The “Dones” are Coming (and Going)

Have you heard of the “Dones?” They are done with the run-of-the-mill, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ kind of Christianity. They want us to know how sick and tired they are of “churchianity” and they are not going to take it anymore. They are closely related to the “Nones,” as in, “none of the above,” a response increasing in popularity with young people when asked about their religious affiliation. They are unaffiliated.

Most “Dones” affirm that they have not abandoned the faith. But from there it often goes downhill as they regurgitate grievance after grievance against the organized church. Here are just a few:

  • It’s boring, unspiritual, moralistic, judgmental, superficial and hypocritical. Ouch!
  • It’s unchristian to meet in a building when the unfortunate, needy and homeless need our money and attention instead.
  • “Dones” claim to be tired of the Sunday routine of “plop, pray and pay” while just looking at the backs of people’s heads and calling it worship. They say they cannot abide being lectured to. They have “heard it all before.”
  • They love Jesus but not the church. Some say they still love Jesus’ church, but apparently not any particular one that actually meets together to practice their faith in an organized way.
  • Some claim their spirituality is much too authentic to get wrapped up in “churchianity.” They took it as long as they could. They emphasize how thoughtful and painful their decision was to leave.
  • Many “Dones” claim that before they left, they felt ignored. This one is sad. We must work to make sure people at church feel loved and heard. That also goes for people outside the church.

It hurts to love Jesus’ church and take all these shots. But we cannot deny that some have experienced church this way. Nevertheless, they are not fair as stereotypes. It is ironic that those who decry judgmentalism most often need to look in the proverbial mirror. But so do we, as a church. So, we take these shots with a measure of gratitude.

In his book “Church Refugees,” Sociologist and church critic Josh Packard glowingly describes the “Dones” (prior to their departure) as, “the most dedicated and active people in their congregations.” And then, they were done. Somehow, the implied blame always seems to go to those who are still not done.

Jesus’ church is far from perfect. But our buildings are not really the problem. I have found that Christians who meet in buildings are consistently generous toward the needy. And I love those imperfect people who plop in pews with me to pray, sing, commune, learn and love. If you resent the backs of people’s heads, then sit up front. Better yet, change your attitude. Jesus loves them too.

The proclamation of the gospel from the pulpit is a time-honored resource for spiritual guidance and inspiration. Doing it well is as much the job of the listener as the preacher. I find it ironic that the long one-way-street monologues of popular politicians promising hope and change seem to work charms on many of the same people who find church to be boring. They can take it from politicians, but not from preachers. Good preaching has always been precious in God’s eyes and in the ears of His people.

Everyone has the right to choose to be done. But when the “Dones” stereotype churches harshly to justify their departure, their plight loses legitimacy in my eyes. Too many “Dones” seem to want to take others with them.

So I have a challenge for the “Dones.” If churches in America are so off base that you cannot stay, then plant a new congregation and do it right. Instead of being done, show us how it’s done! Don’t curse the darkness–light a candle!

I suspect that the organized church will never measure up to the high ideal many “Dones” hold for her. They are done with the flawed and frustrating organized church made up of messed-up strugglers like you and me. In his book, Life Together (1938), Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed this trend. He wrote:

    “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”

Loving one’s ideal of Jesus’ church is not actually loving her for who she is. “Dones” will come and go. They always have. Let’s love them coming and going. But Jesus’ church is not done with me nor am I done with her. And she is not done with hopeless sinners who need desperately to change.

Okay, I’m done.

Demolishing Strongholds

The apostle Paul wrote of using weapons of warfare that are not of the flesh to “demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV) He meant “arguments and every pretention raised up against the knowledge of God.” (vs. 5). Maybe Paul’s culture was as hostile to God and the progress of the gospel as ours is today.

Question #1: Is it acceptable for Christians to volunteer to help clean up our littered public highways?

Sure! Why not? But if so, how about cleaning up America’s cultural highways? They are quickly becoming cluttered with moral garbage. They are spiritual death traps for most travelers, especially children. Can’t Christians be as concerned about moral trash as we are about material garbage?

Question #2: Can a carcass-cluttered highway be tolerated?

Of course not. We deal with road-kill by hiring people to clean it up immediately. However, America tends to deal with culture-kill far less responsibly. We pile it on. We mock those who call attention to it or try to clean it up. Our corrupt culture not only tolerates culture-kill, we often glorify it.

Question #3: Is it acceptable for Christians to show respect for God’s creation by working to keep our air and water less polluted?

Yes, I admire Christians who are good stewards of the physical resources God has given to us. Can’t we also work to protect human hearts and minds from moral pollution that is lethal at a deeper level? Why not?


Culture is a force far more powerful than any raging river, political party, human law, lethal weapon or dangerous enemy. That’s why Plato said, “Let me write the songs and poems of a nation and I care not who writes the laws.”

America’s cultural highways are becoming unmarked moral graveyards. The stench is there but many of us have lost our moral sense of smell. We can have clean air, pure water, and uncluttered highways and still be in a moral coma as a people. Christians cannot live complacently with that. Paul didn’t.

For Example…

  • When the culture contends that humans are simply chemical and biological accidents in a random universe, the people will behave like accidents of nature. How can we keep a vibrant sense of virtue and purpose under that mindset?
  • Do you have a clear idea of what the Bible is about? America’s rich legacy of biblical literacy is fading fast in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Holy Scripture.
  • Are you addicted to lotteries, profanity, pornography, perversion, or cheap media entertainment? Stop! Don’t let your life become cultural carnage!
  • If you can vote for a candidate who supports Planned Parenthood (taxpayer-funded abortion providers) or cannot stand up for marriage between one man and woman, then you’re a casualty of a culture in moral freefall.

“Greater is He…”

America’s culture glorifies sin and stigmatizes repentance. It mocks those who pursue purity and exalts those who flaunt filth. Television is exhibit A. When the stream of culture gets polluted, we all suffer (especially children). Nevertheless, as Christians, we take confidence in the wise words of the apostle John: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

The power of culture cannot intimidate Christians. Christian love is not a call to surrender in the face of evil but it can radically transform how we fight. So stand up, not down. Let love lead you forward, not backward. Our culture is dying from a thousand cuts. There comes a time for Christians to stand and fight the lofty strongholds and pretentions of culture. In so doing, let us “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The Falling Sky!

Chicken Little didn’t know what hit her.

While minding her own business, an acorn landed on her little head and panic set in. She warned her friends, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey bought the story, hook, line and sinker. After all, Chicken Little felt a piece of the sky hit her head. They set out to warn the king but found Foxy Loxy instead. He led this motley flock of worry warts to his den and the king never got the big news.

Fearing harmless acorns, we fall for foxes.

It’s no compliment to be called “Chicken Little.” It means you are going off half-cocked and jumping to conclusions with the best of intentions to save the world. It means you’re both a nut and a sucker.

The Cultural Sky

But what if warnings are warranted? What if the proverbial sky actually is falling and we are too smug to notice? Truth told, America’s cultural “sky” is not holding up well. Marriage is in decline and being intentionally decomposed. Children who grow up without their mom and dad are increasingly rare. Tax-payers support a group (Planned Parenthood) that strategizes how to butcher human babies in ways that preserve body parts for sale. When nothing is sacred, everything is disposable, including the family and human life itself. Where is Chicken Little when you need her?

The sky is getting dark. Moral chaos, sexual confusion, gender blending, and raw perversion enjoy unprecedented public and political favor in America. Modesty is mocked while porn and promiscuity flourish. You think athletes are overpaid? The porn industry makes more money in the USA than all the big sports combined.

Expect more profanity, even from candidates. Expect more cynicism from people living in luxury. Expect less freedom to express your faith and more abuse if you do. Expect more teen suicides and school shootings. Expect more churches to cave in on moral issues! Don’t expect the word “repent” to get much play, even at church. Expect those who call for moral clarity to be dismissed as Chicken Littles.

The Political Sky

Following the culture, America’s political “sky” is getting too polluted to breathe. As I write, the radio tells me that taxpayers must continue to subsidize the greedy infanticide practices of Planned Parenthood. They exterminate minority babies at a disproportionately higher rate and President Obama and the Democrat Party protects this brutality with impunity. Meanwhile, our nation’s debt looms near $18 trillion with no signs of fiscal discipline on the horizon.

Many Americans vote like Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey, falling for any candidate that scares them into submission. On November 9, 2008, President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Wall Street Journal Digital Network: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” He explained that a crisis can create “an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” In other words, it pays to sound like Chicken Little and act like Foxy Loxy.

On August 14, 2012, the winning presidential ticket falsely told a predominately African-American audience that that their Republican opponents were “gonna put you all back in chains.” (Vice President Joe Biden, at a rally in Danville, VA). President Obama doubled down on this horrible accusation. He understood the value of hysterical crisis-mongering to elicit votes. Some voters just need to be told that computer models predicting climate change prove that the world may come to an end if we support one party and not the other. And the skeptics are ridiculed.

The Moral of the Story

Cultural and political pathologies can destroy human hearts, souls and lives. They are not mere acorns. The moral of the Chicken Little story is not that all dangers are imaginary. The fox proves otherwise. And foxes don’t care about saving the world. They just want dinner. It is high time for honest caring people to be more discerning and less complacent. Otherwise, we won’t know what hit us.