive me. I don’t like the word “relevant”, but I understand its usefulness. My pastor is an excellent speaker. He presents things with intelligence and completeness. I appreciate that. I do think the silliness you find in some smaller churches is not drawing in the people who are highly intelligent and do want a thorough message. just some thoughts

  • Roger, Having authority is scriptural. Lording it over people, as you stated is not.

    A Pastor or Shepherd is one who leads a flock to ensure they are being properly fed. They have authority over a flock, hence the title “Pastor”.

    I see that the major issue here is the existence of a lot of churches that are unscriptural in the manner they have been shepherding their flocks. The answer however is not to respond by unscripturally throwing in church attendance as a whole as well.

    Regarding Hebrews 13:17, I already quoted the KJV previously;

    ASV – Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

    AMP – Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you], for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you [either].

    CEB – Rely on your leaders and defer to them, because they watch over your whole being as people who are going to be held responsible for you. They need to be able to do this with pleasure and not with complaints about you, because that wouldn’t help you.

    CJB – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your lives, as people who will have to render an account. So make it a task of joy for them, not one of groaning; for that is of no advantage to you.

    CEV – Obey your leaders and do what they say. They are watching over you, and they must answer to God. So don’t make them sad as they do their work. Make them happy. Otherwise, they won’t be able to help you at all.

    DARBY – Obey your leaders, and be submissive; for *they* watch over your souls as those that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not groaning, for this [would be] unprofitable for you.

    DLNT – Be obeying the ones leading you and be yielding, for they are keeping-watch for your souls as ones who will render an account— in order that they may be doing this with joy, and not while groaning, for this would be unprofitable for you.

    DRA – Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you.

    ERV – Obey your leaders. Be willing to do what they say. They are responsible for your spiritual welfare, so they are always watching to protect you. Obey them so that their work will give them joy, not grief. It won’t help you to make it hard for them.

    ESV – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    EXB – Obey [or Have confidence in] your leaders and ·act under [or submit to] their authority. [L For; Because] They are watching over you, because they ·are responsible [will give an account (to God)] for ·your souls [or you]. ·Obey them [Do this; Act this way] so that they will do this work with joy, not ·sadness [or complaint; groaning], for that would be of no ·benefit [advantage; help] to you.

    GNV – Obey them that have the oversight of you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give accounts, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

    GW – Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you. Obey them so that they may do this work joyfully and not complain about you. (Causing them to complain would not be to your advantage.)

    GNT – Obey your leaders and follow their orders. They watch over your souls without resting, since they must give to God an account of their service. If you obey them, they will do their work gladly; if not, they will do it with sadness, and that would be of no help to you.

    HCSB – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

    ISV – Continue to follow and be submissive to your leaders, since they are watching over your souls as those who will have to give a word of explanation. By doing this, you will be letting them carry out their duties joyfully, and not with grief, for that would be harmful for you.

    PHILLIPS – Obey your rulers and recognise their authority. They are like men standing guard over your spiritual good, and they have great responsibility. Try to make their work a pleasure and not a burden—by so doing you will help not only them but yourselves.

    JUB – Listen to your pastors, and do not resist them, for they watch for your souls as those that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.

    LEB – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with groaning, for this would be unprofitable for you.

    TLB – Obey your spiritual leaders and be willing to do what they say. For their work is to watch over your souls, and God will judge them on how well they do this. Give them reason to report joyfully about you to the Lord and not with sorrow, for then you will suffer for it too.

    MSG – Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?

    MEV – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. Let them do this with joy and not complaining, for that would not be profitable to you.

    NOG – Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you. Obey them so that they may do this work joyfully and not complain about you. (Causing them to complain would not be to your advantage.)

    NABRE – Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    NASB – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

    NCV – Obey your leaders and act under their authority. They are watching over you, because they are responsible for your souls. Obey them so that they will do this work with joy, not sadness. It will not help you to make their work hard.

    NET – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.

    NIV – Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

    NKJV – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

    NLV – Obey your leaders and do what they say. They keep watch over your souls. They have to tell God what they have done. They should have joy in this and not be sad. If they are sad, it is no help to you.

    NLT – Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

    NRSV – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.

    RSV – Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    VOICE – Listen to your leaders and submit to their authority over the community, for they are on constant watch to protect your souls and someday they must give account. Give them reason to be joyful and not to regret their duty, for that will be of no good to you.

    WEB – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls, as those who will give account, that they may do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you.

    WE – Obey your leaders and do what they tell you. They are watching over your souls. They must give a report. Obey them so they will be glad, and not sad, to give a report. If you make them sad, it is no help to you.

    WYC – Obey ye to your sovereigns, and be ye subject to them; for they perfectly wake, as to yielding reason for your souls, that they do this thing with joy, and not sorrowing; for this thing speedeth not to you.

    YLT – Be obedient to those leading you, and be subject, for these do watch for your souls, as about to give account, that with joy they may do this, and not sighing, for this [is] unprofitable to you.

    I don’t know where you’ve found your own translation that manages to say something that no other version I can find says. It seems a bit self serving to ignore the majority of the most read bible versions to follow a translation (which I personally couldn’t find) which seems to stand against what the majority of Bible versions say.

  • @Angie Williams “Praise God I am NOT a doner. I go to church to Praise and Worship my Savior for what he did for me on Calvary”
    –You mean you can’t (and don’t) do that at home or with others outside of church?!
    Similarly as you may need to GO to church to do these things, many other believers can and do that regularly at home and in service to others. what’s the difference?

    It is indeed for us (dones) TOO all “about Jesus and his blood he shed on the cross”. In fact our family is far more freed up to so that not trying to be fed all from one pastor and one assembly but BEING the church every day and reaching others with his love.

    In conclusion, how about you don’t judge our worship and service to God and we won’t judge yours!

  • @ Tom Anthony: “Although I can completely sympathize with the “Dones”, I would encourage all my brothers and sisters in the Lord to never ever stop seeking out fellowship with other believers.”
    –Thank you but you seem to make a gross assumption that being a “done” means no longer fellowshipping! In fact it is exactly the opposite! Truly. Most dones have far more real, sustainable relationship with other believers and are freed up more to reach and meet non believers too, outside the constraints on a one a week to twice a week church service where often people don’t even notice or care when you leave or are done even if having been a “vital” part of it for years .
    To the church GOing people–time to change YOUR assumptions and paradigms.
    Dones not only often fellowship more, they often SERVE more, REACH more, DISCIPLE others more, TEACH more, etc etc! We don’t need some paid CEO leader (not true shepherd to all minister) to tell us how to do it. The Bible is clear and the Holy Spirit is AMPLY able to fine tune!

  • Joy Woodruff, Thank you for your story. Mario and Angie saddened me to the point that I didn’t want to write anything else.
    I was on the worship at a large church. I came in at a time when I was sorely needed. I submitted to the Worship Leader’s strange ideas on music, sound and team management. I submitted to the pastor’s “Legacy” program which is a manipulative name for building initiative. The leadership and church was so focused on “The New Building” that all the discipleship programs were put on hold. I was a worship leader at several other churches previously and spent 20 years in a engineering and project management leadership role in a large company. I also played music professionally for 30 years. I helped the worship leader develop the team and met with him on occasion when I could get him to see me. He implemented several of my suggestions such as training sessions prior to the team practice. Simple but so very important spiritual suggestions were implemented such as praying prior to taking the platform. I supported him to the rest of the team building him up and promoting his authority over the team. As soon as other musicians came in and I was not needed on the team he started phasing out my participation. He wouldn’t meet with me anymore unless I pushed the issue. The worship team primary players are now the youngest and best looking people. They are trying to promote a contemporary image. Several other fine musicians of age were phased out also. When I stepped down the pastor never called or asked me why (he was also a member of the worship team). When I stopped going, no one asked me why. I was not missed at all. I was treated well at other churches also until I wasn’t needed anymore. It seems to be a theme that churches are seeking people they can use but who are disposable. I am now attending a bible study. I provide worship at events such as 24 hours of praise and the prayer walk. Today I provided worship for a pastor’s breakfast attended by more than 10 churches and more than 20 pastors. I am starting an outreach ministry promoting the “Light Of The City” ministry and “The Better Together” ministry. I want to spread the gospel and not keep it in the 4 walls.
    As for Mario and Angie and others; it seems the pot is calling the kettle black. The pride is apparent in your posts. You are reducing our situation to a simple case of pride and accusing us of not being focused on Jesus. I see it the contrary. You think if we don’t attend a church and worship like you on Sunday morning that there is something wrong with us. As with many of the churches described, you have a condemning and religious spirit. I pray you are doing more than just worshipping at your church on Sunday morning. I read my Bible daily, study supplemental literature and watch 4 to 10 sermons per week. I read many great articles such as the ones Bill blesses us with as he works diligently to spread the gospel. The I, I, I, as I see it is when we keep the gospel for ourselves within the 4 walls. I will tell you the same thing I told the worship leader of my last church; Christ gave us two commandments, we are called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love others as ourselves. Most churches have the first part right. But struggle with the second. Anything I can do to help him and you, Angie and Mario, I will happily try to do. My love for you doesn’t depend on your love for me…

  • Hi Keith, sorry if I offended you or came across as condescending, but the truth is that you are now making assumptions too.

    As ones who are not ministers in the church, my wife and I are weekly (at least) out on the streets or doorknocking sharing the gospel with strangers and with people who are within our sphere of influence. The bonus about going to a good church is that we actually have organised outreach and furthermore, if someone is interested in knowing more about the Lord, we have somewhere to bring them.

    My worry for many who are not sitting under the authority of the church is that it is very easy to be caught up in every wind of doctrine and lead astray. There are tonnes of Youtube hirelings out there who will preach unscriptural hypergrace rubbish that just tickles itching ears, but does nothing to bring about repentance and genuine salvation.

    I simply try to throw some scriptural balance in here, because it seems to me that many who have chosen the path of those that are “done”, have done so simply because they have become offended for one reason or another, and they’ve become offended because their lives were still their own and not truly sold out for Christ.

  • I am sorry Mario but you could not be more wrong. The dones from what I can see and work out are the ones that are truly sold out to God and are frustrated that they are not allowed to be in the church made by man. As one said “there has to be more to christianity than this.”

    I wanted to get my church and all the churches in the town reaching out to the lost because they were not so I put a simple plan to the ministers as to how we could do this together and utilising those in the churches who had a heart for evangelism.

    Their response was “sorry but we are too busy running our churches to do evangelism.”

    And by the way, I thought we were under the authority of Jesus the king of kings.

  • Hello William and Mario,

    William, thanks for taking the time to response to my comment. Perhaps I did not express myself very clearly. I certainly can understand why many dedicated Bible believing Christians have left a traditional church in situations where their thoughts and opinions are not very highly valued. I did not at all mean to imply that all “dones” have quit having fellowship with other believers.

    Mario, thanks for sharing Hebrews 13:17. I concur that every place of worship does need to have someone or some group in charge. However, I would have to disagree with you if you are implying (and I’m not sure that you are) that the only acceptable form of worship is where an ordained preacher does all the teaching and preaching and where everyone else must always and only listen and never ever challenge what comes from the pulpit.

    Jesus spokes some words that I think receive way, way, way too little attention among most present day Christians. I think that these words are most appropriate for this discussion.

    Matthew 23:8-12 NIV –
    But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

  • Tom Anthony – Great scripture to evaluate a church. Ever since I was a young boy I have wondered about the implication of The Catholic Church title “Father”. I have wondered it is in direct defiance/disobedience to scripture or if they believe it functionally doesn’t fall under the context of the scripture. I have studied that Catholics value tradition over scripture and perhaps they have superseded the verse with some tradition. Anyway, I take it literally and now, as I read it again here, I wonder if anyone even has the right to be called Pastor or especially Head Pastor since Christ is the head of the church…

  • I am 22 years old, consider myself a devout Christian, and I am a done. I am tired of being talked down to just because of my age. I am tired of the glitzy worship sessions and ‘entertaining’ sermons that sound more like stand up comedy than convicting words from the Spirit. I am tired of not being able to participate in bible study because my ministry leaders assume they know exactly what young people think and feel. I am tired of this top-down hierarchical approach to fellowship. I am tired of the superficial small talk.

    Everyone has a story of how they came to believe in Christ and follow God. Everyone should have a chance to share that story and contribute in fellowship, no matter how old or young they are. Fellowship is not just ‘hanging out’. It should be about encouraging each other in our faith, in remembering God and putting Him first. I am tired of being talked down to. I am tired.

    As a young person, I too want genuine, real, honest Christian community. Not this fake misguided nonsense.

  • @ Tom – One of my much earlier comments stated about the church I attend “We’re encouraged to have civil scriptural discussions, and even to bring the word to our ministers if we believe that they have strayed off the word.”

    I most definitely do not believe a minister should be unchallenged if they are preaching unscriptural nonsense, however I do believe that any challenge brought forward should be firstly word based, and secondly done in a spirit of humility as we too can be mistaken, whether scripturally or in motive of bringing forth the correction. I actually agree that there are many churches that are not doing the word, but as Christians, we need to be looking for churches that are. And we need to be humble enough to walk into a church without the mindset of having our own foot-long mental checklist of things that a church must look like or else we’re never coming back. The first thing that matters is whether the church is genuinely aiming to preach God’s Word and teach how to follow it and not just preaching spiritualised worldliness.

    Whilst we are to learn from Holy Ghost lead direction and the Word of God, God also put the church in place with its Apostles, Evangelist, Prophets, Pastors and Teachers for the equipping of the saints, because in truth, even the most dedicated and experienced Christian can easily be lead astray by false doctrine if in their flesh they want to believe something enough.

  • Mario,

    I largely agree with a lot of what you are saying. Now a question comes to mind as to how one determines whether or not someone is teaching correctly. The best answer I can give is to know Scripture for oneself. As someone who has been studying the Bible for over a half century I would encourage everyone to study the Bible each and every day by themselves (Mario, I am sure that you are a Bible student and I am not addressing you so much as I am addressing other readers of this blog who perhaps do not read their Bible on a daily basis).

    The most efficient and objective way to learn what the Bible teaches is to study it for oneself. Although I have attended church most of my life (and still do), probably 98% of what I know about the Bible was learned from personal Bible study.

    Here is a suggestion for studying the Bible. Use commentaries when studying the Bible but don’t just use one. Use several because there is no such thing as an unbiased and completely objective commentary.

    Although I attend a church I by no means consider my church to be the perfect church nor do I consider our “teachers” to be perfect teachers. Many years ago I stopped looking for the perfect church. Many years ago I stopped looking for a teacher or preacher who has all the answers. Now I am not saying that I claim to have all the answers. On the contrary, I would say just the opposite. In fact the more I study the Bible the more questions I have.

    I may not have all the answers but I do have the answer to the most important question of all. That question would be – What must I do to be saved? Answer – Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for their is no other Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved!

    I would give caution to everyone in this regard. Do NOT be looking for someone here on earth to answer your every question. A person who portrays themselves as having all the answers and who portrays themselves as being an authority on all Scripture is probably leading you astray.

    Now back to the subject of this blog. I believe that the first century churches were probably much more akin to the modern day small group neighborhood Bible studies we see today as opposed to the present day formal churches that are now the norm. I am a big believer in small group fellowships where all participants have a chance to share. I understand that John Wesley held to this position. It appears to me that the churches that are growing the most in numbers today are the churches that promote small group studies.

  • For all your commenters, you might enjoy this article and feedback that also discusses “The Rise of the Done With Church”:

  • @Anglea Lee- I totally hear you and get what you are saying even while being considerably older. Hope you have or find that community. We all do need that in our walks, certainly. It is the church’s loss.

  • For many of us, our understanding in fact “as Christians” is that we do NOT need to “be looking for churches” of any sort! We are done with the whole way church is run–even so called “good” ones. Yes, God gives his giftings for teachers, evangelists, pastors/shepherds, etc but nowhere in the NT does it support the idea of FULL TIME PAID leadership pastors. That came later. Rather, God is the the one who gives the giftings and in the early church it was evenly distributed. It was far more participatory. Never would they have dreamed of having to go and humbly bow to one man to bring any grievance. Never would they have expected the church structure as it is today. It is not biblical and only encourages one to just sit there and be fed fed fed but eventually it leads to spiritual laziness and you aren’t encouraged to teach too, minister too, etc etc.

  • @Roger Marks– I totally know what you mean about trying to get the churches together. We have seen this all too often where the church would rather uphold in its own particular slant on Christianity than really be one church reaching out the lost, helping those in need under the name of Christ, rather than the name of their denomination/church, etc.

    That’s one distinct advantage I feel the done community of believers have–NOT bound by the politics on any one church or pastor lauding his interpretations over every one else–being authoritarian while all the while thinking they are being authoritative.

  • Mario. you said “God also put the church in place with its Apostles, Evangelist, Prophets, Pastors and Teachers for the equipping of the saints,”…………

    The question is, can you tell me any church that has the five ministries operating? as I have yet to see one.

  • Hello Kerry Letheby,

    I just want you to know that I appreciated your comments and would like you to know that if I am ever in Australia (I had to look up where Mt. Gambier is) and I am in your neighborhood, I’ll plan to stop by for some fellowship. I would love to hear your story and how you came to know the Lord.

    If you are ever in Boise, Idaho (U.S.), please look me up. I’d love to meet you (and your family) and have you stop by for a meal. My phone number is in the phone book (or else perhaps Bill could pass along my e-mail address). My invitation is also for any fellow believer who lives in or is visiting my part of the world. I don’t care if go to church or not. If you believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ then I consider you to be my brother (or sister) in the Lord.

    Thanks again Kerry for your comments.

  • Roger, unfortunately not all of the five fold will always be present in the one local church. That is why it is good to be under a biblical ministry and is one of the issues of just being a small group that meets together occasionally. It is also why it is a major problem when you only have one person who does all the ministry in the place.

    Having a connection to other congregations, no matter how big, or how small, whether they meet in a home, or elsewhere, can overcome this issue. While the ministry that we are under does not currently have individual ministers in all five roles, the five fold ministries are still covered, so yes it does still occur. That is a big part of what we have been referring to when we talk about biblical churches. It makes a huge difference in how things are run as people get trained up under the five ministry areas rather than being stuck in pastor-centric churches.

    Many of the churches being described here seem to be such pastor run churches, that appear to have failed to train up people for the work of the ministry. Instead the focus tends to be on one person doing everything and not letting anyone else step up in case they do a better job. One person cannot be expected to do all that is necessary in leading a church. Unfortunately trying to do so will result if failure in often basic areas.

    In the church that I grew up in it was a rarity for the pastor to preach. It was normally one of the other elders, or a visiting minister, who preached, so that we received a well balanced mix of teaching, preaching and some training in evangelism. Unfortunately that was as far as they went, but it was still a lot better than what many here describe in their experiences.

    Under the ministry of the five fold we have people being discipled and taught to do the basics of Christianity, to read, pray and evangelise. Disciples are taught to study the word for themselves and not to simply trust what a preacher says. In home group they get taught to preach, teach, prophesy and to move in other gifts of the Spirit, such as healing. They are also given opportunities to do so in Sunday services and during ministry on the streets.

    Discipleship ensures that people get an opportunity to serve the church and that they are known by those over them rather than just being attendees in meetings. It is hard to grow people up in the Lord if you don’t know them.

  • Wanna come down and start something like that here? We are desperately needing a real church that is not just a platform for someone to strut their stuff.

  • Thanks Tom. Unfortunately Idaho isn’t on the agenda at this time, but I certainly appreciate the thought. Blessings.

  • And what do you do when the church you thought did have it going on….great preaching, families attending, support of young missionaries….different groups doing different things, a lovely evening prayer session, just anyone who wanted to come in praying for community, each other, the pastors, etc….and miracles were happening.I hated the music and did not understand the constant emphasis on groups..signing up for a craft or a bible study run by some member of the church.., or bringing in prophets??..I um avoided those meetings….. …and then ( while I was out sick with, believe it or not, a spider bite….scary) I came back to..Sunday night meets and greets (make sure to bring a friend) music even louder and stranger, some outreach, like to the local food closet, but more about…giving to current members especially those with new babies…praying for the sick ( we have a loootttttt of sick and older folks). the theme of..we need a new church has stopped….but then one of the new leaders ( instead of bishop they use leader) got up and led everyone into a lovely set of very new age affirmations.( I am a beloved child of God)and it was called the way to get renewal of the mind! not studying the Law and the word. . I have not been back, I have tried to approach the pastors but they will not respond,the feeling i get is that the church changes course every few months to incorporate the newest growth strategies,and they DO cater to the young..and refuse to have a program of music, just a free wheeling catch as catch can week by week.I cannot go backwards,,,,there is no discipleship and now grievous errors are coming in…and so I left. no gossiping, no anger, nothing like that. I do not WANT to be a done.I WANT to be in obedience, and I WANT fellowship. I am carefully looking at other area churches….do not need to be in tears, feeling lost, having migraines (oh yes did I mention that? from the loud music) but trying to “make” a church be my way, well, that won;t work. so instead of blaming folks for not attending and not tithing, why not do the simplest thing..preach and teach the Word of God? I am astounded, that things have degenerated so much. These are believers, folks, not fakes.I am trying to convey the difficulty with having to walk away from a church. It hurts.

  • Try using paragraphs Faith. It makes it easier to read.

  • Hi Roger, where is here? The ministry that we are under has a number of churches as well as connections to similar ministries both locally and overseas.

  • In following the recent conversation between Roger and Mark, a thought comes to mind. A lot of like minded believers do not get together and share fellowship with one another because they don’t know who and where they are and they don’t know how to contact each other.

    Although I attend a church I am very sympathetic to the “dones”. I believe ALL places of worship that are attempting to glorify Jesus Christ should be places where everyone has a chance to share their thoughts and opinions (with some obvious exceptions that include blatant heresy). This can only be done in a practical manner in a small group environment. I believe that a lot of “dones” would like to have fellowship with like minded believers but they don’t know where to find them.

    Does anyone know of a website that contains a listing of small group Bible studies or home churches? I’m not internet savvy or I would attempt to create one myself. I’m envisioning something on the order of a Craigslist where anyone can make a posting. Obviously it would have to have some kind of oversight so as not to be a place that promotes heretical groups and cults.

  • Like you, Tom, I have wanted to practically do something to get all these DONES together in fellowship again, and have been looking for some DONES in my area. I keep hearing that there are many DONES here in my town, but I haven’t found any yet. I thought it would be good to try to bring people together focusing on the ‘unity in primaries, liberty in secondaries’ principle – praying and worshiping together and sharing the Lord’s Table together– with a focus on the person of Christ. I did manage to find one solo group here, and had a lovely conversation at length with one of their leaders to see if we were on the same page, but at the end of it all, they felt so strongly about one of the secondary principles and were convinced that I wasn’t a genuine believer because of it. Tom, I feel as you do that getting any non-fellowshipping DONES into fellowship again is important, but exactly how is a challenge. Oversighting such a resource as a web page would be a challenge precisely because of the differing opinions as to what is primary, what is secondary and what is blatantly heretical – the very things driving the DONES away in the first place. I will continue to pray.

  • Kerry, I’m with you brother. There are certain positions we must not comprise on (such as the deity of Jesus Christ) but there are other things where we do not need to take such strong stances on. There is such a thing as being too dogmatic, where some take a firm stance on every controversial issue, and they will not fellowship with others that do not interpret all passages of the Bible as they themselves do. Although I do NOT consider myself to be dogmatic, this is not to say that I am a liberal theologian nor do I take any passage of Scripture lightly. I would also add that I believe that every believer should diligently study the Bible on their own whether or not they are involved with a group study.

    When I consider the divisions among the different denominations, I’m reminded of some words of Jesus (John 17:20-21) – “My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

  • Kerry and Tom, This has been a healthy discussion I feel, about the “Dones” and how to get people into fellowship if they’re not already. How can we do this and to what lengths are big questions. I myself am a “done”, but I fellowship with men that are in a church. I’d rather be attending church, but my wife is reluctant because our last “church” was run by a spiritual bully and that didn’t end well. I can entirely sympathize with the “dones” as a result of that experience. I am not at all done with my life in Christ. He has taught me a lot in the last 8 years outside of any “church”, but with close fellowship with very Christ-like men. Fellowship I am convinced is far more essential than sitting in a pew listening to a sermon. Participation is where our growth takes place and that requires fellowship. As for the “unity in primaries” idea, I am 100% in favor of that. We need to focus on Christ and not secondary doctrine where we’ll find disagreement. Is the Apostle’s creed not enough? Anyway, I do have a website, and it was built for the purpose of getting people in the Word (which brings unity) and I offer a weekly conference call that people can plug into from wherever. We have people that are in various denominations, but always have unity because we seek the Spirit’s leading and maintain our focus on Scripture. I’d love to start a dialogue if anyone is open to that for the purpose of uniting those that are isolated from the fertile soil of rich fellowship.

    BTW, I am a web developer by trade and have a long history with databases so I could build something if I knew there was support and a plan. I would not have a lot of time for it, but it is something I have the skills for.

    God Bless!

  • Larry, I love the Apostles Creed but many Christians I’ve spoken to have never heard of it. Sums up the primaries well – I will check out your website after work tonight.
    And Tom, just to set the record straight, I’m your sister in Christ – not your brother. 🙂

  • Kerry, sorry for the mistake. I have to learn to not make so many assumptions.

  • Larry, I went to your website and I want to commend you for it. It appears to be very well done and when I find more time I intend to look at it more thoroughly.

    Might it be possible to modify your website or to build a new website that would allow viewers to post small group bible studies that they want to promote? I imagine that this would be a rather big project and I have no idea what would be involved. However, I would certainly support the general concept.

    A couple of years ago I was searching the web for small group bible studies in my area. It was easy to find a listing of the churches around but I found it very difficult to locate any small group study. I eventually did find two such studies which I currently attend. I greatly appreciate these studies and find them to be the highlight of my week.

    I am sure that I am not the first person to search the web for a small group study that meets in their area. I am led to believe that a well done website for posting small group bible studies (that would appear when doing a Google search for “BIBLE STUDY”) would probably get a lot of use and would serve a very good purpose.

  • Kerry, Tom and Larry– I think that would be great to have such a database. I love that idea if it can be run safely. If you were near me, Kerry, I’d love to fellowship with you and others of like minds, attending a church or as a firm done, doesn’t bother me. I feel for myself at least, that I can just focus on the primaries but haha, it is so true–what are secondaries to some are not to others! Again, a matter of how we interpret the scriptures.

  • Small groups are a great way to go. I have one happening here at home on Saturday afternoons with an apologetics focus. The word has gotten out (being a small country town) and we’ve had some visitors from another mainline church join us – one has become regular. We began with a look at addressing the homosexuality issue and are now looking at the abortion issue. When this is finished we’re moving into historical evidences for Christ and the reliability/inerrancy of the scriptures. We are about 9 regulars – we pray together, read scriptures together and those who wish to stay back and we share tea together and more fellowship. This is church as much as any Sunday morning gathering. Truly Christ focused. There is a diversity of worship traditions amongst us but keeping our focus on Christ is paramount. I’d happily do something like this several nights a week.

  • Kerry, Tom, William and whoever else this might appeal to,

    This has been a very thought provoking discussion for me. The idea of reaching out to those who are not in fellowship (but truly desire it), and helping them to connect, greatly interests me. It is also in line with what God has put on my heart for discipleship, which is one of the reasons I created the site to begin with.

    I am all ears and if you would like to start a dialogue that might lead to a project of this sort, I am game. Contact me through the site and let’s start brainstorming!

    Kerry, I loved reading your latest comments on your small groups. I love these stories! Yes, you and your friends ARE THE CHURCH. That is what our faith is all about. Let us not get bogged down in a paradigm that has become weaker and weaker, mostly because true discipleship has been lost somewhere along the way.

  • My husband and I attended a church for 15 years which turned out to be a cult. I don’t say this lightly, nor did we leave on a whim. We were deeply involved, tithed, gave of our time and services in building programs and cleaning the church, various meetings for ladies, men, teen etc.

    It took us a while but we finally realised how toxic this church was. After we left, we met many others who had some blood-curdling stories to tell. This church demanded complete obedience to the elders, without which you did not enter heaven. Marriages were broken up, spouses sent away, remaining spouses remarried people the elders considered more suitable. The control and abuse there caused nervous breakdowns, heart attacks and more. It was hellish.

    It has taken us ten years to recover. During that time, we looked for another church to attend. For the first two year we were so traumatised we couldn’t even open our bibles because every word reminded us of some twist of scripture by the former elders. Yet we found so few christians, in fact none, who were able to help us because most could not get their heads around the fact that elders would act like that. We soon found others on the internet who had experienced very similar things and realised our experiences were the thin end of the wedge.

    Our former church has been outed as a cult by our national media, by the internet and by books written by outsiders. But in the last ten years as we have researched, written blogs, started forums, talked to others including therapists, we have been deeply distressed to see the state the church has gotten herself into. These comments have simply reiterated the many we have heard regarding how few churches preach the gospel, and how so many are dedicated to entertainment.

    I would also like to say that in Australia, too many churches are following Hillsong’s example of blacking out their interiors, focusing on rock concert type worship and emerging church doctrines. The latter are causing many young believers to fall into the trap of ecumenism, universalism, mysticism, gnosticism and a whole host of errors most of which are coming from the huge seeker sensitive movement started by Bill Hybels and other guru type pastors.

    I got saved in a Baptist church in 1977 and attended large pentecostal churches in Australia during the 80s. Many of the pastors of these groups fell into public disgrace in that time, and ironically most of the congregations of these churches are now following the false gospels mentioned above. I don’t know if there is a follow through but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    We desperately desire to minister to the church. Many are hurting, confused and looking for genuine believers with which to fellowship and to discuss the bible in relevant life changing ways. We are praying and fasting and asking God to know how to do this.

    My prayers go out to those who have written here and are overwhelmed with the apparent insolvency of the state of the church in western society today. We all need to find His grace for ourselves, and to learn once again to walk in the Spirit. Only the Spirit of God can minister to so many hurts and it has to be through surrendered hearts which have first been healed by Jesus. He said he came to heal the broken hearted. I believe that is true. I wait with baited breath to see how He will work in these days. We all need a renewed committment to our faith. Don’t give up! God hears your prayers and your cries. He will never leave nor forsake you, even if men are faithless and cold.

  • Phoebe, I appreciate reading your story. I think we can all learn by the things you have to share.

    My advice to all Christians is that they should NEVER regard any church, pastor, teacher or anyone else here on earth as an authoritative source for all theological matters. RUN away from anyone (or any group) who is portraying themselves as an absolute authority on all spiritual matters as FAST as you can!

    I have great respect for the objective and diligent bible scholar. I will listen to what a well versed bible scholar has to say. I will also use several bible commentaries when I study the bible. I have learned a great deal from them. However, I fully realize that a commentary on scripture is just one persons opinion.

    If ones desire is to know the word of God and know it well, then one has a noble ambition. It is from studying the bible that we discover the gospel of Jesus Christ, the most valuable discovery we can ever make. For it is only through the gospel of Jesus Christ that we become reconciled to God despite our sin. It is only through the gospel of Jesus Christ that we acquire everlasting life.

    If ones desire is to know the word of God and know it well, one should be aware that this will not happen simply by listening to what a pastor has to say on Sunday. If one wants to know scripture well, then one MUST study it for oneself. My recommendation is for everyone to study the bible on their own each and every day. A solid knowledge of the scriptures will help one to recognize teaching that is in error and there certainly is a lot of that out there.

  • I agree. The Church has become like the world so much that if you did not know you just entered into a church you would not know it was a church. Churches large and small think entertaining the congregation is a way to draw people in. Many churches I am sad to say have turned from the biblical teachings. Preachers do not want to offend anyone so that do not teach against immorality and sin.

    I know why many people do not go to church. It is because it is not church anymore. People are dying everyday and going to hell and yet is many churches hell is never mentioned. Immorality is never discussed. Many many people when their lives have went downhill and they feel they are drowning in a sea of hurt, pain, poverty, trying drugs, alcohol, immoral living, pornography and so many other things and yet they do not have true joy and happiness. These people are invited to church and they go hoping that they will find true joy and peace and direction on how to climb back out of the ditch they are in. To find answers that the world has not been able to give them. Sadly they find the same entertainment in churches that the world gives. Our music on the platform sounds many time like a rock band playing. Even the preachers are wearing jeans and long hair down their backs. There is some pastors never even open a Bible when they speak. Jesus is our example and everytime he spoke to people he was telling them how to live a holy life. He did not avoid these topics. Our lost people need us church. We need to be a bright and shining light to the lost. Many lost are at the end of their ropes seeking out this one name Jesus. They are coming to the church hungry for someone to tell them about Jesus and then teach on how we are to live a holy life. People are not getting it now. People are coming in to church all they are hearing is a rock roll band and if there is time after the band stops a preacher (after all annoucments and events are covered) will preach a feel good message,then it is over.
    Our churches need to get back to preaching the Word of God to a lost and dying world. They can get pat on the backs and told they are OK from the world and they can listen to this music at rock concerts or bars. Our churches need to get back to being a church. “Come out from the world” the Bible says.

  • Personally I feel that if the church is not preaching the Gospel (according to the Bible, not man’s idea of what that Gospel “should” say) that it does desperately need to stand back and reassess its whole reason for existence. If you are in a church that is not Bible-based, it is essential to find one that preaches the Word. The church serves a very important function in being that light on the hill for the world to see. It is absolutely crucial to keep the Church alive, relevant and true.

    Home groups and small fellowships are wonderful but when the Church dies the light flickers dimly and so many “would be believers” miss the way simply because they do not know where to look.

    The “flip side” to all of this is that we do not come to be served, entertained or pampered. We come simply because we do it out of our love for the Lord. It is an act of worship, not “what can you do for me?” To modify one of our most notable quotes, “Ask not what the Lord can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for the Lord”. Simply stated, we were put here for his glory and for simply worshiping Him.

  • Mario, Nowhere do you find in the New Testament any reference to a ‘a pastor’ in charge of the church. The Elders were chosen for that purpose and they were chosen from within the congregation.

    A pastor is not a position nor a title. It is a ministry like the other four mentioned in Ephesians.

    And posting all those bible verses about obeying your leaders was a wasted exercise as I explained to you what that verse means in the Greek and it does NOT mean obeying and even if it did, it was referring to Elders, not pastors as pastors leading the church was an unknown concept then.

    You are most welcome to ignore what the scripture really says but please, don’t impose your incorrect interpretation on others.

  • Kelle, can you show me where the New Testament church preached the gospel when it met together? I get the impression that their influence was due to the fact that they LIVED the gospel.

  • Roger Marks brings up an inconvenient truth (for some) that simply throwing endless scriptures at something doesn’t “prove” anything–only that it shows just how easily scripture is honestly interpreted. (For my part, for example. I wholly agree with the view that the current idea of “pastor” is NOT something supported by the Bible and in fact has made matters worse with (a) fallible man wielding way too much control in any congregation. The sooner we do away with full-time paid pastors, the better the church will be in that we (the church) will have to get off our duffs and be involved, not leaving it to those who claim to have all the so called authority.

    Again, I am continually bewildered how some (if not, most) believers honestly think that their view is most scriptural, being so convinced by THEIR own interpretation. Perhaps I am wrong too but I’m not getting paid to preach on some pulpit, or organizing any man-made artificial church structure. I’d rather just go out their and help serve my fellow man/community with the Love of God–not church attendance or politics required. What is required though, from my xp is a fellowship with the Lord himself to have his heart of people to pray and serve.

  • Roger, Thank you for you insightful contribution. The Church today doesn’t even resemble the NT church. Much of our society’s understanding of church is merely “the commandments of men”. Some of the church is defined in the NT and it should be a template for what we do at church. But, if the bible doesn’t explicitly say what is meant, we can’t say we know what is meant. We can only learn the truth through sincere prayer and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If something is not true, No amount of systematic theology will make it true.

    Church leaders make the same mistake as the world, mistaking Facts for Truth. Facts can be generally accepted conclusions based on evidence. For instance evolution or that the earth is flat. Actually, even the explicit statements in the Bible are twisted and turned around by some. To claim absolute understanding of truth is placing ourselves in the position of God. Humility is elusive to us.

    I’m not saying that Bible study isn’t fruitful. We should have a burning desire to learn more about God and the heart of Christ. But relying on our own understanding is a recipe for failure. We can draw sincere conclusions and even believe in them. But, to call them truth and use them to split the church Christ established is presumptuous to say the least.

    I lean toward reformed theology because of the reformer’s desire to break from the commandments of men. But, to be a follower of them is misplacing our faith. I can’t be a Calvinist or a Lutheran, etc. even though I believe much of what they believed. I must study the Bible and pray for understanding from the Holy Spirit. I can only profess to be a “Christian” placing my faith in the only head of the Church. Jesus Christ.

    Let God be God. Perfect and Wondrous. And, let man be man. Depraved, fallen, prideful and so very limited.

  • I too am done. It is because I had a real crisis and my pastor told me he didn’t do counseling and was done. Add to that the fact that other members were more worried when our youngest daughter was returning to youth group than what was happening in our family and you get two great reasons. Also, I, like others, miss the true spritual feeling I used to get on just entering the church. It is more like a social club run by a few members.

  • It’s been so fascinating to read these comments. Thanks to all for such an engaging discussion. I’m Josh Packard, lead researcher on the first empirical study to really understand what drives people to keep their faith, but leave the church. You can learn more about the study and upcoming book over at The book, Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith, is due out later this spring.

  • I have been a part of more than a few churches and I would be more than glad to return to meeting with like-minded believers if I could find a place in my area where the leadership’s first priority and motive is an authentic and sincere desire to know what moves the heart of God and is also a “safe place” to gather together.

    To me, the simple side of the coin is that our God, who said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM”, the very Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, who said “I am” and revealed by the Holy Spirit, gave us His Will and Testament in a written form to know Him and to also know how we are to live out this life as believers all in 66 books.

    So my question is- How many leaders and people of the flock, REALLY BELIEVE that God said what He meant and meant what He said and are willing to lay down their agenda to pick up and follow the Agenda of God?

    I’m aware of how much today’s culture and our flesh is constantly tugging us in another direction, but my guesstimate to my question is “probably not that many”. All we have to do is go back and read the Parable of the Sower or the Gospels to see how many walked away from Jesus when counting the cost.

    So, I guess I’m not surprised where the church is at, just disheartened.
    Thanks Bill for you article.

  • I found this article very interesting. I know a couple of people who have quit going to church, as I am certain many readers of the article have as well. However, I have an alternate suggestion to closing the doors of the church; rather, the pastor could stand before the people and tell them that the regular order of service will not occur today. He could then tell them of his deep concern for the direction his church has taken and that the “church service” will be a time of praise and prayer until they all hear the voice of the Lord leading them in His way when they gather together. But I wonder how many pastors would actually take such a step. I do know it is desperately needed. Perhaps if, instead of leaving, those who are tired of business-as-usual would voice their concerns to the pastor and see what he says. I too was tired of the loud music, and the “celebrity” status given to those on the praise and worship teams. I kept searching until I found a church that has a more simplified service. Is it perfect? Absolutely not; I am one of the members! But there is a hunger to know God among those who come and a lot of the modern “trappings” of today’s church are absent in the one I attend. Yet even in my church, I think it would be very beneficial if we took a few Sundays and spent the time in worship, praise and prayer the entire service to see if the Lord is pleased with what we are doing.

  • I’m late to the party, but find this very interesting. My husband and I stopped trying to do church in the early 90s because everywhere we went, it seemed the Holy Spirit had fled and it was more and more noise and programs.

    Many of us older-timers came in during the 70s revival, and that is what we still hunger and thirst for: the active presence of the Holy Spirit.

    It has been a long, hard, dry haul since then. We read our Bibles, we pray daily, often taking long hours to seek the Lord. We love Him, we trust Him, we know He is leading us, but He has been very, very silent lo! these many years.

    There is no power and no presence. I think of Habakkuk:

    17Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be on the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

    18Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

    There is nothing for us to do but be faithful and pray. Or, as in the words of the old hymn, “trust and obey.” God is in charge and is bringing things to fulfillment. He knows who are His and keeps us, in church or out of church, He keeps us.

    Difficult and exciting times indeed.

    Thanks to those who used paragraphs in their comment.

  • Marg Leonard,

    God bless you! Stay faithful. God is indeed working. As a seed begins its work underground before it sprouts into sight so God has been working out of sight. A great move of God is underway. He is rasing up an army that gathers to Him.

    There is no virtue in leaving the man-made church to go one’s own way. There is, however, virtue in leaving the man-made church in order to join His church.

    The presence of the Lord is not for Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. It’s for all times and all places. Those who love Him remember Him at all times.

    Yes, “difficult and exciting times” ahead.

  • Thank you, Marq Leonard! I am exactly where you are, but feeling isolated because I have lost fellowship with like-minded people. It felt good to hear someone else is relating to Habakkuk! So am I! It was encouraging because I was doubting my own “ears” where God is concerned.

  • Last month, after teaching Sunday School for 8 months, during 2 services, my church brought in a children’s church minister, spend 250k on renovating a rented building. The children’s church shows no sign that it is a church. After 2 weeks of just singing, no bible stories or bible verses I emailed the director and said I’m done. 2 weeks later 3 other elders quit Sunday School. My church hires celebrity worship leaders every week. I’m feeling ready to leave altogether. I know some Hebrew, have gone to Messianic church and that’s where I have found the Holy Spirit. I am the only one in service that opens the Bible and takes notes. The church IS changing. As an elder I feel my church does not what my knowledge. I am a sinner saved by grace

  • I’ve been a believer for more then a 20 yrs been a nursery worker Sunday school teacher and all around busy bee in the church, but for the past five years have just felt like it’s a show and feeling empty after services where over then last September just stopped going. Thank you for writing this it helps to know that others feel the same way. God bless

  • Hi Bill WOW is all I can say. I’ve been having real issues of late as I point out the dangers of euthanasia becoming a reality and why in my own denomination. I’m Roman Catholic and I was loving the fact that more Orthodox Catholicsim was becoming the norm, getting rid of the touchy feely diluted theology for solid teaching, pretty much not dissimilar to what you and your fellow comments have pointed out above. My issue is sadly that alot of these Orthodox Catholics are trying to copy the mega Churches by appearances and image idols. One of your readers said that some pastors/priests show favourite treatment to the wealthy or influencial as they can benefit the church either materially or with publicity or both, and they don’t treat you the same if you can’t offer them this. Sadly it’s the same ‘cool kids’ that are asked to speak at Christian including some hip Catholic events and they never ask someone who is working class or average looking (not Elle McPherson or Brad Pitt looking) or over size 8 to speak. Doesn’t line up to the gospel to me. Seems it is an infestation in all Christian movements. Peace to you.

  • I’m glad to see in the comments others who have been led out of the institutional church! We too were led out.

    We had been pressing in to the Lord, asking for deeper relationship, a richer knowing of Him when He led us out of the church we had been ministering in for the previous seven years. We immediately began the “church hunt,” but something weird happened.

    He didn’t plant us in another church body.

    This was very uncomfortable for us, especially for me. I had grown up in church, literally from when the doors opened to when they closed. I wouldn’t ever have left a church body without an expectation of being placed in another church family because that was how I was raised; you don’t leave until you’re released, and the only reason you might be released is because He has another church body for you to minister in. It was non-negotiable.

    Isn’t it interesting how the Lord works with the paradigm we’re in at the time?

    So, there we were, had obediently left our former body and were diligently church hunting but not getting the, “Here.” We began pressing in harder, wondering what we were missing when we came across Frank Viola’s book on the New Testament church. A few years before, the Lord had put on our hearts to discard some of the more modern church practices, such as celebrating holidays rooted in pagan traditions and celebrating the feasts instead. Reading through the book, we finally understood that “deeper” for us required stripping off the trappings of the institutional church, which were holding us back.

    Our hearts’ cry all along had been we didn’t want to put God in a box, because He is so much bigger than what we can imagine and we didn’t want to limit His move in us or through us. We had asked that He show us what boxes we put Him in, what was hindering us from becoming even closer.

    To our shock, the biggest box of all was the institutional church! And WE were the ones who had been in it.

    We saw that we weren’t putting God in a box; after all, who could limit Him? Instead, we had been in the box. What had at first nurtured and protected us had begun limiting our ability to connect and know Him.

    We were blind to it while we were in it, but now we are out we have no desire to return. The freedom we have to pursue Him however He leads and minister however He leads is immense. We would return to a church body if He willed it, but other than that? No. It would be like trying to return to a pot in the greenhouse after being planted out in the open field with room to stretch and grow.

    Our relationships with other Christians are richer and more authentic. We are able to connect with non-Christians and be “Jesus with skin on” in a way we never could before. Speaking personally, it has taken quite a while sort through the wheat and the chaff of 35 years in various denominations, but it has been well worth it. I not only know Him better, I know who He created me to be better.

    I’m not in any way saying that the institutional church is no good anymore or serves no purpose.

    I think of the institutional church like a greenhouse system. God grows a great variety of plants. Some He starts inside, some He starts outside. As seedlings grow they need bigger pots, and the size and type of the pot depends on the plant and the type of root system. Sometimes the plants started outside need to come in, and sometimes those of us who started inside need to be moved outside.

    Some of us need to be transplanted out of the pots into open ground. He can plant us outside the four walls and we will thrive. In fact, many of us NEED to be outside in order to do so. Putting us into another pot will see us root-bound and choked until we wither and eventually die.

    We can trust that the Lord knows where to put us, where we’re best suited, the places where we can thrive and bear fruit and in that way, glorify Him. We may not necessarily understand why He decides which plants go where, but then again, His ways are not our ways.

    I want to end this by saying to my brothers and sisters still in the institutional church, I love you. I bless you. Please bless those of us who are called out, understanding that we aren’t leaving “The Church” because we ARE The Church. We’re all part of His garden. We’re just planted in a different location.


  • I have posted on this blog a few times before but it’s been awhile. I felt I should add another comment.

    There appears to be two opposing extreme positions taken by some of those posting on this blog. The one side strongly sides with those who have chosen to leave their church and stop attending church altogether (the “dones”). The other side strongly criticizes those who have quit attending church arguing that these “dones” are wrong. Their argument is that these “dones” were wrong to have ever criticized those who were their former church leaders.

    My position is somewhere in the middle. Even though I do attend church I can sympathize with some who have left their church because they felt the leadership of their former church to be unsympathetic and overbearing. The Bible clearly teaches that an overseer of a church must not be lording it over other members. The leaders of a congregation are actually to be the greatest servants within the church. Some church leaders are clearly weak in this area. I certainly can understand why some have left a church where the leadership is domineering and unsympathetic.

    Now on the other side the Bible clearly instructs that believer are to give honor to those in authority. The Bible also clearly states that believers are to not forsake the gathering together of one another. Now I am not saying that all “dones” have ended their fellowship with all other believers but I know that some certainly have.

    As someone who greatest hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I want to reach out and have fellowship with any and all who truly love the Lord. This includes not only active church members but also the “dones”. When I say I want to have fellowship with other believers what I mean is I want to get to know them on a personal basis. I want to become friends with them and I want to establish a relationship with them as my EQUAL, as my brother or sister in Christ. Note the emphasis on EQUAL.

    I consider one of the greatest problems within our modern day churches, including gospel preaching, bible believing churches, is the lack of true Christian fellowship that exists within these organizations. This can be a serious problem within the large churches that exist today. Why anyone would want to continue to attend a mega church and remain totally anonymous escapes me. One of the primary reasons (and perhaps it is THE primary reason) why I attend church is to get to know other believers. Now it isn’t just the mega church that I am criticizing but any church that is not structured for the encouragement of small group fellowship. In fairness to some mega churches I should point that many larger churches do a very good job of promoting small group fellowship. This is commendable. In fact the main point of my comment is that all churches would do well to promote small group fellowship.

    In my opinion all churches should be places where believers get a opportunity to get to know other believers and have the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions with others. In a large assembly this simply is not possible. This can only be accomplished through small group fellowships. Although I personally am not a big believer in the mega church concept, I certainly do recognized that the fastest growing and most popular mega churches are the ones that actively promote small group fellowships. Often times these small group fellowships take the form of a neighborhood Bible study that takes place in the homes of several of the church members. This strikes me as being an excellent means of promoting Christian fellowship. This format allows fellow believers to actually get to know one another. This format also allows the individual members a chance to share their own thoughts and opinions on spiritual matters. I personally believe that the lack of small group fellowships to be one of the greatest problems facing present day organized Christianity.

    John Wesley and George Whitefield were two prominent English Christians who lived in the 1700’s. They were contemporaries and friends. One of the reasons they achieved prominence was because they did some of their preaching outside in front of large crowds. One could say that they were like the Billy Graham’s of their day. Both of these men had quite a following in their lifetime. However after these men passed away the legacy of George Whitefield largely died out but the legacy of John Wesley lives on even to this day. The legacy of John Wesley includes the Methodist Church. I mention this not because I am a Methodist nor am I endorsing the Methodist Church. I only mention this because I believe that the real reason behind John Wesley’s lasting success was because he promoted small group fellowship where George Whitfield did not. The real reason why the legacy of John Wesley lives on is because he encouraged his followers to meet in small groups (ten to twelve people) on a weekly basis in order to promote fellowship and encouragement. The members of these small groups would encourage, exhort and pray for one another.

    I am someone who attends two different small group Bible studies during the week. I am speaking honestly when I say that these small group meetings are the highlight of my week. These fellow believers in Jesus Christ have become my best friends and I love them and pray for them on a daily basis. They have encouraged me to go on for the Lord like nothing else ever has.

  • Thanks for the post, Bill. Helpful comments, for sure, as well. I’ve referenced your post in an aggregation of posts on this, as well as facebook groups, podcasts, books, etc., here on this post:

    I hope some find it helpful in tracking this growing trend.

  • Argh. Wrong link! Sorry, Bill. Copy and paste isn’t working so well on my old laptop these days.

  • Great article, I had read the original article you mentioned some time ago and identified myself as one of the “dones”. It took my husband and myself a very long time to leave the institutionalised church. We’ve seen ’em all, from the wildly pentecostal to the staid and conservative. It takes years to de-church but it is amazing when you take yourself away from all the talking heads just how refreshed in your faith you can become. We would love to either host or be a part of a small home meeting but just haven’t quite taken the leap. I’ve come to the realisation just this last week that this world is not ours, it is in the hands of the enemy. Yes, we have an escape through faith in Jesus Christ and yes, He has overcome the world, but we live in the in between time before the fulfilment of that victory. The church seems to be thinking that they can take over (dominionism) rather than be living here as “in it but not of it”. Wondering what your thoughts on that are?

  • I will be 77 in July and practically lived in “church” my whole life. I was called to be an evangelist long before I became born again [easily the greatest event in my long life 44 years ago.] For two years I’ve been on the streets with signs that PROCLAIM Jesus loves you and another very effective one Honk if you love Jesus. The honks couldn’t have been counted in my opinion. I live in Destin Florida [born here and was with my dad Deep Sea Boat Captains for 65 years]. Our business was operated for the Lord and attracted many churches. Most of those who came do not know the Lord intimately [the greatest failing of all within the church]. Those who knew Him were easy to spot and had awesome testimonies that I cherish some revealed decades ago. What’s missing is the POWER OF GOD to save, heal and deliver those who are lost. Jesus said, “The things I do you will do and even greater things shall you do to bring glory to My Heavenly Father in MY NAME.” I know the moment the Holy Spirit anoints congregations the “dones” will return along with throngs like those who came to Jesus. I live in expectancy of the Rapture. BTW Thanks for the well written and very important article. Love you

  • Karen,

    I would encourage you to either host or be part of a small meeting group (whether or not it meets in someone’s home or elsewhere I don’t think is so important). I am a big believer in small group Christian fellowship where all members of the group have the opportunity to share.

    I am reminded of the words of Jesus – Matthew 18:20 NIV –
    “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.”

    If and when you find a small fellowship group I would like to know your thoughts. Perhaps you could post again.

  • We left church. It was over religion. I don’t mean the word of God or salvation, just pure man-made religion. We recently moved to the bible belt and I can’t get over all strange doctrines, strict religion, and hungry (holier-than-thou) egos in 8 churches we visited and ones we stayed in for 6 months. This last one asked us to leave if my wife and daughters won’t stop wearing pants. We were in dis-belief. My whole family is saved, loves the Lord, and will lay our lives for Him if asked. We just don’t “play church” anymore, especially in the “bible belt”.

  • I have to agree with what has been said here. In today’s society, too many have gone into the larger congregation in order to “fulfill their weekly duty” and have become glossed over into the “churchism” movement with entertainment and prestige gaining momentum. What should be happening is more churches issuing the challenge of “What can I bring to God today” when we enter. It’s should not be a “what am I going to get from the service today?” but what can I give? True worship means giving unto God of Yourself endlessly, and we as a nation have failed in instruction of our youth in this area. some of our smaller congregations are now finding this and are not just growing in numbers to around 100-150, but the individuals are learning to grow spiritually. They are having small group studies to strengthen their personal relationship with God. Sharing their own experiences and testimonies to help each other. Learning to live by God’s work instead of their own desires. Crucial to a Christ-centered life is learning where God is working and getting involved. God will equip us to do what He wants us to do, when He needs us to. We just have to be ready to recognize HIs will and activity around us. Many who have left eh church are ones who wanted to serve, but were never taught to recognize God’s activity around them. I myself have only recently learned just how much God is evident in my own life and community. This has strengthened my relationship and opened up a completely new area of service which has become most fulfilling.

  • I’ll tell you why this is a problem. It’s because of egotistical leadership within a church body. They drive brand new expensive cars, the message they preach is always us and them meaning the staff and the pheasant servants in the pews. Its never about sending disciples its always about putting butts in the pews to pay for those expensive new cars, fancy luxury vacations.

    Jesus called us to follow him, not some full of himself “preacher”. Scripture also shows us repeatedly how to worship God, but rarely is that preached let alone mentioned from the leadership. Church has become about business, making large amounts of money and not about caring for the orphan and the widows.

    That is why people leave. I recently read a statistic that 85% of those now involved in the “New Age Movement” were former Christians. Why did they leave, because the church they left had no power. The Holy Spirit is real, and Jesus, while on earth, moved effortlessly in the supernatural. WE ARE CALL TO BE CHRISTLIKE, not rich, not self serving, not building our empire.

    I haven’t left the church yet, but trust me, I have given it serious thought!

  • A friend of mine posted your article on FB. I took a few minutes to respond to him and have placed it below. Bill, I’m sorry…I don’t know you and have never been to this site. I am a pastor in a church just outside of Boston and love it. I understand that people are leaving the church…yes. It’s been that way for some time in one shape or another. Forgive me for challenging your approach. I was frustrated at the time of writing it. See below:

    Dave, I just took a few minutes to read this article and then peruse some of the comments. I was hoping for something that would enlighten me to what I think is the ever-growing reality of people not only leaving the church, but the overall growing lack of affiliation with the faith. I don’t recognize the author, but I unfortunately couldn’t resonate with much of what he was saying. I think he believes he’s being objective about this, but it ultimately just came off as whining and just another person who believes he has the whole thing figured out and that churches just simply lack X, Y, Z. I would challenge Bill M. to go start a church doing exactly what he says churches lack. Go do it with simple organ music or a piano, pews, natural light, no microphone, and just “tell the truth.” I’d love to see how well that goes over years and years of investment. Maybe he already does, but I’m guessing he’s a critic from a safe chair. I would venture to guess that his model, in this culture, would most likely draw a crowd of like-thinking people. The problem is that his like-thinking people (from the comments that I read) would ultimately eat him alive as they all take the position of “Yeah! Those who lead in the churches lack _________, and they all suck!” The only one who called this out was Galen Miller who wrote this in the comments section:

    “I appreciate your article and all the comments, but I wonder, and have often wondered, who decides that a church isn’t fulfilling its commission? For years I have heard people say “there are so many ‘dead’ churches.” In whose eyes? It may be that the church you think is ‘dead’ is blessing someone else. Aren’t we judging those churches and their leaders?

    I am a lay speaker and have the opportunity to speak and serve in several churches of various sizes. A few of the churches had a large attendance, several are small—less than 12 people. I can honestly say that, if we allow ourselves to be open to the Spirit, we can be blessed in any church of any size and any “flavor.”

    It’s not always the church’s fault; sometimes “we” can be the problem. One can see it in the comments people make about churches. “The church isn’t ministering to ME. I don’t get anything out of that church.” And my favorite excuse, “I’m not being ‘fed’.” I, I, I, me, me, me. Folks, it’s not about us and our needs, it’s about worshipping our God and offering our praise to Him for His gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. If we leave ourselves and our wants behind, and allow Christ to be central we can be blessed in any church.”
    That dude actually gets it. Because it goes a layer deeper than all of this…we live in a culture that, 100 years ago, still lived in a world filled with quite a bit of mystery. Science, technology, and the rate of human knowledge doubling (which has gone from every 100 years to every 1-2 years) has us in a totally different frame of mind. The teaching in churches for much of Christendom linked to the world of mystery and gave us a great sense of God’s majesty and vastness. With the shrinking of mystery (weather, space, human diseases, the deep sea, what causes behaviors, etc), the world doesn’t link cause-and-effect to God like they used to. In other words, our behavior was tethered to disease, weather, etc. It allowed the church to wield enormous power for centuries. But today, people walk into a church and wonder…”Why, again, am I here? Why did I take the only day of the week that I can find peace from my very busy life and decide to go through the enormous stress of taking my entire family to a building filled with people so I can just hear something that tells me I’m not doing very well? Why do I do this?” And then people are realizing that when they don’t go (and I do hear this from time to time) that they find more peace in waking up a little later, having a peaceful breakfast on their porch, and just simply enjoying a rare moment with the family…and they weren’t struck by lightning because of it. Bill M.’s article is, the more I think about it, so far off base and is saying the same things that we used to say when I was in graduate school over twenty years ago. I’m so tired of the “We’re not teaching the word enough” argument. There are so many churches out there that are teaching exactly what they claim is correct and people are still leaving. Bill M. is talking about the issue from snorkel level…he needs to go the the scuba level and realize that this reality is happening. It isn’t incorrect teaching or too many lights that ultimately decide someone’s decision to leave or stay. It goes to the level of asking what can the church community offer (in addition to the gospel) to a culture that is post-Christian and doesn’t want to go to church. I still believe the church is the best thing we have for keeping the faith going and growing…but “more correct teaching of the gospel” is such a cliche argument from people who couldn’t get up there and do it themselves. And the people who do complain and argue (as I mentioned above) wouldn’t stop with Bill M.’s church. Why? Because we also live in a culture where everyone has a voice and platform to complain. I am so frustrated by this article, as you can see. The more I write here the more I find myself angry with this kind of simple and holier-than-thou thinking. It is so easy to cast a judgment. I actually have to get up each Sunday in the least-churched-state in the country and talk to people who drove to church on empty streets. I deal with this reality daily in ways that are the likely future for the rest of Christianity in America in the near decades to come. Getting all the churches to turn into “better teaching” churches (according to the theology of Bill M.) is so not the answer that is needed. Thanks for letting me vent.

  • Thanks Rob. A few brief responses if I may. Yes it is fairly evident that you are angry, but anger does not an argument make, nor does it help much in important debates. If you had actually bothered to read my article carefully instead of launching into a rather emotional knee jerk reaction you will have noticed that I offered a number of “possible” reasons people were leaving church. I suggested there would be others. I never said any one reason was absolute or even necessarily sound. Obviously there would be many reasons people leave church that are more to do with selfishness, the flesh, worldliness, anger, bitterness, and so on, than with legitimate reasons. I simply offered some of the possible reasons, and all of them are true to some extent in some circles.

    Good teaching or the lack thereof is of course just one possible reason. And given all the importance given to good teaching in the New Testament, it is no minor issue, but one which certainly deserves careful attention.

    All this article was meant to do was raise some issues and ask some questions. I am not sure why any Christian, let alone a Christian leader, would get so angry about something like that. I would have thought we all should be doing this. It is how we learn and grow together in Christ.

    And had you bothered to take the time to read a few of my other pieces, instead of just angrily lashing out here, you would have seen that I often speak to the importance of the church and the need to support our pastors. See here for example:

    At the end of the day it does not matter very much what I or others think. All we need to really worry about is if we are doing God’s will in God’s way in God’s time. So if you are called to be a pastor, then do it for God and his glory. But blasting those who raise legitimate questions as to why people might be leaving church is not all the helpful – or very Christlike it seems to me. But bless you in your work for the Lord.

  • Rob Strong,
    Your ramblings show that you are exactly the type of pastor many people her are talking about. You didn’t “Listen” to what Bill or these people are saying. Bill wasn’t promoting any particular position, only discussing a topic. I’m sure you love God but you struggle with the second commandment Christ gave us. Instead of showing humility and having empathy and compassion for these people, you bowed up and lashed out, berating everyone and reducing our input to ignorance and selfishness. The wise man can learn more from the fool than vice versa. As far as I can tell, many of these people understand the Bible as well if not better than you. There’s a big difference between years of experience and repeating the first year over and over again. Every time I read the bible, I have a new revelation.

  • Thank you, Rob Strong, for so precisely showing exactly why so many faithful, sincere, Christians are DOING church instead of GOING to a church, avoiding the rants and narrow views of people who think they know better …always.

    While writing, “It is so easy to cast a judgment.” you do exactly that, missing the whole point of the article! “..not teaching the word enough” is only ONE argument for some, the minority I would say, actually. The biggest reason for many it seems is that we can better build REAL meaningful fellowship, community and reaching out the non believer neighbor by not isolating ourselves to one church building where few really know or care who one is.

    You clearly did not read Bill’s thought provoking article that well. For one, he never even advocates not going to church, merely suggests from his research many of the varied reasons people are “done” with its attendance. (That does not mean, btw, they’d stopped being the church–far far more important than what ‘church’ walls someone happens to reside in!)

    Of all the quotes you cite, you give that one ‘dude’s’ whose was perhaps one of the most off base comments out there. He and you do not get it. As he tellingly added, however: “I can honestly say that, if we allow ourselves to be open to the Spirit, we can be blessed in any church of any size and any “flavor.” –Exactly. May I suggest to you (and him) that indeed the Spirit can bless the assembling of the saints outside church walls, not tied to any one church but ministering to others just as much. In fact, often so so much more so not being run by one person’s leading but by God’s and actually being there in the neighborhood they live in, not driving miles to some building elsewhere.

    It’s time for some pastors and preachers to get off their high horse and actually be shepherds to where the flock are, not so rigidly tied to any one church building for the love of a paycheck! Perhaps it’s time to go back to being tent makes and not making a profession out of callings. Be like Corrie Ten boom and truly rely on the Holy Spirit to provide, instead of some salary form one assembly. Now, that takes faith and humility!

  • I have long resisted another post to this wonderful article as so many were saying much of what I would have said. But recent comments by Rob and a good friend of mine prompt me to break the silence.

    First of all people are not sheep and Pastors are not shepherds of sheep. They are supposed to act with the heart of a father and not as someone maintaining a flock of sheep until it is time for market.

    Second was when a friend of mine that is also a DONE said to me the other day that he had been involved with two significant groups during his adult life. One was the church and the other with people in his neighbourhood. He asked which of the two did I think was the most normal. Without hesitation I answered that it was the neighbourhood group and guess what, I was correct.

    When we talked further we realised the the NG showed respect to each other; they were there for each other in time of need; they fellow-shipped for more that an hour a week; the leader at any time, if there was need for one, was the person that had the actual skill set required; and finally, when one of the group was away for too long or moved away, they reached out to ensure that the family was okay.

    I kinda like the second group the best. It sorta seems like what a church should be.

  • Excellent comments Tom Burns!

  • I know I’m late to the game, but the article was beautifully written and well thought out. I haven’t read any comments before so I don’t know if I am repeating, if I am it is coincidental.

    I believe God is with us anytime and anywhere. God isn’t in a building. However, I love going to church. It is a time when I can center myself and remember things that are really important. I think Jesus would think that is pretty cool. I worship Him when I am in church. I am reminded to be a good person. I am reminded to do right instead of wrong. Most importantly I am reminded to love others, and see their humanity. Jesus would like that.

  • I would like to share a recent observation I have made concerning some of my local churches. I first want to preface this comment by stating that my intention is not to bash all church pastors or church leaders. Now I personally don’t believe that the role of the modern day pastor is very similar to the role of the leaders of the earliest churches. Nonetheless there are certainly many Godly pastors who are trying to diligently serve both their congregation and the Lord. Being a pastor can be a very difficult and demanding job and I recognize this.

    Paul shares, in his first epistle to Timothy, a number of the qualifications of a church overseer. Some have taken this word, as it appears in this epistle, to mean “pastor”. My own belief is that Paul’s concept of the role of an overseer is quite different than the role of most modern day pastors. I personally belief that in Paul’s day that the church overseer was more of a facilitator and an arbitrator more so than a preacher. I believe that the primary role of the church overseer was to settle disputes and to see that the local church conducted itself in an orderly and appropriate fashion. I believe that in the earliest churches there was a lot less monolog (preaching) and a great deal more dialog (group discussion) than exists today. I believe that back in Paul’s day there was no distinction between clergy and laity. I believed that Christians gathered for the most part as equals, that is as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I am someone who strongly believes in small group Christian fellowship. Over the last decade, on occasion and in order to fill out my schedule, I have attended a number of small group Bible studies. Generally for me this has meant getting involved with a group not affiliated with my church. I currently attend two such weekly small group studies not affiliated with my church and I love them.

    Recently finding more time on my hands, I have decided to try to find a third such study to attend. I have recently contacted a couple of larger churches (> 500 members) in my area to see if I can get involved with another small group study affiliated with their church. My intention is to find a Bible study that meets in someone’s home (or perhaps a coffee shop) that is in my neighborhood.

    In contacting these churches I have made an interesting discovery. I have discovered that if I tell them (usually through an e-mail) that I am not a member of their church their response is generally different than if I do not disclose the fact that I am not a member. If they realize that I am not a member of their church then they seem far more reluctant to assist me in finding a study. In this case instead of assisting me in locating a study they tend to steer me into attending their “normal” Sunday meeting which is not what I am interested in. I already have my own church. Conversely, if I do not inform them that I am not a member, they assume that I am a member and they are far more likely to assist me in locating a neighborhood study.

    What I have discovered from past experience is that if I can identify and contact the leader of a home based study, I am usually welcomed with open arms. It doesn’t matter at all to them that I am not a member of their church. These groups are generally led by a lay person whose only concern is that I am a fellow believer in Jesus Christ.

    If there is a point I am trying to make I guess is it this: if a pastor or other church leader’s main ambition is to grow the size of their own congregation then their motivation is wrong! Their primary motivation should be to grow the body of Christ as a whole. I believe that many pastors (but certainly not all) are more concerned with growing their own church as opposed to growing the church of Jesus Christ. If this is their motivation then it is wrong and they need to be called out for this.

    In conclusion I want to reiterate that there are many Godly pastors whose main motivation is to serve Christ. There are some who want to bash all church leaders. I am not one. By the way Bill, I really appreciate your website.

  • Dear Bill and commenters alike, I too am a done. I have read many comments on here and my sentiments are the same as many of the dones. To the ones who wanna turn this into we have left for reasons of me, me, me, I, I, I, or say that we should remain in the churches as the body of christ I say this ” I AM THE CHURCH” i do not go…. to a church. The organized church is the pre-new testament church! Jesus Said “Go ye into the world and make disciples of the nations.” PERIOD! he never said go ye back into the synagouges and convert the leaders and the hard hearted, did he? NO! some of us have heard his voice to come out of a system that many here have witnessed no longer wanna live the scriptures, but rather want to appeal to the world by being as the world. Now CHRIST Is our example, not the leaders, and the ones that find that ok…. Stay if you like, but dont try to make believers feel guilty for leaving, They are obeying Gods voice which they are hearing even as some obey their own traditions and carnal belief systems which are reinforced by these very institutions we are leaving in droves. We all have a free will, but “OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE”. The organized church in America has a earth shattering awakening coming, I Pray you all are ready and hearing from God. As for fellowship, who ever said it only occured in a building called a church? we are not of the building, we are of the Lord! we fellowship everywhere, pray anywhere and everywhere together and thats a ruse to get you back into a place God has called you out of. Always the voices of the pharissees heaping guilt upon the ones they envy if only their hearts were laid bare for us to see, but scripture shines a light on them and bares the truth of the matter. People, a remnant began out of 12 men and a radical change in the way church was interpreted 😉 To all the dones, GO BE THE CHURCH! and May the Lord richly bless you!

  • Dear Dawn, well said. The “dones” are more like the New Testament Church than we realise for the simple reason that it was still Judaism but know as “The Way” who followed a messiah called Jesus.

    When the good news reached the gentiles it became more than The Way because they were not required to be circumcised to a member of The Way which was insisted on by the Jerusalem (Jewish) Church.

    So God was saying that the church was anyone and wherever they met. That in essence was God saying that religion and religious sanctuaries were now irrelevant.

  • I am very thankful to have seen this article on a very special ladies Facebook post. I too had been caught up in churchianity for a very long time. ….. It wasn’t until I had gotten away from it that I experienced a greater and truer relationship with The Lord. I found that I had to become unconditioned from all the churchianity stuff in order to become reconditioned in my relationship with Christ. The Spirit of Truth was then able to lead me into more truth which brought me Deliverence and made me more spiritual and physically free from lots of things.

  • I agree with most of this. Having been a youth minister for approx. 15 years I’ll disagree on this: “Many believers are put off by the attempt to cater solely to youth, while ignoring their needs.” In most churches the most money is spent on adult ministry and most pastoral time is spent catering to tithers (not teenagers). The statement “catering to youth, while ignoring their needs”, in my opinion, comes from a place of spiritual immaturity. Church isn’t really about my needs being met, but my ability to meet the needs of others.

    That being said, the following statement I also disagree with from a youth ministry stand point (and just a church staff point of view): “Many believers are tired of just being bench warmers, with no role to play.” I believe, in church, these individuals aren’t listening if they truly feel this way. I was always begging for help. And most churches run purely off the energy of overwhelmed, over-worked staff. If one feels they are a bench warmer seek any ministry that will take you. I suggest starting with the teenagers. 😉

  • Thank you for this article!

  • Many years ago I did this for about a year due to transportation problems. I had a handful of Christian friends that I saw with some regularity, so I told myself that I was okay; I was still having Christian fellowship and listening to tapes of church services (this was before “online”). But then my Christian friends started dropping out of my life for various reasons (e.g. moving away, leaving jobs). Finally my transportation problems were solved, and I started going to church again, and that’s when I realized how much I had been missing. I discovered that listening to a tape can never compare with the joy of worshipping surrounded by other believers. I had never realized how much give-and-take there is in a church service between the ministers, the worship leaders, the members of the congregation – everyone is involved, and it elevates the experience. It’s like the difference between watching a movie at home by yourself and attending a live theater performance.

  • To Donna: I’m sorry you don’t seem to think its possible to do give and take, let alone worship with others outside the church but am glad you have a church that fulfills your mission.

  • A recent national case-in-point why so many devout Christians are “done” with corporate church attendance: these churches pulpit reactions to the recent gay marriage supreme court mandate — i.e NOTHING was said in most churches. Rather, it was completely avoided, showing again just how out of touch churches and sermons are, preferring instead to stick to the safe and narrow.

    What could be a more important, grave issuing affecting our national moral stance than this one where even the White house was illuminated in gay pride colors. Yet, for the most part, most pastors the following Sunday and even a week later decided to stick to their current teaching series or talk about something else equally unrelated.

    I went to the most well known, influential churches in my area, including surrounding cities’ ones to peruse the online sermons for that weekend, thinking maybe, just maybe the corporate church was finally waking up and daring to hit the nail on the head and address the gravest issues of our day. But, no. It was in fact pitiful if not embarrassing how instead these pastor’s sermons made it out like nothing so pivotal in our society had just happened, like it was business as usual. how out of touch safe playing, protect our tax exempt wallet status can you be? I am convinced the Lord was and is not pleased! No wonder he will in time, strike down all the churches and force us to get real.

  • This is so me, I haven’t lost my fervor for God, just my will to sit through all the non-sense that is happening in the church today! Leaders promoting and living any kind of lifestyle they choose too. Once you leave they look at you like you have back slid- but they are already in a backslidden state while still an active member in the church.
    I had a talk with God before I left the church and I love Him just as much as I did when I was a member on some churches role. I have just had enough and I am happy about it! It means to me that I have grown beyond the brain washing.

  • I am becoming more and more a Christian who doesn’t attend church. I want to worship and help others. I don’t want to be told what my politics are supposed to be. I hate those church leaders who are “my way or the highway”. Most of whom are so emboldened that they don’t even give lip service to searching for God’s way. And most churches make it abundantly clear that if you don’t want to join the end of the line and follow them (NOT GOD or CHRIST) then you are not welcome and should just move along. It’s so sad. But someday I may find a church home again.

  • I agree with much of what has been expressed here. And yes, while there are many problems with catering to the entertainment mentality, there are plenty of ‘old’ traditional mentality churches that are unwilling to try new methods to reach a lost and dying world.

    Let’s face facts: many people as have simply quit going because they don’t feel the need to really do what it takes to lead a well disciplined Christan life…leisure and ‘ family’ activities are more desirable during the time previously set aside for corporate worship, and it becomes easy to blame the real and perceived problems with the church and the imperfect people in them. I know, having been a minister of music (and other areas) for a few decades now-wanting to find ways that will reach people while encouraging those already here to continue to be active and faithful, only to see many with so much to offer to help build up His kingdom for His glory fall away in favor of other things.

    No church will ever have ‘the perfect mix’ for every individual attending. While leaders bear the responsibility to constantly seek the Lord’s guidance in what and how things are and what needs to be changed, etc., every person will stand before God and will be held accountable for their actions, including whether or they were ‘forsaking the assembling of ourselves together’, which is a vital part of spiritual growth.

  • Very insightful, Bill. And so are the opinions that follow. I would ask some questions: Is it all about us? Or all about Him? Are you dismissing those 2 questions before you speak? Didn’t Christ establish the church so we could DISCIPLE and BUILD the Kingdom? If we take our Bible and go home, how will that happen? If our chosen church is not following the Word, and not being led by the Spirit, shouldn’t we seek one that does?

  • @Scott Carwille — you seem to not be able to imagine church in any context but within an established church building– that is an entirely false choice! Have you not read all the comments of those who are dones who have left “going to” church but are BEING the church. Still discipling, still fellowshipping, still building, etc! Why is that so hard for the “go to” church mindset people to grasp? It’s really not that hard! Isn’t it tiring reading their false dichotomies?! Time for some to get out of the box way of doing things only.

  • I agree with Ivan Poulter’s comment above who said:

    ‘I could place it in one term, Fellowship. The lack of it. There is a touch on it in the article. The greatest problem is the lack of real fellowship, the imparting of godliness to one another. All we really have in ‘church’ is a hierarchy. A little god on the platform whether in a church building, or whether in a home fellowship meeting. Hence, we have the product of the Great Harlot and her daughters. We have the Babylonain system of Ba’al, The LORD and his subjects. We don’t have Father and His family of equals. In the words of the Son, we have those who ‘lord it over one another’.’

    I long for Spirit -filled fellowship but cannot find it anywhere. I was a tither for many years and returned to my city after some time away. It took me a while to settle on a church and when I did I took my saved up tithes to the woman in charge. It was a Salvation Army church. She took the money and rushed around gathering envelopes which she handed to me and said “And we need money for this and this and this.” The only other time she spoke to me was a few weeks later when she excitedly came to me and said there was mail for me in my pigeon hole. I went to look and found a new set of money-collecting envelopes. I left. Later, I had to attend a Salvation Army ’employment’ service – mandatory if you are one of the many unemployed today. It was staffed entirely by Indians who hated Australians and treated you with contempt as if you wanted to be unemployed. Nothing could be further from the truth. What is driving this ‘service’? Money. I asked an Indian why they hated Australians and they said ‘Because they grew up in a free country.’

    That’s what church is about these days, they look at you with greedy eyes and see money. I have little money, actually since the installation of the fascist government in Australia, I have absolutely no money at all. The one priest I had great respect for has also gone the same way and asks his poor parishioners only for money; he chases money like a hound dog. For his parishioners good? No. For ‘mission work’ for poor people far from Australia whilst his own parishioners are starving both literally and spiritually.

    Then there is the truly dreadful cacophony one is met with, particularly in charismatic churches, which is presented as ‘music’. NO ONE is listening to God. The Holy Spirit is completely absent from these churches.

    The amount of issues in these churches…where do you begin. There is no fellowship in these churches, true enough but there is often lots of judgement, criticism, gossip and character assassination. Yep, Lording it over one another – indicated I see, by a small number (thank goodness) of the comments even in this blog.

    I have been forced into a tiny town as no one unemployed can live in the cities today, in fact I was homeless for a time, and of course I searched for a church. There is a catholic church where I met a very venomous gossip and there is a protestant church which is led by a non-qualified female minister dressed, I kid you not, as an old fashioned Catholic priest complete with back to front collar and black robes.

    Well said Ivan Poulter. Where is the Father and his family of equals? Where is the genuine prayer and worship and concentration on God? Where is any comfort in very difficult times? There is none. There are the Lords demanding taxes from the serfs whilst at the same time you are deafened by untalented, ungifted young people ‘providing’ your entertainment ‘BANG BANG BANG BANG!’

    Hideous. I just want to go Home.

  • Hi Beth. Much to my surprise I am a member of one of those BANG BANG churches. I am surprised because I could not see myself enjoying a BANG BANG church as I tend towards serious study and tussling out the scriptures usually in small groups where everyone can contribute.

    I have analysed the songs they sing and there is nothing I can criticise as they exalt Jesus continuously and glorify God. There is very little about self.

    Their focus is exuberant praise and the salvation of others. Since I have joined last April, there have been hundreds saved so it is no wonder that the three campuses in Victoria has about 4,000 members.

    There is nothing shallow about the church or the leadership and they are keen for everyone to minister in their gifting, not just the “ordained” people (I don’t think we have any). We prefer those anointed by God, not by man. The person who started the church 11 years ago did so in response to a prophecy by a prophet.

    I know there are some BANG BANG churches that do not pass muster, but this one is not one of them.

    As for having no fellowship. We are part of a local house group and our campus has nearly a hundred of them which meet in homes.

    There is the good, the bad and the ugly and most churches have lost the plot and are dying a slow death, but not this one. It is youth oriented but at 73 my experience and ability is welcome.

  • Roger

    You are clearly where you belong. That BANG BANG Christians are used by God is in not in question – look at what they are doing for you. There are different sorts of Christians which you clearly have no understanding of but you are in the right place and that is what matters to you.

    Being ‘ordained’ has got nothing to do with it. However not being ordained and dressing up as an old fashioned Catholic priest is not something a young Christian would recognise as being an issue. I know God well.

  • I want to start this comment by again commending Bill for this interesting and informative website. Before coming across this article on the internet I had never heard of the term “the dones”. It certainly is true that many believers (the dones) are quitting organized conventional churches but not necessarily giving up their faith.

    For the most part I do sympathize with the dones. However I do have one issue with some of them that I will refer to later in my comment. However, first of all I would like to tell you about why I attend the church I attend.

    I attend my church foremost because it is a gospel preaching, Bible believing church. At my church the simple gospel message is preached. My church points out that we live in a godless and sinful world that desperately needs to repent and to acknowledge its righteous and holy Creator. The simple gospel message is that by trusting in the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ we can be reconciled back to God and have our sins forgiven. There is nothing more important in this world then to recognize this great and glorious truth.

    There is another reason why I attend the church that I do. It is because my church believes in small group fellowship. Although frankly I do believe my church could do a better job of promoting small group fellowship, that is where all believers have ample opportunity to share, my church does to some extent promote and encourage all believers to share.

    Now I don’t attend my church because it has an impressive sanctuary (which it doesn’t have). The reason I attend my church has very little to do with the songs that are sung and the music that is played. I don’t attend my church because it has a large and varied number of ministerial programs (which it doesn’t have). I don’t attend my church because we have great and wonderful teachers and preachers. I don’t attend my church because I trust its leadership to fully understand every controversial aspect of Scripture.

    The reason I do attend my church is primarily because I do enjoy and appreciate the fellowship I have with like minded believers. I attend the church that I do because not only is the simple gospel message preached but also because I have the chance to have dialog and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Again I want to emphasize that I am for the most part very sympathetic to the dones. There is however one thing that I would challenge some of the dones on. Now I am not at all implying that all dones have ceased to have fellowship with other believers. However I am challenging those dones who have little or no fellowship with other believers.

    Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

    Again, I am someone who does not much appreciate the conventional modern day church where there is little opportunity for dialog and true fellowship. However there are certainly places of small group fellowship where all believers are given the chance to share their thoughts and opinions. If you are a believer who has stopped going to church then I strongly suggest that you seek out other believers who can encourage and exhort you in the Lord. We should never stop seeking out the fellowship of our fellow believers.

    If you consider yourself to be a done but meet regularly with other believers then I would like to hear your story. Perhaps you could post on this website how you found other believers to have fellowship with. Perhaps you could share the format of your worship or meeting. I’d like to hear from you.

  • I have been in ministry for close to 30 years, in church and para church activity. I minister in Belfast in Northern Ireland. I do sympathise with those who have done with church, at least in its institutional form however my heart sinks when people just walk away from the local fellowship. I have no time for the celebrity culture get I recognise what Paul had to say about it in Corinth and his attitude that what is important us that Christ is proclaimed. I have spent much time in America as I did my D.Min in Seattle and have family living there and it us very different to Ireland. The mega church leaves me partially envious and partly frustrated. You see my ministry has witnessed ten years of decline and that U.S. Hard to witness and hard to admit to my contemporaries yet I do believe we are seeing the seeds of growth. We ave witnessed awful things in our city and the thought that people are walking away in their drives us really hard. Ministry us hard and it’s personal but what is important is that Christ is glorified. We are not part of a celebrity culture nor mega church and it us painful to feel isolated and deserted by those who have done with church. Sure we are an institution but even the early church made that mistake. We are trying to be more f a movement and be more relationally minded. We are trying, against all the odds to reach beyond our walls and partner with thise who share our vision but the task is all the more demanding when our brothers and sisters leave us! Thankfully the Holy Spirit gives us the power and God only calls us to be faithful. So my bringers and dusters across the sea don’t forget about the remnant who do not have the luxury of being done. The warning of course is that even thise who are done and thise who stands part from the institution face the danger that sooner or later they too will become institutionalised and they face tge challenge of taking the high ground but only succeed in looking down on the rest of us. We are all human beings and will never get it right!

  • This is a good article… and, as it stings, because it does point to the heart of a REAL issue many churches face… that being simply, doing and BEING what God called the Church to be. I would say that the people the author described are not “leaving the church”, rather, they are leaving specific local assemblies because of their Sunday morning services.

    One of the reasons posted was because of the church’s desire to reach the youth and ignore their needs. It has actually been my experience that the opposite takes place as well. There is so much catering to the wants of the older seasoned believers, that the Under-30 “crowd” gets ignored. This happens with musical style, technology, terminology, sound equipment and use, the age of those in leadership, the basic “feel” of the services. I have watched younger families and singles step away from attendance and involvement because what is presented is not for them, in their language, for their generation. And these believers WANT and DESIRE genuine Holy Spirit encounters, and deep, passionate preaching of the Word of God.

    I also believe that what so many local churches do, is focus so much on what happens Sunday morning (or whatever day their service(s) happens), that they become spiritual event planners. There are 6 other days of the week for us to BE “The Church”, and when that is not emphasized… we don’t learn to live how we should, rather, we become people who meet once a week and expect to be shovel fed to our satisfaction, or else we leave, as if church is a buffet restaurant. Sunday morning should be just one of MANY things we do as a church, one of MANY ways we show who we are…

    Just the thoughts of someone who has spent 20 years in full time ministry, and am now currently out of it, but living as a church attender and factory worker. Thanks for your time, y’all!

  • I posted a response a few months ago. I have been following the thread with great interest, and a heavy heart. I just cannot get over the fact that most Christians equate Church to the building and Sunday fellowship. I never fully understood the power that traditions of men and religion held over the church until this article.

    The challenge here is to dare to believe that the Church is a living, breathing person…moving in and out of daily life and work and play… and all she is required to do is simply be Christ to the world and love one another. We know our Savior, and we love Him above all things. The ‘Dones’, for the most part, seem to have grasped this and are moving forward with great joy and peace.

    The ‘Un-Done’s’, however, still seem to want believers to sequester themselves quietly into a pew and conform to the man-made requirements of the building. Go to church, pick a program, (for we have one for you!) and blend in. Otherwise, you are most certainly in error. These simply cannot conceive church outside the walls. It is tragic.

    When Christ returns, He will come for His Bride. She is one person. One Bride. Slice it, dice it, divide it as you may, but those who have a heart for Christ Jesus are His Beloved, and those who are busy judging and pointing fingers just may be the very ones declaring,

    “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:22-23

  • I’m done with the LOUD, repetitive repetitive rock music that masquerades as Christian worship music. The volume is near deafening and drowns out the meaningful (sometimes) words. The “worship” appears to be an emotional reaction to the beat and the singers/performers on the stage. Don’t see much difference between the secular and sacred.

  • I am one of those who have become weary of not being fed the Word of God. My church active support spans many decades. Our ministers have given in to the pressure of those who are offended by sermons that mention God’s wrath or point out biblical truths like “Faith without works is dead.”
    The flock is not being fed the truth and one by one we are drifting away.

  • You may be right Rebecca as I do find that in many churches. One local “community church” is like that. Have all the trimmings but is as dead as a dodo.

    However, When the loud music is loud because God is inhabiting our praises, man, I tell you it rocks! In the last few weeks I have fallen to my knees at the awesomeness of God; cried because the power of his love was present; rejoiced because the words exalted Jesus and we could not stop singing.

    Give me loud music that does these than quiet music that doesn’t.

    And my church doesn’t produce pew warmers. EVERYONE is expected to have a gifting and operate in it.

  • To Rebecca. I’m a musician. I can play Amazing Grace classically, country, rock, ska or punk. All the same lyrics…

  • It isn’t the sole responsibility of the pastor to make sure all in the congregation are fed the way each individual needs/wants to be fed. As Paul would say, it is the responsibility of each Christ-follower to feed themself. Infants are fed by their mothers until they are mature enough to do it themself. The same is true for spiritual nutrition.

  • Tom Anthony- you ask some good questions for “dones.” firstly I’d like to start with the fact that for so many of us who used to faithfully GO to church even though we may have been involved in ministries, giving, etc for years many of us THERE had “little or no fellowship with other believers” as you put it. It can be very lonely to go to church week after week, year after year and really have no real fellowship!!

    YET, when the Lord directed us to leave, THAT is when the real fellowship began! Or in my case, my wife and I always had real fellowship, small groups as you like, but they were NEVER church based, as in others from the same church. Rather, they were formed by believers from many different churches who the Holy Spirit bought together with chance encounters and built a true love and fellowship for one another where we also went out and then served others, never needing some paid pastor to direct us!

    And guess what? Since being a true done, that has increased but now, we are FAR more involved in our literal neighbors lives as we don’t go a disappear every Sunday morning and Wednesday night! We are involved!

    I think it is hard for people who are so going to church focused to imagine that there is indeed healthy spiritual life outside of the church wall and for MOST of us –FAR more healthy and more glorifying to God I would humbly suggest when I consider our “dutiful going” for all those decades earlier.

  • Joy Woodruff–“These [the UNdones] simply cannot conceive church outside the walls. It is tragic.”
    –That is it exactly. When I read the comments on those committed to GOING to church only and second guessing the dones while seemingly totally ignoring what they’ve said, I think the very same things. Well put. Thank you.

  • I agree with you Bridget but you try and wrest the pulpit from some ministers. In many cases, it is the province of those “ordained” (by man). Even if you have an anointing for teaching but are not ordained by man the pulpit is off limits to you.

    I read of one minister who had been at a church for 33 years and in that time not one other person had been allowed to teach or preach. When he went on holiday, he came back for the weekend so that he could preach and then went back on holiday again.

    Obviously did not have much faith in his own preaching if he couldn’t leave the church to someone else for two Sundays a year.

  • Is Sunday morning the only way to be fed? Is a sermon the only way to hear the Gospel? This is the misnomer. Those in this very thread seem to view church as a place to consume rather than a place to serve. That’s the reason mammy dones are done out of spiritual immaturity instead of biblically sound reasoning. If you’re done because the church or Sunday service didn’t serve *you* well enough, you left fur the absolute wrong reason.

  • William Michael,

    Thanks for reading my comment(s). I have appreciated reading yours thoughts and opinions which I mostly agree with.

  • Christ died for the church. The church is his bride. His bride is not a bunch of isolated individuals. The sacraments, preaching, and discipline are entrusted to the church. Two thoughts: 1. The Hebrews 10 passage. Read the whole thing, especially vv 26 – 29. 2) Al Martin, in his series on the Parable of the Soils, said that all modern evangelism is designed to produce stony ground hearers. Those who leave the church for their own ends are just that. Sorry, but I believe it because I believe the Bible teaches it.

  • I can relate. So sick of being sidelined. For example: I was a choir member in a medium sized church way back in the 80’s. Choir practice was where I was nourished and where I worshipped. Then I went in ministry full time, now I’m retired and sidelined. So I long for what God used to nurture me to the point of going into the ministry, only now it’s praise bands and tambourine shaking young people. IF I could find enough people for a small group, I’d do the same thing.

  • Robert E. Hayes….Oh, dear!~ “Those who leave the church for their own ends are just that. Sorry, but I believe it because I believe the Bible teaches it.”

    Do you hear what you said? You say we are stony hearted because somehow we leave the church? How can we LEAVE the church if we ARE the church? We haven’t left – we have simply come to life outside the walls of confinement and are BEING the church to the world. These are not stony hearts…these are hearts moved by love for mankind and one another. THIS is what the Bible teaches! Please…please, read it.

  • We all just can be there for people when they ask and keep them in Prayers and respect. There are People who care from the bottom of their Heart no matter if there are Pastors or not and we always Pray.

  • I guess I have a problem with this article on several fronts. I don’t disagree that there is a problem with people (particularly those that are active and serving) leaving the church…I am sure the facts bear that out. I also agree with the reasons he states about why people are leaving or at least “done” with church. Certainly all the things he mentions are apparent in evangelical Christianity today. What I have a problem with is the lack of Biblical solutions or reasons he gives as to why we should belong to or go to a church at all. There is no mention in his article of the biblical mandate for corporate WORSHIP (that is what Hebrews 10:24-25 refers to); there is no mention of the partaking of the SACRAMENTS as a necessary means (established by Christ) of Christian fellowship and growth. There is no mention for the need of the Christian community that happens in a biblical church which includes ALL ages and generations of Christians–not just those in my “fellowship” or small group. There is no mention of the biblical-spiritual oversight ONLY A CHURCH provides through the establishment of qualified elders and deacons. I guess I could go on and on…
    The other concern I have with the article is his possible solution. He quotes as follows…”But the problem is, so often our leaders are so busy doing church, that they do not have this needed time to reassess, rethink, and re-evaluate. I once wrote a piece in which I made the serious suggestion that some churches might be best placed to actually shut down for a brief spell as the members, and especially the leaders, spend some quality time on their faces before God.” What I fear this implies is that we don’t REALLY need the CHURCH to worship God…we can worship HIim in our quiet times, our small groups (or fellowship groups), our prayer closets, etc.; therefore, let’s just shut the church down for a while so we can get before the “face of God” and determine His will. God has given us His will clearly in the Bible…He wants us to gather as a Church by the means set forth in the Bible. Though, I agree that we should seek God daily (by whatever means..quiet time, etc) when we are not congregated as a church, however, the Bible assures us that God meets with us when we gather corporately for worship on the Lord’s Day at His Church. Finally, I am empathetic with those who are “done” with church. I would encourage those who are “done” to evaluate if their church is “preaching” the gospel and if Jesus Christ and HIs work are exalted throughout the worship service. If not, then I would encourage you to pray about perhaps restoring or seeking a biblical church instead of being “done” with church.

  • Dick, I’m not sure that you have grasped Bill’s purpose in writing this article. Nowhere does he indicate/imply or hint that he has the answers or solutions – to quote Bill himself, “I certainly do not have all the answers for this.” So he does not offer them. He is just intending to make people aware that people dropping out of church is an increasing phenomenon, and that it just might be worthwhile looking at what , if anything, is behind this state of affairs. Nowhere in this article does Bill propose a solution. I have been closely following the deluge of replies and it is here where others are proposing solutions.
    You also quote Bill’s words – “But we must be willing to at least pause and reflect, pray and seek God, as to how we might turn things around” and suggest that this is Bill’s proposed ‘solution’ to the problem with an underlying ‘implication’ that we don’t need the church to worship God, and that we can just continue on worshipping him privately. Bill’s use of the word ‘we’ counters that suggestion. This is an exhortation to a body of people to be doing something together.
    It is a significant stretch to interpret Bill’s words as if he meant this was a solution to the problem and to see such an underlying implication within his words. At face value and in context, Bill is suggesting that getting down on our faces before God is where me might need to start in order to find the solution. Surely for a Christian that is the correct place to start for any significant issue.

  • Thanks Kerry. Yes sadly it seems a number of folks have not read my piece very carefully. Some missed what I in fact said, while others claim I said things I never did! I will soon offer a follow-up article to this one to try to explain things a bit more.

  • Good article. i was one of the dones. For two years i did not attend church but fellowshipped with Christian brothers & sisters as we went along during the week. Sundays we would get together informally as arranged by whomever was host & whomever was invited. We helped each other, encouraged each other, built up each other, rebuked each other. It was good. We finally realised that we were busy with church, but it was not the institutional church. So we moved to a house church basis. It is the best there can be, i think. House churches are the future. Many ‘Dones’ are now caught up in the growing house church movement & it is good, although there are cultic house churches.

  • Tom, I live in Boise and am looking to link up with fellow believers.

  • Hi Ed,

    I don’t want to put down too much personal information on this website but perhaps Bill could pass on my e-mail address. You could also look my phone number up (I live in Meridian). Feel free to give me a call. I loved to have a cup of coffee with you. I’ll buy.

  • I thank God that my church is not described above! It conducts traditional worship, preaches the whole counsel of God, and confronts sin, within and without the church. People aren’t coming in droves, but when they do come, they usually stay. PTL!

  • “Unlike the first Christians who turned the world upside, the present church has become respectable and is desperate to keep in with the local councils. It refuses to get involved in politics or challenge the powers that presently rule this world. It believes its task is “just to preach the gospel” as a kind of therapy to solve the emptiness and unhappiness of people’s lives. But of persecution it has neither interest or knowledge.

    David Skinnner UK”



    In my heart of hearts I believe judgment has come to God’s people. Time to humble ourselves before Him before He has to humble us without our consent!

  • I have been reading a very interesting book that I think some who are following this blog might find interesting as well. The book is entitled “Pagan Christianity?” and is coauthored by Frank Viola and George Barna.

    The authors have done significant research and they have come to conclusion that the format of Christian worship among today’s modern denominations differs significantly from the format of worship of the earliest of Christians. The book considers what we know of the format of worship of the very first Christians and compares and contrasts that to the customs and practices of the modern day Christian church.

    The book is quite critical of the role and function of the modern day pastor. As you can imagine the book has a great number of critics.

    The following is a quote from the book – “The unscriptural clergy/laity distinction has done untold harm to the body of Christ. It has divided the believing community into first- and second-class Christians. The clergy/laity dichotomy perpetuates an awful falsehood–namely, that some Christians are more privileged than others to serve the Lord.”

    Although I am not endorsing everything in this book, I think that some others who follow this blog might find this book as interesting as I have.

  • Thanks Tom. I have found this review by New Testament scholar Ben Witherington to be an excellent reply to some of the book’s problems and excesses:

  • Wow! Good to know I am not crazy, as I would like to be a DONE, but I believe God has called us as believers to be part of a church, period. The church I have been part of is a very solid church, and I have served them actively in the past, but I recently put myself in “time out” mode.

    Proverbs says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” For me, a meaningful level of fellowship with a few believers from the church where there is honest, God driven conversation, and ongoing times of doing life together is non existent. There have been too many encounters where it seems like as a believer,you should listen to Fox News and be republican. I don’t think the staff promotes or condones any of this, but this is a reflection of the evangelical population in the area.

    I don’t feel like I fit in the church, yet I very much believe in the bible, and my church is happy to have me serve. But at the end of the day, it is crushing to me that having an honest conversation is harder with a believer from my church than it is with most unbelieving friends. Acceptance is hard won, and minds appear culturally closed on many fronts. And here I am a classic book reading, over 50 person who sees it this way!

    When Jesus came as a man, He shook things up. He touched a leper and healed him!

    Life has been very shaken up for me in recent years. This is now where the rubber meets the road in terms of how what I know to be true about Christ plays out. The church, while well intended, depresses me. Something is missing. Some One is missing. Yet I hate to say this, as I know the staff of my church is God fearing, hard working, striving for excellence, and well intended. But maybe too agenda driven?

    There is. no perfect church, and I play my own sinful role, but I cannot stand playing church. I need to be in real community with a small number of believers. This is part of what grows our faith. Paul mentions believers all through the epistles, and it sounds like he was close with a number of believers. This seems illusive to me in my current church, but maybe this is how it is in other churches as well. Whether it is in serving or small groups, there is too much of a disconnect. And that quite honestly feels overwhelming to me, because it makes no sense that one believer cannot reach out to another. Frankly, my Jewish friends tend to be far easier to talk to, and yet I come from a Catholic background. But enough griping, I will either return and try again, or reach out in another church. I am not a church hopper, or normally an attendance skipper, but it has been around a month since I went, and though this may be a rationalization, it seems like this was a needed time out foe me.

  • Thank you, Beth! I so relate to everything you are saying. I wish we were able to be together in the same town, maybe in a prayer group together, Just wanted to say that everything you say is “ditto” for me

  • I am one of the Dones. I want to share with you some other aspects of the problem. One of them is the disorganization of the body of the denomination. It seems that the head does not know what the feet are doing. Another problem is the behaviors of the preachers. It seems that what they practice contradicts with what they preach. Now, you cannot really expect me to sit and watch total hypocrisy.

  • Does the church actually have doors that could be closed?

  • I know what you mean we are a small church that teaches the bible but have small in attendance because we refuse to entertain so I agree teach the word number 1 priority

  • Your list of “whys” that the “done” are done don’t quite capture my reasons for “done.”

    I think of “relevance” differently than the most common usage. Not in the sense of the Church reflecting and accepting our fallen and perverse culture as most mainline churches have done – installing rock bands and encouraging gays.

    I think of the failure of church relevance in terms of ignoring the perversions of our culture, being passive toward them, not instilling a Christian world view, and ignoring the liberal and licentious path of government and culture.

    Churches refuse to engage the culture. They have given up the idea of influencing the government. They are fearful of offending anyone. They are willing to tolerate any idea and any morality. They gave up being “salt and light” over two decades ago – many much earlier. I suppose the liberal and godless culture overwhelmed the church with their insults against Christian attempts at influencing the culture during the days of the “Moral Majority. The Moral Majority became a pejorative, an insult. We were mocked and marginalized.

    Some denominations, such as conservative Lutherans, refuse to engage culture and governance out of their doctrinal imperative, two separate kingdoms, spiritual and temporal – the same imperative that enabled Hitler and Nazism. Others are sold out to the church growth movement – be all inclusive to our perverted culture at any price. Others believe that moral Christian behavior and example isn’t all that important anymore. After all, once saved, always saved. It’s all cool.

    The Church fell for the lie that we cannot and should not legislate morality even if we could. We stupidly fell for the lie that we “can’t legislate morality”, even though every piece of legislation ever adopted legislates someones morality. Whether we begin legislating Sharia (Islamic morality), or promoting euthanasia and abortions (atheistic morality), or criminalizing various freedoms of speech and expression (fascist or communist morality), someones morality is being legislated.

    Churches are stuck in the rut of being purveyors of first century ancient history as if none of it really applies to the political and cultural challenges of OUR day. Many pastors just teach ancient history without understanding that the Bible was reflecting, responding to, and engaged in the culture and politics of its day. The Church today needs to do the same. It needs to move from its ancient history context to today’s context. It needs to apply all of the moral do and don’ts from its unengaging ancient historical context and enlighten us on its essential place in confronting our challenges today.

    But, to my chagrin, that is not happening. It might offend someone, church growth will be stunted and the revenue stream will dry up. And what church has enough faith to let that occur? Not many.

  • Thanks for this – a lot of truth in it and so necessary for church leaders to stop and ask the questions you are asking – for me the whole idea of Christians without church is ridiculous as we are meant to be the church – if you’re a follower of Jesus then church is your DNA and you can’t walk away from that unless you also walk away from Jesus – so how do we explore new ways of being and doing church as this article suggests?

    i actually have written a book call ‘i, church’ which came out this year which imagines a church that is bigger than we can come up with and more in line of the kind of church i think Jesus would be impressed by – where Sundays or gathering time is all about empowering and equipping the people for the work of the church which happens Monday to Saturday on the streets and in the workplace:

    All the best
    love brett fish

  • Gerardo Moochie, PLEASE GET/MAKE A FACEBOOK PAGE, finally, inteligence & a “Center of the Spirit” sense of “Church”. Please send me a friend Request (Enola Talbert) so I can follow your comments and posts on facebook. Sir, you have many that would be Inspired, Educated, & United with the Body of Christ (HaMashiach) through your (His) Words (Word) thru you. I tried to find you on facebook but the above name didn’t show up. Thanks. LOVE;_ylt=A0LEVyVBKTtWHZAAEaFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyMHV0ajY0BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjA5MzJfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=Ha+Mashiach+In+Hebrew+Letters&fr=yfp-t-901-s

  • I have enjoyed reading the comments on this website. I am somewhat sorry to see that fewer and fewer comments are being posted.

    I would like to share a short story that I believe many of the “dones” can relate to. The story is as follows:

    A couple of young men, who represented a particular church and denomination, were going house to house in order to invite others to come and worship with them at their church. They had identified someone who had just recently moved into the neighborhood. After knocking on the door the homeowner then invited them in for a chat. The homeowner was curious as to what they really believed. He addressed the young man who was doing most of the talking and asked him a question. He asked him what his opinion was concerning a controversial theological question that many Christians often debate among themselves. The young man was not sure how he should respond and so he asked his partner, “what is our churches position on this particular issue?” Before the other young man had a chance to reply the homeowner responded, “I’m sorry fellows but I am not interested in attending your church. I didn’t ask what was the position of your church but I asked YOU personally as to what YOUR position was. It is clear to me that if I become a member of your church I will not be allowed to think for myself but rather I will be told what I am to think. The church that I plan on attending will be one that does not ask me to check my brain in at the door!”

    I believe that that this story illustrates a very large reason why many Christians have stopped going to church. Now I would NEVER advocate that any believer ever stop having fellowship with other believers. We should always be seeking out the fellowship of like-minded believers. However I believe that the fellowship that we should seek out should be fellowship that involves dialog. The fellowship we should seek out should be at places of worship where all believers have a chance to share.

    Most of our present day churches center around a service where an “ordained” minister does all the teaching and preaching. It is considered the “spiritual duty” of the members of the congregation to just come, listen and donate their money. What is sad is that I don’t believe that most present day Christians can even image of a church that deviates from this format.

    I may be one the few who take the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 23 seriously. In this passage Jesus instructs His followers that they are not to consider anyone here on earth a leader, teacher or father. Our father is in heaven and our teacher is Christ himself. We are to regard each other as brothers. This is to say that we should regard each other as equals. It seems to me that these are words that most church leaders completely ignore. After fifty years I am still waiting to hear a sermon on this particular passage!

    I believe that if we really had an accurate picture of the format or worship of the very first Christians we would be shocked. Yes there were elders who oversaw the meetings and gatherings. However I believe that the function of these “leaders” bear little resemblance to the function of most church leaders today. Their role was not to lord it over others nor to do all the teaching and preaching. Their role rather was to see that these relatively informal gatherings occurred in a orderly fashion. They led more so by example and less so by the things they said. Indeed, I believe that most present day Christians would be rather surprised to really learn the manner in which these earliest of Christians met to enjoy fellowship.

  • I am disappointed with the standard format, so disconnected with real people, real lives and struggles, and giving money so the church can be modernized, new pa system, or a new gym for kids to play bb…now tell me what does that have to do with spiritually growing, living, and being disciples for Christ? Example, a church in my hometown…beautiful…over a hundred years old…and new, young, upstart arrogant preacher comes in, and complains about it being old, not big enough, not modern enough so has split the church and wants to build another church that is not needed, unaffordable, puts a burden on the congregation and now is focused on the building fund, and NOT THE SPIRITUAL NEEDS AND GROWTH OF THE COMMUNITY. Basically this man of God is doing this for himself, not for anyone else. He won’t do simple repairs to th church, that costs maybe 10 thousan, but wants to build a church costing millions of dollars instead? Arrogant and foolish….humility and sacrifice is not in this guys vocabulary. Sadly, men of God, are just men acting out their true arrogant selves behind the pulpit.

  • Hi Tom. you said “I believe that most present day Christians would be rather surprised to really learn the manner in which these earliest of Christians met to enjoy fellowship”

    What I have found is that even if they did learn, they mostly reject it in favour of the status quo. I did a two years study of the New Testament Church and from time to time, I wrote to denominational leaders to pose questions to them and in every case the response was Yes but…..

    In other words, you are right but we have a denominational tradition that has to be accommodated.

  • I am very glad for this ongoing discussion as in the past I have been active in church, and yet I find myself unwilling to attach to my current church at this point, to serve, or even to go to it. It is not a terrible church, and I am certainly not without sin as a member of that church. But I am emotionally exhausted.

    These are tough times in which to run a church and encourage the body of believers to hang together as God has told us we are to do. Eventually I will go back to my church or find a new church and be an obedient believer. I will serve again in the church I go to. But for now I am admittedly playing hooky.

    The church does not feel real to me. It feels like a bit of a game. If the mega church down the road starts a trend, then the smaller churches eventually follow it, all while often giving the mega church a hard time. Meantime, decisions believers now make on a daily basis have never been tougher. Churches cannot give blanket opinions on tough issues, but there needs to be more discussion.

    The mega church down the road overly emotes and tries to tug at peoples heart strings, all the while never delving into scripture with any real depth. But they do a lot of good deeds. Some of the smaller churches preach and teach with depth, but they can be out of touch and impractical in their expression of faith, with too many congregation members who seem like angry people I do not want to get to know.

    There will never be a perfect answer, and I know I am not helping the greater church at large by being an absent person or just a visitor who does not get involved.

    Perhaps we are too individualistic, and that is why church does not work for some of us. I have no great wisdom, just questions, and the knowledge that God wants me to pick a church and go for it if I am not going to remain in the one I have been at. But I find myself dragging my feet……..

  • Roger,

    I’m sure you’re right. Many theologians will comprise their convictions so as to not rock the boat as it were. Now I don’t want to come across as being too critical of all pastors as there are many who are trying to genuinely serve the Lord and their congregation. However, it is certainly true that a prominent and well respected pastor could lose his standing (or even his job) if he deviates too much from his expected rhetoric.

  • You’re right Tom. Those that are not genuine make it difficult for those that are as certain expectations are created that are not biblical so any deviation is seen as weird or wrong.

  • Thanks again guys. Given that this article has generated more interest and discussion than any other piece I have written, obviously more needs to be said about this topic. So I am doing that now and will post it soon. But thanks again for all your comments, insights, critiques and discussions.

  • And for what it is worth, here is that new piece, just published:

  • ‘Ichabod’ – God’s glory has departed. And if His glory has departed, I have no business going there. His glory rests on a few individuals who have not bowed to the dollar or a little fame or even sex. Very few are willing to walk the narrow way, and no I do not attend a church.

  • Makes so much sense Melody. We do have ups and downs. We need to not be quitters. I am very disappointed as to where most churches are at. But I picked a church, and beginning to contribute. I think things are going south in a lot of ways in churches. I have never seen so many angry middle aged, middle class Christians as we now prepare for to vote in November elections. I left one church as I was just tired of the anger and was hoping for more racial diversity. I found a more diverse church, but still, the anger is palpable. We are in difficult times. I hope with God’s help I can be steady minded, and peaceful in words and deed.

  • It’s good to see a comment from Sharon and Beth. It’s been a long time since anyone has posted. I too can understand why some have stopped attending their former church. There are valid reasons why a person might stop attending a specific church.

    To those who still may be following this posting of Bill’s, I would like to ask if anyone attends a church or other Christian fellowship group that they have really come to appreciate. I am referring to a fellowship meeting that they attend regularly and really enjoy. Many of the comments in this posting have been negative and critical of churches that they have previously attended. I am not trying to be critical of those comments as I have agreed with many of them. I am just curious if someone has previously left a church but now enjoys fellowship with other fellow believers (either in a different church or in another format). If so can you tell us about this fellowship that you now attend and why you so appreciate it.

    I am seeing my culture here in the U.S. deteriorate at what seems like an ever increasing rate. The gospel of Jesus Christ seems to be less relevant in my community than in the past. Selfishness, greed and godlessness seem more prevalent than ever. Spiritual darkness seems more pervasive now then I can ever remember in my lifetime. Under these circumstances I think that Christians should get together for fellowship, prayer and encouragement more than ever before. I am not trying to be critical of those who have left a church. I’m simply asking if someone has found some form of fellowship with other believers that they have really found to be a blessing and if so could you tell us about it. Thanks.

  • Hello Tom, and thank you for your comment and question. You asked, so I’d like to answer your question about “any form of fellowship” I might have found.
    First Tom, “What makes you think that any form of fellowship is ok or acceptable to God?” If He says we must worship in Spirit & Truth, and that is contrasted with specific holy places (such as in Jerusalem via a temple; John 4:21, wouldn’t that exclude any particular building that we deem has special significance? The whole book of Hebrews was written to show the contrast between the old covenant and the new, and the most serious warnings ever uttered are leveled in this book toward those who go back and refuse the better things and way in Jesus.

    Tom, for some 300 years after Jesus was resurrected Christians never built special buildings in which to meet- only the pagan religions did. This changed near 300ad when Constantine become the emperor in Rome and he started building these religious edifices and appointing his version of religious leaders to rule over them. It’s an awesome history lesson if you have time to research this.

    My point is simply this: Religious tradition and modern precedent are the primary reasons Christians continue to build churches and center their lives around them. This has never been God’s desire and in fact He is strongly opposed to this and them. No where in Scripture are Christians ever found building anything for God, they were simply people who gathered in Jesus’ name and shared their very lives with one another every day. This is what real fellowship actually entails- Christians sharing daily the life of Christ together in all things as a witness to this world. Such blazing holy lights/cities are so rare these days because most who profess him don’t obey what He says but have instead traded obedience to Him for what they prefer and enjoy within religious institutions. This is outright sin and rebellion. God does not allow us to approach Him and serve Him however we want or prefer, but plainly tells us: His will must be done, not our own. How little we care.

    It is true that quality Christian fellowship and teaching is hard to find these days as compromise is everywhere. But contrary to the belief that government, wicked people and the devil are to blame) it is actually God Himself who is allowing these changes for two specific reasons:

    1) God’s people have abandoned His truth as it really is and settled for a counterfeit and substitute. As a result, He has withdrawn His hand of protection from America and this is the real reason evil men are becoming more bold in their sin and persecution toward believers.

    2) God is preparing His people for eternity by stripping them of all they hold dear in this world. We are supposed to be participating in this ourselves by embracing a cross daily (which by the way is not a shiny little simple that reminds us of Jesus but rather an instrument of execution) an instrument that kills our desires, affections, preferences and every other selfish thing. The Christian life has never been about “doing things for God” (like building churches) but dying before God as a living sacrifice (emptying ourselves so Jesus through the Holy Spirit can use our bodies in this world as vessels for righteousness. See the difference Tom?

    The same book of Hebrews that warns of a return to the former also says;

    “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire” [Hebrews 12:29]

    If you read the preceding verses from verse 25- 28, you will see just how serious this returning to the old is, how God will and is shaking everything not built by Him (including all physical churches and religious organizations) and only that which cannot be shaken will remain.

    In other words, in heaven all that we’ll ever need is Jesus, His Word and His people united and sharing His life together. Kind of sounds familiar doesn’t it…… like the manner the New Testament saints lived…….before all this church stuff got started………

  • I often want to “take my ball and go home”, but I know it is a sinful default position, and so while it is painful, I stay. But I do completely agree that all these expensive building programs, more video and audio equipment, professional stages………… is all over the top and has nothing to do with the early Christians and how they lived.

  • That was magnificent, Michael Ferguson.

    I am writing this comment to draw more attention to what you have written here.

    To the Lord be the glory!

  • Hear hear!!! One of my favourite verses is the one where Jesus said “I wil build MY church…” I don’t read anywhere where he say “I will build your church…”

  • Michael, I think you might find that you and Tom are largely ‘on the same page’, if you read some of Tom’s earlier comments on this post, which I have also followed with interest. I don’t think that Tom’s comment even hints that any form of fellowship is ok. The way I read his comment just using standard principles of reading comprehension, is that he is just asking others to let him know about a fellowship they attend that they appreciate. I don’t believe he has even suggested or proposed a model of any kind – just asking to hear from people who’ve found something they like/appreciate. This is not to say that how different types of fellowships function is not important, but I just can’t see that Tom is asking about that at this point.

  • Hi Beth and thanks for your reply. In your comment you said that leaving church would be a sinful default position and yet later noted that much of what is done in churches is not consistent with how Christians lived. Are these two statements not contradictory? If either the gospel or the manner we are commanded to live out our faith with one another have been corrupted, we have no choice but to abandon those positions and people. No this isn’t easy, but Jesus made it patently clear that if we are to obey Him the cost would be high, and that serving Him might well cost us everything.

    Please think about this. Despite the hundreds of thousands of things men have often called Christian over the years (to include churches, hospitals, colleges and every non-profit religious organization) EVERY one becomes corrupted and compromises the truth over time. As far as I know there is not one single exception. We can blame that on people or look deeper to the origin of such things. Jesus said “what is of the flesh is flesh” – that is the reason each of these entities fails to remain “Christian.” They never were Christian as only people can be Christians, whereas the things they create are mere inventions they think will further God’s purposes when the exact opposite is true.

    Remember, God is not asking you to abandon your relationships with other Christians (this may result though) though we must obey Him as this is not an option. All lies deceive and believing them (continuing to walk in them) amounts to disobedience. It is always safer and in our best interest to follow Jesus despite what other men do or what most prefer to do.

  • Amen Roger. Jesus is actually building His ekklesia – a spiritual organism of living stones to which He promises to bring together. That is a far cry from men’s earthly institutional organizations built with bricks that have an open door policy. And we wonder why we have all these troubles………

    We need to merely align ourselves (our thinking and actions) with what Jesus is building and a proper conduct will follow. Yes, it’s a lonely road but then again it also was for the One who gave His all that we might follow in His footsteps.

  • Thank You Mike. Like most people I wrestled with God long and hard before I finally gave way to His good, pleasing and perfect will. When Jesus really becomes all to us, we will never settle for any less than His very best in Christ Jesus despite what that might cost us.

    I appreciate your dedication to the truth my friend.

  • Hi Kerry, and thanks for responding.
    It surely is possible that I misunderstood Tom’s point or even request, but in the end my response was to any and all who might read this article and its subsequent comments. If the whole concept of church and church related activities do not originate in God then they must be abandoned. What we deem to be good, helpful or may prefer has absolutely nothing to do with obeying what God says.

    God’s many promises align and relate to what He is building. If I forego what He has established I cannot participate in the benefits thereof; I sacrifice what I might have otherwise inherited. This is not just true upon this earth, but also extends into eternal realties. Good day.

  • Hello Michael and Kerry,

    Michael, thanks for your response. Kerry, you are right, Michael and I are largely on the same page (at least I think so) and you stated my position probably better than I could.

    All “fellowship” in not honoring to the Lord Jesus Christ and the place of fellowship is largely irrelevant. Church “traditions” established by men are mostly meaningless.

    I am not an advocate of the traditional church where people gather once a week to hear a professional clergyman give a message and where there is a definite distinction between clergy and laity. Now if someone chooses to attend such a church I will not criticize them for that. That, however, is not my preferred method of fellowship.

    Now I am an advocate of Christians getting together to enjoy each other’s fellowship and to share the common hope they have in Jesus Christ. I believe that ideally this is done in small groups where all members regard each other as brothers and sisters meaning that they regard each other as peers or equals. I believe that when Christians gather together everyone should have the opportunity to share. I have found this type of fellowship in a couple of neighborhood Bible studies I attend. I have found it to be a blessing for myself. The question I had put out was if anyone else had found this format or another format of “fellowship” to be a blessing for them.

    It is good to see that this dialogue is still going on.

  • Hi Michael,
    I now have known of people who went off with groups of Chrisitans outside the established church and wound up in cults. So I am not so trusting of a group that meets without a more formal set up, and that is not as known by people.

    My son’s church in New York, and other churches in that area around Manhatten and Brooklyn, seem to be headed in great directions. But I think what helps them, is that they have predominantly younger populations who are pretty much past music culture wars and this and that. They are on to serving God for real in some of these churches.

    In Revelations God spoke to the different churches. He was not looking to end them, but was certainly saying what needed to happen. I do think some established churches are very much awake and doing good works. But my age group (50-60s) is a tricky one, as we seem especially reactionary and unable to think past the stupid little stuff. But maybe that is the area I live in, and my perception.
    I do think we were coming of age as new pop culture churches were being started, and it left us with lots of ideas, but they were mostly church packaging ideas, not ideas of substance.

    Thanks for your reply Michael.

  • Hello Beth.

    I am grateful that you are being cautious and taking things slowly before trusting other professing Christians or groups they may have started. This is wise. I would never encourage anyone to leave formal churches (as we’ve known them) to wander about in the wilderness without knowing where they are going or without any genuine support. That said, we must each be taking the initiative to understand what the Scriptures accurately say and teach and not take the words of those who teach us as facts. This is not wise.

    Yes, Jesus did speak to the seven “churches” of Revelation but remember that these churches were not formal in the strictest sense (the names given in that book only describe the location in which these assemblies met- their was no such thing as a group of Christians that had names to represent themselves as that would clearly be divisive and sectarian and divide the one body of Christ. Paul the apostle clearly taught that this was error (to associate oneself as a distinct type of believer that differed from others, by using a title or associating with particular people/see 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. We do this when we label ourselves or our little band of believers. By the way the word denomination actually means “name.” Have you never wondered why so many denominations exist and why they can never get along?

    Jesus is not building with bricks. He is gathering together individual living stones (born again Christians) one to another in specific locales. That is the work that He has not abandoned and its a work He’s far better at than we are. He knows which stones (people) compliment each other and are mature enough to work together as one. Every time you see or hear of a church split, that’s usually evidence that we are trying to build Jesus’ ekklesia ourselves instead of waiting upon Him.

    Be careful of what’s new out there. God is not and has never been doing anything new. His gospel, the manner He commands His children to worship and fellowship and the way in which we ought to live is clearly delineated in Scripture and is perfect. It doesn’t need to be changed or improved. We attempt to change things when we aren’t satisfied with God’s dealings with us and think we are wiser than Him.

    There is power in the word and in the gospel itself. To add our own ingenuity to that is not merely unwise, it actually proves how little we trust the One we call our Father.

    Let’s keep seeking Him, not for what we think is good or appears acceptable to us, but for that in which only Jesus Himself can bring to fruition. As is so often proven true, our good is far too often the enemy of God’s best. Good night.

  • Hi Bill,

    My name is Vicki Nunn. I am the Editor of SPAG Magazine, a quarterly electronic magazine for Christians, with a focus on singles.

    Part of what I do is to research relevant topics and articles for consideration for use in SPAG Magazine. This particular topic is very relevant today, and one with which many Christians are struggling – many of whom feel guilty for abandoning the church.

    I would love to be able to use this article in a future issue of SPAG Magazine. At present, the magazine is not yet paying its way and all ongoing costs are borne by me (and I live on a limited disability pension) which means that I cannot offer anything other than a token donation for use of the article.

    You can find out more about us at

    Thank you for your kind consideration.

  • Thanks Vicki. Yes feel free, with proper acknowledgement, link, etc.

  • It appears that after almost two years since Bill posted his article entitle “On Leaving Church”, the discussion has all but died out. In the event that this is my last comment I would like to commend Bill in a couple of areas.

    First of all Bill has rightly identified an issue that is most relevant to the Christian community. For this he deserves credit. Without being judgmental at all Bill has brought to the attention of many, including myself, the fact that many Christians have stopped attending church (I am defining church here in the traditional sense). This certainly is a subject that believing Christians should be aware of and should think about. Those who are familiar with some of my previous comments know that I am not unsympathetic with many Christians who have stopped attending a traditional church. Please be slow to take offense if you are a “done”.

    Secondly, I would commend Bill for providing a means for everyone to participate in an open and honest dialogue. It is my understanding that if someone provided their name and if they were not extremely obnoxious or obscene, then Bill posted their comments. I have no doubt that Bill posted many comments that he personally disagreed with. He may not have appreciated those comments but still he posted them anyway. In a similar fashion I believe that many churches would do well to encourage and promote more honest and open dialogue among their members. I am not saying that everyone should be completely free to express themselves in church. However, I do believe that many (if not most) churches should provide more opportunity for all believers to share. In addition, I believe that many churches are excessively dogmatic in their theology. Many churches will take a hard stance on a particular issue even if Scripture does not. Now this is not an endorsement of liberal theology. I believe that all sin, including sexual immorality, should not be tolerated and should be purged from the body of Christ. As representatives of Christ we need to be examples to the world lest the enemy have an opportunity to mock our testimony.

    I would like to say in closing that we who call ourselves Christian should never lose sight of who it is that is our ultimate hope. I am speaking of Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah (that is the anointed one) and the very Son of God. It is He who allowed His own precious blood to be shed on our behalf so that we might have our own sins forgiven. It is He and He alone who provided the means for us to be reconciled back to a holy God. It is He who loved us with a love so great and so deep that perhaps we will never understand. It is through Him that we acquire everlasting life. Let us never lose sight of what it means to be a Christian. In addition, although we may have our differences in the details of what we believe, let us be slow to let those differences divide us.

  • I would also like to say thank you to Bill, and thank you Tom for your post. This subject might go away on this forum, but it certainly is not going away. Although years from now there may be few churches left to attend or not attend.

    A book I am reading seems to be indirectly addressing some of this. It is entitled, Habits of the Heart-Individualism and Commitment in American Life, by Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler and Tipton. It is not a new book, but Tim Keller has referenced it as an important book as it does a good job of explaining American culture.

    There is another book which is an autobiography entitled Pastrix, about a female Lutheran pastor Nadia Weber, who sports many tattoos and with the permission of the Lutheran church began a church for those who do not fit in at other churches. Apparently some of the “normal” people want to come as well.

    While I co it use going to church because it seems the obedient thing to do, inside I am fighting with myself about being done. May God give each of us great wisdom concerning church, and a deep understanding of how to live as engaged believers on this earth.

  • I didn’t grow up in church & I would like to ask a question please. In John 17, Jesus Prays to “Holy” Father (only time He calls Him this), then says, that Jesus’ Joy MAY be fulfilled by this means: then He says 5x’s, “That They May Be ONE”. I have asked pastors about this, one said it would never happen, that sincerely discouraged me & I left that church. If Father wouldn’t grant Jesus’ prayer, this side of heaven, why would I believe He would grant any of my prayers? It says the prayer of a Righteous man availeth much, far as I know, Jesus is the only righteous man ever to walk the earth. Jesus also speaks of divided kingdom, & that the “JOY” of the Lord is our strength, in other words, our strength is in UNITY, even if it can only be accomplished by one theme: “Lifting up Christ” in Praise and worship. I said all that to ask this kindness of you Tom Anthony: Request everyone to AGREE WITH JESUS IN PRAYER OF JOHN 17 TO UNITE BODY THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN. thanks for your time. LOVE

  • Hello Enola. I believe Jesus’ prayer has been answered this side of heaven. Yes, there is certainly much division between denominations and ‘believers’ but there is a difference between these ‘churches’ and Christ’s universal church to which all true believers already belong. These believers are scattered like salt and pepper – sometimes within the divided denominations, trying to reach others. I have had no difficulty recognising these believers, but it can sometimes be hard to find them. When I meet one, though, I find we speak the same language. It’s as if I’ve known them all my life. The presence of God’s Spirit in their lives, manifesting itself in God’s love is the sign we all have in common. They have one theme in all their conversation and never tire talking of Him. I easily recognise them as family. The true church is the answer to Jesus’s prayer of unity and the prayer was answered 2000 years ago and is still being answered.

  • Dear Enola,
    I agree with Kerry. Just yesterday I got to know a few Christians who are very devoted people of God. None of them go to my church. That is not to say people like this are not in my church, but it is a challenge getting to know people very well at church sometimes.

    There is so much in the world that divides us from each other. I think for myself I have gotten used to being pretty independent. While it means I can do a lot of things with no help, it also means I have trouble asking for help. So I now realize I need to become a little more dependent on others. It is a risk to trust others to help us. We all disappoint each other from time to time. But God does want His followers to walk in close fellowship with other believers.

    The way society in America functions as a whole is making it more difficult to work together. But rather than just dwelling on this, I think we have to ask Jesus what He would like us to do to help get His church together.

    Pastors direct as best they can. But they do not know everyone’s gifts and abilities that can help bring the church together. Perhaps God will direct you to join a group, start a group, or help someone, and in doing that you will find other like minded believers.

    May God give you the fellowship with other believers you are looking for Enola. Do not give up! May God bless all on this forum and aid them in their search for His Church.

  • “Pastors direct as best they can. But they do not know everyone’s gifts and abilities that can help bring the church together. ”

    I find this comment rather mystifying. In Ephesians 4:11 it is clear they are supposed to know. If they don’t, why are they accepting the title of pastor because they are not doing their job.

    When I had the opportunity to lead a church, I knew everyone’s gifting because I looked for it; when it appeared, I encouraged it; when they were ready for the responsibility, I made sure they had every opportunity to exercise it.

    That is the job of the Apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher. Their job is NOT to build a ministry for themselves. it is to build everyone else’s ministry. This could be a moot point as most churches do not believe they need apostles, prophets and teachers as they have this idea a pastor can do it all, however badly.

  • I agree that all true Christians are perfectly unified in Christ’s resurrection now, that which comprises our life in Christ through the Spirit and this is what Jesus was praying towards in John 17. That said, there are many other places where a practical unity this side of heaven is also addressed such as here in 1 Corinthians 1:10:

    “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be NO divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment”

    As to the solution to the lack of unity above the next two chapters address two very specific things which will rectify this problem:

    1. Stop dividing the ONE body of Christ by using religious titles or by having allegiances to things Jesus never sanctioned such as (named churches, denominations and/or allegiances to men or a man’s “ministry.” (1 Corinthians 1:11-15, 3:1-8)

    2. The first above is merely one expression of this latter solution found in 1 Corinthians 2:2:

    “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”

    Was Paul talking about an intellectual knowing of Jesus Christ? No he was not, but a personal experiential crucified lifestyle that was all but guarantee the death of all of men’s wisdom, ingenuity, imagination and EVERYTHING that stems from himself. The only manner the ONE body of Christ can be practically unified now is if EVERY ONE of God’s children is willing to die to themselves and allow Christ to reign supreme in and through them. When we die, so does our thinking, our plans, our dreams, our everything leaving only Jesus through the Spirit to fulfill HIS every intent/desire through us.

    When you find or witness a local unified body of believers, the cross (in their personal lives) will be evident/central among them. Herein does our unity in Christ raised positionally align with our practical conditional unity via a resurrected life on earth.

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