The Dones: Faithful Church Refugees and the DeChurched Project

“What you are to do without me I cannot imagine.”  ― George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=32806&picture=tiger-cub-portrait
Tiger Cub

About two months ago, I read an article that said fog machines were number one on the wish list for church purchases. I cannot find the quote from the article, but I googled fog machines and churches. There is no question that fog machines are the "it" thing for churches which already have light displays, sound machines worthy of a U2 concert, and LED displays that put most concert venues to shame. 

Recently, I was visiting a megachurch which had elaborate stage decorations, along with the requisite fog machines, band, and enough sound to blow most people out of the auditorium. Yes, it was church a gathering, but it seemed more like a warm up for Katy Perry and her Super Bowl tiger.

I started giggling because one of the stage decorations, off to the right side, looked like the Crystalline Entity from Star Trek. Surrounded by music with words I could barely understand, a guy on guitar who looked like he was channeling Steven Tyler, along with a pastor entering his elder years dressed like a "beyond cool teen" with requisite tattoos and necklace, I wanted to run out screaming, but I was polite.

I discovered this tweet that said it all.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 1.57.50 PM

I am tired of the incessant chasing after young people. They could get a better performance at some rock concert in which the meaning of words is not essential in order to rock on. But I was in church, and I wanted to get the message. Unfortunately, the message, while Biblical, was just the same old repetition of 6 words 10 times. (Did they really have to put the word "whoa uh x5" on the screen?) Frankly, I was tired of the whole show, as was my husband.

Since that time, we have found a liturgical church which actually reads the Scriptures, has a time for confession of sin, takes communion seriously, and sings songs with words I can hear. For now, this is where we will stay. However, we remain quietly in the background, watching. There will be no contracts being signed by yours truly.

Surrounding this church are the same old megachurches with the same old mantras which stress strict gender roles, pastorcentricity, books by Sovereign Grace Ministries, and church plants in upper middle class areas that already have churches.  (Note to the Neo Calvinist pastors reading this: You guys aren't putting churches in areas that don't have your theology. You are putting them in any area that has folks with disposable income. I know – I see it all around me.)

When I was in Baltimore, I met with a number of wonderful readers from the TWW community. One woman told me that she has stopped attending church. She is a bright, single mother who raised her children in Christian schools, was involved in church, and has deeply studied theology. She said she was sidelined into children's ministry in which she was expected to chase toddlers year after year.

Because she was single, she was not seen as valuable to the church. Her last straw came when she joined a Bible study which was billed as a serious study of Scripture. Finally, it seemed there was a place for her to discuss all that she had been studying. After a few weeks, she was pulled aside by another woman. She was told to stop discussing theology since there were men present and that was what they were supposed to do.

The Faithful Dones

This dear lady looked at me and said, point blank, 

I am Done.

Another person told me that she was sick and tired of contributing to ridiculous building campaigns that asked for $30 million for an addition to the church building as well as bigger and louder sound systems and video displays. She asked 

Do we really need fancy coffee shops in our church? Starbucks is one block over.

Church Refugees

These folks are well dealt with in an article at Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight) in which Jeff Cook interviews Josh Packard, who along with Ashleigh Hope, has written a book called Church Refugees. Here is what it says at Amazon.

As millions of church members fall into inactivity each year, they've probably also started skipping church on Sunday.  We need answers—not statistics. We need to understand and hear from people who are leaving church so we can find a way to turn around the trend.

This book uses in-depth sociological research to get to the heart of the issue. The data is collected from interviews with real people about why they left and who they really are. These aren’t the “nones” who have no religious affiliation. They’re the “dones” who’ve been faithfully serving in local churches for years. This is their story.

Josh Packard (from Amazon)

 is a professor of sociology at the University of Northern Colorado and the well-published author of numerous academic articles, reviews, and the book, The Emerging Church. He's also an active church member and has a deep desire to understand the widespread phenomenon of church decline.  He can be found at joshpackard.com.

The DeChurched Project

I visited his site and found the following information interesting. I am hoping some of our readers might like add their stories to The Dechurched Project.

In recent years many people have left religion because of issues with the institutional nature of mainstream religious organizations.  Some of the reasons stem from intensely personal experiences. 

…Still other people find the institutional structure to be stifling and draining.

…Some of these people never come back to church, even though they maintain a belief in God.  However, we also recognize that many of these people do come back to organized religion if they can find the right kind of community.  Often, those who do come back view these worship groups as the only viable option in a sea of religious organizations that the find to be otherwise dissatisfying.

…In this project, The Dechurching of America, we are looking for stories to help us understand how the institutional religion in the United States is creating its own discontents.  We want to put these stories together so we can find a way to provide more religious spaces for people who feel like traditional religion has cast them aside.

If this resonates with your personal story, or you would like to know more about the study, we would love to talk with you.

If this is of interest to you, go to the Dechurch link and read more.

What are their concerns, and what can be done with Dones?

Back to Packard's interview on Jesus Creed.

Packard says that the results of his quantitative study will be released shortly through Group Publishing. We will post those results when they are released. However, he hints that the numbers are significant.

1. Do we really need another parking lot?

We were surprised to find that people are not burned out on God.  If anything, they want to do MORE, not LESS.  What they’re tired of is working to serve the kingdom of their church rather than serving the kingdom of God.

2. Practices from the 1980s and 1990s which still linger drive people away. These include:

 Extreme political and social stances.  Passive worship.  Lack of true conversation about theological issues.

3. The bureaucracy involved in church hierarchy is contributing to the problem.

I think the general idea of approaching structure more as a collective than a bureaucracy is a good place to start.  I wouldn’t advocate for swinging the pendulum completely in that direction, but a general nod in that direction would do a lot to make churches more like the kind of place where Dones can reengage. 

4. The *Dones* are an opportunity as opposed to a threat.

Packard makes the very, very, very important point (this is important!), that the *Dones* still takes their faith very seriously. I stress this point because there are a number of authoritarian churches which teach, erroneously, that those who have dropped out of church are no longer believers or were never believers in the first place. 

Packard, echoing my own observations (or is it me echoing his..?), believes that these people are committed to their faith and need to be re-engaged.

The hardest thing to do is to get groups of people committed to something, and here is evidence of large groups of people committed to God.  The church just needs to figure out how to engage that commitment.

5. "Many of the Dones report not missing the music or teaching, does this prove that such elements of church services are overvalued?"

Oh, the Dones miss music. They can find teaching in small communities and online.  But they do miss the music, because most of what is out there is not really for them.  That’s a big part of the reason we created a soundtrack to go along with this book. This is Why I Left You: Songs for the Dones  is a 6 song EP my wife and I funded and produced along with some talented musicians just to explore what music might look like in this area. 

6. The church will need to transition in the coming years.

It looks like the church in this country is entering a massive period of transition and upheaval.  We’re going to see a lot of churches close their doors in the next decade, and much of the religious activity in this country is likely to be a lot more fragmented than it has ever been.  But if history teaches us anything, it’s that the church in America is an innovative institution, and it will respond to these pressures.

Further points from another post

To round out this discussion, Jeff Davis posted his review of this book in A New Exodus Out of the American Church on 6/8/15. Here is how he sums up the main reasons *Dones* give for leaving the church.

  • The Dones say they left because of the judgmental posture of church people individually and collectively which assaulted the communal experience they longed for.
     
  • The Dones say they left because they are tired of trying to serve Jesus through the bureaucratic methods of church organizations which often stifled progress and gave little attention to what they cared for most. Many of the Dones wished to build the Kingdom but were only offered opportunities to build someone’s church empire.
     
  • The Dones say they left because they wanted to come to their own answers about God through dialog and struggle, not though prepackaged lectures and the predetermined conclusions of their church leaders.
     
  • And the Dones say they left because their church only understood “morality” in terms of “substance abuse” and “sexual activity” with a common disregard to systemic issues of equality, poverty and unjust economics.

SBC: 200,000 people ditched in 2014 – the biggest since 1881.

Recently, the SBC took a sucker punch to the gut. They learned that they lost 200,000 members in 2014. This is in spite of church plants coming out the wazoo. Are they contributing the the large numbers of *Dones?* (More church plants and fewer attendees should raise a few eyebrows.)

Southern Baptists are adding more churches but serving fewer members who are giving fewer dollars, 2014 data compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources shows.

The number of cooperating churches within the Southern Baptist Convention rose for the 15th consecutive year, but the churches lost more than 200,000 members, the biggest one-year decline since 1881, according to the Annual Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay in cooperation with Baptist state conventions. Average attendance, baptisms and giving also declined.

What if you are a *Done* and would like some fellowship, but there are no trustworthy churches in your area?

Back to a reader who told me she is *done*.

She still has her faith. She prays and reads many books, including her Bible. She misses the fellowship but is tired of being sidelined by the church. She asked me my opinion. I reassured her that she was part of a diaspora of *Dones* leaving the local church but still a member of the church universal. 

I suggested an alternative for her during this time. Many parachurch ministries need volunteers. There are homeless shelters, human trafficking organizations, prison ministries, disaster relief groups, etc. that are begging for volunteers and financial support. I suggested that she explore what sort of ministry excites her. Within the context of these groups, she will find fellowship of like-minded people who are passionate about the service they are providing. Many of these groups have prayer services and Bible studies for those they serve. I told her that I bet they would love having someone as theologically gifted and service-minded as she is.

A few of my thoughts on why faithful people are leaving the church.

Here are some thoughts on things I think are causing people to become *Dones*.

1. Ill-defined church discipline(You know the type-You are questioning the elders too much so-discipline time)
2. Ridiculous church discipline ala Karen Hinkley.
3. Pastors, aka talking heads, who believe their sermons are the center of the worship time.
4. Pastors who spend more time writing books, going to conferences and making BFFs with other celebrity pastors than they do caring about and being involved in the lives of their church members.
5. Music that is so loud that the words are not understood.
6. Churches which cover up child sex abuse and domestic violence.
7. Constant harping on homosexuality while ignoring child sex abuse in their own churches.
8. Interminable building campaigns for millions of dollars while ignoring poverty and suffering around the world (and even in their own church!)
9. The Internet making it easier to find support and information.

An encouragement for the *Dones*.

Do not listen to those who teach that you must, at all costs, be a member of a local church or you may not really be a Christian. They are far more interested in their authority and your money than they are loving you as Christ loved the church. They studiously ignore every report of abusive church discipline.

Don't listen to churches which claim you cannot be a Christian unless you are in a local church.

(They really mean an approved, 9Marks kind of church anyway.)

9Marks writes consistently about this subject, rarely mentioning people who have been hurt and overlooked by their local church. They are far more concerned about submission to their authority. They rarely mention love and kindness. And when they do, it usually means loving you enough to discipline you. Always remember what they did to Todd Wilhelm. They have never apologized.

Every Christian should join a church because Scripture requires it. Granted, there is no direct command in Scripture that says, “Every Christian must join a local church,” but two factors in Scripture indicate that every Christian should be a member of a local church.

…Scripture repeatedly commands Christians to submit to their leaders (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13). The only way to do that is by publicly committing to be members of their flock, and saying in effect, “I commit to listening to your teaching, following your direction, and to submitting to your leadership.” There’s no way to obey the scriptural commands to submit to your leaders if you never actually submit to them by joining a local church.

I am looking forward to hearing from all of you. Why are you a *Done*? Why might you become a *Done*? Or, what saved you from becoming a *Done*? In the meantime, here is Katy Perry *roaring* at the Super Bowl. Maybe it's time to hear the *roar of the Dones*.

Comments

The Dones: Faithful Church Refugees and the DeChurched Project — 869 Comments

  1. Joe2 wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    I used to watch TV preacher John Hagee quite a bit. One of the things he did over a period of years was to scold Christians who constantly had what he called a sour puss or pit bull dog sad face, or whatever folksy term he used.
    This phrase (may not be Hagee’s) has stuck with me, “Christians who look like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice.”

    I wonder how many mega pastors who have complained about the phenomenon of sourpuss Christian faces have ever considered that it might be the pain inflicted by the mega pastors?

  2. Daisy wrote:

    They should not have to put on a fake smile so as to not inconvenience a preacher, or make church people feel uncomfortable with their sadness.

    Rejoice with those who rejoice, and

    a) Avoid those who are sad
    b) Tell everyone ‘don’t worry, be happy’
    c) weep with those who weep
    d) order another beer and packet of crisps

  3. Joe2 wrote:

    This phrase (may not be Hagee’s) has stuck with me, “Christians who look like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice.”

    I wonder what Christians who berate sad-looking Christians do with Biblical passages and verses about Jesus, such as:

    – Jesus wept.

    – Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

    – A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief

    – And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood
    —-
    Some of today’s preachers would scold Jesus for not looking smiley happy enough.

    “Why Jesus, your “sucking on a lemon” face is not going to attract new converts, smile more! Stop the crying and the anguish right now, this instant. You must lack faith, because a “real” Christian who is trusting God would be happy clappy.”

  4. refugee wrote:

    XianJaneway wrote:
    My firecracker is 2e
    Having seen this mentioned twice now, I’m prompted to ask, “What is 2e?”

    Just looked it up: “twice exceptional”, gifted but with some form of disability, e.g., Einstein who couldn’t quite grasp personal grooming, or a friend of mine from law school who, while severely dyslexic and incapable of writing intelligibly (I saw his law school notes and spelling), was nonetheless brilliant and won a major award against an open field at my law school.

  5. Harley wrote:

    @ Gus:
    I went to a church several years ago that handed out letters asking the members to let them know how much they were going to tithe that year so they could plan their budget. At first I was going to sign it, but then then my daughter talked me out of it. It is none of the church’s business how much I am going to tithe or give to them in a year. Where is their faith in God to seeing that they get the right amount of funds they need for the current year.

    This is not something new. We went to a very liberal Anglican church in the early 90s that did this every year in November, so they could plan the budget.

  6. Joe2 wrote:

    This phrase (may not be Hagee’s) has stuck with me, “Christians who look like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice.”

    I’m pretty sure it predates Hagee.
    My guess is first used to describe New England Puritan types.

    Another variant is “baptized in vinegar”.

  7. refugee wrote:

    Sallie, Catherine, so much of what you’ve said resonates with me.

    Thanks for putting it out there. I feel less alone. Wish we could just sit and have coffee or tea together and talk and laugh and cry together.

    I’m not even confident enough to post under my real name. Not yet, anyhow.

    There’s no pressure to use your real name. I’m able to do it because I’ve had a lot of time to deal with everything I’ve experienced. It took me fifteen years before I wrote online about our experience with spiritual abuse. We had some other things happen many years after that that were much less, but devastating in a different way. Those are still a bit raw, but nothing like the first experience. Here is where I wrote about our spiritual abuse.

    http://www.awomansfreedominchrist.com/spiritual-abuse-fifteen-years-later-2/

  8. Beth wrote:

    Just trying to see where I might fall in the current nomenclature! Looks like I’m a “gone”.

    I think too that there will always be those who defy any type of easy categorization. Can I label myself then as a rogue anomaly? I say that because I’m all over the place with regard to beliefs and non-beliefs about the Christian religion.

  9. refugee wrote:

    Having seen this mentioned twice now, I’m prompted to ask, “What is 2e?”

    2e stands for twice-exceptional. It is used for children who are both gifted and have a learning challenge/difference/disability. It can be anything such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, sensory issues, etc. 2e kids face a special set of challenges. They are far beyond their peers in many ways, but they also struggle in other aspects. The gap can create a lot of frustration for kids who can’t keep up with their giftedness because of factors that hinder them.

  10. Adam Borsay wrote:

    my heart is to see more Christians engaged in NT communities(learning and living the word together)

    It shocks me that this phrase was triggering to me. It recalled the “Rivendell” thing, where families we knew sold everything and moved (to Tennessee, was it? Kentucky?) to become part of this “christian” community. From what I recall hearing some years afterward, it was rife with authoritarianism and abuse.

    It was a lovely-sounding idea. But I think it had the wrong emphasis. We are not called to withdraw from the world, when I think about it.

    I’m sure, Adam, that you mean something completely different by the phrase.

  11. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    Having seen this mentioned twice now, I’m prompted to ask, “What is 2e?”
    2e stands for twice-exceptional. It is used for children who are both gifted and have a learning challenge/difference/disability. It can be anything such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, sensory issues, etc. 2e kids face a special set of challenges. They are far beyond their peers in many ways, but they also struggle in other aspects. The gap can create a lot of frustration for kids who can’t keep up with their giftedness because of factors that hinder them.

    Oh, my. I have two of these, and I am one myself. Would that be 2e-squared? cubed?

  12. refugee wrote:

    I’m prompted to ask, “What is 2e?”

    I have no idea but will just guess it possibly means “Second Eldest” or second oldest child?

  13. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    Getting out of bed has little to do with my standing before God.

    Reminds me of a joke Bilbo.

    Wife to man sleeping late on Sunday morning “You must get up. It’s about time to go the church!”

    Man replies “Give me a good reason why I should go to church today.”

    Wife responds “Ill give you two. It’s the right thing to do and … you’re the preacher!”

    Doing church without God will drain all the energy out of you. Look for where God is working and join Him there … it may not be in your local church!

  14. Joe2 wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    (Actually, I would hang out in a coffee bar, if the coffee were really, really good and reasonably priced. One of my favorite places to loiter has been a coffee bar, like Starbucks, or a coffee/tea place. We even did a fair amount of our homeschool high school while hanging out at Starbucks (free wi-fi, you know, very handy).))
    However, the rest of your list… yeah.
    But I’ve had some good theological discussions at Starbucks.

    Some of us prefer the “golden arches” where, in my neighborhood, you can get a senior coffee for 75 cents including tax with free refills.

    A cup of coffee at our local Starbucks is about $2, and because I have used my Starbucks card more than xx times (I honestly have no idea anymore how many times the magic number entails — I reload the card monthly with $10 or $20, depending on the budget, which works for once- or twice-a-week Starbucks visits) I get free refills. Starbucks may be the butt of many jokes, but since they retrained the baristas a few years ago, not to burn the beans, their coffee has been consistently to my taste. McDonalds’ coffee isn’t always consistent.

    If I’m in the mood for unsweetened iced tea, however, Micky D’s is the place to go.

  15. From this conversation (and others on this site)it seems that William Stringfellow’s description of powers and principalities might apply to much of what is going on in the church today. In his book “An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens”,he gives an all too realistic commentary on the institutional church (as well as all other institutions). The following brief sketch is taken from Marva Dawn’s “Powers, Principalities and the Tabernacling of God.” The principalities are “1)creatures that are fallen (meaning that they thrive in chaos, confusion and competition); 2) an inverse dominion that works backwards not to foster life but to dehumanize; 3)not benign but aggressive; 4)causing all to be victims with or without their knowledge; 5)capturing leaders as acolytes enthralled by their own enslavement; 6)engaged in rivalry with each other since their own survival is always at stake; 7)and creating a new morality of survival.”

    For me, the bottom line in our church wars and culture wars is that we all being played like fiddles, even the so called leaders. We can name names and call people out but we all to easily lose sight of the big picture; the ongoing wounds being inflicted upon the body of Christ and the ease with which we are drawn away from Jesus’ call to “follow me”. In our battle against all the sad and bad things that are happening in the church and all around us, let us not forget the unseen and unnamed powers that are at play. We can run away from church but are we then simply playing into the hands of the powers and principalities that seek to “steal, kill and the destroy.” I wish I had easy answers for all the people who had been hurt by power hungry men who are “enthralled by their own enslavement”, but I do not. In my case I left a big church for a smaller one, the theology was not just right (according to me) but that didn’t matter. I was in a small church where I knew everyone, where God’s love could be experienced and where together we admit our frailties and our sin. When things don’t go as I desire I just revert back to place where we are all called to be and do the thing disciples of Jesus are called to do, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

  16. Max wrote:

    Doing church without God will drain all the energy out of you.

    Amen to that. I was going through the motions for years, and getting the guilt piled on in the bargain, because it was said to be my own fault. Trying harder never seemed to help, either.

  17. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    Sallie, Catherine, so much of what you’ve said resonates with me.
    Thanks for putting it out there. I feel less alone. Wish we could just sit and have coffee or tea together and talk and laugh and cry together.
    I’m not even confident enough to post under my real name. Not yet, anyhow.
    There’s no pressure to use your real name. I’m able to do it because I’ve had a lot of time to deal with everything I’ve experienced. It took me fifteen years before I wrote online about our experience with spiritual abuse. We had some other things happen many years after that that were much less, but devastating in a different way. Those are still a bit raw, but nothing like the first experience. Here is where I wrote about our spiritual abuse.
    http://www.awomansfreedominchrist.com/spiritual-abuse-fifteen-years-later-2/

    I clicked on the link so it will be in my history to look up later. I’ve overstayed my online time, but it’s been helpful, today, at least. I’m motivated to reach out to a couple chronically ill friends and connect with them, in particular, now that the school year has ended and they and I have more time to connect.

  18. @ refugee:
    (and by “today, at least” I’m only referring to times when I’ve numbly stayed online for hours, clicking and following links, in order to *avoid* thinking…)

  19.   __

    Dear Wartburg Watch,

    hmmm…

    Speaking in consideration of ‘others’, how would one know how to ‘help’ the individuals encountered in these 501(c)3 church establishments if such destressing circumstances “exist”, as you report, and Kind Folk encounter weekly (we listen to their stories daily on social media) in the average 501(c)3 Chrisian church today where it may not be safe for children?

    How can one be expected to attend ‘such’ a place?

    (sadface)

    Sopy

  20. To your friend in Baltimore… my front porch (in Baltimore) is open Sunday mornings for long talks, deep words, and laughter. We have been done for almost 7 years . Homeless Sunday mornings is the best thing that happened to our family. There’s a great meme going around that says, “We will never change the world by going to church. We will change the world by being the church.”
    I found God and myself and beautiful people beyond those walls. And this from a Christian good girl in recovery.

  21. Dave A A wrote:

    But are paid to “engage culture”

    What the hay does “engage the culture” even mean, and what does a person actually do to “engage the culture,” and who in the world gets paid to do this? Is Owen just a glorified PR guy now?

  22. Max wrote:

    Deb wrote:

    It’s amazing how many denominations are being impacted by the Neo-Cals.

    They have an excellent marketing strategy. New Calvinist leaders are writing all the theology-provoking books

    Well, they were anyway – now many of them seem stuck on Romans 9, defending the local church, and comp theology.

  23. @ refugee:
    Hehe. NT community seems like a euphemistic name for “The Village”, pastored by the right Hon. Rev. M. Night Shyamalan.

  24. @ refugee:
    I’m right there with you. Kind of feels like I need to research a whole lot before I ever want to confidently assert the peripherals of the faith I used to just assume without real question.

    Bugs the beck outta me when I see folks argue til they’re blue in the face about the meanings of English words and phrases in our translations, but don’t seem to want to touch going to the original languages to try to discern the writer’s intentions.

    I’m no scholar, and I’ll admit I have a ton of reading I need to do to even start to have conversations about these things, but at least I realize it’s not always as clear as the ol’ English teases it to be. I think it’s good to start there.

  25. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    Rivendell

    Well, yes, theSallie Borrink wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    It recalled the “Rivendell” thing, where families we knew sold everything and moved (to Tennessee, was it? Kentucky?) to become part of this “christian” community. From what I recall hearing some years afterward, it was rife with authoritarianism and abuse.

    Oh Rivendell.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jan/27/news/mn-17823

    That was the one. We had friends who sold everything to move to this place. The article you linked was written in the early days, and so describes the community in glowing terms. Later information was not so positive. I found a couple of links just now. If you search “Rivendell” on the second link, you’ll find comments about it.

    http://www.freejinger.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=187&t=4725

    https://ministrywatchman.wordpress.com/2007/05/07/does-patriarchy-produce-ecclesiastical-tyrants/

    That kind of goes along with things we heard our friends say, though they wouldn’t come out and criticize the place openly, as if they were afraid of the consequences of doing so. (Sorry, I’m attributing motives, which is not fair. If we hadn’t lost touch with them a few years ago, I could ask them for more information.)

  26. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    There was also the Highlands Study Center and Saint Peter Church with R.C. Sproul, Jr. That Christian community did not end well at all either.
    Although I admit that some of The Basement Tapes were really good.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20060208013152/http://highlands.gospelcom.net/moving.php
    http://stpeter4.blogspot.com/

    Yes, more anecdotes about abuse, as I recall. And one very sad tale of a young man who went to study under Sproul, Jr., who was shamed into drinking alcohol (perhaps some nonsense about his freedom in Christ) — I seem to recall he had struggled with alcoholism and his personal choice not to drink was ridiculed and criticized, until he started drinking again, with a disastrous outcome.

    But I suppose some people would call that gossip.

  27. GovPappy wrote:

    @ refugee:
    Hehe. NT community seems like a euphemistic name for “The Village”, pastored by the right Hon. Rev. M. Night Shyamalan.

    I have not seen that movie. I wonder how triggering it would be. We’re still pretty raw, even though it’s been nearly a year since we left our former church.

  28. Bridget wrote:

    What the hay does “engage the culture” even mean, and what does a person actually do to “engage the culture,” and who in the world gets paid to do this?

    I understand to engage to mean to confront. There are organizations that do this and these certainly have paid staff, but I don’t think that to engage means to limit that confrontation to the hired hands. I think they are saying quit with the go along to get along and plant some feet firmly wherever you/they believe the line in the sand is, speak up and say no and here’s why ‘no’, and don’t yield ground. As in the use of the term ‘to engage the enemy.’

  29. Nancy wrote:

    As in the use of the term ‘to engage the enemy.’

    Which is formally phrased “Engage And DESTROY”.

  30. @ Daisy:
    Sorry, I didn’t reply sooner. I work in the afternoon/evening this week so I’m in and out. I know what you mean. I find it extremely difficult to open up for a variety of reasons, including what I think you may have posted earlier about church people want “healthy” members who are in a position to give and serve. I have grown to appreciate internet communities for the very reason you said, I could lurk (for 3 years) and then take the plunge and start participating. I have been helped more by this than 30 years in 6 different churches. That should tell you something!

  31. refugee wrote:

    I had forgotten that Phil Lancaster was involved. His books were heavily promoted by Vision Forum, weren’t they?

    I honestly can’t remember. Probably. I wish I had saved some of that Vision Forum stuff for reference material. A few catalogs and so on.

  32. I am a DONE also. I wish there was a group of people who met “organically” around my area; it would be nice, but everyone around me goes to the IC. It is very difficult to even discuss where our family is coming from; it is like they do not want to listen whatsoever.

    A few questions to Adam- Does not family count as being a part of the body? Are we not disobeying Christ by becoming like the world when the American church is tax exempt and becoming wealthy off the backs of the poor? Does it not say in Revelation that Christ would take away the lamp stands of the churches who lose their love for Him, profit off of Him, and deceive? What if this is happening on a wide scale in America? What if God is allowing the church to become scattered because we have lost our first love? What if the Holy Spirit is leading us out for our own protection?
    I totally trust the Holy Spirit and His leading- He has done me right ALL the time. Adam can we not just let the Holy Spirit do His job in every believer?- I think He can handle it without all the interfering of the IC. To tell you the truth I cannot tell you of a time where I learned to grow from a pastor- I grew because of the Holy Spirit given to me by the blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit just knows how to do it extremely well- He does so with patience ( it takes time; even years); He does it with gentleness, but yet firmly (I have yet to meet a pastor who approached me in this manner); He does so with LOVE (NO ONE has or can do this like Jesus).
    Also, let us look at the results: from what I am seeing from the DONES who have left for awhile is that people are in relief, at peace; joy is coming back into their lives; a desire to learn more; etc…..
    What has happened in my own life from leaving is: marriage is better, I have a desire to love more (especially unbelievers) ; I think of Abba the Father more often and love Him more; gratitude every day for just living, seeing the clouds and sunshine, being with my family; I want to do more for Him. So if we are growing is that not evidence of Him working in the midst of where we are at, as “imperfect” as it may be? I do not want to go back to the IC anymore – NO THANK YOU!

    Daisy this to you- I love your comments! I see that you are hurting and I hurt with you. I am married with kids, but I acknowledge your pain and desire to be just accepted for who you are and where you are. God never stated that one had to be married to be used and loved by Him- what I cannot understand is that those in the IC cannot get it in there thick heads that Paul even commended those who were single! Anyway, I stick up for you here! 🙂

  33. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    It can be anything such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, sensory issues, etc. 2e kids face a special set of challenges. They are far beyond their peers in many ways, but they also struggle in other aspects. The gap can create a lot of frustration for kids who can’t keep up with their giftedness because of factors that hinder them.

    And I can attest THAT CAN MESS YOU UP.

    No dyslexia or dysgraphia in my case, no sensory issues per se (except extreme nearsightedness), but a “Conservation of Neurological Energy” where my IQ and amount of raw data in my head raced far ahead of my age while the rest of my development (muscular coordination, emotional age, and socialization) fell far behind.

    That was enough. I caught the emotional/social retardation flip side BAD.

    AND CONCENTRATING ON THE PARTS WHERE THE KID EXCELS WHILE IGNORING THE SIDE EFFECTS MAKES IT WORSE.

  34. Bridget wrote:

    What the hay does “engage the culture” even mean, and what does a person actually do to “engage the culture,” and who in the world gets paid to do this? Is Owen just a glorified PR guy now?

    Based on their actions, it means to sit in comfy chairs (sorry, couldn’t help myself *) at denominational meetings, passing resolutions condemning LGBT people and sending out said resolutions on the PR channels. I have to say, we’ve come a long way when most of them are too lazy to go out to pride parades and actually yell at real live people any more.

    * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnS49c9KZw8

  35. LT wrote:

    Your comment about dating a jerk in high school speaks to how little you understand this situation. We have faithfully attended, tithed, volunteered, chaired committees, taught classes, changed 1,000 diapers, handed out thousands of bulletins, worked dozens of VBS’s, pulled weeds, changed toilet paper, cleaned vomit, comforted the grieving and stacked chairs a thousand times. Adam we are talking DECADES of dedicated service, not one little bad fling. This is hopelessness. We are tired. We have PTSD. You are asking a severely abused spouse to turn that frown upside down, get on E-Harmony and get back in the saddle now little missy, while our teeth are still missing and we walk with a limp.

    Spot on comment….should be it’s own post for all those mid 20’s early 30’s pastors who still think that their church is the bee’s knees.

  36. Daisy wrote:

    I’ve seen so many terms for so many groups that it gets confusing, and some people use the terms to define different groups.

    One Christian may use term “X” to define belief set “A,” while another Christian will use term “X” to define belief set “B.”

    I’ve heard of nones, dones, unchurched, dechurched, and I forget what all.

    Maybe a visual would help at some point to show groups, overlaps, separateness. But you’re right, Daisy, it’s quite a mess of terms and meanings.

  37. adam-

    Whether you know it or not, you’re displaying the same arrogant attitude that drove most of us from the church.

    You say you respect and want to understand the nones and dones-yet you’re repeating the same drivel about being “concerned” that people are meeting “intentionally” in a NT way. In other words, these folks are being less “Biblical” than you and your church.

    Sorry to be blunt-but I think it’s arrogant.

  38. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Which is formally phrased “Engage And DESTROY”.

    Is that a quote from something? I never heard that but it seems like that might be part of the idea.

    I like the idea of ‘engage’ as the opposite of ‘retreat’ and in fact have pretty much had some success with engaging as compared to retreating on occasion. The masters at TKD used to talk right much about when and how to deal with levels of conflict or potential conflict as in: avoid, retreat/run, stand and confront with a display of aggression but only if necessary, then as a last resort get physical if there is no other way. In what they were saying the idea was first aimed at stopping the aggression non-aggressively but if needed certainly to overpower the opponent; but I never heard anything that sounded like destroy. I am thinking that engage kicks in when you stop running and turn and confront.

  39. Cousin of Eutychus wrote:

    Many here are making the salient point that the true Church of Christ is an organism, not an organization (501C or whatever). Dones, whom I would identify with, are members of the church Christ has joined us to by His atoning sacrifice. That church, to which all believers are baptized into by the Holy Spirit, is alive and well throughout the world.
    The political, organizational, leader-centric church model is, I think, dying–I think we will be better for it, though it will be a painful process for the western, especially American, church to engage society from a posture of humility and willful setting aside our passions for material wealth and political power.
    I think much of the attraction for many of our young people for a more liturgical based church is found in the reality that the role of church leadership is not the primary role or attraction–the truth regarding the character and nature of God expressed in the liturgy and sacraments is central, rather than a personality.
    I long for the day that churches are no longer tax exempt; remove the entanglements of church and state and reclaim our heritage with believers throughout the centuries who have loved Jesus in every conceivable circumstance, unencumbered with divided loyalties. (I say this as one who loves his country and is a military veteran.) The whole duty of man is to love God and to enjoy Him forever!

    Well written comment. I agree. And the attraction of liturgy and sacraments is not limited to young people, but has been there for awhile for many of us baby boomers who navigated around decades of “red flags” in evangelicalism, denominations, and movements, to find the beauty and peace of liturgy, sacraments, and as you say, the “whole duty” of woman and man.

  40. Bridget wrote:

    But are paid to “engage culture”
    What the hay does “engage the culture” even mean, and what does a person actually do to “engage the culture,” and who in the world gets paid to do this? Is Owen just a glorified PR guy now?

    And Daisy–
    As HUG has implied, they mean “engage in battle” but kind Christian folks are supposed to think they mean “engage over a cup of Starbucks or McCafe”. But the battle likely does not mean debating atheists or gay-marriage proponents– rather it’s articles, books, conferences, and maybe some lectures to students. They already have a glorified PR guy in Wilson, the director of content strategerie.

  41. Nancy wrote:

    I think they are saying quit with the go along to get along and plant some feet firmly wherever you/they believe the line in the sand is, speak up and say no and here’s why ‘no’, and don’t yield ground.

    From another perspective from withing the YRR movement, they were reacting against the non-engagement, perceived or real, by evangelicalism which ultimately led to the cultural upheaval of the late 60’s and 70’s. I think that this is also part of the push against a “privatized” faith. In that view, it was the failure of Christians to be active in government, education, and other public institutions which created the conditions which enabled the chaos. Oddly enough, however, there are subcultures within evangelical culture which are isolated even from other evangelicals. Quiverfull is one example of this reaction to cultural change, Reconstructionism is another and the Manhattan manifesto is yet another reaction. I believe that Roe was the catalyst for the change in attitude across evangelicalism. And I also believe that the change in attitude created otherwise unlikely partnerships.

    In short, I think I’m describing the why and you are describing the how. But this is not a particularly good brain day for me, so I’m probably missing something.

  42. refugee wrote:

    We could have put a kid through Harvard with all the money we tithed over the years.

    What I don’t understand is that conservative Americans are so loath to pay taxes, even the very reasonable (by European standards) rates, taxes that are at least to a large part spent on financing schools and hospitals, maintaining roads and bridges, keeping the country safe, but don’t see the irony of paying a tenth of your income (if you believe Robert Morris, before taxes) to their local church, which in many cases doesn’t spend it any more wisely than the government, and where it’s much easier to recognise the “waste, fraud and abuse”.

    And don’t get me started on all the con artists who live a life of luxury financed by good but maybe gullible people, bullied into “ponying up” what they can ill afford – you know who you are, but some of them go by the names of Steve, Ed, Robert, Joel, Joyce, Mac, … – there are just too many.

    The “world” often finds it easy to dismiss Christianity because many of these cons are so transparent that anybody who is willing to look can see it, just not the good people who are too close to see.

    “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” George Orwell

  43. LT wrote:

    The church left me! My battle on that front is over. That’s why I stick to our Lord and Savior. He alone has never left us. He alone never will.

    BRAVO! Well said.

  44. Gus wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    We could have put a kid through Harvard with all the money we tithed over the years.
    What I don’t understand is that conservative Americans are so loath to pay taxes, even the very reasonable (by European standards) rates, taxes that are at least to a large part spent on financing schools and hospitals, maintaining roads and bridges, keeping the country safe, but don’t see the irony of paying a tenth of your income (if you believe Robert Morris, before taxes) to their local church, which in many cases doesn’t spend it any more wisely than the government, and where it’s much easier to recognise the “waste, fraud and abuse”.
    And don’t get me started on all the con artists who live a life of luxury financed by good but maybe gullible people, bullied into “ponying up” what they can ill afford – you know who you are, but some of them go by the names of Steve, Ed, Robert, Joel, Joyce, Mac, … – there are just too many.
    The “world” often finds it easy to dismiss Christianity because many of these cons are so transparent that anybody who is willing to look can see it, just not the good people who are too close to see.
    “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” George Orwell

    All I can say is, we got sold a “biblical” bill of goods.

  45. @ refugee:
    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but not that many people here use their given names. There are very good reasons for that, including not wanting posts (here or elsewhere) to show up in a Google search on a person’s given name.

    I have some published content (work for hire) under my real name thst is on the internet, and do use my real name in that context. As for everything else – nope. I have had some bad experiences with what i will euphemistically call “strange” folks following me around on the internet. The ladt thing i want is to have any of them call me on the phone, or show up at my door.

    The internet can be wonderful, but also horrible. My advice: no shame in keeping your privacy intact!

  46. @ Gram3:

    That all sounds reasonable. That probably is what went on.

    Today we have lots of people (including from time to time our state legislature) engaging the educational establishment and the gov behind it over common core math, whole language methodology, grading strategies and a passel of other things. In these cases I am totally in approval of the idea that the masses of the people should engage that aspect of the culture as they are doing. I have used a non-religious issue as an example of what I think is part of what it means to engage the culture, meaning sometimes the government and/or the majority of the people and/or one’s cousin and one’s next door neighbor.

    Time was when the generation prior to mine criticized you know who for being too engaged with the culture/gov while while our bunch rightfully they thought just watched a lot of stuff happen and refrained from taking any steps one way or the other about anything. We thought ‘we’ were right and ‘they’ were wrong and you better watch them because next thing you know they will be too powerful/in charge/ in bed with the gov. The theological argument was that the mission of the church is individual salvation and nothing more, while ‘they’ have a bad history of alliances with governing power which just prove to you right there–well, it just does.

    My, my, how times change.

  47. @ Max:
    Max, I appreciate you sharing your perspective with me. Thank you. I appreciate the variety of perspectives I can learn and engage with on this site an awful lot. Such an Al-Andalus feel.

  48. refugee wrote:

    XianJaneway wrote:
    My firecracker is 2e
    Having seen this mentioned twice now, I’m prompted to ask, “What is 2e?”

    Twice-exceptional. It’s a shorthand for saying, “I’ve got an incredibly gifted child who also has a significant disability.” In our case, my daughter is 9, reads on a 12th grade level, tests in the top 1% at every subject, but has Sensory Processing Disorder, Anorexia, ADHD, and possibly Asperger’s syndrome. 2e is a dizzying whirlwind of needs that constantly keeps me on my toes and means she doesn’t fit in to almost *any* pre-defined ministry categories. She has the intellect of a high schooler and the emotional stability (and size!) of a 6 year old.

  49. Law Prof wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    XianJaneway wrote:
    My firecracker is 2e
    Having seen this mentioned twice now, I’m prompted to ask, “What is 2e?”

    Just looked it up: “twice exceptional”, gifted but with some form of disability, e.g., Einstein who couldn’t quite grasp personal grooming, or a friend of mine from law school who, while severely dyslexic and incapable of writing intelligibly (I saw his law school notes and spelling), was nonetheless brilliant and won a major award against an open field at my law school.

    Dear God yes, the grooming is a huge issue. 🙁 What’s worse is that my daughter also designs clothes, (yes, at age 9) and sincerely wants to be model-gorgeous—but she also has a stomach condition that affects her bowel management, and hates baths!! Which means that at any time, she might have a carefully designed awesome creative outfit, and smell like fecal matter. 🙁

  50. @ Gus:

    Those taxes are a lot like how the mega churches operate and I am hoping to convince some of the tithers of it. The taxes go to things such as paying huge admin salaries while laying off poorly paid teachers. What an adjunct makes is a crime compared to management salaries at a college. It is same all over government….big salaries for administrators while those doing the work make so little as to be embarrassing. Some are even on forms of welfare to make it.

    Then those high salaried administrators retire at 55 and are paid upwards to 80% of their high salary in pension with full health benefits for the rest of their lives. The poor schmucks out there have to invest in 401K’s that are shakey and they don’t get the guaranteed pensions of the state and federal workers.

    Government “servants”? I think not. It is the place to be for security. And it is hard to get fired unless one of the worker bees. It is all backwards.

  51. Jessica wrote:

    To your friend in Baltimore… my front porch (in Baltimore) is open Sunday mornings for long talks, deep words, and laughter. We have been done for almost 7 years . Homeless Sunday mornings is the best thing that happened to our family. There’s a great meme going around that says, “We will never change the world by going to church. We will change the world by being the church.”
    I found God and myself and beautiful people beyond those walls. And this from a Christian good girl in recovery.

    I’m moving to Crofton next month—wanna come over?? 😀

  52. refugee wrote:

    Oh, my. I have two of these, and I am one myself. Would that be 2e-squared? cubed?

    How about (1+sqrt(5))/2 ?

  53. Bridget wrote:

    What the hay does “engage the culture” even mean, and what does a person actually do to “engage the culture,” and who in the world gets paid to do this?

    Most of us working in the real world “engage” culture everyday. For those in the bubble it is something else. Not exactly sure but I think it might involve Starbucks.

  54. refugee wrote:

    Sallie Borrink wrote:
    refugee wrote:
    Having seen this mentioned twice now, I’m prompted to ask, “What is 2e?”
    2e stands for twice-exceptional. It is used for children who are both gifted and have a learning challenge/difference/disability. It can be anything such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, sensory issues, etc. 2e kids face a special set of challenges. They are far beyond their peers in many ways, but they also struggle in other aspects. The gap can create a lot of frustration for kids who can’t keep up with their giftedness because of factors that hinder them.

    Oh, my. I have two of these, and I am one myself. Would that be 2e-squared? cubed?

    It would be HARD!!! <3 And I know–I'm one too, also w/ multiple 2e's.

  55. numo wrote:

    @ Sallie Borrink:
    I hear you. Like you, i look healthy, and, apart from the chronic conditions, i am in pretty decent shape. So nobody gets it.

    Dearest Ladies: I am so sorry you don’t have more support and encouragement in your lives. However, as an old lady, I know many people don’t really understand other peoples’ situations in life. . . . I have poured myself 200% in my family forming my children. I looked very carefully for a strong Christian man to be my husband. My husband decided about five years into our marriage not to follow Jesus and later fell prey to the classic “mid-life” crisis which really pierced our whole family for about five years. One of my sons does not go to church now. I have turned myself inside out for my family’s spiritual good. But other families who have not had these struggles are always pointed out as “great families”. That can be isolating, too.

    As a result, I have met Jesus more deeply in these situations. There are still hard days, but I wish to encourage you dear sisters, that most people are struggling.

    I am going to devote this week to prayer for both of you wonderful women to receive encouragement and support in areas where you least expect it! God bless you.

  56. @ XianJaneway:
    This sounds so familiar. One of our daughters was reading on a college level before the age of six. On the autism spectrum. Other stuff that I won’t say here to protect her privacy, but challenging for all of us. Incredibly creative, beautiful spirit, fierce fighter for the underdog on the good days.

  57. Muff Potter wrote:

    Beth wrote:
    Just trying to see where I might fall in the current nomenclature! Looks like I’m a “gone”.
    I think too that there will always be those who defy any type of easy categorization. Can I label myself then as a rogue anomaly? I say that because I’m all over the place with regard to beliefs and non-beliefs about the Christian religion.

    I highly approve of self-labeling! It complicates the research, but so be it.

  58. Beth wrote:

    @ brad/futuristguy:
    Thanks. I know it’s all informal, but would it be reasonable to say then, that generally “gones” used to Christian but are no longer believers, “dones” are no longer affiliated with formally organized church, but still are generally Christian, while “nones” never were believers? (Applying this to Christianity for simplicity’s sake.)
    Just trying to see where I might fall in the current nomenclature! Looks like I’m a “gone”.

    In my case, maybe a going-going-gone? The jury’s still out. At present, I’m a would-be “done” who goes to church for the sake of a couple of family members, but feels disconnected for all that.

  59. Nancy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Which is formally phrased “Engage And DESTROY”.

    Is that a quote from something? I never heard that but it seems like that might be part of the idea.

    I think it’s a phrase in Military-speak.

    I do know in Military-speak “Am Engaging (the Enemy)” means you’ve started shooting.

  60. @ Gus:

    This is a good one to hash out over on the free thread. You’ll get different answers from us Amis. Some are staunch libertarians, some are Reaganesque republicans, and some like ole’ Muff are dyed-in-the-wool-FDR-style-socialists. And I dare say we even have a few Thatcherites in the eclectic mix that is TWW.

  61. I am a first time poster here; although I’ve been reading here and posting at SGM Survivors for several years. My family and I left the SGM mothership in 2011. Since then I have been fighting the thought of being “done”.

    I’m certainly not the youngest of posters. I have volunteered/served in churches in one capacity or another since I was in children’s choir beginning at age four. I had never thought of being in church without serving. For most of my years, volunteering was simply a way to express thanks to God for how He had blessed me. Then, for reasons only identified as stupidity, I lead my family to CLC. There volunteering/serving became a very different animal. I was serving because I was expected to serve and to gain favor of the leaders. I compromised a commitment to serve because I loved God for serving for recognition by man. By the time we left my soul was simply drained.

    Like many others we looked for a new church home. After finding a church we believed was good for our family, I had hoped that joy would return. Yes, I am still a believer. Yes, I still am committed to worshipping the Savior. But I have a very difficult time trusting leadership in churches. The church we eventually found seemed fine at first. However, it is growing and growing fast. It seems that every few months, they add another person to the staff. All of the church programs for kids through adults have “culturally relevant” names instead of calling a potato a potato. You know, names like “engaged”, “sould”, or “untrenched”. People who come to church for months haven’t a clue what these “culturally relevant” programs are because the titles are so ridiculous. Then, as others have posted, are the many songs with “whoa” repeated over and over and over.

    As for the positives, I am thankful for a church that truly cares about missions. Our church not only funds numerous missionaries in the poorest countries of the world, but sends supplies and folks to help whenever possible. Families have independently made decisions to travel and serve for extended periods. I’m quite happy that there is an outward focus. However, there is still way too much inward focus for me. Youth activities are expensive and scheduled at exclusive locations. Women’s groups meet for luncheons that only the wealthiest members can afford. The men are strongly encouraged to attend an annual retreat which is also pricy.

    God paid for our salvation with his son’s life. I don’t have issue with making sacrifices so that the poor are fed, widows and orphans are cared for, or that the Gospel be lived and loved to those living in the poorest communities around the world. I do have issues with building gymnasiums when recreation centers are close by. I do have issues with not being able to worship if the power is out, or the sound system is down, or if fog machine is malfunctioning. I do have issues tithing to the local church when they are hiring for an assistant to the assistant director of church events and “culturally relevant” evangelism.

    So, for the most part, I’m still cooking. My internal temperature has not yet reached 160°. I’m not quite “done”, but if not removed from the “culturally relevant” church oven soon, I will be.

  62. refugee wrote:

    In my case, maybe a going-going-gone? The jury’s still out. At present, I’m a would-be “done” who goes to church for the sake of a couple of family members, but feels disconnected for all that.

    I understand. I was “going” for years before I was finally “gone”. It’s tough. I was never a “done” because I kept attending church long after my faith was gone – kind of the opposite of “done”! Yes, disconnected is a good word for how I felt though.

  63. Lydia wrote:

    @ Gus:
    Those taxes are a lot like how the mega churches operate and I am hoping to convince some of the tithers of it. The taxes go to things such as paying huge admin salaries while laying off poorly paid teachers. What an adjunct makes is a crime compared to management salaries at a college. It is same all over government….big salaries for administrators while those doing the work make so little as to be embarrassing. Some are even on forms of welfare to make it.
    Then those high salaried administrators retire at 55 and are paid upwards to 80% of their high salary in pension with full health benefits for the rest of their lives. The poor schmucks out there have to invest in 401K’s that are shakey and they don’t get the guaranteed pensions of the state and federal workers.
    Government “servants”? I think not. It is the place to be for security. And it is hard to get fired unless one of the worker bees. It is all backwards.

    It Texas it is not only administrators, it is football coaches…..you should see what schools pay their head football coach….can’t hire a chemistry teacher or an algebra teacher, but we can get us a new coach….

  64. refugee wrote:

    In my case, maybe a going-going-gone? The jury’s still out. At present, I’m a would-be “done” who goes to church for the sake of a couple of family members, but feels disconnected for all that.

    I resemble that remark. : )

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I think it’s a phrase in Military-speak.
    I do know in Military-speak “Am Engaging (the Enemy)” means you’ve started shooting.

    I think you “engage the target” and if you’re “successful” you “eliminate the threat.” Or something like that… I have enough friends who were in the military that I should know this stuff better than I do. 😮

  65. @ XianJaneway:

    Hey!! When are we going to chill? 😛 I was all stoked the day we were going to have dinner and you said that you had to sign documents for your new mortgage. 😛

  66. Beth wrote:

    I highly approve of self-labeling! It complicates the research, but so be it.

    I hold to the tenets of the Lutheran version of The Apostle’s Creed.
    For me it also allows a wide latitude of conscience and freedom of thought.
    So much so that some of my beliefs are considered heresy by others in the faith.

  67. Daisy wrote:

    You sound like a Nouthetic counselor to me. I’ve read some of their pages online and a book by one.
    They are also very opposed to the notion of felt needs, and they shame or scold people who admit to having needs, and for wanting to get them met at church (or anywhere).

    I’m not going to allow myself to be a doormat who is exploited, and made to feel guilty for having problems and wanting a hand-up myself once in awhile.

    I have no idea what a Nouthetic counselor is. And if you actually read my reply you’ll see that I insist on love in a church if I am to have a part in that fellowship. And true love meets needs.

    If you are at a church that is exploiting you, then leave. Find one that won’t. Find one that loves. There are a lot of those out there.

  68. refugee wrote:

    Gus wrote:

    refugee wrote:

    We could have put a kid through Harvard with all the money we tithed over the years.

    And don’t get me started on all the con artists who live a life of luxury financed by good but maybe gullible people, bullied into “ponying up” what they can ill afford.

    All I can say is, we got sold a “biblical” bill of goods.

    When I used the word “gullible” in my test, I didn’t use that to belittle you. If it ca,e over like that I apologise. What I meant is that when people first start going to a church, they often think “these are finally my people, this is the place where I can trust, this is where they will always have my best interest in mind”. So we let our guard down.

    And I understand that. If all Christians acted like Jesus said they should, this would be true, even if people still would make mistakes, even if they would still sometimes misunderstand each other, etc.

    What most do not expect is that there are some seriously dangerous people in churches, including (and in some cases, especially) church leadership.

    PS: Hope I got the nested quoting right.

  69. K.D. wrote:

    It Texas it is not only administrators, it is football coaches…

    That’s another one I don’t get about the US – the money schools and universities invest in sports teams, facilities, and coaches instead of their future alumni’s education, or in lowering tuition cost.

  70. Faith wrote:

    Daisy this to you- I love your comments! I see that you are hurting and I hurt with you. I am married with kids, but I acknowledge your pain and desire to be just accepted for who you are and where you are. God never stated that one had to be married to be used and loved by Him- what I cannot understand is that those in the IC cannot get it in there thick heads that Paul even commended those who were single! Anyway, I stick up for you here!

    Thank you Fith, that means a lot and is very sweet of you. Thank you for the support. 🙂

    I am glad that your life has improved since you left church.

  71. In general, this whole notion of “Dones” is understandable on one hand. I, too, am “done” with facade churches that cater to base whims in order to prop up a celebrity (or, more likely B-list or C-list celebrity) pastor.

    I’m “done” with churches that foster phony community but that are so large as to miss the incarnational aspect of true community where individuals are able to look out for the spiritual and physical well-being of other individuals.

    That’s why I’ve never attended a church like that and why I never will.

    On the other hand, I don’t get the “done” phenomenon either, because the vast majority of small to middling churches out there are not unloving, uncaring, uncommunitarian places. I attend a smallish church that generally works hard to exemplify love. If this church went south for some reason, there are at least two or three more in this town (and I live in a small town) that would also be fine. I’m not stuck on the church or the denomination. I’m stuck on love lived out in fellowship.

    I don’t now if it is simply a coincidence, but the “nones” are mainly so-called “Millennials”, while the “Dones” seem to be mainly their Boomer parents.

    Something that is not a coincidence, though, is that the end result of both lines of thinking is an abandoning of responsibility to the local church and the larger Church.

    And, again, as is the usual case that I’ve seen on so many other issues, my little and pragmatic GenX cohort watches as the Millennials and the boomers on either side of us demographically saunter away from responsibility, hands in pockets, using some philosophical rationale as cover (getting all the press in the meantime due to the size of their respective demographics).

    Leave a church that doesn’t show love. Find one – in whatever form you choose – that does. If you can’t find one, form one. Fellowship with those people. Show love yourself; be a part of the love in the fellowship. Watch that combined love flow through and from that fellowship to others.

    Remember that in eternity you will be eternally fellowshipping with every person who has ever known Christ. If you can’t find a way to approximate that loving fellowship with a few of His followers here on earth, then you have to ask yourself why you’d want to be doing the same in eternity.

  72. Gus wrote:

    That’s another one I don’t get about the US – the money schools and universities invest in sports teams, facilities, and coaches instead of their future alumni’s education, or in lowering tuition cost.

    Schools make money from sports including high schools as well as higher education institutions. Sports represent a significant financial net gain for schools.

  73. Daisy wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    How can you practice “lifestyle evangelism” if you don’t look perfect, happy, and contented, at least on the outside?
    I used to watch TV preacher John Hagee quite a bit. One of the things he did over a period of years was to scold Christians who constantly had what he called a sour puss or pit bull dog sad face, or whatever folksy term he used. That always bothered me, because some people have clinical depression or are undergoing a personal tragedy in their life, so of course they’re not going to be smiley all the time.
    They should not have to put on a fake smile so as to not inconvenience a preacher, or make church people feel uncomfortable with their sadness.
    And where does the Bible teach that converts will be won by seeing how fake-happy Christians appear to come across to the outside world?

    John Hagee, as a pastor, decided to leave his wife and children for a hot little Latina (his words). He now makes millions writing fiction and passing it off as biblical, historical and scientific fact (The Four Blood Moons). He preys on people’s fears in order to store up massive estates for himself and his new improved family. He is not a godly man. He is a typical Pentecostal charlatan. A wolf living in a fleece lined palace. So yes, he has a lot to smile about. His scoldings ensure anyone with concerns or questions, however reasonable, will be constructively terminated by the congregation. With no substance all Hagee has is his group think cheer leading. “So look up, pack up, pray up – we’re going to the Promised Land! Glory Hallelujah to the Lamb of God! But you need to give me all your money first.” All his earthly needs are more than met financially, egotistically and sensually. So “Smiles everyone! Welcome to Fantasy Island!”

  74. Gus wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    It Texas it is not only administrators, it is football coaches…
    That’s another one I don’t get about the US – the money schools and universities invest in sports teams, facilities, and coaches instead of their future alumni’s education, or in lowering tuition cost.

    For the same reason that churches are becoming places of celebrity worship and entertainment.

    For the same reason that churches hire youngsters under 40 who frequently refer to “my calling” to lead them and stop listening to the old-timers who can actually speak with wisdom.

    We want flash over substance. It’s why the dones are growing.

  75. E.G. wrote:

    When you can tell me how fog machines meet needs, I’ll be all ears.

    I am still trying to figure out what goes with incense, or candles for that matter, but my church utilizes both. Some folks at my church go to the mass where they use incense, but most of us choose not to.

  76. E.G. wrote:

    Remember that in eternity you will be eternally fellowshipping with every person who has ever known Christ. If you can’t find a way to approximate that loving fellowship with a few of His followers here on earth, then you have to ask yourself why you’d want to be doing the same in eternity.

    Not exactly the same, unless you think that we carry all our old sinful habits and personality glitches and general cussedness into heaven with us.

  77. E.G. wrote:

    Remember that in eternity you will be eternally fellowshipping with every person who has ever known Christ. If you can’t find a way to approximate that loving fellowship with a few of His followers here on earth, then you have to ask yourself why you’d want to be doing the same in eternity.

    While that is true…there will be no opportunity for “spiritual authorities” and celebrity preachers to carve out their little doctrinal niches and preach their false interpretations as gospel truth. Not with the risen Christ among us.

  78. E.G. wrote:

    I don’t now if it is simply a coincidence, but the “nones” are mainly so-called “Millennials”, while the “Dones” seem to be mainly their Boomer parents.
    Something that is not a coincidence, though, is that the end result of both lines of thinking is an abandoning of responsibility to the local church and the larger Church.

    No. Just no. I didn’t abandon responsibility to anything. I was one of the most responsible. I am abandoning the system that orthodoxy has set up as the way fellowship, prayer, worship must be done (or you’re not a Christian). I’m abandoning money absorbing, pastor centric, authoritatian church culture that is the opposite of what Christ called us to.

  79. @ Nancy:

    So, driving that to its logical endpoint, we’re better off not fellowshipping with anyone until eternity as all fellowship before eternity will be flawed? I can’t imagine that would be the case. If it is, our faith is singularly individualistic.

    “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

    I choose to fellowship as a flawed image of God with other flawed images because Christ’s love works among us and beyond us to rectify those flaws.

    And the Church then becomes Christ’s embassy on earth

    It’s not always easy to live this way. I admittedly get very fed up at times. Often, in fact. But it’s still my calling and, I believe, our calling.

  80. @ Gus:
    Thanks. Appreciate the clarification.

    Like I told one of the teens today, these days I am constantly questioning my judgement (or maybe I mean discernment?).

  81. E.G. wrote:

    On the other hand, I don’t get the “done” phenomenon either, because the vast majority of small to middling churches out there are not unloving, uncaring, uncommunitarian places. I attend a smallish church that generally works hard to exemplify love.

    [I’m willing to bet] …unless you’re gay. Or, depending on the church, divorced, though that’s less of a problem these days, from what I’ve been told. There is one – or maybe two – churches in my town that I could attend without feeling unwelcome for that reason … and they’re the mainlines (UCC and ELCA) that many conservatives look down upon. On the other hand, because I haven’t yet visited either of them, I can’t say if they’re healthy in other regards. A church could be not-anti-gay and still unhealthy, you know…

  82. E.G. wrote:

    If you can’t find a way to approximate that loving fellowship with a few of His followers here on earth, then you have to ask yourself why you’d want to be doing the same in eternity.

    E.G. wrote:

    So, driving that to its logical endpoint, we’re better off not fellowshipping with anyone until eternity as all fellowship before eternity will be flawed?

    That is not the ‘logical endpoint.’ You said in your first comment ‘doing the same in eternity’ and I pointed out that we would not be ‘doing the same’ in eternity. And no, I do not think that doing activity A (coping with humanity in its current state) is ‘the same’ as doing activity B (coping with humanity in its ultimately utterly redeemed state.) I think that there is no analogy between what we are now and what we will be. I am questioning your apparent theology on this matter. As in “when we see Him we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is” and that is a whole different issue.

  83. Adam Borsay wrote:

    My general pushback in this thread has been from my personal experience of the vast majority of the “dones” I interact with aren’t just “done” with the institutional church, but are done with pursuing Christ communally.

    Adam, I am glad and encouraged that as a pastor you believe it is worth the effort to pursue every sheep. That is truly noble and good and you should be commended. I am certain that the only thing my last church misses is the weekly tithe, extravagant offerings and free labor. They have no concern for those leaving other than the financial impact.

    When you meet a Done in the future I think it might be helpful for you to consider just how much abuse a life long dedicated church goer must endure in order to cut off completely from the church/cult life. It’s probably a lot more than you are imagining in order to abandon a practice they’ve had for decades – many from birth like me. That’s a nearly 40 year habit I am breaking. The pain of the status quo has to be enormous to bring about that kind of change.

    It might help to think of them as shell shocked veterans having returned from Fallujah who have left the army. They still love their country but they no longer consider themselves an active duty troop. Most are in a state of shock or in recovery. They cannot fathom picking up their M4 and kicking another door down. They just can’t. It’s not a reasonable request at this juncture. Maybe someday it could be. But not today. Maybe someone else has a better analogy but I personally feel PTSD and combat fatigue are very real amongst the Dones.

    The other factor that at least I face is the concern that if I or one of my immediate family members got tangled up with one more evil church I/they may end up leaving the faith altogether which I could not bear. I’d like to say that’s not possible. But I didn’t think I’d get involved with a cult either. Being a Done eliminates that risk. I’m sure you have some great rebuttals for that. I’m just trying to help explain to you why Dones are done, not argue that it is doctrinally right or sound.

    Maybe some day you’ll plant a Dones church. You may need to let more time pass for the Dones to convalesce first. Then you’d have to ensure a safe environment. I’m not sure that even with the best of intentions you could. With millions of Dones leaving every year you could unintentionally end up pastoring the largest church in America. Then the fog machines, hair spray and jumbotrons to magnify the jumbotron sized egos would ensue along with covenant agreements to limit liability, royalties from books and movies plus presidential candidates begging you for your endorsement. That kind of power universally corrupts. That’s the concern with pursuing Christ communally. Does any of this make sense or resonate with you?

  84. XianJaneway wrote:

    Twice-exceptional. It’s a shorthand for saying, “I’ve got an incredibly gifted child who also has a significant disability.” In our case, my daughter is 9, reads on a 12th grade level, tests in the top 1% at every subject, but has Sensory Processing Disorder, Anorexia, ADHD, and possibly Asperger’s syndrome. 2e is a dizzying whirlwind of needs that constantly keeps me on my toes and means she doesn’t fit in to almost *any* pre-defined ministry categories. She has the intellect of a high schooler and the emotional stability (and size!) of a 6 year old.

    elizabeth ann seton wrote:

    I am going to devote this week to prayer for both of you wonderful women to receive encouragement and support in areas where you least expect it! God bless you.

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate your prayers because I do believe in the power of prayer. Thank you!

  85. E.G. wrote:

    On the other hand, I don’t get the “done” phenomenon either, because the vast majority of small to middling churches out there are not unloving, uncaring, uncommunitarian places. I attend a smallish church that generally works hard to exemplify love. If this church went south for some reason, there are at least two or three more in this town (and I live in a small town) that would also be fine. I’m not stuck on the church or the denomination. I’m stuck on love lived out in fellowship.

    You have to understand, more than one reason can be in play:

    – a “done” has been so hurt, as not to want to risk any further hurt

    – a “done” who is an otherwise competent, intelligent person, cannot believe that s/he went along with it as long as s/he did (or even got drawn in, in the first place, though that might be explainable. Why, oh why, did it take so long to recognize the falsehood, and then having recognized it, why did this supposedly intelligent person question *self* rather than the perpetrators and others who’d had the wool pulled over their eyes? Surprisingly apt expression, in this case.) In any event, this particular kind of “done” doesn’t trust his/her judgement to choose a healthy church.

    – a “done” keeps hearing about abuse in other churches, or when going on word-of-mouth from seemingly contented christians, looks at their friends’ churches and finds ties to A29 and 9Marks, for example.

    – a “done” might have attended a mainline church in the past, and found it “dead”. Oh, it might be a social club, a place to go on Sundays, even a place with people who do some good (fundraisers, for example, to benefit the poor, or a weekly dinner for the homeless), but the worship is all form (“smells and bells” I’ve heard it called) and you hear people in charge talking about things like not believing in the virgin birth.

    – a “done” might have been accused of “church shopping” or “church hopping” in the past. Or worse. Won’t go into detail, but the accusations that happened in our final interview at the church we left last year were vile and disheartening and manipulative — I suppose they expected us to stay in that church to prove that we weren’t the type of people they were insinuating.

    – in our case, we came out of a liberal church where grace abounded, but the sermons talked about such things as “the myth of Adam and Eve”. That was off-putting for me, anyhow. If we start throwing out parts of the Bible, then who decides what parts are worth keeping? As a matter of fact, if only parts are worth keeping, then what’s the use of *any* of it? There’s a lot of wisdom literature out there. I was blessed, in college, before I got “saved”, by the writings of Kahlil Gibran, for example. And that poster with the “Desiderata” on it — I knew people who set their moral compass by that piece of writing.

    I could go on, but any or all of the above might apply. Depends on who you talk to.

  86. XianJaneway wrote:

    Twice-exceptional. It’s a shorthand for saying, “I’ve got an incredibly gifted child who also has a significant disability.” In our case, my daughter is 9, reads on a 12th grade level, tests in the top 1% at every subject, but has Sensory Processing Disorder, Anorexia, ADHD, and possibly Asperger’s syndrome. 2e is a dizzying whirlwind of needs that constantly keeps me on my toes and means she doesn’t fit in to almost *any* pre-defined ministry categories. She has the intellect of a high schooler and the emotional stability (and size!) of a 6 year old.

    Wow. You do have a handful. Much more than I do. Hang in there!

  87. @ refugee:
    p.s. to clarify, we came out of that liberal church I mentioned above (the frying pan, so to speak) and into a patriarchal, reformed church that gradually became hyper-patriarchal and hyper-calvinist (the fire). The hyper-patriarchal church is the one we left last year.

  88. E.G. wrote:

    Remember that in eternity you will be eternally fellowshipping with every person who has ever known Christ. If you can’t find a way to approximate that loving fellowship with a few of His followers here on earth, then you have to ask yourself why you’d want to be doing the same in eternity.

    Yes. That’s why one of our teens is now agnostic, and the other professes atheism.

    Breaks my heart.

  89. E.G. wrote:

    @ Nancy:
    So, driving that to its logical endpoint, we’re better off not fellowshipping with anyone until eternity as all fellowship before eternity will be flawed? I can’t imagine that would be the case. If it is, our faith is singularly individualistic.
    “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
    I choose to fellowship as a flawed image of God with other flawed images because Christ’s love works among us and beyond us to rectify those flaws.
    And the Church then becomes Christ’s embassy on earth
    It’s not always easy to live this way. I admittedly get very fed up at times. Often, in fact. But it’s still my calling and, I believe, our calling.

    Who said we’re not fellowshiping with anyone? You said that, we didn’t. Please, we’ll be glad to debate you when you can gather yourself together sufficiently to actually debate us rather than the straw man you seem intent on devising so that you can easily slay him. I don’t recall anyone saying they were done with all Christian fellowship, just done or permanently done with the institutional church.

  90. LT wrote:

    I personally feel PTSD and combat fatigue are very real amongst the Dones.

    Too true. I never realized PTSD could apply to (former) churchgoers until I started tripping over triggers myself. And watched the agony of one of our teens, who desperately wanted to go to church, but couldn’t get past the panic attacks triggered by the thought of church, or the sight of a church building, or the spoken words “church” or “worship” or “bible”.

  91. LT wrote:

    Maybe someone else has a better analogy but I personally feel PTSD and combat fatigue are very real amongst the Dones.

    I completely agree with this statement. Unless someone has experienced spiritual abuse, they have no idea how it impacts you. None. You can take classes and read books about it, but it is not the same as living it.

    When I said earlier that my husband and I do not have the energy to try one. more. time. that is exactly what I’m talking about. It if fatigue that is so deep and I’m not talking physical. I’m talking about emotional, soul-deep fatigue.

    When you go to bed every Saturday night dreading getting up in the morning and having to make the decision if you are going to try to force yourself to go to church because you know it is the “right” thing to do even though it drains you in every way, there is something very wrong.

  92. @ Law Prof:

    I think it was a half-baked attempt to diss and guilt some people here who have distanced themselves from church after bad situations with other folks at church. I call foul on that if that is what he was trying to do.

  93. @ Gus:
    Although one rationale is that alumni give much more money if a sports program is successful. Still trying to figure that one out (and i live close to a *huge* football scholl – still makes no sense to me!)

  94. Nancy wrote:

    I am questioning your apparent theology on this matter. As in “when we see Him we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is” and that is a whole different issue.

    So until then there is no way for us individually or as a community to reflect Him, even if the reflection is flawed? We aren’t supposed to let Him work in us individually and corporately to perfect us?

    Yes, it is “not yet”. But it is also “already”.

    Already, but not yet.

    I.e., the Kingdom has a present aspect and a future aspect as well. It is a continuation from now toward a deeper and more perfect now.

    It’s called “inaugurated eschatology” and it has been a (or “the”?) traditional stance of the church since Paul. See the context of Col. 3:1 and Rom. 8:1 for the “now” part.

  95. @ numo:

    Maybe not restricted, but in my observation predominant. I’d love to see some demographic stats/studies on that, though.

  96. Law Prof wrote:

    just done or permanently done with the institutional church.

    What, precisely, is the “institutional church”?

    A local church in a denomination?

    A home church?

    An independent church?

    The universal Church?

    That term is pretty wide open to interpretation.

    How does one spend regular time with a group of people without the group being, or becoming, an “institution” of some sort?

    Ditto with “organized”.

  97. E.G. wrote:

    And if you actually read my reply you’ll see that I insist on love in a church if I am to have a part in that fellowship. And true love meets needs.

    I didn’t find your posts clear. You appeared to flip flop around, either with me or towards others, on this subject.

  98. E.G. wrote:

    Leave a church that doesn’t show love.

    (1)Find one – in whatever form you choose – that does.

    (2) If you can’t find one, form one.

    As to point 1, If it was the easy, there wouldn’t be a problem.

    Point 2. I don’t have a desire to form a church.

  99. E.G. wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    just done or permanently done with the institutional church.
    What, precisely, is the “institutional church”?
    A local church in a denomination?
    A home church?
    An independent church?
    The universal Church?
    That term is pretty wide open to interpretation.
    How does one spend regular time with a group of people without the group being, or becoming, an “institution” of some sort?
    Ditto with “organized”.

    I really get the impression you know exactly what I mean by IC and you’re playing games with me, being coy and disingenuous. As an attorney of 21 years who has heard quite a bit of word-parsing and gamesmanship, I have some experience with the phenomenon.

    It means for me what it generally means for most, one or more of the following: large denominations, 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, places of regular meeting, typically with buildings and paid staff and a single pastor at the helm surrounded by pastors of lower rank and/or elders, typically plans for growth and a general outlook that has more in common with Wall Street than Jesus. I have found that such institutions often draw a perfect storm combination of sociopaths and NPDs into leadership and credulous people easily given to group think in the pulpits.

  100. E.G. wrote:

    We aren’t supposed to let Him work in us individually and corporately to perfect us?

    Where, when, and how often do you believe this corporate gathering in the here and now is supposed to take place?

    And could you maybe provide a few Bible verses to back up whatever your responses are to that?

  101. E.G. wrote:

    What, precisely, is the “institutional church”?

    Don’t know how others here would define it, but I first and foremost would consider an IC to be a brick building where Christians meet at least once (or more per week), especially for services where a preacher stands at the front and sermonizes.

  102. Daisy wrote:

    E.G. wrote:
    Leave a church that doesn’t show love.
    (1)Find one – in whatever form you choose – that does.
    (2) If you can’t find one, form one.
    As to point 1, If it was the easy, there wouldn’t be a problem.
    Point 2. I don’t have a desire to form a church.

    Yes, Daisy, if one knows the Lord they are the Church, they cannot help being that. People in that situation are called only to not stop meeting with one another. The form that that should take is never laid out precisely in a prescriptive manner in the New Testament. I think a number of people have made the concept of “local church” as a place of organization and official status a member of their Trinity.

  103. @ Daisy:
    My only quibble with your answer is the word “brick”. I have seen ICs that meet in public schools (rent the gymnasium), in grange halls, in converted movie theaters, on the beach at Waikiki, and other such places.

  104. @ Law Prof:
    Excellent. Well worded.

    Isn’t there something in the bible to the effect that “wherever two or more are gathered in My name…”? Couldn’t that be a picture of the gathering that believers are not supposed to forsake?

  105. refugee wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    I get the same impression, actually. And I’m not even a lawyer!
    Good explanation, by the way.

    Thanks!

  106. Just a random thought along the lines of the recent discussion here: my former SBC pastor, of his own initiative because he loved to study and share the word with people, started a completely impromptu midweek get-together at Starbucks where we sat around with coffee and read through a passage slowly, and we shared our thoughts and a few prayer requests. This had nothing to do with the institutional church he pastored. He just wanted to do it.

    It was life blood to me when I was still attending the local brick and mortar IFB church. It was excellent. Informal. Relaxed. Edifying. Dare I say fun? It was a few college students and a couple older folks normally.

    Sadly the pastor has retired for health, plus it was over an hour away from me. But while it was going, I don’t remember missing a single meeting.

    I’m a specialized service technician in the real world. No seminary training, no “church skills”. Just a layman. I can’t start something like that, but I’d love to attend something like that again. Will the real pastors please stand up?

  107. refugee wrote:

    I never realized PTSD could apply to (former) churchgoers until I started tripping over triggers myself…. or the spoken words “church” or “worship” or “bible”.

    Oh gosh. I’m not officially a “done” because it’s more difficult to leave a church when the pastor and staff are not abusive or manipulative but are genuinely well-intentioned. And there IS real care going on within the body. Yet there are constant “triggering” clues being dropped over that last year or so that make me sit every Sunday twitching. The deacons given 9 Marks of a Healthy Church to read. Bulletin advertising of TGC coalition conferences. Dever and Piper quotes showing up in sermons. Grudem quoted in Sunday School handouts. “Gospel-centered”. A whole sermon series on worship. And, almost a last straw, a Piper video series for the youth group.

  108. GovPappy wrote:

    Just a random thought along the lines of the recent discussion here: my former SBC pastor, of his own initiative because he loved to study and share the word with people, started a completely impromptu midweek get-together at Starbucks where we sat around with coffee and read through a passage slowly, and we shared our thoughts and a few prayer requests. This had nothing to do with the institutional church he pastored. He just wanted to do it.
    It was life blood to me when I was still attending the local brick and mortar IFB church. It was excellent. Informal. Relaxed. Edifying. Dare I say fun? It was a few college students and a couple older folks normally.
    Sadly the pastor has retired for health, plus it was over an hour away from me. But while it was going, I don’t remember missing a single meeting.
    I’m a specialized service technician in the real world. No seminary training, no “church skills”. Just a layman. I can’t start something like that, but I’d love to attend something like that again. Will the real pastors please stand up?

    Poop on the “skills”, it seems that a good number of seminaries today untrain people for true ministry. You have the Holy Spirit. You can start it. Nobody says you have to carry the water forever, there will be others to come alongside and help teach it. In my opinion, the best studies aren’t really led by anyone anyway, they’re facilitated.

  109. E.G. wrote:

    I don’t now if it is simply a coincidence, but the “nones” are mainly so-called “Millennials”, while the “Dones” seem to be mainly their Boomer parents.

    Something that is not a coincidence, though, is that the end result of both lines of thinking is an abandoning of responsibility to the local church and the larger Church.

    And, again, as is the usual case that I’ve seen on so many other issues, my little and pragmatic GenX cohort watches as the Millennials and the boomers on either side of us demographically saunter away from responsibility, hands in pockets, using some philosophical rationale as cover (getting all the press in the meantime due to the size of their respective demographics).

    Don’t know where to start with this. It may be that you will not understand the “Dones” or any particular variety of “Done” unless and until you become one yourself.

    When it comes to generalizations about generations, I think you need to sharpen your pencil. Because what you wrote is insulting to the Boomers who were not stoned at Woodstock and who put themselves through college and built businesses and employed people and others who learned a respectable trade and worked with diligence. Likewise there are Millennials who are trying to make a career work when the economic environment in almost every way is hardly healthy, much less favorable. They are working very hard just to get started on a career path. There are also some GenXers who are slackers, and there are some who are industrious and responsible.

    Personally, I do not appreciate your assertion that “Dones” are irresponsible and are abandoning their responsibility to the church by leaving institutional churches. I have not left the Church. I cannot leave the Church, for the Holy Spirit has baptized me into one Body. There is nothing in the Bible that says I have any responsibility to any local organization. I have responsibilities to my family, my fellow believers, and to my neighbors. Just FWIW, Gramp3 and I have served longer in churches than you have been alive, if you are an GenXer. Including very small churches and mega-churches whose names you might well recognize.

    I apologize if this comment is too harsh, but what you said has nothing to do with me or Gramp3 or the other “Dones” or nearly “Dones” that we know. I am thankful that you have options in your small town, but please consider that may not be the case everywhere, even in large cities.

  110. E.G. wrote:

    I.e., the Kingdom has a present aspect and a future aspect as well. It is a continuation from now toward a deeper and more perfect now.

    It indeed does. But you said ‘the same’ to begin with and now you are saying ‘an aspect’, again two different statements. Let us stick to what you said.

    Here is what you did. You pulled that old thing fundys do with a variant of ‘if you don’t xyz then you might not even be saved’ except your variant, which btw surely we have all heard ad nauseum goes ‘if you don’t like xyz (or believe xyz doctrine or enjoy praise songs or tithe or whatever) then you won’t like heaven.’ The problem with how you did that is this: we have heard on this long list of comments from person after person telling stories of how somebody including sometimes a religious professional treated them like dirt and how they are avoiding church and not letting that happen to them again if possible. Now here you come along and say to this person who has been treated badly, well if you can’t fellowship with (these persons who did this to you) then you are not going to like heaven. This assumes that all the church people including the creepo who mistreated the person are bound for heaven, never mind that Jesus specifically said the ‘not everybody who says to me Lord, Lord..” comment, and it assumes that the problem between the persons in the first place is attributable to the person who got wronged in the first place. Blame the victim for not fellowshipping. It also assumes that creepo is amenable to ‘fellowship’ and, as I originally noted it assumes that these two people will be, in eternity, like they are now so the victim might as well get used to abuse from creepo because that is to be expected for eternity, apparently, if sameness in fact means sameness.

    I sincerely hope that I have misread your intent, but since this approach is used so much I doubt that I have misunderstood you.

  111. LT wrote:

    Maybe some day you’ll plant a Dones church.

    I think that this is a real need which young pastors should consider. But they will have to abandon the flawed assumptions upon which the present rickety structures are built. These young pastors are going to have to excavate through a lot of sand and get down to bedrock.

  112. Gram3 wrote:

    LT wrote:
    Maybe some day you’ll plant a Dones church.
    I think that this is a real need which young pastors should consider. But they will have to abandon the flawed assumptions upon which the present rickety structures are built. These young pastors are going to have to excavate through a lot of sand and get down to bedrock.

    First thing the young pastors are probably going to have to do is abandon their made-up, self-serving, supported-by-thin-air definition of “pastor”.

    Second thing they’re going to have to do is sit down and shut up and let people who’ve been around a while and proven themselves teach.

    Third thing they’re going to have to do is just serve and submit to their elders (as in older people), like the Bible says.

  113. @ E.G.:
    Another thing to consider is that many of the “Dones” are middle-aged or older people who worked to build churches and institutions which have subsequently been taken over by GenXer fanboys of the Gospel Glitterati and the Gospel Glitterati themselves. We had perfectly functional and loving churches taken out from under our noses because some of us deigned to disagree with the overly-precise and extra-biblical decrees of the younger folks. So, it is entirely unfair to fault us for leaving or for speaking up and being tossed aside or out entirely.

    There are also many Boomers and Builders who have wrecked churches and built empires. It is not a generational thing. It is a people thing.

  114. @ Daisy:

    Who cares where it happens, or the precise details? Whatever floats your boat.

    But it should be regular enough to build relationship with others. Otherwise how can you expect relationship in return?

  115. Gram3 wrote:

    It is not a generational thing. It is a people thing.

    True enough. It still doesn’t excuse withdrawal from fellowship.

  116. @ E.G.:
    You really think that the people here are morons who do not know that? I’m trying to be charitable, but I’m not seeing your reasoning beyond an implicit accusation that we haven’t heard of Already Not Yet and have no idea what we are talking about.

  117. @ GovPappy:
    Clarification – the SBC pastor was not the pastor of the IFB church I was attending.

    Yes, I was cheating on one church with another pastor.

    Sue me.

  118. LT wrote:

    Maybe some day you’ll plant a Dones church.

    Simply a recreation of the recent “emergent” church (started by then-dones like Donald Miller et al.).

    And that, itself, just another incarnation of the same cycle:

    -this church has X problem
    -let’s start a different kind of church that won’t have X problem
    -now that we’ve started this church we need structure and policy
    -oops, now we have Y problem
    -let’s start a different kind of church that won’t have Y problem
    -…

  119. E.G. wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:

    It is not a generational thing. It is a people thing.

    True enough. It still doesn’t excuse withdrawal from fellowship.

    I’m having a problem believing you’ve actually read hardly any of this thread, after that comment.

  120. @ Gram3:

    Hey, when I first brought up the idea of already/not yet (not in those words) I was accused of “questionable theology”. Am I not supposed to respond to that?

  121. E.G. wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    It is not a generational thing. It is a people thing.
    True enough. It still doesn’t excuse withdrawal from fellowship.

    I don’t need either a permission slip or an excuse note from you. Look at your comments and you will see an example of the attitudes that drive people away.

  122. E.G. wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    Hey, when I first brought up the idea of already/not yet (not in those words) I was accused of “questionable theology”. Am I not supposed to respond to that?

    Which comment was that? Sorry, but I’ve been in and out today in more ways than one. History did not begin with George Ladd. Who was a mess in his own right. Nor with N.T. Wright. I have no idea whether he is a mess or not.

  123. OK, apologies for ticking anyone off.

    Perhaps I’m so “done” that I’ve moved beyond “done” already.

    To summarize, it is possible to participate in flawed fellowship with other flawed individuals in a local church, whatever the expression or form that takes. have I been hurt doing that? Yes. Will you? Yes.

    Will Christ help you to continue to love through that? Yes.

    And with that I’m “done” with this conversation. Grace and peace.

  124. E.G. wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    Hey, when I first brought up the idea of already/not yet (not in those words) I was accused of “questionable theology”. Am I not supposed to respond to that?

    If you are referring to Nancy’s reply to you, then I think you misunderstood her objection. You really ought to pay attention to what she writes. You could learn a lot about a lot of things.

  125. E.G. wrote:

    OK, apologies for ticking anyone off.

    You ticked people off because you entered a conversation about why people have left the church with your guns loaded with assumptions and accusations. That isn’t a good way to have a conversation.

    Not all of us have left because we have been hurt. Just FYI, that itself is a standard dismissal of people’s concerns. “Oh, you have been so hurt and you must have so much baggage.” The translation of that is “I don’t have to listen to you because you are so over-emotional and wounded that you can’t think straight.”

    That, E.G. is an example of why some people’s trust in some leadership of the institutional church is near zero.

  126. @ E.G.:
    By this reasoning, there’s no hope. Might as well forsake the gathering together, altogether, since there’s no long-range point in it.

    I don’t get what you are trying to say. It sounds like you’re saying people should just lay aside hurt and blindly go forward, indiscriminately join another church merely for the sake of belonging to a local church. Surely you don’t mean that.

    But your apparently well-meaning attempt at encouragement sounds very discouraging to me. Why would I have the slightest interest in associating with people on your terms?

    Sort of beat the rush, or jump to the forgone conclusion, and not even go there.

    I think my inclination would be to stick to the coffee shop or front porch discussion. I’m not too keen on the sort of teachers the seminaries seem to be turning out these days. I have learned a lot more from the likes of Gram3 and Law Prof and Tim and a lot of others here (and other places) than from any of the bright young men I’ve heard.

  127. E.G. wrote:

    Who cares where it happens, or the precise details? Whatever floats your boat.

    How many makes a gathering corporate, in your view?

    You’re chewing me out here for not going to a certain location or for not hanging out with some unverified number of people per X times per week, so I’m just trying to figure out what exactly I must do to meet your approval.

    And where are all the biblical citations for this?

    I am not keen on ‘forming relationships’ with most Christians because, as I said above, the minute you get vulnerable with most of them (and being vulnerable is necessary to have authentic relationships IMO) they then feel entitled to judge and criticize you.

    I’ve been there and done that and don’t care to go through it again.

    But then you have Christians who aren’t interested in being in relationship. I already told you I tried confiding in several Christians (church goers), and they just blew me off, told me to go pray or go work at a soup kitchen because they could not be bothered.

  128. E.G. wrote:

    It still doesn’t excuse withdrawal from fellowship.

    What doesn’t excuse it?

    And by what criteria? Are there any Bible verses that say, “some reasons for church exodus are too stupid and are so not authorized by Jesus Christ.”

  129. Gram3 wrote:

    you will see an example of the attitudes that drive people away.

    I totally Gold Star that. If this blog has a Facebook Like button, I would have hit that Like button on your post for that ten times over. 🙂

  130. Law Prof wrote:

    Second thing they’re going to have to do is sit down and shut up and let people who’ve been around a while and proven themselves teach.

    That’s another thing that makes me “twitch”. The church used to have 3 or 4 adult Sunday School classes led/taught by qualified, mature lay people…and where fellowship and relationship-building happened. One by one, they were assimilated into a single “Adult Education” hour taught by the pastor. Who also teaches a Sunday night doctrine class. And the mid-week small groups established a couple years ago discuss the Sunday sermon.

    I absolve the pastor of wanting to build a “cult of personality”…but inadvertently, it’s what seems to be happening. And I have little doubt the models for the innovations are found in TGC and 9Marks materials.

  131. @ muzjik:
    Same experience in the new church some family members have chosen. The people seem well meaning, but how long can it last if they are being mentored by the likes of Dever and A29?

  132. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I don’t know that “gones” is any kind of official title or has gotten researched, but just from the comments I’ve seen online in the past five years or so, there is a noticeable enough contingent of people who drop out of Christianity completely and now consider themselves agnostic, atheist, skeptic, etc. — something along that line.
    Bloggers and commenters here and there have used “gones” to describe this group, as have some of the members of the group. Some “gones” are antagonistic toward Christ and Christianity, others aren’t, but they don’t identify themselves as being Christian anymore.

    I’m a Gone. I consider myself Outside the Household of Faith. Even if the church fixed its social and political issues, *for me* the core doctrinal issues have become insurmountable. And don’t think I walked away lightly. Every time I think about it, I hurt inside. But I have to be true to myself and I can’t lie and say I believe things about God and Jesus that I simply don’t believe.

  133. JDaisy wrote:

    Faith wrote:

    Daisy this to you- I love your comments! I see that you are hurting and I hurt with you. I am married with kids, but I acknowledge your pain and desire to be just accepted for who you are and where you are. God never stated that one had to be married to be used and loved by Him- what I cannot understand is that those in the IC cannot get it in there thick heads that Paul even commended those who were single! Anyway, I stick up for you here!

    Thank you Fith, that means a lot and is very sweet of you. Thank you for the support.

    I am glad that your life has improved since you left church.

    Thanks Daisy. I think I left church a long time ago in my heart but did not know it. I also think this saved me a ton of heartache because I can only remember it being me and just God. Yeah I tried to fit in; tried to make my family look like the rest of churchgoers but it seem like I and my family were always the misfits.
    We never belonged so in one sense it saved us from getting too involved where the investment would have been high. When we left I started to feel guilty mainly about losing all this time to what?? For them??? For their desire of what they wanted the church to be? I realized how futile it all was.

  134. muzjik wrote:

    I absolve the pastor of wanting to build a “cult of personality”…but inadvertently, it’s what seems to be happening. And I have little doubt the models for the innovations are found in TGC and 9Marks materials.

    That certainly appears to be the case judging solely by my own experiences in two of these churches. There is something deeply wrong when there are a mere handful of people who are contributing to the teaching and edification of the body. The perspective becomes increasingly narrow.

    It may well be that your pastors/elders do not intend to set up a cult of personality. But, in fact, that is exactly what they are doing. Only a trusted few sources and voices are allowed to be heard. The church becomes a distribution point for the “resources” produced by the various Gospel Glitterati enterprises. I am pretty sure if you expressed any concerns whatsoever about the trajectory, they would be waved away with some winsome talking points. And if you press the issues, the tone will definitely change.

    I think it is possible that your pastors have bought into the idea that these Big Men can provide the sure-fire answers and template for a great church and great families and great Christians. But the formulas crowd out the Holy Spirit who brings growth. There is a great blindness to this very simple truth that is all over the New Testament.

  135. muzjik wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    Second thing they’re going to have to do is sit down and shut up and let people who’ve been around a while and proven themselves teach.
    That’s another thing that makes me “twitch”. The church used to have 3 or 4 adult Sunday School classes led/taught by qualified, mature lay people…and where fellowship and relationship-building happened. One by one, they were assimilated into a single “Adult Education” hour taught by the pastor. Who also teaches a Sunday night doctrine class. And the mid-week small groups established a couple years ago discuss the Sunday sermon.
    I absolve the pastor of wanting to build a “cult of personality”…but inadvertently, it’s what seems to be happening. And I have little doubt the models for the innovations are found in TGC and 9Marks materials.

    have watched it happen myself. Pastor systematically excises anything that does not make him the center of attention. And amazingly, the people just mutely acquiesce.

  136. E.G. wrote:

    If you can’t find one, form one. Fellowship with those people. Show love yourself; be a part of the love in the fellowship. Watch that combined love flow through and from that fellowship to others.

    You don’t know how Christians who are not in formal churches live/function in their lives. God knows, though, and He works with us and cares for us very well, regardless of your opinion.

    E.G. wrote:

    Remember that in eternity you will be eternally fellowshipping with every person who has ever known Christ. If you can’t find a way to approximate that loving fellowship with a few of His followers here on earth, then you have to ask yourself why you’d want to be doing the same in eternity.

    I suspect it will help that in each of us, the dross will finally be burned away and we will, for the first time, become our true created selves. You will find it easier to love us, too.

  137. Gram3 wrote:

    I am pretty sure if you expressed any concerns whatsoever about the trajectory, they would be waved away with some winsome talking points. And if you press the issues, the tone will definitely change.

    Wow does it change! Have experienced it myself, watched pastor go from Smiling Ed to Vicious Beast in seconds. Still having trouble comprehending what I saw, like being in the presence of some really evil force.

  138. Gram3 wrote:

    …these Big Men can provide the sure-fire answers and template for a great church and great families and great Christians. But the formulas crowd out the Holy Spirit who brings growth. There is a great blindness to this very simple truth that is all over the New Testament.

    The Big Men theory may be the greatest evil that has seduced the church in a generation. It is so utterly opposed to what Jesus and Paul said. Paul identified these Big Men as superapostles and ripped them mercilessly.

  139. LT wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    To add an addendum to my previous lengthy post….
    According to the research there are millions of people who fall into the done category. My disconnect, to clarify my longer thoughts, is that why aren’t any of these millions of people establishing NT churches?

    I am not sure that you understand who the bulk of the “dones” are Adam. We are not clergy in our 20’s. We are not all jazzed about hanging out in hipster coffee bars, dreaming up new logos, picking out trendy sermon series names and starting over by planting a new church. We don’t wear skinny jeans, leather jackets, pimp hat and tell everyone how smokin’ hot our spouse is. Most new church plants repulse us. Every time I get more postcards of local start-ups in the mail, the slick production values and lack of substance literally make my spirit sick. The NAMB deliberately hides their SBC connections making their planters use generic names so they can fool the masses about who and what they really are. The Pentecostals are even worse on that front. They birth the plant from day one rooted in deception. They read Andy Stanley and want to throw God out of the church. They want to have Sarah Young channel Jesus to tell us what Jesus really meant 2,000 years ago. Apparently the Apostles got it wrong. And you think we want to sign up to do this all over again?
    .
    Your comment about dating a jerk in high school speaks to how little you understand this situation. We have faithfully attended, tithed, volunteered, chaired committees, taught classes, changed 1,000 diapers, handed out thousands of bulletins, worked dozens of VBS’s, pulled weeds, changed toilet paper, cleaned vomit, comforted the grieving and stacked chairs a thousand times. Adam we are talking DECADES of dedicated service, not one little bad fling. This is hopelessness. We are tired. We have PTSD. You are asking a severely abused spouse to turn that frown upside down, get on E-Harmony and get back in the saddle now little missy, while our teeth are still missing and we walk with a limp.
    .
    Can you honestly not see how tainted the system is? Even if we had the energy to plant something, it would always be one ego maniac away from converting to the Moses model to ensure permanent job security, selling books and CDs and using it as a mini nepotism riddled, narcissistic papacy. Even if you started with some decent doctrine it’s one fog machine and testosterone/estrogen conference away from shattering all your hard work again. I relate to what the other commenter said – if you endure another 30 years of bad churches you may feel differently. You may feel a level of spiritual exhaustion you currently can neither imagine nor comprehend.
    .
    I sincerely admire your youthful zeal. But please hear me on this Adam, I did not leave the church. The church left me! My battle on that front is over. That’s why I stick to our Lord and Savior. He alone has never left us. He alone never will.

    Amen

  140. Jessica wrote:

    To your friend in Baltimore… my front porch (in Baltimore) is open Sunday mornings for long talks, deep words, and laughter. We have been done for almost 7 years . Homeless Sunday mornings is the best thing that happened to our family. There’s a great meme going around that says, “We will never change the world by going to church. We will change the world by being the church.”
    I found God and myself and beautiful people beyond those walls. And this from a Christian good girl in recovery.

    Thank you for sharing this meme quote. I wish I lived in Baltimore to commune with you! Perhaps this idea will spur me on to do likewise on my porch in DFW…

  141. @ Gram3:
    And there are more than a few people who were stoned at Woodstock who’ve accomplished all of the things you mentioned. Just because a person went to festivals and/or got high does not preclude theirbeing motivated, productive people.

  142. roebuck wrote:

    “There is no question that fog machines are the “it” thing for churches which already have light displays, sound machines worthy of a U2 concert and LED displays that put most concert venues to shame. \”
    I will never, ever attend a church that has fog machines, huge sound systems, light shows, and other such garbage. That is nothing but The World. These Megas want to be The World.
    And they will carry on as long as people are drawn to that garbage. You know, free markets, supply and demand. The ‘consumers’ are complicit.
    That whole model of ‘church’ makes me sick at heart. Jesus weeps, and so do I.

    Roebuck, amen! These mega’s aren’t church, they’re just a rock concert and a seminar rolled up into one with the name of Jesus thrown in for good effect. Evangelicalism is infected with a disease and it is spreading rapidly. I decided a number of years ago to leave EvangelicaLand, not knowing if I would ever find a church that actually worships the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I was on the precipice of becoming a Done. I went church shopping, looking for a church that actually valued the Creeds, took Communion regularly, and valued the writings of the early church fathers. When I was at my wit’s end, I decided to attend a Divine Liturgy at an Eastern Orthodox Church. The other-worldly sense of worship and the reverence and awe that permeated the entire service drew me in immediately. I knew I had come home

  143. numo wrote:

    Dee, unless you are going to a strange (in the sense of odd) liturgical church, i cannot imagine anyone even suggesting that a church membership document is remotely part of the,picture.
    Here’s what counts: baptism and, in some denoms, confirmation. That.is.all.there.is.
    Kinda much more NT-ish, to my mind, than all these authoritarian “churches” that want people to dign contracts or else.

    The parish I attend (Eastern Orthodox) is liturgical, but we don’t have to sign any covenant membership contracts in order to be members. This is a talking point of the neo-Cals and from what I can tell, they are quite persuasive because a lot of folks have signed those contracts. Of course, that’s not what they call them, but thanks to TWW, we know that is exactly what they are: a legal document designed to protect the church, not the church members.

  144. E.G. wrote:

    LT wrote:
    Maybe some day you’ll plant a Dones church.
    Simply a recreation of the recent “emergent” church (started by then-dones like Donald Miller et al.).
    And that, itself, just another incarnation of the same cycle:
    -this church has X problem
    -let’s start a different kind of church that won’t have X problem
    -now that we’ve started this church we need structure and policy
    -oops, now we have Y problem
    -let’s start a different kind of church that won’t have Y problem
    -…

    I hardly know what to say. On one hand I am happy that you have never experienced soul crushing spiritual abuse. Truly happy for you. I wish everyone’s experience was the same. I understand your can-do attitude. However, you are not choosing to hear or understand what makes people walk away from the church after decades of devotion. You seem to want to write this off as personality conflicts, a little squabble over someone stealing your casserole pan at the potluck or hurt feelings. That is profoundly insulting.

    I have spent decades overlooking all kinds of egregiousness including multiple pastors with NPD. I chose to embrace the parts of church that were enjoyable and grin and bear it through the bad for years. Broken people go to churches. Flagrant users go to churches. People with severe obnoxious personality go to churches. Dones put up with that for decades. We aren’t sissies. When we leave it’s not about egos, fog machines or minor false teaching. You act like the Dones are just taking their marbles and leaving out of spite. Every story is different. But most are too painful for Dones to relive so maybe you genuinely don’t get it.

    If you really and truly care about bringing Dones back to the institutional church may I strongly suggest you first stop being so insensitive to them. Many have suffered the deepest betrayal of their lives that you apparently cannot comprehend. This often includes enduring felonies committed against them and even felony sex crimes. Staying and watching leadership cover up crimes committed against the sheep is ghastly and wrong. Would you tell a rape victim “you’re such a big baby because you won’t go to the bar with me”? “If you’re that afraid of getting raped in the parking lot again why don’t you quit your whining and start your own valet service. Gosh! Whine, whine, whine. Why don’t call a whambulance? No one’s ever going to invite you to the big New Year’s Eve party at this rate”. Because your posts sound like you would. Granted I think you might believe your saying that for the victim’s own good. But you are not helping.

    You are totally missing the point that the Dones are not whining they are just leaving. They are crawling off the battle field silently just praying that the shelling stops. They are suffering panic attacks, shunning and more abuse on an ongoing basis even after they quietly leave. They just want to be left alone.

    The things you have written in this post are driving Dones further away from church not closer. By a lot. In fact I’m starting to wonder if you are a covert atheist because I can’t imagine anyone doing such an effective job at making sure Dones don’t return. It’s like you’re taking a bat and smashing us like a piñata yelling “why aren’t you back in church you crybaby!!! (Bash) I just can’t (bang) understand (bash) why you won’t (bang) accept the love (bash)of Jesus (bang) Christ!!! What’s wrong with you idiots!!!” It’s possible this wasn’t your intention but everything you have written has only confirmed for me that the current church is the last place a person will find God.

  145. I am done and have been for six years. I found more love and acceptance with the Jewish people than I ever had with Christians. I now am proud to wear the yellow star and take their fate as my own. Christians are hateful and shallow people

  146. Max wrote:

    Dee writes “we have found a … church which … takes communion seriously”
    We were observers at an SBC YRR church plant during their first communion service. The 20-something pastor with his spiky hairdo barked from his center-stage stool “Before you leave, be sure to get your grape juice and crackers! I got the cheapest stuff I could find at Walmart!” In another sacramental abuse, the same pastor diminished the importance of baptism on social media “Baptizing next Sunday. Sign up on Facebook!” Good Lord, the Southern Baptist denomination is being run by the youth group!!

    What?! Your description sounds like Communion-on-the-go. Apparently, according to the YRR/Neo-Cals, a church with lots of young folks is a sign of success. If I walked into a “church” with a cool, hip, young dude like that, I’d walk right out as fast as my feet could take me.

  147. So I’ve had a busy day so only now I’m reading down through the comments posted, so many new names, so many stories and I run across this maddening comment:
    E.G. wrote:

    True enough. It still doesn’t excuse withdrawal from fellowship.

    Words escape me.

  148. @ Bill M:
    Agreed…but in all fairness, when I once was a young twenty-something believer, I had similar convictions.

    I was so sure of the pureness of my cause and that people just needed to commit to the right things (local church etc…) that I am sure I was arrogant and hurtful towards those who were hurting.

    In short, I was ignorant of how hard life can be and how deceitful and down right nasty some churches and pastors can be. I was naive and took things at face value.

    EG may one day find himself in a snot nose cry fest over the knives in his back or the self realization of those that he has hurt-maybe a mixture of both…until the University of Hard Knocks comes calling-I doubt his worldview will change.

    Just my 2 cents..

  149. LT wrote:

    You are totally missing the point that the Dones are not whining they are just leaving. They are crawling off the battle field silently just praying that the shelling stops. They are suffering panic attacks, shunning and more abuse on an ongoing basis even after they quietly leave. They just want to be left alone.

    This! This on a stick, deep fried, with honey and sugar on top. So well put, as to the experiences of many. Thank you

  150. GovPappy wrote:

    Just a layman. I can’t start something like that, but I’d love to attend something like that again. Will the real pastors please stand up?

    I disagree. This is called fellowship. It edifies. You pray for one another. Any believer can do this.

  151. Gram3 wrote:

    That, E.G. is an example of why some people’s trust in some leadership of the institutional church is near zero.

    Here’s to hoping E.G. isn’t a leader in a church.

  152. @ doubtful:
    My problem with EG is his inability to listen. The vast majority of those posting here are not “withdrawing from fellowship” but are trying to find it because they didn’t find it in the institutional church.

  153. Pingback: The Dones Speak Out | Thinking Out Loud UNITED STATES

  154. E.G. wrote:

    Something that is not a coincidence, though, is that the end result of both lines of thinking is an abandoning of responsibility to the local church and the larger Church.

    I am trying to figure this out. This sounds similar to how my Catholic friends view church. They travel a lot and have another home in Fla so they feel a responsibility to attend mass at the “local” Catholic church wherever they are. They attend mass and to them that is also keeping responsible to the larger church. The only requirement is that it is Catholic.

    I am not putting down their views as I have attended with them, I just don’t understand it. But it did open my own eyes in how I view the concept of church myself. According to you, I am responsible to the most “local” evangelical church? Surely that is not what you mean? Goodness, I am not even sure what evangelical means anymore these days. Are you sure you have thought this through? We have not even touched on what “fellowship” might mean in this context or what it mean in a 1st century context.

    The concept of the “local church” is being touted everywhere I am reading around the Christian blogosphere. I even had one pastor commenter tell me that once I am regenerated I am no longer an “individual” but am now a sort of corporate entity belonging to the group. His brand of group? That idea is becoming more and more common in and around the pastor set. It seems to you have to be in a local church to remain saved or prove you are regenerated.

    People are rethinking what it all means and that is a very good thing. In fact, I will go a step further and be all dramatic and say that I have become convinced that attending church in some situations can be enabling sin in many forms of using people, creating celebrities, deceiving the pew sitters, etc. I have been a part of that myself.

    The bigger problem is that the institutional church is quite adept at hiding all sorts of very bad things in order to be an institutional church. In some cases to survive and in others to grow as big as possible. What might people really be supporting? I know people who actually believe they should give money to the “local church” and not even question how it is spent. that is God’s business, they think. That is simply checking your brains at the door. That attitude is what perpetuates the evil done in the institutions. There is a willful ignorance in many cases and that is because they have this entire wrong view of the Body of Christ or being in a local church.

    Totally rethinking all of it is a good thing. What sort of fellowship is it to go and listen to one guy week after week? What is the purpose of that when it comes to maturing? It seems counter intuitive to maturing. The entire set up seems to be one of putting on your church face to attend the church. And there is a reason for that.

    The “local and larger church” in many cases stopped doing some things it was good at for nothing but church growth and stealing sheep. I am old enough to remember how churches built, supported and funded hospitals, nursing homes, etc, etc. It was not just about giving money but people volunteered and worked in them. There was a mission attitude to the needs of people around them. Was it perfect, no way. But there was a larger mission to communities besides building big churches or attending as a prereq to being a real Christian.

    It is my opinion now that Christians should be in the forefront of using all that money flowing around to find cures for cancer or anything else that can improve the lives around them. When they pool resources they have shown in the past they can do some serious things to improve lives. In many ways, the institutional church has become a dead end.

  155. @ Law Prof:
    True – I guess my larger point was that I’m not ready for taking point on this sort of thing. Perhaps later in life, but not now. The few people in my life who might be interested in that don’t live anywhere close to me.

    Regardless, this is theoretical for me, I don’t consider myself Done. I currently attend a decent church. Just trying to share my experiences to possibly help someone.

  156. Bridget wrote:

    GovPappy wrote:

    Just a layman. I can’t start something like that, but I’d love to attend something like that again. Will the real pastors please stand up?

    I disagree. This is called fellowship. It edifies. You pray for one another. Any believer can do this.

    Fair enough.

    Guess my Fundy is still showing sometimes – assuming there’s always gonna be a mannagawd to lead. We all have our gifts.

  157. @ Law Prof:
    And I’m not real interested in prescribing a model here, obviously – just sharing something that in hindsight was kind of mind-blowing for an SBC pastor to do on his own. Perhaps if more had taken his approach people wouldn’t be leaving the denomination in droves.

  158. doubtful wrote:

    EG may one day find himself in a snot nose cry fest over the knives in his back or the self realization of those that he has hurt-maybe a mixture of both…until the University of Hard Knocks comes calling-I doubt his worldview will change.

    I checked in to see how the conversation was going, and whether Ken or Adam had replied to my comments. Kept scrolling down, wondering where they were, only to find that E.G. had admirably filled the gap — and then some. From his comments, he seems to be Extra Super Clueless, topped with Know-It-All and a dash of Not Even Listening.

    I hope he wakes up, and soon. He might be more in danger of being hurt, and hurting others, than he realizes.

  159. Darlene wrote:

    roebuck wrote:
    “There is no question that fog machines are the “it” thing for churches which already have light displays, sound machines worthy of a U2 concert and LED displays that put most concert venues to shame. \”
    I will never, ever attend a church that has fog machines, huge sound systems, light shows, and other such garbage. That is nothing but The World. These Megas want to be The World.
    And they will carry on as long as people are drawn to that garbage. You know, free markets, supply and demand. The ‘consumers’ are complicit.
    That whole model of ‘church’ makes me sick at heart. Jesus weeps, and so do I.

    Roebuck, amen! These mega’s aren’t church, they’re just a rock concert and a seminar rolled up into one with the name of Jesus thrown in for good effect. Evangelicalism is infected with a disease and it is spreading rapidly. I decided a number of years ago to leave EvangelicaLand, not knowing if I would ever find a church that actually worships the Lord Jesus Christ.
    I was on the precipice of becoming a Done. I went church shopping, looking for a church that actually valued the Creeds, took Communion regularly, and valued the writings of the early church fathers. When I was at my wit’s end, I decided to attend a Divine Liturgy at an Eastern Orthodox Church. The other-worldly sense of worship and the reverence and awe that permeated the entire service drew me in immediately. I knew I had come home

    You just reminded me of a Michael Omartian song I had on an album of CCM from the late 70s or early 80s. He was spoofing christian artists who wanted to break into mainstream, who were arguing that people would still get the gospel from them doing that. The theme of the song was “They’ll see Jesus in my guitar.” I found the lyrics and a youtube of it, if you’re interested. The beginning of the youtube video is a hoot.

    Video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4tgF02y4fc

    Lyrics:
    http://www.invubu.com/lyrics/show/Michael_Omartian|Stormie_Omartian/Big_Time.html

    It doesn’t matter if it’s rock or pop,
    As long as I can make it to the top.
    I don’t know why the Lord can’t see,
    What it would do for Him if I could just be,
    Big Time.

    I won’t talk about Jesus,
    That would be going too far.
    I know that they will see Him,
    In my guitar.

    (Chorus)

    Christian Superstar,
    That is what you are,
    I’ve got to be Big Time,
    Christian Superstar,
    That is what you are.

    Well the folks will get saved,
    They will have no choice,
    When they see,
    I’ve got the greatest voice.

    (Chorus)

    I play good,
    I look good,
    I am good,
    That’s why I have to be,
    Big Time.

  160. Darlene wrote:

    I went church shopping, looking for a church that actually valued the Creeds, took Communion regularly, and valued the writings of the early church fathers.

    Sadly, this describes the church we left last year. (With a lot of other authoritarian attitude and legalistic teachings thrown in.) But I’m glad there was more to the church you are describing.

  161. @ LT:
    Thank you for putting my feelings into words, and eloquently describing why the comment you were responding to was so ignorant, hurtful, and wrong-headed. The person might have meant well, but then I am reminded of the old saying about good intentions…

  162. James Brunk wrote:

    I am done and have been for six years. I found more love and acceptance with the Jewish people than I ever had with Christians. I now am proud to wear the yellow star and take their fate as my own. Christians are hateful and shallow people

    I was in this place, a year ago. Two of our teens are still there, except that they distrust *any* religious group, even the Jewish people. They have found more love and acceptance from agnostics, atheists, and the LGBT (pardon me if I spelled that wrong, dyslexia is a pain especially when acronyms come into the picture) community than they ever did in the christian community. I have since found that there are decent, loving Christians (some of them here at TWW), but they seem to be in the minority when you look at the invisible, worldwide Church as a whole. Or at least, the American part I’m painfully acquainted with.

  163. Bridget wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    That, E.G. is an example of why some people’s trust in some leadership of the institutional church is near zero.
    Here’s to hoping E.G. isn’t a leader in a church.

    I’ll drink to that. (Raising my coffee cup.)

  164. refugee wrote:

    I have since found that there are decent, loving Christians (some of them here at TWW), but they seem to be in the minority when you look at the invisible, worldwide Church as a whole. Or at least, the American part I’m painfully acquainted with.

    I think there are many, many good-hearted Christians who are in dysfunctional institutions. While I have left/been kicked out, there are many who choose to stay for various reasons, but I have no idea how many there are. I need to be careful not to assume that they want to participate in what the leadership is doing. Some people are unaware. Others have valid reasons for staying. Still others trust leaders whom the people *should* be able to trust. And I also want to remember that there are faithful pastors who really are doing what the Bible calls pastors/elders/deacons to do. Lead by example with a life of godliness.

  165. Lydia wrote:

    E.G. wrote:

    Something that is not a coincidence, though, is that the end result of both lines of thinking is an abandoning of responsibility to the local church and the larger Church.

    I am trying to figure this out. This sounds similar to how my Catholic friends view church. They travel a lot and have another home in Fla so they feel a responsibility to attend mass at the “local” Catholic church wherever they are. They attend mass and to them that is also keeping responsible to the larger church. The only requirement is that it is Catholic.

    I am not putting down their views as I have attended with them, I just don’t understand it. But it did open my own eyes in how I view the concept of church myself. According to you, I am responsible to the most “local” evangelical church? Surely that is not what you mean? Goodness, I am not even sure what evangelical means anymore these days. Are you sure you have thought this through? We have not even touched on what “fellowship” might mean in this context or what it mean in a 1st century context.

    Lydia,
    I missed this quote from E.G. that you responded to. “Abandoning the responsibility to the local church”? That sounds like the people who tried to talk us out of homeschooling, by talking about our responsibility to the local schools. “If every concerned, involved parent takes their kids out of schools, what will happen to the schools?”

    Since we started homeschooling not for worldview reasons (we got sucked into that later), but because of special needs and bullies, my gut reaction to that objection was that I was not willing to sacrifice our kid on the altar of the public schools. (So, okay, it sounds like a religious worldview reason for homeschooling, but it was just the mental image that came to mind.)

    I am (at least still hanging on by a thread) a Christ-follower. Not a “local church” follower. I don’t even know what “responsibility to the local church” would look like. Gathering together? You can do that in a coffee shop or by the riverside or in a living room.

    Paul might have been the equivalent of “seminary trained” but Peter certainly wasn’t, nor was Lydia (who had a church in her house, I think?); and Timothy’s training involved teaching by his mother and grandmother and mentoring by Paul. So the definition of “local church” doesn’t necessarily involve a trained leader and amplified music and a book table (just for starters).

    E.G. sounds heavily invested in the concept of an institution. Didn’t someone post here at TWW some time recently about the differences between the idea of the synagogue (the Greek is almost identical to the English, if I remember right) and Ekklesia?

  166. LT wrote:

    You seem to want to write this off as personality conflicts, a little squabble over someone stealing your casserole pan at the potluck or hurt feelings. That is profoundly insulting.

    I just wanted to say that part of the reason I am hesitant to go back to church is precisely over having had my feelings hurt by Christians I have met in and out of church.

    But those hurt feelings run pretty deep – some of it happened shortly after the death of my family member, and when I turned to these Christians (some at a local church or two) in my time of pain, I get berated or scolded (sometimes over my grief, and some of them scolded me over trivial matters).

    I think that having hurt feelings a valid reason to stay away from churches.

    Not that I think I (or anyone else) need to justify my reasons to legalists or Pharisees who make themselves arbiters of what constitutes a “good enough” reason to quit church.

    I don’t know if or how much of the Christian faith I believe in anymore, except for the bare facts about Jesus dying for sins and being resurrected.

    So, it’s kind of hard for me now to sit in a church and listen to sermons, not really knowing if I believe in any of it. I would feel like a fake sitting in and among people who truly believe in it all the way, and there I am having doubts.

  167. Lydia wrote:

    It seems to you have to be in a local church to remain saved or prove you are regenerated.

    Yes. I have run into this attitude. I have heard it said about people who “home church” or who don’t attend worship services that their salvation is questionable.

    And when we were deep in the cult, we were almost paranoid about missing church. If we were on vacation, we sought out a church of the same denomination as ours, or as close as we could come to it. Sometimes we drove through the night, just to be home by Sunday morning so we could be at “our” church. It wasn’t a matter of being at peace. It was more a matter of drivenness.

  168. James Brunk wrote:

    I am done and have been for six years. I found more love and acceptance with the Jewish people than I ever had with Christians. I now am proud to wear the yellow star and take their fate as my own. Christians are hateful and shallow people

    There are hateful and shallow people in every tribe, every tongue, and every color of the human parade sir. To say that it’s confined to Christianity is delusional.

  169. Gram3 wrote:

    Others have valid reasons for staying.

    I know a family who is staying at our former church because that is where their older boys’ friend set is. We’ve talked about the possible damage to their younger ones, who are girls, and they say they are safeguarding against it. But I think that the hyper-comp attitudes at that church are likely damaging both their boys and their girls, when it all comes down to it. I hope they don’t find out the hard way, the way we did.

  170. James Brunk wrote:

    I am done and have been for six years. I found more love and acceptance with the Jewish people than I ever had with Christians. I now am proud to wear the yellow star and take their fate as my own. Christians are hateful and shallow people

    Kind of a broad brush you’re painting with, there. I’m a Christian and can be a horse’s you-know-what, but I think perhaps you’ve leaped to conclusions that no one’s experiences could possibly qualify them to make.

  171. @ Daisy:
    Daisy,
    I have to say I’m grateful for your sharing your experience and your hurt. It has helped me to be more sensitive and sympathetic to others in my life who are grieving a loved one’s death, months later. It is not as raw and real to me, but for them it is a true, tearing pain with every new day, with every holiday. (I am thinking of the despair of a father on Father’s Day, just a few days ago, who lost his beloved son half a year ago now. Those who knew the son slightly have moved on, but the father cannot. Poor, poor man. All I can think to do is listen when he talks of his son, and nod, and try to express without words my sorrow for him and my sympathy.)

    My dad died years ago, but I can remember the pain of each new holiday, the first few years, and the random times of the day when I wanted to pick up the phone and tell him something that had happened, or something his grandchild had said or done. The pain has dulled, mostly, but it is still there, especially on birthdays and anniversaries (especially the anniversary of his death).

    I remember a friend who lost her six-year-old to cancer. We’d get together, and naturally her daughter would come up in conversation, and we’d laugh about this or that memory, or something her daughter had really loved, or hated. I say “naturally” — but she said to me once, that she got so frustrated with people who avoided talking about her daughter, perhaps trying to avoid causing her pain, but it ended up feeling to her as if they didn’t want to acknowledge that her little daughter had ever existed! It was really hard for her, and it made grieving harder, I think.

  172. Lydia wrote:

    I even had one pastor commenter tell me that once I am regenerated I am no longer an “individual” but am now a sort of corporate entity belonging to the group. His brand of group?

    So you are a Borg now? 🙂

  173. I haven’t read all the comments because it makes me so sad.

    My reaction to this stuff in general though, is that I’m sure there must be church fellowships out there that aren’t toxic like the ones so often described. I’m observing from across the pond but as someone with an academic as well as professional interest in the church as an organisation and its future (I’m a youth pastor) but I have read some brilliant American writers on how to be church that are not at all Megachurchy, but who value the things that really should be important about the people of God and the communities they create. I’m thinking of:

    Kenda Creasy Dean – Almost Christian, a book exploring why young adults are disillusioned with church and what they are really looking for. And “The God-bearing Life” which reimagines the role of the youth worker/pastor in some really healthy ways.

    Mark Yaconelli – Contemplative Youth Ministry. An exploration of exploring Ignatian exercises and other forms of spiritual activity as a way of being for all generations. I have met him and a more humble and unassuming guy I have yet to meet.

    Dorothy Bass – Practicing our faith: A way of life for a searching people. It’s an re-imagining of traditional christian practices for the way we live now and looks at things like hospitality, discernment, forgiveness, shaping our communities etc etc

    From what I read of these people there is still hope, unless you know different (I really hope I don’t discover that they are just the same as all the rest). Their writing makes me think I would love to be part of church with them.

  174. refugee wrote:

    That sounds like the people who tried to talk us out of homeschooling, by talking about our responsibility to the local schools.

    Good analogy, our kids are not political pawns.

  175. refugee wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    I missed this quote from E.G. that you responded to. “Abandoning the responsibility to the local church”?

    The “local church” thing is something of a code phrase, pretty well related in spirit to the “NT church” concept that Adam keeps looping back to. It took me a while to figure out what was going on among these local church advocates, what they meant. When a normal person hears the phrase “local church”, they think of the church nearest them or some church in their town, but it has a very different meaning to the people who use it. I’ve heard the concept used among many neocalvinist, reformed types, I’m sure others subscribe to it also.

    So far as I can discern, it’s some semi-mystical thing about there being a true local church that does things the right way, the NT way, like the churches to which Paul wrote. You either get on board with the true local church or you’re an ineffective, separated-from-the-Body Christian at best, a heretic or apostate bound for hell at worst. This explains some of the chauvinism and refusal to listen that normal individuals note when they attempt to engage the local church crowd. They don’t think they need to engage you, they scold, they don’t listen, they know in their hearts they have it right, you’re merely a fool or an apostate whom they need to enlighten. Therefore, you are not worthy of truly engaging.

    They believe that if you’re not under that local church umbrella, under the God-called leaders to whom you submit in a one-sided manner, you’re in grave danger. I was told this by a care group leader of a local SBC/Neocal that was led by a team of tight pants, metrosexual, 20 to early 40-somethings; he said “I’m afraid for you, you’re outside the Family of God.” It did no good explaining to him that I am part of the Body of Christ, His Bride, and am having fellowship with other Christians. As I was not in submission to the true leaders whom God had chosen for my city, my fellowship was in vain, blind leading blind.

    They must fudge a little and view the True Local Church in a somewhat amorphous manner, as for the neocals, there are various permutations spanning A29, SGM, NFI, the neocalvinist strain of the SBC and various neocal nondenoms, some of whom coexist in the same area. But they have their central events and conferences, they have T4G, they often use common publishing houses, they have the One Great seminary led by the inquisitor Al Mohler. Generally, a member of one accepts a member of another. But purity must be maintained, the True Local Church cannot consist of anyone who does not subscribe to the Real Gospel as defined by them.

    So you have to understand the mindset we’re dealing with. This is why they are so dismissal of anyone else, why they don’t listen, won’t engage, why their primary mode of communication is scolding. They probably think they’re doing us fools a favor.

  176. @ Law Prof:

    I’ve read several news stories the last few years about problems within Judaism.

    Here are just a few news headlines I’ve seen:

    -“Rabbi charged with voyeurism hid camera in clock-radio in ritual bath, police report says” (on Washington Post)

    -“Get lost! Women struggle to get Jewish divorce from their Orthodox husbands” (On New York Daily News)

    -“Delta Airlines flight from New York’s JFK Airport delayed after ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refuse to sit next to women” (Daily Mail)

    -“Rabbis’ absolute power: how sex abuse tore apart Australia’s Orthodox Jewish community”

    (sub heading on page: “Yeshivah leaders in Sydney and Melbourne chose to preserve the prestige of their faith over the safety of children”)
    (story is on Australian news site The Guardian)

    -“Ohio rabbi accused of child sex abuse in Md. found in NY” (WBAL tv news site)

    -“Ultra-Orthodox Sex Abuse Whistleblower Describes “Child-Rape Assembly Line” (on the Gothamist site)
    —————————-
    It looks to me that every faith community has its share of problems and bad apples.

    (I don’t have anything against Jewish people or Judaism, btw, just pointing out that they too have problem people among them.)

  177. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    In the case of a pedophile, it isn’t at all about what I would or could do “in their shoes”. It’s about the responsibilities churches and their “leaders” have under the law. If they don’t know the law, or aren’t interested in obeying it, they have no business teaching anyone else about godliness.

    Somewhere in this thread you were hoping for a reply, so here goes!

    I don’t disagree with you. Legal obligations need to be known and obeyed, Rom 13 style.

    A church I helped lead had an evangelist for outreach to young people. It turned out later he abused children and he was sent down for this. Whilst with us, one of the children in a family used to go beserk if he got anywhere near her. It didn’t remotely occur to any of us what the underlying cause of this could be. All the more so as this could have been due to the nature of this particular family, just a bolshy child.

    Now years later in another church where an abuser tried to infiltate I was a bit more clued up. But without personal experience of this it is very easy to say what pastors or leaders ought to do, but not so easy if this is your own personal responsibility or you simply have not yet been faced with it. There were plenty of people in the church who were completely blind to there being any problem at all.

    I might add that with all the revelations of this going on within churches that is now public knowledge, there is no excuse for not knowing what to do.

  178. refugee wrote:

    That sounds like the people who tried to talk us out of homeschooling, by talking about our responsibility to the local schools. “If every concerned, involved parent takes their kids out of schools, what will happen to the schools?”

    Yeah, I heard that a bit, too, cos ours were in private school up to this last year. Next year they will go public.

    Look, everyone else knows what is better for us, don’t they? I just don’t get it and it is not just the right wing but the left wing. They all have the answers for us and how we should live.

    Why in private? Because our school system here is a huge mess. Thirty years of busing just made it worse. We built state of the art schools in bad areas and then bused those kids across town. Six year olds were spending an hour and a half on a bus both ways each day.

    There was NO community involvement at all in schools. Poor kids could not even have parents coming to watch them play sports or view an art showing. A lot of people moved out of the county.

    It seems more and more people are trying to social engineer us with everything from health care to attending the “local” church. We are no longer adults with hard choices to make for our families but pawns in the “experts” and “gurus” games. I don’t call it compassion. I call it social engineering and keeping us perpetual children. But then I am libertarian so not real popular in many venues! :o)

  179. refugee wrote:

    but she said to me once, that she got so frustrated with people who avoided talking about her daughter, perhaps trying to avoid causing her pain, but it ended up feeling to her as if they didn’t want to acknowledge that her little daughter had ever existed! It was really hard for her, and it made grieving harder, I think.

    Yes, a lot of people avoid talking to you, or if they talk to you, they won’t talk about your deceased loved one.

    They think they are doing you a favor, but for folks (like me) who deal with the pain by wanting to talk it out, it does more harm than good.

    My loved one (my mother) died a few years ago, so most of the grief has been dealt with on my end, to a point.

    What I am having a difficult time with now is that nobody – Christians at church or Christian extended family – wants to have much of a relationship with me.

    Not only did they not want me to phone them back when the grief was stronger (which still has me angry, and I’m trying to get past that), but now that I could just use a buddy to talk to about every day stuff, or other struggles, these people are not interested.

    Not even family, and I always heard growing up from my mother that “your family will always be there for you.” I now wonder if she was living in denial.

    I have a few living family members, but none of them want to be there for me. Some of them, like my sister, I’ve been supportive of her for years, even after our parent died, but she refuses to support me (and she is several years older than I am).

    Most everyone I know in real life (including church people I talked to, Christian family members) believes you should deny your pain, repress it all, and just distract yourself by doing volunteer work. I don’t cope that way.

    I do appreciate your response and that you took time to provide comfort. Thank you 🙂

  180. Law Prof wrote:

    They believe that if you’re not under that local church umbrella, under the God-called leaders to whom you submit in a one-sided manner, you’re in grave danger

    Ah. I am immediately reminded of Gothardism, which has pervaded the christian homeschool crowd and so many conservative-leaning churches. Was it Gothard who came up with the word-picture, umbrella of authority, or did he merely build on someone else’s foundation?

    I hear he’s trying to get back in business.

  181. Law Prof wrote:

    They believe that if you’re not under that local church umbrella, under the God-called leaders to whom you submit in a one-sided manner, you’re in grave danger. I was told this by a care group leader of a local SBC/Neocal that was led by a team of tight pants, metrosexual, 20 to early 40-somethings; he said “I’m afraid for you, you’re outside the Family of God.” It did no good explaining to him that I am part of the Body of Christ, His Bride, and am having fellowship with other Christians. As I was not in submission to the true leaders whom God had chosen for my city, my fellowship was in vain, blind leading blind.

    My goodness. We must have met the same guy. :o) Actually, I am surrounded by these types at ground zero. They are infiltrating most of the non SBC churches, here, too, so the choices of “local” are becoming slimmer and slimmer.

    I just laugh and save them time by announcing: Didn’t you know? I am a Pelagian Jezebel!

  182. refugee wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    They believe that if you’re not under that local church umbrella, under the God-called leaders to whom you submit in a one-sided manner, you’re in grave danger
    Ah. I am immediately reminded of Gothardism, which has pervaded the christian homeschool crowd and so many conservative-leaning churches. Was it Gothard who came up with the word-picture, umbrella of authority, or did he merely build on someone else’s foundation?
    I hear he’s trying to get back in business.

    Gothardism may have popularized the umbrella concept, but at the end of the day, it was just another way of advancing heavy shepherding a la the Fort Lauderdale Five, which virtually every cult in one way or another does. Gothard was a gutter snipe, picking away at the pieces of other people’s ideas, repackaging them to work for himself.

  183. @ Lydia:
    I get it.

    I get angry when I think about the indoctrination (brainwashing?) we experienced in conservative homeschooling circles. Gothardism and Vision Forum (and Lindvall, and the Pearls, and…) and their followers hijacked the state organization. What started out as encouragement and skill-building turned into being all about the “vision” and getting people to buy into the “vision” with keynote speakers like Voddie Baucham, Doug Phillips, Mark Hamby, Brian Ray, Michael Farris, Michael Smith, and more.

    We started homeschooling because the brick-and-mortar schools (public and private) couldn’t seem to deal effectively with bullying. We also had a special needs child who was getting lost in the system. Teacher assignments felt like Russian roulette: get a good one, and the kid blossoms; get a bad one and the kid falls through the cracks or further damage is done.

    When we first started, the homeschool conventions were more about how-to, and “you can do this!” but somehow the leaders got conscripted into the “vision” message and the tone of the conventions changed until worldview and vision trumped practical matters. We were like the mythical frogs, as the water grew hotter and hotter. We got drawn in, and then we began to spread the message to others. May God forgive me for my part.

    It was all fear-based. We were taught to fear the world. Public schools were evil. Child Protective Services were out to get us. (We didn’t have to worry, though, because HSLDA was only a phone call away, so long as our membership was paid up!) Churches with youth groups were suspect — bringing in wayward teens in the interest of evangelizing them, and corrupting the “church” kids in the process. I could go on, and on.

    And now we are out in the world, and finding “unchurched” people to be kind, thoughtful, generous, pleasant… Oh, I know there are bad apples out here as well, but it’s not the cesspool we were taught to distrust and fear.

  184. @ Sarah Fegredo:
    You give me hope. I know there are some good people out there. I just can’t bring myself to read any more books *about* christianity or *about* the bible. It’s all I can do these days, just to open the bible itself.

  185. refugee wrote:

    Oh, I know there are bad apples out here as well, but it’s not the cesspool we were taught to distrust and fear.

    You came out of the cesspool.

  186. Law Prof wrote:

    Gothardism may have popularized the umbrella concept, but at the end of the day, it was just another way of advancing heavy shepherding a la the Fort Lauderdale Five

    A timeline and diagram would be interesting. I first heard about both Gothard and what we now call the Shepherding movement in the early 1970’s. I don’t know which was the cart and which was the horse. I remember the Boston Church of Christ movement and International Church of Christ and Crossroads. Then there was Maranatha that Tomczak was in. And, of course also in the early 70’s we had the beginnings of the Reconstructionists. I wonder if it was all part of a perceived need for extreme structure that arose in various groups? Or if people started seeing a top-down intrusive doctrine as a profitable business niche? I have lost count of the people I have urged to please leave these groups over the years. I knew Quiverfull people before there was a Quiverfull movement, so sometimes it is difficult to pin down who learned what from whom.

    If you have some resources, I would love to check this out. There is no doubt in my mind that what we see in Acts29/9Marks and the Gospel Glitterati is the same spirit. Piper is definitely influenced by Gothardism, and Grudem is basically a Baptist Reconstructionist due to, IMO, his time at Westminster Philadelphia. I would love to connect the dots between Mahaney and Dever. That is the connection that makes absolutely no sense to me. They are the Odd Couple that are also BFFs. And Dever appears to be the one who introduced Mahaney to the other Gospel Glitterati. But why?

  187. mirele wrote:

    I’m a Gone. I consider myself Outside the Household of Faith. Even if the church fixed its social and political issues, *for me* the core doctrinal issues have become insurmountable. And don’t think I walked away lightly. Every time I think about it, I hurt inside. But I have to be true to myself and I can’t lie and say I believe things about God and Jesus that I simply don’t believe.

    I appreciate your integrity, mirele, and believe that each of us needs to (and is responsible to) discern and decide our directions in life and live accordingly. Part of what is so devastating about many kinds of churches brought up in these threads on “dones” is that they are “high-demand religions” with strong elements of behavioral conformity. And that removes freedom to think, to discern, to decide from congregants. But wasn’t it was for freedom that Christ set us free? And we weren’t supposed to be put again under a yoke of legalism again? Sadly, that’s not been the experience of too many people.

    It also grieves me that so many churches have social, political, and doctrinal issues … and many unqualified and disqualified people in leadership who co-opt and corrupt what should have been a life-giving place of grace, peace, and growth. I experienced a very antagonistic church split in the late 1970s, when I was a relatively young born-again believer. The evangelical church I’d been in for five years imploded and, long story short, it was a crisis-of-faith decision point for me. I concluded that either Christianity was a crock and I should drop out, or that it was true but there was something completely off in how we were taught and in how people practiced it, and I should figure it out. I chose the latter route, and thus began a life-long search for what constitutes balance and righteousness and grace in both faith AND practice. A close friend of mine who went through the same faith-crushing experience made the opposite choice and became a “gone.” I believe God gave us freedom of conscience, but sometimes it just hurts, no matter which way we choose …

  188. Gram3 wrote:

    And Dever appears to be the one who introduced Mahaney to the other Gospel Glitterati. But why?

    More people to sell each others books, too?

  189. @ refugee:

    It so interesting how things evolve. When I was a kid, the only people around who homeschooled where the hippies who drove Volkswagon buses. I have a friend who grew up like that on a quasi commune/cooperative and has very fond memories of her childhood. She went on to a masters degree and did very well for herself in business but loves city life. :o)

  190. mirele wrote:

    I’m a Gone. I consider myself Outside the Household of Faith. Even if the church fixed its social and political issues, *for me* the core doctrinal issues have become insurmountable. And don’t think I walked away lightly. Every time I think about it, I hurt inside. But I have to be true to myself and I can’t lie and say I believe things about God and Jesus that I simply don’t believe.

    I concur with the exception that I believe that I am a “done”. I found that I was mostly chasing the doctrines of man about God & Jesus. I feel betrayed and lied to in the worst possible way many times. For me, the difference is that I do have a belief in God, Jesus & The Holy Spirit. If it were not for that, I think the church experience would have destroyed me. It is my leaning on that understanding (for myself) that has helped keep me intact and I am healing from my experience. However, like you, I simply just can’t believe things about God that I was told and pretend I believe those things. I just can’t.

  191. Darlene wrote:

    Apparently, according to the YRR/Neo-Cals, a church with lots of young folks is a sign of success.

    Yep, but a crowd is not necessarily a congregation of the Lord. Any young guy with an ability to gab can quickly build a “successful” New Calvinist church. The recipe for success:

    locate your church plant in a yuppie area (to help buy expensive sound equipment);

    put a coffee shop in the foyer (with Internet access, obviously);

    get a cool band (with loud acoustics, female vocalists with tight pants, fog and laser lights);

    put members into bondage by getting them to sign a membership covenant;

    provide free ESV bibles (ESV Study Bibles are even better);

    have communion and baptism occasionally, but don’t make a big deal out of it;

    recruit other like-minded young rebels as “elders”;

    sit on a stool with a spotlight on you to deliver your “sermons” (very important);

    drop TULIP on everybody as soon as possible, memorize and repeat numerous Piper Points, use books and videos by reformed leaders, use the word “grace” a lot;

    preach to men … ignore the women;

    corral the members into LifeGroups that minister to each other so you personally don’t have to come off your throne to talk or minister to members;

    post numerous selfies on social media (hairdo style is critical or shave it off);

    retweet one-liners by the reformed who’s who (you must master social media);

    shun those who question your theology and/or leave your church;

    don’t hang up a cross in the building (it’s offensive to some people); and

    build a stage over the altar (you don’t need altars in a New Calvinist church).

    There are other elements to doing church without God, but these are essential.

  192. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    The evangelical church I’d been in for five years imploded and, long story short, it was a crisis-of-faith decision point for me. I concluded that either Christianity was a crock and I should drop out, or that it was true but there was something completely off in how we were taught and in how people practiced it,

    I, and I’m sure many others, can very much identify with what you say here. In the end, if it’s all true that is all that matters, and it is disastrous to base your view of this on how much those who call themselves Christians live it out. The latter ought to be irrelevant to the issue, but it can be extremely hard to disentangle the two ideas.

  193. Lydia wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    And Dever appears to be the one who introduced Mahaney to the other Gospel Glitterati. But why?
    More people to sell each others books, too?

    My theory based on nothing but speculation is that Mahaney had the promotional “system” down pat. He knew/knows how to draw a crowd and mesmerize them. He knows how to produce a show/conference. Dever has the academic credentials that Mahaney does not have, but Dever is not a crowd-drawer in the Mahaney sense. However, put those two things together, and that is some powerful stuff.

    I also believe that they opened their individual markets and constituencies to the others. Honestly, I cannot imagine old-style Reformed Baptists paying a lick of attention to somebody like Mahaney before Dever came along. Likewise, I cannot imagine the charismatics paying a lot of attention to Calvinist teachers like Dever, either, before Mahaney started praising Dever and Calvinism. Grudem is an interesting fusion of Reformed theology with charismaticism, and how he came to be involved with the Vineyard is another mystery to me.

  194. Gram3 wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    Gothardism may have popularized the umbrella concept, but at the end of the day, it was just another way of advancing heavy shepherding a la the Fort Lauderdale Five
    A timeline and diagram would be interesting. I first heard about both Gothard and what we now call the Shepherding movement in the early 1970’s. I don’t know which was the cart and which was the horse. I remember the Boston Church of Christ movement and International Church of Christ and Crossroads. Then there was Maranatha that Tomczak was in. And, of course also in the early 70’s we had the beginnings of the Reconstructionists. I wonder if it was all part of a perceived need for extreme structure that arose in various groups? Or if people started seeing a top-down intrusive doctrine as a profitable business niche? I have lost count of the people I have urged to please leave these groups over the years. I knew Quiverfull people before there was a Quiverfull movement, so sometimes it is difficult to pin down who learned what from whom.
    If you have some resources, I would love to check this out. There is no doubt in my mind that what we see in Acts29/9Marks and the Gospel Glitterati is the same spirit. Piper is definitely influenced by Gothardism, and Grudem is basically a Baptist Reconstructionist due to, IMO, his time at Westminster Philadelphia. I would love to connect the dots between Mahaney and Dever. That is the connection that makes absolutely no sense to me. They are the Odd Couple that are also BFFs. And Dever appears to be the one who introduced Mahaney to the other Gospel Glitterati. But why?

    With regard to Mahaney, Dever, Grudem, Piper, Driscoll, Chandler, et. al., they’re all part of the vaguely-defined True Local Church. There’s the connection. It’s something of a shadow church behind many churches. They subscribe to the tenets of authoritarianism, one set of true leaders of God (of course, they being the leaders), the local church concept, the doctrines of grace, complementarianism (some also embrace its ugly step sister ESS), etc.

    Conferences for leaders, such as the Great T4G right down to little gatherings in hotel conference rooms with a few dozen straight-backed chairs for pip squeaks like JD Hall give them the opportunity to brush shoulders with minor celebs and fellow enlighteneds. It also gives the heavy hitters an opportunity to cash in an another honorarium. But more importantly, it’s a refreshing break from the drudgery of explaining to the painfully dim-witted proletariat in their congregations about the Truths of the Gospel and crossing swords with the occasional odd wolf (that’s us) who wanders unsuspecting in to their meetings.

    It reminds me something of academia, where the true shadow academies are represented by the national and regional conferences of the disciplines such as sociology, accounting, history, law, poly sci, etc., while the academies that people see, the bricks and mortar, are just excuses to form semi-professional sports franchises and gather under one slogan. The average neocalvinist SBC preacher in South Carolina considers himself to have far more comradeship with a non-denom 9Marks pastor in Oregon than with the non-neocal SBC pastor two blocks away.

  195. Charity wrote:

    I simply just can’t believe things about God that I was told and pretend I believe those things. I just can’t.

    That is understandable. I think if I were God, I would be mortified by what people say about me. And I would definitely be less longsuffering about it. IMO, the real meaning of some parts of the Bible has been distorted by false ideas of God’s character and *also* by an overly positive view of the prevailing tribal cultures surrounding the nation of Israel. ISIS is not a new way of thinking. The other day the crucified some kids for breaking the Ramadan fast. That reminds me of the Molech worshipers who offered their children as sacrifices. The facts on the ground there were truly horrible.

  196. refugee wrote:

    @ Sarah Fegredo:
    You give me hope. I know there are some good people out there. I just can’t bring myself to read any more books *about* christianity or *about* the bible. It’s all I can do these days, just to open the bible itself.

    I’m so sorry that that has been done to you.

  197. Gram3 wrote:

    I would love to connect the dots between Mahaney and Dever. That is the connection that makes absolutely no sense to me. They are the Odd Couple that are also BFFs. And Dever appears to be the one who introduced Mahaney to the other Gospel Glitterati. But why?

    Sometime in the early years at Capitol Hill Baptist when it was still small, Dever paid a visit to Mahaney simply because he was close by and probably because of the sucess of Mahaney,s church. The friendship grew from this visit in the mid 90's. Dever's academic credentials were usefull to Mahaney and Mahaney's authoritarian control structure fit in well with Dever's theology of the local church he was developing. Mahaney's adoption of reformed theology corresponds with the timeline of this new friendship. Dever was already well connected with Mohler and others within the SBC through the Founders group. He was Mahaney's ticket to widespread acceptance and fame through the emerging Calvinists within the SBC who were also connected with others such as Piper, Grudem, MacArthur and others. Unfortunately, the Mahaney authoritarian methods got built into Dever's 9Marks theology.

  198. Lydia wrote:

    @ refugee:
    It so interesting how things evolve. When I was a kid, the only people around who homeschooled where the hippies who drove Volkswagon buses. I have a friend who grew up like that on a quasi commune/cooperative and has very fond memories of her childhood. She went on to a masters degree and did very well for herself in business but loves city life. :o)

    When we first started homeschooling, the most supportive people were the hippies at the food co-op where I shopped. And the public school teachers who were manning a booth at the county fair. Go figure.

  199. I’ve been a done for several years. My disabled mom, even longer. My poor Mom, who has multiple sclerosis, has been treated so badly by church overall. In my childhood mega church, she labored despite her bad health (while she still kind of had so-so ability) in the child care. She was constantly being backbitten by snoody people. When she could no longer do even that due to health, people cared about her even less. Meanwhile, my father was abusive and adulterous, and any marital counseling she sought from the pastors turned into “submit more”. And it turned out some of these pastors were just like my own father, were busted for it, and had to step down. My mom quit for a while, both due to health issues, the cliques, and not wanting to sit next to my abusive father anymore in the service. I championed on, but finally begged my dad to drop me off at a different church due to the cruelties of the high school clique. Yes, that’s the clique at CHURCH. You would expect that supposedly from a public school, not at church, right? When that ultimately didn’t work out for the same reasons, despite the outward appearance of friendliness, I quit altogether, though I always kept my faith.

    Then my dad got more abusive than ever by adding drinking to it (or rather, his drinking became more obvious) and finally left when I was 19. My Mom and I crawled back to my last church I went to out of desperation for somebody to care about us. This was a Calvary Chapel, mind you. I should have known better, but I had always thought the pastor to be nice, even if the kids my age weren’t. They never did help us financially, although some family friends had offered to catch us if we fell, if it came down to it. But even that offer appeared like it could be rescinded. They started insinuating that my Mom was healthy enough to work, which made us both very afraid. But anyway, we volunteered our guts out at this church, including my mom, despite her bad health, with what little she had to give. We ended up going through nasty church politics. Nothing we did was ever good enough nor appreciated, even though we gave our best. I swear I will never volunteer for anything again.

    They finally replaced me for the thing I had been helping with (and my Mom had been helping me during school semesters), with no reason given other than they wanted someone’s friend to do it. My Mom cried. She just couldn’t go back anymore. She’s been done ever since. What solidified that decision is that they never called to see where we went. We could have been hospitalized from a car wreck, and they didn’t even care. Worse, people knew my name, because I was young enough to be mentored back then, and it’s so trendy to mentor the youngster. But they don’t care to really know my Mom’s name. Disgusting.

    I finally quit trying different churches myself several years ago. In every church I’ve ever been to, big or small, there’s the clique. Nobody says hello unless the pastor makes them. Nobody wants to spend time with you after church. I can offer to pay for lunch, and they’ll never come. Both my Mom and I have tried to be hospitable, even during the worst of our poverty. We only got one person ever to come over to our home so we could cook for them, and they never wanted to hang out again. In all my years of being a Christian, I’ve never made one true Christian friend. Never. It’s not like I’ve got something wrong with me. I can hit it off with unbelievers at work just fine, and we have lunch and stuff. I’m so tired of this shallow “fellowship”. It isn’t fellowship. It’s a joke. I can only think of one place that wasn’t outwardly cliquey, but it was age restricted Bible study (which excludes my Mom) and a very long drive. I was in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. Whether these people would have hung out with me and my Mom outside of church, I don’t know.

    What upsets me also, aside from the unfriendliness of churches in general (and I have been to many, many churches in my area) is the way they misspend money. Yes, my old Calvary Chapel has spent money on upgrading its sound system and other remodeling expenditures, rather than help its own poor. But even when pastors misprioritize the money, that leaves no excuse for individuals within the church. When it comes to helping a fellow believer who has fallen on hard times, people start acting like they live in mud huts in some third world company. They shun you more, and give you the excuse that they don’t want to interfere with whatever God is doing in your life. (I’ve heard that one drop right out of a pastor’s mouth.) It’s like it’s all your fault if you go through a hard time. You must be sinful for that to happen. But no, it’s really just an excuse they can hide behind. Be warm, be filled, and go away. I never directly asked anyone for money, only prayers, but apparently even that was too much to ask for.

    Ironically, I used to give a lot out of the little income I had to my local church. But Now that I’m much more well to do, sitting on two CS degrees and working at a company that pays enough to support both myself and my Mom, I have less interest than ever in giving anything to a church. Their loss. They don’t deserve the Lord’s money for that, if that’s how the treat the poor, the sick, and the friendless. I’ll keep giving my money to help my Mom and other ailing relatives, and spend what’s leftover on whatever God leads me to so that I know it will actually help someone rather than pay for the new sound system.

  200. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    but finally begged my dad to drop me off at a different church due to the cruelties of the high school clique. Yes, that’s the clique at CHURCH. You would expect that supposedly from a public school, not at church, right?

    You’d think so. And you’d think the children of the elders would set a good example for the rest, wouldn’t you?

  201. DC wrote:

    Sometime in the early years at Capitol Hill Baptist when it was still small, Dever paid a visit to Mahaney simply because he was close by and probably because of the sucess of Mahaney,s church. The friendship grew from this visit in the mid 90’s. Dever’s academic credentials were usefull to Mahaney and Mahaney’s authoritarian control structure fit in well with Dever’s theology of the local church he was developing.

    Thank you for filling in those blanks. That makes sense. Was there also a Reisinger connection? I am somewhat familiar with Founders, but I do not feel comfortable saying why. It is distressing to me to think that Dever would use Mahaney to popularize the Founders views without the Founders label. Mahaney would use anything, IMO, to promote Mahaney. When I first heard he was coming out with a book on humility, I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

  202. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    They shun you more, and give you the excuse that they don’t want to interfere with whatever God is doing in your life. (I’ve heard that one drop right out of a pastor’s mouth.)

    Oh. That..your whole story, just hurts my heart. I wish I could say it was some sort of aberration. :-/

  203. refugee wrote:

    @ LT:
    Thank you for putting my feelings into words, and eloquently describing why the comment you were responding to was so ignorant, hurtful, and wrong-headed. The person might have meant well, but then I am reminded of the old saying about good intentions…

    I hope you consider sharing your experiences about the devastating effects of spiritual abuse on your children with the websites listed on this post. Of all the bad stuff these cultic churches do, the effect they have on harming kids and separating them from God is by far the most egregious. Time may heal the other wounds but no parent recovers from seeing a church drive their children away from God. To lose them to the fast life is far better because you know at some point they will tire of that and God will still be right there waiting for them. That’s a point I would like the researchers to understand. When the church destroys your kids, how could you consider returning? TTBOMK I think that the reference to leading a child into sin (separation from God) was the only time Jesus advocated the death penalty. That’s how serious our Lord and Savior takes this.

  204. Gram3 wrote:

    I also believe that they opened their individual markets and constituencies to the others. Honestly, I cannot imagine old-style Reformed Baptists paying a lick of attention to somebody like Mahaney before Dever came along.

    Oh I totally agree and thought so the very first time I saw Mahaney on a T4G promo video from the start. I thought: Who is this fawning giggly man and isn’t Mohler embarrassed? Mahaney was practically licking their boots and they seemed to like it.

  205. Max wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    Apparently, according to the YRR/Neo-Cals, a church with lots of young folks is a sign of success.
    Yep, but a crowd is not necessarily a congregation of the Lord. Any young guy with an ability to gab can quickly build a “successful” New Calvinist church. The recipe for success:
    locate your church plant in a yuppie area (to help buy expensive sound equipment);
    put a coffee shop in the foyer (with Internet access, obviously);
    get a cool band (with loud acoustics, female vocalists with tight pants, fog and laser lights);
    put members into bondage by getting them to sign a membership covenant;
    provide free ESV bibles (ESV Study Bibles are even better);
    have communion and baptism occasionally, but don’t make a big deal out of it;
    recruit other like-minded young rebels as “elders”;
    sit on a stool with a spotlight on you to deliver your “sermons” (very important);
    drop TULIP on everybody as soon as possible, memorize and repeat numerous Piper Points, use books and videos by reformed leaders, use the word “grace” a lot;
    preach to men … ignore the women;
    corral the members into LifeGroups that minister to each other so you personally don’t have to come off your throne to talk or minister to members;
    post numerous selfies on social media (hairdo style is critical or shave it off);
    retweet one-liners by the reformed who’s who (you must master social media);
    shun those who question your theology and/or leave your church;
    don’t hang up a cross in the building (it’s offensive to some people); and
    build a stage over the altar (you don’t need altars in a New Calvinist church).
    There are other elements to doing church without God, but these are essential.

    Excellent List Max! Maybe you should retitle it: “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

    The only thing missing (and maybe it’s just an ARC thing) is the Chrisneyland Youth Indoctrination Fun Center. In the words of George Barna you have to get ’em while they’re young. (Barna is the Chicken Little pollster who creates fear by taking skewed polls regarding children fleeing the church in record numbers, then he sells the churches and parents his Pentecostal books that provide the “solution” to the very problem he created. Very Madison Avenue of him). You need to indoctrinate the kids with Word of Faith declarations starting at birth. Then give them step stools to reach the offering boxes and prizes for tithing their allowances and birthday money. They are yours for life after that. Unless they meet an outsider with common sense. Of course that’s why you need so many week day activities. No questions or outside influence that way.

    Ooh and ESV is just the starter kit. Casually mention that The Message is what YOU personally use in your “quiet time” and there are copies for sale in your trendy book store. It’s so much easier to pervert scripture for personal gain using The Message.

  206. Gram3 wrote:

    DC wrote:
    Sometime in the early years at Capitol Hill Baptist when it was still small, Dever paid a visit to Mahaney simply because he was close by and probably because of the sucess of Mahaney,s church. The friendship grew from this visit in the mid 90’s. Dever’s academic credentials were usefull to Mahaney and Mahaney’s authoritarian control structure fit in well with Dever’s theology of the local church he was developing.
    Thank you for filling in those blanks. That makes sense. Was there also a Reisinger connection? I am somewhat familiar with Founders, but I do not feel comfortable saying why. It is distressing to me to think that Dever would use Mahaney to popularize the Founders views without the Founders label. Mahaney would use anything, IMO, to promote Mahaney. When I first heard he was coming out with a book on humility, I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

    Since Reisinger founded the Founders I’m sure Dever knew him but I do not know of any details. According to my 2004 edition of Dever’s 9 Marks of a Healty Church, the first edition was published in 1997 by the founders press. Reisinger would have still been in leadership at that time but Dever probably had not become friends with Mahaney yet.

  207. @ Bill M:
    I agree with you…I was just having a bit of sympathy, considering my own journey through blissful arrogance towards those I had deemed “unbiblical”.

  208. @ Clockwork Angel:

    I just read this, and it breaks my heart! I can relate to what you just typed out, oh so well. I wish I had some nugget of wisdom here, but I don’t… I do have compassion for your story and I am truly sorry this happened to you.

  209. @ LT:

    He may be the same Barna who is behind this book and site:
    The Resignation of Eve (about women quitting church)
    http://resignationofeve.com/

    I don’t know about all his other stuff, but he’s correct about women leaving the church in greater numbers.

  210. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    When it comes to helping a fellow believer who has fallen on hard times, people….shun you more, and give you the excuse that they don’t want to interfere with whatever God is doing in your life. (I’ve heard that one drop right out of a pastor’s mouth.)

    Oooo, that’s clever. And the most wicked excuse I’ve ever heard.

    How sweet that, after all the rotten treatment, you now make a good living and can choose what/how to give.

  211. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    Yes, my old Calvary Chapel has spent money on upgrading its sound system and other remodeling expenditures, rather than help its own poor.

    I got reeled into the Calvary Chapel cult as a young Army vet back during the Vietnam Era. I survived it for almost 15 years before I got wise. I’m glad you were able to get yourself free too.

  212. @ DC:
    I had something else in mind, but thank you for that information. I believe that Dever met Mahaney before 1997 when that book was published, perhaps as early as 1995. Perhaps I am confusing Reisinger with someone else, which has certainly happened before. Anyway, thanks again.

  213. mirele wrote:

    And don’t think I walked away lightly. Every time I think about it, I hurt inside. But I have to be true to myself and I can’t lie and say I believe things about God and Jesus that I simply don’t believe.

    Mirele, I remember going through that time and I know how hard that point is. My sympathies, it’s a particular, peculiar point of pain. Hope you find a path through it that reduces the hurt.

  214. LT wrote:

    You need to indoctrinate the kids

    When it comes to New Calvinism, the “kids” are college age/young adults. Good to see these age groups back in church, but sad to see them under aberrant theology. Of course, children of the YRR will start picking TULIPs as soon as they are able; I bet there are John Calvin coloring books out there somewhere (if not, I hope I just didn’t give somebody an idea).

  215. Max wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    Apparently, according to the YRR/Neo-Cals, a church with lots of young folks is a sign of success.
    Yep, but a crowd is not necessarily a congregation of the Lord. Any young guy with an ability to gab can quickly build a “successful” New Calvinist church. The recipe for success:
    locate your church plant in a yuppie area (to help buy expensive sound equipment);
    put a coffee shop in the foyer (with Internet access, obviously);
    get a cool band (with loud acoustics, female vocalists with tight pants, fog and laser lights);
    put members into bondage by getting them to sign a membership covenant;
    provide free ESV bibles (ESV Study Bibles are even better);
    have communion and baptism occasionally, but don’t make a big deal out of it;
    recruit other like-minded young rebels as “elders”;
    sit on a stool with a spotlight on you to deliver your “sermons” (very important);
    drop TULIP on everybody as soon as possible, memorize and repeat numerous Piper Points, use books and videos by reformed leaders, use the word “grace” a lot;
    preach to men … ignore the women;
    corral the members into LifeGroups that minister to each other so you personally don’t have to come off your throne to talk or minister to members;
    post numerous selfies on social media (hairdo style is critical or shave it off);
    retweet one-liners by the reformed who’s who (you must master social media);
    shun those who question your theology and/or leave your church;
    don’t hang up a cross in the building (it’s offensive to some people); and
    build a stage over the altar (you don’t need altars in a New Calvinist church).
    There are other elements to doing church without God, but these are essential.

    Oh my, I think you nailed it! You should write “Building a Successful Neo-Cal Church: Guaranteed to produce immediate results!”

  216. XianJaneway wrote:

    In our case, my daughter is 9, reads on a 12th grade level, tests in the top 1% at every subject, but has Sensory Processing Disorder, Anorexia, ADHD, and possibly Asperger’s syndrome. 2e is a dizzying whirlwind of needs that constantly keeps me on my toes and means she doesn’t fit in to almost *any* pre-defined ministry categories. She has the intellect of a high schooler and the emotional stability (and size!) of a 6 year old.

    Uh, that’s what the psychologist told my parents about me back in the 1960s. (I was also nine years old.) Of course, a diagnosis of Asperger’s was completely out of the question back then, even though I had every sign of it. Had I been a boy, it would have been a different story…

  217. Darlene wrote:

    You should write “Building a Successful Neo-Cal Church: Guaranteed to produce immediate results!”

    Darlene, the Neo-Cal churches are so similar in message and methodology that there must already be “How To” instructions being secretly circulated from one young rebel to the next. Such guidance would certainly include lying about your theological persuasion to traditional SBC church pulpit search committees. The SBC landscape is littered with churches split by YRR “pastors” who came in the back door by stealth and deception (justifying that approach to the glory of the new reformation).

  218. LT wrote:

    In the words of George Barna you have to get ’em while they’re young. … You need to indoctrinate the kids with Word of Faith declarations starting at birth. Then give them step stools to reach the offering boxes and prizes for tithing their allowances and birthday money. They are yours for life after that.

    “Give me your children and I will make them mine. You will pass away, but they will remain Mine.”
    — A.Hitler, cult leader

  219. Lydia wrote:

    I thought: Who is this fawning giggly man and isn’t Mohler embarrassed? Mahaney was practically licking their boots and they seemed to like it.

    “With a ruler, you can lay the flattery on with a trowel.”
    — Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of England during much of the Victorian Era

  220. Gram3 wrote:

    A timeline and diagram would be interesting. I first heard about both Gothard and what we now call the Shepherding movement in the early 1970’s.

    Got Hard was definitely active in the early Eighties; otherwise Steve Taylor wouldn’t have written his trademark shticks into the Spiritual Abuse song “I Manipulate”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKlZ7U67Uio

  221. Nancy wrote:

    By limiting the music to this style the church drives off those who do not speak that language to use your terminology. This process, then, changes the makeup of the congregation by swinging it in only one direction. I am thinking that the predominantly rock music crowd are younger and possibly do not have the years of either prior church experience or years to serious bible study and that may be an underlying reason that the churches find this useful; more younger people who may also as a population less already catechized in different doctrines and practices.

    I am nowhere near finished reading the comments on these threads… but I had to reply to this one. Chip Ingram’s church in Los Gatos, California (Venture Christian) has found a solution to this dilemma. Their “main sanctuary” services Saturday evening and Sunday morning have a contemporary worship band. But Sunday mornings at 9 they run a “traditional” worship service in a separate room (I believe it’s hymns with an accompanying pianist), so that those who prefer the “older” music have a place to go. When it’s time for the sermon, those folks watch and listen on closed-circuit TV.

    I live about 75 miles from this church, so I’ve only visited a few times on a Saturday evening. I honestly do not know how their Sunday morning music solution is working out. But I appreciate the fact that they’ve given it enough thought to come up with a solution.

  222. I’m done, but in a more definitive sense, so maybe this is off topic, but anyway.

    Church never taught me to love and respect myself. The premise I absorbed from early childhood was that underneath all of what goes on in life, we are all fundamentally bad. Fortunately for us God loves us and will overlook all that if we “accept” this love. So bad in fact that someone had to die an agonizing death to pay for all our badness. So it’s a double bind – the problem and the solution in one. And it’s all very dangerous because the devil is always there inciting us to backslide. And if you dare to consider whether the sacrifice God made to redeem us was “real” sacrifice (after all Jesus was God and was resurrected, so it all ended OK after only three days) then you are already risking committing an unforgivable sin of questioning God’s works and the work of the Holy Spirit, from which there is no return.

    Well, as I have discovered, there is no return. After which, it is a hard road to try to find a bit of self esteem, piece together a few simple sensible, humble, humanist values, to accept that life is all there is, and try to make the best of it. Huge crushing nostalgia at times, for when life was simpler,, but time passes, your understanding of the world grows, and you can never go back.

  223. Law Prof wrote:

    The thing I see is typically young men with this delusion that they’re the ones who will rediscover the lost secrets and set us all straight and save the world (or, for some of them, the elect within it). The problem is they think they can recover that “First Century magic” by duplicating the church of those years without regard to any of the forces or circumstances operating on those churches. Lacking nimble, experienced minds, seeing the world in black and white, a common inadequacy of youth, they go about mechanically applying these “maxims”.

    Doesn’t that also describe the Taliban, trying to recover their “Year One of the Hegira magic” by duplicating (what they thought was) the Islam of those years without regard to anything else? Mechanically applying their Suras and Hadiths?

  224. @ Jeff S:
    Jeff I read your comment you seem to be torn between your love for the Church family and the dislike of what the PCA stands for. I have done two posts on this site about the Presbyterian Church of Australia. When I attended a local Presbyterian Church I was totally unaware of how the Denomination viewed and treated women. It wasn’t till I challenged the behaviour of the leadership of the local church did I realise that I had ‘no voice’ within the PCAustralia. I have written a book about my experience it is called ‘Prised Open’ and thanks to Dee I have done two Blog Posts on this blog site, Feb 27th and March 2nd.
    MRS. RHONDA J. AUBERT vs THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA: A Case Study

    I do have an update to what has been going on for 4-1/2 years. The PCVictoria (state church) has put it into the hands of their lawyers which has been such a positive step for me. Finally it has been removed from the people who have been blocking me all the way and I can now petition the Presbytery (BACK TO THE BEGINNING) knowing that they will have to abide by the Code of the PCV and the Code of Discipline of the PCAust.

    I have come out of this a very wounded person but I am not going to let them do this to anyone else, especially another woman. My advice is look at the Denomination as a whole and ask God to reveal what is hidden from view then you will know if leaving the Church is the right decision. I know attend a Baptist Church, not like the Southern Baptists in the States, I know this is where God wants me but I fight on for the women still in the PCAust. and maybe one day they will have ‘a voice’.

  225. @ Max:

    Ha ha! Funny joke!

    But this is my (pastor) husband. We are both PC(USA) pastors and we are mostly “done” as well.

    What data do you all have on the disaffection of clergy? I am not leaving my wee congregation (14 in worship is a crowd!) anytime soon, but once God calls me away from this position, I am certain I will be in ministry somewhere outside the walls of a church. My husband is burnt out and we struggle to remain faithful to the Gospel in light of the exodus of members. There is another angle to this story and I would be interested to hear other pastors experiences.

  226. @ Sarah Fegredo:

    All awesome leaders and disciples!

    I will hazard a guess (and maybe incite some sectarian wars) by saying that the “better” stuff comes from folks with a more formalized denominational structure. Those of us who abide by the idea and practice of connectionalism and structures of denominations tend toward more open theologies and practices. There is a lot of crap in the “old” structures of Methodism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, Anglicanism, etc that is a source of frustration and angst, but when one is ordained into these bodies, one has a much larger skeleton on which to build muscle and tendons to go out into the world.

    Of course, I was raised in a PC(USA) – then UPCUSA – church and so do not have any experience of the mega church organizations. AND smaller denominational churches harbor their share of abusive pastors and leaders – I just think we have more nimble discipline borne out of our larger corporate life. See? Sectarian bomb thrown!

    I may not really have much to offer here; my frustrations with “church” come from the Professional Christian perspective and I have only been tangentally involved with abusive colleagues – most of my scars come from congregants who are unhappy with me or my husband or God; hard to tell which, sometimes…..

  227. Charity wrote:

    numo wrote:

    @ Sallie Borrink:
    I hear you. Like you, i look healthy, and, apart from the chronic conditions, i am in pretty decent shape. So nobody gets it.

    You can add me to that list as well The invisible disabilities association is working hard to raise awareness. Just know, you are not alone and that there are compassionate souls out there that do understand.

    Add me to the list.
    I finally broke down & go a handicap parking permit. (I have been qualified for one, for decades, but I am a stubborn old Irish lady). I cannot believe the number of people who give me the Glare Of Death when I use a handicap spot. If you can’t see the handicap, it must not exist…..except it does.

  228. Law Prof wrote:

    They become exceedingly arrogant and chauvinistic, because they stop listening to outside counsel, except for that A29, SGM, SBC leader or whomever who functions as their guru. They have the keys to the universe, the gnosis, be it neocalvinism or techniques of control, or whatever pop psych trend they’re into. They start thinking that what they believe is the True Gospel, the true First century church reborn, and they just fill in the blanks with what they’ve been taught that the Bible doesn’t supply.

    Yeah, there is a lot of gnosticism rearing its head, going on out there.

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