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. Very interesting post. Now that I read it, I am on the verge of being a Done. I am not yet. The music on out church isn’t so loud you can’t hear the words. The dominant sound is people singing. It isn’t entertainment, most of the time. But some of what is said here is true. The focus on the sermon as the end all of dissemination of truth. The huge focus on membership as a requirement. The focus of the elders on teaching and extending the influence of the church through internet and books and CD’s, etc, rather than caring for local people with real needs.

  2. More to the point, scripture knows nothing of the isolated, self-sufficient local church fragment to which 9Marks and similar refer as “the local church”. Such a fragment is a faction, not the local church, and scripture commands us to have nothing to do with divisive or factional people.

    If those who pen articles like the one quoted above really are serious about “submitting to leadership”, then let them repent of their generations-long rebellion against local church authority. Let them go to the rest of the local church in their city, and submit to its leadership, instead of scouring the country for remote networks that pat them on the back doctrinally.

    Of course, that’s hard, messy and complicated. Tough. The man who craves a pulpit must be willing to take up his cross; it’s easy to suffer for the gospel when you get to pick exactly when and how!

  3. “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.

  4. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    Back when me and a buddy were visiting churches occasionally (research for a blog idea that never came to be) we had a term we used for churches like that: Skateboard Jesus Shows.

    That’s a good one! These Megas think they can run with the Kool Kids. It all seems really quite pathetic to me. “Well, if the kids don’t want Christianity, we’ll give ’em a rock show!”

    Ack.

  5. Dee quoting 9Marks:

    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.

    This is a great example of how they argue their points. Make a big assertion that Scripture commands something, then back off by saying the text doesn’t actually say that, but then say that the Bible “indicates” somehow that what they asserted is true. Of course, the “indicates” is in the eye of the beholder.

    Then, offer up the proof-texts which do not bear on the point they really want to make but which might “indicate” that what they assert might be true. Then make yet more bold assertions like “the only way to do that” followed by the only way they can think of to do that. Oddly, that one and only way is the exact one that provides them with the most personal power and authority! What is that one and only way to demonstrate commitment? “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.” Cue the Church Lady to play her role.

    This is the same form of cotton candy argumentation you will find all over Grudem and Piper and Ware and Owen BHLH and Ortlund all of the other authoritarians in the YRR movement. The humidity of examination and reason makes them collapse with only a sticky residue remaining.

  6. My family can be counted among the “Dones”. We left not to run from faith in Jesus, but in a desperate attempt to preserve a true faith in Jesus.

    We have been out two years. We miss the fellowship, but we hated the manipulations, behind-your-back whisper campaigns, passive-aggressive abuse and back stabbings. All of these things were nominally done in the name of God, but they had absolutely nothing to do with the Lord.

    We are not wild-eyed liberals, we are not perpetually wounded malcontents, though I am certain that many religious leaders would label us as such. We have been abused and slandered by neocalvinists and Arminians alike, we have been lied to, lied about, abused, manipulated.

    We are done, and we will not go back into anything that calls itself Christian fellowship until we can at least be assured that it is less hateful, less harmful and less disingenuous than the average meeting of the average skeptics or atheists society. I tell my adult daughter: “Honey, just know that what you have experienced and are currently experiencing (she’s attending a YRR neocal with her boyfriend) has nothing to do with Jesus.” I never thought it would come to this, that I would feel more safe in the company of atheists and agnostics than those who call themselves Christians. Our faith in Jesus is not diminished–maybe it’s strengthened. But we will not go back to anything that calls itself “church” unless we hear clearly from the Lord.

  7. “(Did they really have to put the word “whoa uh x5″ on the screen?)”

    XD. I, as a certified pup (18), completely agree. Why they think they’re being edgy and cool, I don’t know. I’d prefer traditional hymns to the current copycat mainstream soft rock/pop any day.

  8. When a church starts to make corporations look virtuous, and when church leaders start to sound more like politicians and marketers than Jesus, one can expect the people who worship Jesus rather than “success” or doctrinal precision to a gazillion sig figs to leave the “church.” Not all of them, but a large number. Because the people who know what is actually in the Bible and know how to study it without the intermediaries have no stomach for what is on the menu at the kinds of churches we talk about here, like idolatry of celebrities, wild entertainment, new dogmas which may not be questioned, money-grubbing, control-freakery, and abuse and abuse coverups. I think the conservative evangelical church has lost its mind. Not that other churches and other human organizations don’t have huge problems, too, but it is the conservative evangelical church that has made me a Done. And it makes me very sad.

  9. 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.

  10. @ Corbin:
    I heard the exact thing from a young, serious Christian man. He said that younger people are turned off by cheesy rock shows at church because they see much better entertainment at real concerts. Not that I think that liturgy itself is the cure because that has its own pitfalls. But at least you can think in a liturgical service, and you can hear the congregation singing.

    Basically, the church does a very poor imitation of the world.

  11. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    we had a term we used for churches like that: Skateboard Jesus Shows.

    Before the music got quite so loud we used to call it disney worship, especially with the way you had to wait until the doors opened and the inside crowd emptied out so you could be the next crowd to pile in and see the show. Just like at Disney World.

  12. Thanks for brining to light these researchers with whom I was completely unfamiliar.

    Although I’m not a “done,” I feel like I’m a “mostly checked out.” My church is small and thankfully lacks the distracting flashiness of a rock concert megachurch. Now, I’m all for rock concerts, just not so much every Sunday repeating the same 5 or 6 words about Jesus with a line of “woah”s in the bridge.

    Anyway, my church is very sermon-centric… to the point that we, like many Baptist churches [used to], have three different sermons / services, two on Sunday and the third on Wednesday evening (I only attend the Sunday morning one, because I alternate between assisting and teaching at youth group in the evening, and I skip Wednesday altogether). So it’s all very teaching-oriented, with little opportunity for community unless you get out and make it for yourself by asking other folks out to lunch after church or something like that.

    But what turns me off the most is the judgmental attitude that is all too common, and the “sky is falling” reactions every time some culture war topic blows up in the news. You can bet that I’m not looking forward to the next Sunday or two if the SCOTUS hands down a decision favorable to marriage equality, as the court is thought likely to do.

    So judgmental attitudes and politics are the two most prominent reasons why I’ve pretty much checked out. After my term on the church board is up, don’t be surprised if I end up trying out a church down the street that I think might be less judgmental and politically focused – even though I’m sure they have problems of their own. If it works out, I’ll avoid being a “done,” but if not, I too may contribute to the bulge in that part of the Venn diagram.

  13. @ numo:
    Should note that while i think confirmation is good, baptism is all that is really asked of us to be part of the church universal, and when not possible, there is no bar to *being* one who believes.

    Whivh is one reason why most of us who come from liturgical church backgrounds are kind of amazed at the notion of membership covenants/contracts.

    Like, um, Jesus must’ve added Matthew so he could collect signatures and dues. 😉

  14. Gram3 wrote:

    Basically, the church does a very poor imitation of the world.

    You got that right. I believe the music in church should be lyric focused, mainly because that tends to foster a group worship attitude, in my opinion. I can worship through instrument focused music at home.

  15. Gram3 wrote:

    I think the conservative evangelical church has lost its mind. Not that other churches and other human organizations don’t have huge problems, too, but it is the conservative evangelical church that has made me a Done. And it makes me very sad.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  16. Dee said: … we have found a liturgical church which actually reads the Scriptures, has a time for confession of sin, takes communion seriously, and sings songs whose words I can hear.

    Sounds like you and your husband found a church very similar to the one in which our family has taken refuge. May you find peace and genuine fellowship there.

  17. “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.”

    You have accurately described the strategy used by Southern Baptist YRR church planters in my area. The primary driver on location appears to be more economical than evangelical. Planting new works in poor inner cities or unchurched rural communities is a tougher row to hoe … surely God wouldn’t call you to reach lost souls there! … surely the “elect” are clustered in prosperous suburbs rather than in desperate places! Coffee shops, cool bands, and hip preachers propped on a stool will attract a crowd, but not necessarily a congregation of the Lord. There are exceptions to this certainly, but appears to be the primary technique as the SBC grows its ranks via church plants not baptisms. An old cliche, but it fits: “What would Jesus do?”

  18. I obviously can’t speak to any individuals personal feelings/experiences, but in response to the “general” broad brush of the research concerning the “dones” I have a few thoughts….Knowing that I am in a minority position at TWW, but I always like and respect the conversations that occur here….

    1- I would contend that the regular gathering of believers is an indication(I want to say ‘mark’ but that word seems somewhat….ummm….corrupted) of a Christian. The NT was written in the context for the community(outside of the personal epistles that were clearly included as part of the church at large). Going to ‘church’ doesn’t make one a Christian, but a Christian seems(according to the NT) to be in regular fellowship with other believers. And not just a random, lets go out to lunch, sort of way. But in a deliberate gathering in which teaching and worship occurred.

    If anyone has had a difficult church experience I can understand the desire to “take a break”. But I can’t find my way to see a scriptural basis for a deliberately permanent removal from the description of a Christians life within deliberate community as portrayed in scripture. In our small town(less then 15k) there are dozens of churches that range from highly Charismatic, to rock and rollers, to liturgical and organ driven traditional. There are churches with less than 50, and about 3 churches(not counting the RCC) with 600+). There are Elder led, congregational led, arminian, calvinist, egalitarian, complementarian and everything in between. EVEN IN a tiny little place like ours, with a medium sized city at least 45 minutes away, virtually any expression and practice of the Christian faith is available!

    Not to minimize suffering someone may have endured in an abusive church, but it strikes me as a sort of, “I dated this jerk in highschool and so I will never date again”.

    2- As far as over priced church facilities and staffs, I can get why that is so distasteful to people. But as to the second half of point 2 and to elaborate more….The VAST majority of churches operate on a shoe string budget in tiny buildings with pastors who don’t even make enough to get off of welfare assistance. I don’t look over at good ole Rod Parsley’s(I would love to see posts on this crazy guy btw) empire in Central Ohio and say, man churches stink, I am done. Though saddened by what ‘those’ churches may do, they may be publicly visible to many, but they are a small fraction of the majority of churches.

    3- As a millenial myself, I am in total agreement that less politicking in the church is to be contended for. It is one thing to say, we stand for pro-life and support our pregnancy crisis center, vs, claiming America needs to be Bible driven(even if it would be nice) and Obama/Clinton/Liberals are the anti-Christ.

    4- If I found myself in an environment where there was legitimately zero faithful and healthy churches within a reasonable distance, I would start something myself.(though as I have stated, that is a hard argument for me to swallow) Even if it was only with a few people. If we would contend for the priesthood of all believers, than act like the priesthood. Share the Gospel, teach the word, disciple those God brings into the fellowship of His people. If God is in it than it will have a powerful and lasting impact. I say that to simply point out, if you are ‘done’ with what you view as the Americanized version of the church, start planting!(not A29 style obviously….)

    There is no reason that a group of people can’t say, the local church here has been hurtful and we can’t go back, there are “x” number of us who feel/experienced that. The NT calls us to gather and have a part of our christian life and witness “these” things, so let’s do it.

  19. I am a ” Done” a ” None” a whatever you want to call me.
    I just can’t go. Tried to attend a couple of years ago, but have nothing in common with the SBC of today.
    I don’ t go to listen to a sermon that sounds like something Hannity or Rush or Glenn Beck would have on their radio program. I don’t want to attend a church that only has Republicans. I want a church that reaches out to everyone no matter their political ideology…
    As I have written, I will at some point be UMC or Anglican or something liturgical…but my mother is still with us. And she just would never understand why her little ” Baptist seminary alumni” is no longer Baptist….

  20. Max wrote:

    “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.”
    You have accurately described the strategy used by Southern Baptist YRR church planters in my area. The primary driver on location appears to be more economical than evangelical. Planting new works in poor inner cities or unchurched rural communities is a tougher row to hoe … surely God wouldn’t call you to reach lost souls there! … surely the “elect” are clustered in prosperous suburbs rather than in desperate places! Coffee shops, cool bands, and hip preachers propped on a stool will attract a crowd, but not necessarily a congregation of the Lord. There are exceptions to this certainly, but appears to be the primary technique as the SBC grows its ranks via church plants not baptisms. An old cliche, but it fits: “What would Jesus do?”

    Don’t you know, the elect are only rich?

  21. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I obviously can’t speak to any individuals personal feelings/experiences, but in response to the “general” broad brush of the research concerning the “dones” I have a few thoughts….Knowing that I am in a minority position at TWW, but I always like and respect the conversations that occur here….
    1- I would contend that the regular gathering of believers is an indication(I want to say ‘mark’ but that word seems somewhat….ummm….corrupted) of a Christian. The NT was written in the context for the community(outside of the personal epistles that were clearly included as part of the church at large). Going to ‘church’ doesn’t make one a Christian, but a Christian seems(according to the NT) to be in regular fellowship with other believers. And not just a random, lets go out to lunch, sort of way. But in a deliberate gathering in which teaching and worship occurred.
    If anyone has had a difficult church experience I can understand the desire to “take a break”. But I can’t find my way to see a scriptural basis for a deliberately permanent removal from the description of a Christians life within deliberate community as portrayed in scripture. In our small town(less then 15k) there are dozens of churches that range from highly Charismatic, to rock and rollers, to liturgical and organ driven traditional. There are churches with less than 50, and about 3 churches(not counting the RCC) with 600+). There are Elder led, congregational led, arminian, calvinist, egalitarian, complementarian and everything in between. EVEN IN a tiny little place like ours, with a medium sized city at least 45 minutes away, virtually any expression and practice of the Christian faith is available!
    Not to minimize suffering someone may have endured in an abusive church, but it strikes me as a sort of, “I dated this jerk in highschool and so I will never date again”.
    2- As far as over priced church facilities and staffs, I can get why that is so distasteful to people. But as to the second half of point 2 and to elaborate more….The VAST majority of churches operate on a shoe string budget in tiny buildings with pastors who don’t even make enough to get off of welfare assistance. I don’t look over at good ole Rod Parsley’s(I would love to see posts on this crazy guy btw) empire in Central Ohio and say, man churches stink, I am done. Though saddened by what ‘those’ churches may do, they may be publicly visible to many, but they are a small fraction of the majority of churches.
    3- As a millenial myself, I am in total agreement that less politicking in the church is to be contended for. It is one thing to say, we stand for pro-life and support our pregnancy crisis center, vs, claiming America needs to be Bible driven(even if it would be nice) and Obama/Clinton/Liberals are the anti-Christ.
    4- If I found myself in an environment where there was legitimately zero faithful and healthy churches within a reasonable distance, I would start something myself.(though as I have stated, that is a hard argument for me to swallow) Even if it was only with a few people. If we would contend for the priesthood of all believers, than act like the priesthood. Share the Gospel, teach the word, disciple those God brings into the fellowship of His people. If God is in it than it will have a powerful and lasting impact. I say that to simply point out, if you are ‘done’ with what you view as the Americanized version of the church, start planting!(not A29 style obviously….)
    There is no reason that a group of people can’t say, the local church here has been hurtful and we can’t go back, there are “x” number of us who feel/experienced that. The NT calls us to gather and have a part of our christian life and witness “these” things, so let’s do it.

    Adam, wait until you’re 55+ and read what you’ve written. You’ll have a totally different look at stuff.

  22. 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!!

  23. I’m not Done yet. I’m there with them on pretty much every issue outlined here, but there are still some little pockets of believers meeting in organized institutional churches that are being the Church (isn’t it sad you gotta make that qualification?). I think the missus and I have found one. It ain’t perfect, but it’s doing the job.

    They’re just hard to find. Honestly, I think they always will be hard to find. The balance is hard. Good, genuine, spontaneous community is hard. The Baptists and neocals want to try to manufacture good community with some biblical-sounding get-ups, but I submit that you can’t.

    Good post.

    One other thought, and this is why I love the internet these days: Not only do churches need to reassess themselves and reach out to the Dones, but the Dones need to reach out to the Dones and be the community they want. That also is hard, but what is going on in this post is a start. Connection. Community. Not in the traditional way – no doors are being knocked, but this is how it’s done these days. I like it. If this church of ours doesn’t work out long term, I’m gonna be right there with the Dones.

  24. Regarding the beginning of the post Jacques Ellul wrote about how the visual is over powering the word and the Word in his book, “Humiliation of the Word”. Ellul died in 1994 and he wrote the book forty plus years ago. It would be interesting to hear what he would say today.

  25. @ Adam Borsay:
    Adam Borsay you’re a pastor, right? I can appreciate you wanting people to stay attending your industry. It’s something that has to be potentially affecting your and many other pastors salaries and employment so it’s certainly a concern for y’all. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  26. K.D. wrote:

    Adam, wait until you’re 55+ and read what you’ve written. You’ll have a totally different look at stuff.

    K.D., I’m curious what you think Adam will think differently when he’s 55.

  27. Did anyone watch the movie Believe Me last year? This post reminds me of this scene:

    http://riotstudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/jesus-x16.jpg

    The thing is how these churches are hiding puritanical doctrine behind the fog machines and bejeweled jeans. One time a Catholic friend asked if I go to my conservative liturgical church, with its organs and robes, called [neighborhood name] [denomination name] Church instead of the “cool” 9Marks young adults church in town that holds its own logo over the cross because the latter was too “chilled out” for me. Oh, if only I had the time to answer that question.

  28. K.D. wrote:

    Adam, wait until you’re 55+ and read what you’ve written. You’ll have a totally different look at stuff.

    What would I see differently? Not at all meaning to sound facetious. But I am convinced that the NT clearly indicates that the regular, organized and deliberate gathering of believers is the normative. How would 20 more years of life convince me otherwise?

  29. @ Albuquerque Blue:

    I don’t consider it “my” industry. 1- Because regardless of how many people attend this or that church here or there, it has no direct bearing on my “career”. Either I am faithful to do what I am called to do where I am called to do it, and God provides for me, or, not. I am speaking in more general terms to my personal contentiousness towards this idea that millions of people are in places in which there is virtually no possible way for them to have a Christ centered ‘church’ community.

  30. @ dee:

    Obviously there is no perfect church. Churches are comprised of people, and people have warts, therefore, churches have warts. I mean in a basic sense of; 1- High view of scripture, 2- Personally aligned with ones secondary theological/doctrinal views(ie, egalitarian vs complementarian), 3- Cares for you as an individual well.

  31. dee wrote:

    @ John:
    Thank you. What resonated the most for you?

    Dee, The fact that since I retired from the pastorate several years ago due primarily to health concerns and stress, it has been so difficult to locate a balanced, scriptural church that reverentially honors God. The Gospel is often watered down and the music is not uplifting and inspiring but just as described in the post, loud and entertainment driven, and noisy. Being a dinosaur, I want to hear the Word taught more verse by verse. Some churches just take off on themes like superheroes with pastors dressing up like superman and preaching baptism with an Acquaman theme. Lord knows what they preach when Spiderman Sunday comes around. I contend that all mis necessary to build a church is for the man of God to keep right and walk humbly with His God, preach the Word in truth with a broken heart and love and walk slowly among his people. No smoke machine can make up for that.

  32. K.D. wrote:

    Adam, wait until you’re 55+ and read what you’ve written. You’ll have a totally different look at stuff.

    For sure…

    I can’t see how 3-4 hours at a church can in any way resemble community. Especially when during most of those 3-4 hrs. you are seated facing someone’s back until the entertainment is finished.

    I wanted to get involved years ago and my husband and I were asked to teach a Bible Study class together. One Sunday after class the pastor wanted to speak with me. He told me I was “outshining” my husband and it shouldn’t be that way. UGH!

    I’ve been a Done for 6 yrs. and never looked back. Now I have a much closer relationship with the Lord fellowship with some very astute and scholarly acquaintances here at TWW where I can learn from a variety of people and feel free to comment and ask questions.

    I have found EChurch to be a great blessing and am grateful for the technology of this day and age that enables Dones (like me) to worship in the quiet of my home thanks to Wade, Deb and Dee who take the time to provide this ministry.

  33. 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? Again, not to speak to any one individuals personal story, but statistically speaking, shouldn’t there at least be an observable trend of these dones establishing at the very least home based small churches that pursue the NT description of the life of a christian? IE, teaching the word, evangelism, discipling, serving their community, etc.

    And I would contend that any gathering of believers that is walking in spirit in truth won’t stay “small” for long. Not to conflate pure numbers with being “right”, but that evangelism/the Great Commission was the hallmark and marching orders of the early church. Unless one would argue that they are a hardcore five point calvinist and that all the elect in America are already saved, there are endless possibilities of people in every single community that need Christ and through conversion would become active participants in your particular small church.

  34. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Obviously there is no perfect church. Churches are comprised of people, and people have warts, therefore, churches have warts. I mean in a basic sense of; 1- High view of scripture, 2- Personally aligned with ones secondary theological/doctrinal views(ie, egalitarian vs complementarian), 3- Cares for you as an individual well.

    Adam, I appreciate your willingness to be a minority here. I’m one, too, in certain ways, but minority views are important. I agree with much of what you said in your previous longer comment, but disagree that an intentional meeting together means that there is a hierarchical organizational structure and huge overhead to meet every week. That is what the “church” is in too many places. The way you ended that comment is on target, but that seems to go against what you were saying under point #1.

    I am a very unwilling and unhappy Done. A very conservative, inerrantist Done. And I was done in by young, arrogant disciples of Great Men who do not have the first clue about what the Bible is about. In spite of their education, or actually years of indoctrination. There is no place for a conservative older woman in today’s conservative evangelical churches. I’m not a liberal or even a respectable moderate. I’m a Baptist by conviction, but my denomination has decided that women are subordinate humans who have no need of a brain and no need to study the Word for themselves and no place to actually teach even the younger women.

    We are told in the Bible that to question teaching and compare it to the Scriptures is noble. By Paul the apostle. Yet, being a Berean is the bullet train to marginalization if not outright removal in the YRR and Gospel Glitterati churches. Because the young guys are absolutely certain that they have the Truth which they have received from their idols, and therefore they cannot be questioned because that would be questioning God himself. Idolatry and arrogance is not something that should characterize the Body of Christ.

    I think what I would say to you, without knowing what K.D. meant, is that when you have lived through the ups and downs and especially the really deep and seemingly bottomless downs, you come to see that some of the things about which you were so very certain are not quite as high-res as perhaps we thought when we were younger. That is not a slam on youth, nor is it despising youth. It is just a fact, at least for those older people who have gained wisdom rather than just knowledge.

    Where should an older woman who is a conservative, inerrantist, Baptist Berean go? Our denomination and other conservative denominations have been hijacked by gyno-phobic men who mistake their phobias and obsessions for faithfulness to God and his Word. Why are the Dones the ones on trial?

  35. I admit, I am a done. We visited a mega church in our town a few times. It was lights, camera, action, and show. I watch them on tv. I am also handicapped. Believe me when I say that most churches in my area don't make it easy for a handicapped person to go to church. Said churches are more interested in all their special music programs, programs of every kind and lots of other things I won't go into to. I am closer to my Lord and Savior than ever before. Will I go back to church at sometime, I sincerely hope so.

  36. Law Prof wrote:

    My family can be counted among the “Dones”. We left not to run from faith in Jesus, but in a desperate attempt to preserve a true faith in Jesus.
    We have been out two years. We miss the fellowship, but we hated the manipulations, behind-your-back whisper campaigns, passive-aggressive abuse and back stabbings. All of these things were nominally done in the name of God, but they had absolutely nothing to do with the Lord.
    We are not wild-eyed liberals, we are not perpetually wounded malcontents, though I am certain that many religious leaders would label us as such. We have been abused and slandered by neocalvinists and Arminians alike, we have been lied to, lied about, abused, manipulated.
    We are done, and we will not go back into anything that calls itself Christian fellowship until we can at least be assured that it is less hateful, less harmful and less disingenuous than the average meeting of the average skeptics or atheists society. I tell my adult daughter: “Honey, just know that what you have experienced and are currently experiencing (she’s attending a YRR neocal with her boyfriend) has nothing to do with Jesus.” I never thought it would come to this, that I would feel more safe in the company of atheists and agnostics than those who call themselves Christians. Our faith in Jesus is not diminished–maybe it’s strengthened. But we will not go back to anything that calls itself “church” unless we hear clearly from the Lord.

  37. Adam Borsay wrote:

    but that evangelism/the Great Commission was the hallmark and marching orders of the early church.

    I don’t agree that evangelism was supposed to be the hallmark and marching orders for the early church. Modern churches have made that their focus, but Paul consistently stressed that the purpose of the assembling together was for the edification of the body. He stressed the importance of each member and that those who might be perceived as less honorable should receive the most honor. (that might elevate those who fall into the “non-essential” categories to at least an essential category) And he urges participation of each member when they assemble. 2 Cor. 14:26

  38. Adam Borsay wrote:

    And I would contend that any gathering of believers that is walking in spirit in truth won’t stay “small” for long. Not to conflate pure numbers with being “right”, but that evangelism/the Great Commission was the hallmark and marching orders of the early church.

    I will buy that the early church grew by attracting new converts but I would disagree that it is happening today in the same way. Most churches grow by being hipper and cooler than another church and the people just switch church.

    The numbers of people in churches are declining today. So, it is merely a game of "let's go to that church-they give you free coffee cups."

  39. My family and I are Done. There is a church in my parents’ town that is nicknamed “Six Flags Over Jesus” by the surrounding community due to the many amusements offered by the church. My mom is now reading this blog and texted me earlier about this post and said she is done too. At our last church, nobody from the pastoral team could be bothered to visit us when various members of our family were in the hospital nor help us out after the hurricane despite the fact that we had spent many years volunteering and tithing there. There is such an emphasis on the minor issues that the majors have become lost. Churches are busy buying fog machines but can’t find time to take care of the least of them.

  40. @ Adam Borsay:

    Out of curiosity, Adam, have you started a church from scratch and had it grow to the point of duplication? Have you been on the ground, moved across the country, left all your family, and had no job? Have you had four leader changes and five building changes in 12 years? That church folded. The next church was two years new and we were there 17 years. At the 7 year mark a new pastor was “assigned to us” by the “apostles.” That church folded after after a too big building, elder/pastor disfunction, leaving SGM, and another elder board distinction, and

  41. FROM THE ARTICLE: 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.

    [1] The Dones say they left because of the judgmental posture of church people individually and collectively which assaulted the communal experience they longed for.

    [2] 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.

    [3] 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.

    [4] 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.

    THOUGHTS: These look awfully familiar. In fact, they are so similar to what we were hearing 20 years ago in the rumblings that became the post-evangelical “emerging ministry movement” that it’s uncanny. Back then in the mid-1990s, it was mostly GenXers saying the conventional churches were [1] stifling, unrelational, [2] run by Builder- and Boomer-ocracies that squashed creativity, isolative instead of Kingdom-oriented, [3] debate and didactic information transfer instead of relational discussion and Socratic questioning for reflective learning, and [4] maintained the worn out conservative/liberal split between personal morality and social activism.

    So, in my opinion, this echo now of historical factors from then is why it will be important to keep in mind how all that post-evangelical emerging unfolded, and the fact that some of the post-“emerging” streams ended up orbiting around celebrities and/or hijacked by authoritarian systems, whether they were centralized and hierarchical (like the NeoCals) or decentralized and “flat structure” (like the Emergents/Progressives). The resulting control through charisma, compliance, and/or chaos has led to some significant discontent and/or spiritual abuse with that next wave of churches.

    My key point: Proceed with caution! These kinds of hijacking efforts could jsut as easily happen again with “post-done” ministry strategies and structures.

    For a few years, my hunch has been that “nones,” survivors of abuse, and others who’ve now been labeled “dones” would increasingly shift away from involvement in “legacy church” models AND church planting, and move toward parachurch structures, non-profit work, and project-based social transformation endeavors. I have watched for this over the past 15 years, and worked regularly enough with a few ministries over that time period to observe some of it happening.

    As best I can interpret it, many of these alternative structures can embody the kind of balance points that serve as correctives to the deficits and excesses in too many conventional churches, plants, and ministries. What I’ve seen has been: relational, transformational (both personally and socially), meaningful, and respectful. They often are what ministry and church could have and should have been, but too often slipped off their organic/relational base and ossified into just another organizational/institutional entity. The horizons here hold many opportunities and positive possibilities. But we need to watch out for some of the same old susceptibilities … because usurpers are a reality for any ministry … plus probably new kinds of susceptibilities not yet manifested.

  42. @ Adam Borsay:

    So, how do you describe The Village Church which abused Karen? Not just the pastors, but the leaders and some of the members? How do you view Sovereign Grace Ministries?

    What about those churches which have abused members like 9 Marks-UCCD, which went after Todd?

  43. dee wrote:

    but I would disagree that it is happening today in the same way

    I think there is a difference between what we observe happening culturally and what CAN happen. The question we have to ask is; If we see that in the NT but we aren’t seeing it now, what is the disconnect?

    I would contend that from my personal observation and experience the VAST majority of churches and individual believers in the US do NOT practice any sort of meaningful evangelism.

    To compare it to something I saw the other day about how much heavier we are today than 50 years ago. Did our genes radically change in less than 2-3 generations? No, we just eat and live in increasingly unhealthy ways. The problem isn’t that we are incapable of being “thinner”(I recognize that the general term thin is not a full indication of health) it is that we choose increasingly sedentary lifestyles and eat junk almost exclusively.

    If the church wants to look like it used to “50” years ago then start behaving like it did 50 years ago. Namely, share the gospel. We can’t say it won’t happen if we aren’t even trying.

  44. @ Bridget:

    Sorry, that was not finished.

    . . . SGM, another elder disfunction, elder quitting, pastor quitting. There was no congressional oversits allowed. The elders were the leaders.

    I had been a Christian for about six years before the first church plant. So — yes, I’m a done with the institut ions known churches as we see them today.

    What you propose is not as easy as you make it sound.

  45. dee wrote:

    So, how do you describe The Village Church

    I am in total agreement that convenant agreements are at best, non-biblical. Therefore, they are not a wise practice. As far as TVC specifically, I am disappointed in how they initially dealt with it, but am encouraged by how they changed paths. A healthy believer/church isn’t perfect, but it is honest about its failures. As far as SGM and 9marks, their silence on responding to the legitimate concerns and problems is damning imho.

  46. I am unabashedly a Christ follower but definitely DONE with church. Luckily Jesus doesn’t love me more or less because of my lack of local church attendance. I believe the church as most of us have known it is broken and twisted and no longer resembles anything we should support or invest in. My story is not much different than the rest with an upbringing in fundamentalist churches, serving as a paid staff member for a few organizations with the same cycle of manipulation, legalism, leadership abuses, spiritual abuse and passive aggressive tendencies that can be traced through it all. Finally I realized that all churches share a similar disfunction and I would rather have a relationship with Jesus on my own as part of His Church universal than have the church (local) destroy my perspective and relationship with Jesus.

  47. I’m Done, but I’m also Outside The Household Of Faith.

    I’d be Done if only for these reasons:

    * The evangelical churches do not know what to do with single adults of a certain age. It insists on infantilizing us, while failing to recognize that we have jobs and lives and issues.
    * The evangelical churches do not want to hear what you think. It only wants to tell you what to think and then you’re supposed to parrot it back.
    * The evangelical churches want you to adhere to secondary doctrines (like Young Earth Creationism) which are offensive and flatly untrue.
    * The evangelical churches think that if you’re not a Republican, you’re on the side of Satan.

    That’d be enough, but I’m Done and GONE. That’s because what the churches teach as Christian history and what Christian history really is are two different things. To put it very simply: there’s the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith and these are two different people. I gave up trying to meld the historical Jesus to a deity who was both God and man at the same time because there were too many contradictions. And this is a decision which continues to break my heart.

    So even if the churches were to change and be more friendly towards those of us who are not married with children, those of us who ask questions, those of us who might be Democrats or Socialists or Green Party members, I’d still be outside the household of faith because I couldn’t reconcile the Christ of the church and with the Jesus of history.

    Done…gone.

  48. @ Bridget:

    No I have never planted a church. I would say the problem with the contemporary church planting model is that the “goal” is a brick and mortar church. And, when that “fails” it is devastating. Why can’t people “plant” without that brick and mortar being the goal? Instead make the goal, be faithful together and reach and love our neighbors. And then whatever does happen is fine. Modern church plants have an artificial man created goal in mind that is a reflection of a mid 20th century American organization vs a faithful ‘congregation’ of believers.

  49. Oh, and Deebs, while I understand why you mentioned both Tullian Tchividjian and his wife both had affairs, I’d note that Tullian brought his wife’s adultery up in his public confession. It sounded a lot like, “The woman tempted me, and I ate.” (That is, Tullian blamed his fall on his wife.) I believe Tullian was *very wrong* to have done this. He should have only talked about himself. But that is Just My Personal Opinion.

  50. Adam Borsay wrote:

    What would I see differently? Not at all meaning to sound facetious. But I am convinced that the NT clearly indicates that the regular, organized and deliberate gathering of believers is the normative. How would 20 more years of life convince me otherwise?

    Sharon wrote:

    K.D., I’m curious what you think Adam will think differently when he’s 55

    I would like to answer this question since i ditto’d KD’s comment. I am one who can speak to this because I used to believe that, in general, all churches were like the ones I had been in-great pastors, elders who actually disagreed and spoke out, church members who were encouraged to start ministries and Bible studies, women were allowed to teach and churches which actually looked at child sex abuse and domestic violence as despicable as opposed to being debatable. (Did that really happen? Maybe the wife egged him on? )

    Then, about 8 years ago, I encountered a church which poorly handled a pedophile situation and then attempted to chase my husband and me to another unrelated church to discuss our (along with many others) call to repentance for not disclosing the full truth of the matter. In other words, they tried to pull retroactive church discipline on the wrong people.

    God was so good to me. He allowed me to see the dark side of churches. Oh, in case you were wondering. one of my former pastors is on TGC’s council which says a lot about how TGC views child sex abuse failures. I needed to see this stuff up close and personal so that i would know what is going on in churches today.

    In our area, the so called faithful churches push CJ Mahaney’s books, hire ex pastors from SGM, support SGM by flying down and giving sermons in churches, think Gary Ezzo is incredible and tremble if John Piper is within 50 miles. I have written this blog for 6 years. Right now, I have about 10 stories backed up that we will post of well known, “faithful” churches which act like jerks their treatment of people who ask the wrong questions.

    We are currently looking into another well known church which has covered up the despicable child sex abuse business of one of their beloved members. I have just finished dealing with TVC which would never have apologized if a couple of us hadn’t disclosed the story. The same goes for Sovereign Grace Ministries, James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll. Most people just kept their mouths shut until, of course, the end was in site then everybody agreed that there were problems.

    I have changed in these years, The *Dones* are primarily middle aged faithful church members who are well versed in Scripture and have gotten sick and tired of the nonsense going on in many churches today.

    So, you have got my name on this blog and I am one who can give you a full history of my Pollyanna view of churches through most of my life until God decided to slap me upside the head to see the pain and sorrow which many people have suffered at the hands of arrogant church leadership.

    So, remember KD and me when you are 55 and let us know if you get it then. It took me a long time to get it as well.

  51. mirele wrote:

    ’d note that Tullian brought his wife’s adultery up in his public confession. It sounded a lot like, “The woman tempted me, and I ate.” (That is, Tullian blamed his fall on his wife.) I believe Tullian was *very wrong* to have done this

    I totally agreed with you. I just spoke with a friend about this on the phone.

  52. Adam Borsay wrote:

    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? Again, not to speak to any one individuals personal story, but statistically speaking, shouldn’t there at least be an observable trend of these dones establishing at the very least home based small churches that pursue the NT description of the life of a christian? IE, teaching the word, evangelism, discipling, serving their community, etc.

    And I would contend that any gathering of believers that is walking in spirit in truth won’t stay “small” for long. Not to conflate pure numbers with being “right”, but that evangelism/the Great Commission was the hallmark and marching orders of the early church.

    We might want to consider those thoughts in light of the missiological theory and research, not just theology and evangelism theory.

    For instance, look at the work done by Ralph Winter from 40+ years ago, and what he called *modality* versus *sodality* — both of which appear in the book of Acts as means of discipleship evangelism and establishing of churches; one is local, more stable composition, and long-term and the other is mobile, more turnover in mentor/protege connections, and temporary.

    And from Celtic monasticism where some of their monastic orders were set up at the crossroads in order to create an open community, and not isolated from the community. And some of the ancient evangelistic teams attached themselves to a tribe for a time, discipling and training, and moving on while leaving a mature trainee behind while taking new proteges with them on the road to the next tribe.

    Consider where “nones” would be on the Engel and Søgaard Scales and related missiological tools in terms of the level of information an individual or aggregate people group have about the gospel and his/her/their attitude toward the gospel. How have their attitudes about the gospel and about Jesus been affected by the churches/Christians they have seen?

    In terms of missiological analysis of “nones” as a “virtual people group” in diaspora (and even in “digital diaspora”), how does this affect missional involvement with them?

    I wonder … perhaps “dones” will be taking the lead in using their spiritual gifts for the purpose of discipling opportunities among “nones” who typically self-identify as “spiritual” but not connected to a specific religion/tradition.

  53. Adam Borsay wrote:

    A healthy believer/church isn’t perfect, but it is honest about its failures.

    Let’s take it a step further. There were many people besides Chandler who failed in that church but only Chandler apologized. Since only he apologized, does that then make it a healthy church?

  54. My husband and I are “dones” who grew up in church, were poster children for the conservative theo/poli position, met with a crisis of faith the churches of our backgrounds neither understand nor easily discuss.

    We are smart, but do not hold ourselves higher than God. We do, however, see the need to engage our minds in our worship – a word that should never be limited to musical engagement.

    Many churches only like to engage the minds of those who agree with their leaders. People with different visions are encouraged to see the light or live under suspicion. We are lonely in church buildings, so we seek small community where we can find it, though it’s hard to find others with our bent. It’s not like we all wear white carnations, etc.

    Perhaps there can be a “Craig’s List for the Disenfranchised” or whatever. Like others, we are burned and wary, though not utterly without hope. My spirit is a candle the flame of which I do not own, and I am assured that one day we will find fellowship again.

    And I would never have understood my own words before I transitioned. I think there are some things we only intuit if we’ve experienced them. I have never been able to explain my shift to someone who hasn’t felt it, already. Not sure what to do with that.

  55. Law Prof wrote:

    We have been out two years. We miss the fellowship, but we hated the manipulations, behind-your-back whisper campaigns, passive-aggressive abuse and back stabbings. All of these things were nominally done in the name of God, but they had absolutely nothing to do with the Lord.

    Thank you for your comment. You fit the demographic of many of the dones. Bright, faithful, and sick of the games churches play. I am so sorry for what you went through.

  56. Corbin wrote:

    I, as a certified pup (18)

    Then maybe you could explain to me why “whoa uh” is actually sung in the song in a way that sound like “wuh oh.?” My husband was snorting when I decided to sing if as written. I got some strange looks from the kids next to me but I was have a great time! I believe in submitting to the song lyrics as written! 🙂

  57. @ Adam Borsay:
    Adam, i am in my late 50s, and coulc give a long list of how i got burned, and where, and how i saw others seriously harmed, too.

    I lived with all of this from 1972-2002 (when i was booted out of the last church i was part of plus had friends told not to speak to me, was slandered and accused of lying about somethin i hadn’t even done) and i am.totally.exhausted. i went through 30 years, in one abusive environment after another. And i will.nevrt.go.back. i am still recovering from thr trauma of it all.

    In the meantime, i am a revert to my Lutheran background (how i wish I’d stayed put!), but actually thinking about discusding a number of issues with the rabni at the nearest Reform synagogue. If nothing else, it will probably help to get his opinion on a number of problems that i keep running up against in xtianity as a whole. Am i ready to throw in the towel and convert? Probably not…yet. but i would rather be in a community of faith that welcomes enwuiry and questioning and wrestling and just living life, than in one that talks a perfevtionist game but refuses to act or live like ghe one it is supposed to be following.

    Not sure i can give up Jesus, but i am almost certainly not looking for involvement in any church whatsoever. I would rather be with people who accept that pain snd doubt are a part of life yhan with those who keep trying to paper over gaping wounds with Band Aids.

  58. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the church wants to look like it used to “50” years ago then start behaving like it did 50 years ago. Namely, share the gospel. We can’t say it won’t happen if we aren’t even trying

    And I ask (not sarcastically) what is that gospel? If it is what I grew up with in the IFBC, then it is: “To the unbeliever,come as you are, to the believer, why are you stil sinning so much? You should know better by now.”

    I finally walked away when I realized that their Jesus was only able to freely forgive the sins of heathens. But his own sheep could not receive forgiveness as easily. There was some sort of penalty one would have to pay, usually emotionally. Even though emotionalism was a big no-no in the preaching, it was used and abused by the time the altar call was underway.

    I realized with much Bible study on my own and some great mentors that Jesus died for our sins even after we were saved. It was as if the whole book of Galatians was ignored in all practicality. I am having a hard time finding a church in my area that separates the law from the gospel. Most of them have gone trendy with “live a better life by doing x y z.” And that is more law. I am not against the teaching of law. My flesh understands the law perfectly. But grace is foreign to the flesh. More law will never save a soul. It will never give hope to the struggling lambs in the fold.

    If gospel to you is the answer to the law… If you are talking about a gospel that gives even the Christian hope, then I agree– we need more of that.

  59. 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.

    I don’t think it is however they use the ESV so I am chronically suspicious. 🙂

  60. I was young and now I’m old, and I ain’t seen nothing like this thing we call “church” in 21st century America. I suppose I’m done, but just ain’t quit yet. I saw on a T-shirt once “I don’t go to church; I am the Church” … sounding better all the time! Hudson Taylor, early missionary to China, said “There has always been the Church within the church” … I understand what he meant, but the percentage of who’s in and who’s out seems to be changing for the worse. As Henry Blackaby preaches “Look for where God is working and join Him there.” Good counsel – your spiritual life depends on it folks! Redeem the time for the days are short.

  61. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the church wants to look like it used to “50” years ago then start behaving like it did 50 years ago.

    You mean like endorsing Jim Crow and all that stuff?

  62. Gram3 wrote:

    Because the young guys are absolutely certain that they have the Truth which they have received from their idols, and therefore they cannot be questioned because that would be questioning God himself.

    “If you question what I say to you
    YOU REBEL AGAINST THE FATHER, TOO!”
    — Steve Taylor, “I Manipulate”

  63. dee wrote:

    You mean like endorsing Jim Crow and all that stuff?

    Well, I was generically meaning, back ‘then’ things were ‘better’ not necessarily meaning exacty 50 years ago…..50 years ago a lot of the American church was what I like to call the Field of Dreams model….put a cross out front and wait for them to come……

    But, your point is actually a good one….No matter the era, the Church has had problems. But it has survived and even thrived. Regardless of the absurdities and abuses at any point in history, Christ’s Bride keeps on keeping on. It is only been recently in our highly autonomous “me first” 21st century Western Civ have we seen this huge growth of “dones”. Is it a faithful and healthy response to sinful man made organizations, or, is it a reflection of modern society first with some spiritualism sprinkled in? I don’t ask that to try to infer what I think the answer is, I am not particularly sure…but it is an important one we should be asking…

  64. Gram3 wrote:

    Basically, the church does a very poor imitation of the world.

    Man, Gram, this comment hit me like a ton of rocks. Since I became a Done (and I love Jesus and adore my Father and am head over heels in love with the Spirit), I have also become enamored of my Buddhist and other “non-Christian” kin, (like a whole LGBTQ community) simply because they love so well. I love them so much because they either are so lovable, or they love me (and my son, no questions asked, no judgments necessary). The church as we know it can’t even manage civility.

  65. @ dee:
    I’m currently reading “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America.” It’s enlightening, and in relation to this sub-discussion, the period 50 to 60 years ago (the one to which every nostalgic wants to return) was anomalous; church attendance was notably higher than it had been in, say, the 1800’s. And then of course, as you’ve pointed out, there’s the whole Jim Crow thing, and various women’s rights issues that weren’t settled until shockingly recently. And I know better than to expect a conservative Christian pastor to even believe that this was an issue, but the US government’s persecution of LGBT people was notoriously severe in the 50’s and 60’s (look up the new documentary “Uniquely Nasty” for more on that topic). So folks can take their half-century old culture and stick it where it belongs, 50 years in the past!

  66. Obviously, as the main minority view I am receiving a lot of questions….I will try to respond to the best of my ability in broad terms……

    1- I don’t think that Christians are specifically called to come to any particular building on Sundays. I do think that Christians are called to deliberate fellowship that prioritizes; 1-teaching/preaching, 2- worship, 3- service and love of others, 4- equipping and encouraging towards evangelism

    2- For those who are “out of place” (ie Gram3) I see no limits on ones ability to establish a faithful community that aligns with scriptures description of the Church within in the context you find yourself.

    3- To the point made earlier about law vs Grace…I am convinced that the Gospel is good news for the unbeliever and the believer equally. Which is why I am so saddened by TT’s adultery. He was the loudest and most articulate voice for that. Knee jerk monday morning theologians on either side will take it to go more law or go more grace without consequences. I did love his tweet today, “No vertical condemnation does not mean no horizontal consequences”a

    4- I personally have trouble conceiving being Done and Gone. Not to be a personal attack towards anyone’s particular viewpoint….but…For me, it is alllll about Jesus. I am drawn to and in love with the expression of Christ in the Church in theory and practice, but the Church, particularly the local church, has never really been in even the same ball park as Christ Himself. I do think that an outflow of being in love with Christ leads to the formation of deliberate community, but they are not the same thing.

    5- Analogy for value of the church to Christians—-I was an “athlete” in highschool, thought I would totally take advantage of all the great workout facilities in college……NEVER went my first year. Without a team I just never got the same motivation and accountability to REALLY do what I was so sure I would do.

  67. 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.

    Guess again. The Anglican church I attend in Northern Virginia has no such requirement, and I’ll leave if that ever changes. However, there’s one local Anglican church with a membership covenant, Church of the Ascension in Arlington (Dean Miller, rector). Here is their membership covenant:

    http://theascension.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Ascension-Membership-Covenant.pdf

  68. Christy, formerly known as Mandy wrote:

    At our last church, nobody from the pastoral team could be bothered to visit us when various members of our family were in the hospital nor help us out after the hurricane despite the fact that we had spent many years volunteering and tithing there. There is such an emphasis on the minor issues that the majors have become lost. Churches are busy buying fog machines but can’t find time to take care of the least of them.

    I gotta hand it to the Mormons, they really do take care of their own with regard to what you’ve described above. Independent Protestant fundagelicalism could learn thing or two from the Mormons on tribal community and what ‘community’ really means beyond the usual platitudes and rah-rah-sis-boom-bah.

  69. @ Josh, Doctor of Pulchritudinousness:
    J. Edgar Hoover plus Sen. Joe McCarthy… Barbara Kingsolver wrote a novel about this (among many other things) that i think you’d like – The Lacuna. The central character is a gay writer who starts working for the Feds prior to WWII. he’s also a novelist and uses historical novels set in pre-Conquest Mexico to criticize both McCarthy and Hoover. It is set partly in Mexico. (And made me want to go to either Oaxaca or the Yucatan, or both,in the worst way ‘ and we’re not talking tourist traps, either.)

  70. dee wrote:

    Then maybe you could explain to me why “whoa uh” is actually sung in the song in a way that sound like “wuh oh.?”

    It was originally written as “whoa uh” , but when you add in Gospel Passion to the Gospel-centered worship, it’s sung as “wuh oh”.

  71. @ singleman:
    Yikes! But are they AMIA, or something similar? Cause that should not be happening and i doubt the Anglican Communion id being helped by these sorts of impositions.

  72. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Christ’s Bride keeps on keeping on. It is only been recently in our highly autonomous “me first” 21st century Western Civ have we seen this huge growth of “dones”. Is it a faithful and healthy response to sinful man made organizations, or, is it a reflection of modern society first with some spiritualism sprinkled in?

    I think it is a mistake to write the Done phenomenon off to a culture of individualism. I think that God saves individuals. I think the Holy Spirit indwells individuals and gifts individuals who then use those gifts for the benefit of the Body. I think that God works through individuals *and* through groups like local churches. But I think it is a mistake to think that God is restricted to acting mostly within a recognizable organization. That does not make sense to me personally. Honestly, I heard that individualistic argument a lot in former churches, particularly the last one. I’m not persuaded by that line of thinking because it just seems to me like more anti-culture than pro-Jesus.

    The Bride of Christ keeps on keeping on because of the faithful Bridegroom, not because of organizations, structures, particular doctrines, etc. I agree with you that it is good for us to gather together to worship and pray and to do all the one-anothering. The problem is that those things have been crowded out by all the things that have been added as conditions for being included as part of the fellowship of a local church. I think of the conservative evangelical church like a kudzu landscape in summertime. You know there are trees somewhere underneath the tall, green monster shapes. But the thickness and pervasiveness of the kudzu hides the trees and eventually kills them while it crowds out everything else as well. Let’s not forget that the non-native kudzu was introduced because it was a very cheap food source for cattle. But good intentions produced a disaster of unintended consequences, and I think there is a lot of theological kudzu that is not native to Christianity that is smothering it and blocking the life-giving light.

  73. numo wrote:

    @ singleman:
    I am so sorry to hear this. It’s wrong.

    I agree.

    When I joined my current church, I publicly affirmed my faith in Jesus Christ in accordance with the confirmation service format in the Book of Common Prayer. (The church was Episcopal at the time but left TEC several years later.) There was nothing along the lines of a modern-day membership covenant.

  74. @ Adam Borsay:
    Adam, it has zip to do with the things you think it is about. Zeto. Nada. People have had it, and they’re leaving. Many of them have tried so hard to be part of the church, and given a LOT of themselves in the attempt.

    I think sometimes thr only sane thing we can do is to walk away. It doesn’t mean people cease to believe, rather, that they’ve bern burned and judt aren’t going to subject themselves to it anymore.

  75. @ Gram3:
    Although we don’t have kudzu up hete, and i hsve never seen how it csn take over if allowed, i think your analogy is all too accurate.

  76. Corbin wrote:

    It was originally written as “whoa uh” , but when you add in Gospel Passion to the Gospel-centered worship, it’s sung as “wuh oh”.

    Is that kinda’ like “…I’ll never get laid cuz’ Jeezus is my boyfriend…” type of thing?

  77. numo wrote:

    @ singleman:
    Yikes! But are they AMIA, or something similar? Cause that should not be happening and i doubt the Anglican Communion id being helped by these sorts of impositions.

    Church of the Ascension is affiliated with PEARUSA, a province of the Anglican Church in Rwanda. PEARUSA is also affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America.

    Church of the Holy Spirit is affiliated with the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, also part of ACNA.

    I don’t know if there are any other Anglican churches which use membership covenants or similar documents, but their very presence is scary indeed.

  78. About the original post.
    I’m single and a lady. Churches don’t care about singles, especially not childless, single ladies. They prefer married couples, especially ones who have children.

    Churches won’t allow women to serve or volunteer in areas that interest them, but will usually insist on placing them in the children’s nursery, which I’m not interested in, or tell them that certain tasks are for men only.

    Struggles and grief were met by church-going Christians (some I met actually at churches, as well as family members who attend other churches) with cliches, platitudes, shaming.

    I was told to stuff the pain of my loved one’s death down and just go work at soup kitchens. There was no willingness to sit and “weep with those who weep,” but a demand that you get through the grief and pain alone in private, and do it quickly.

    The years I had depression I got similar responses from church-goers: got cliches, platitudes, was told by some churchy people that “real Christians” don’t experience depression, or told to just read my Bible and pray more.

    I am turned off by the attempts by churches to be cool and relevant, like with the laser light shows, rock bands on stage, and the hipster fashions, and all because churches are desperate to win over the youth. They don’t give a fig about people past 35.

    Those are just a few of my reasons.

  79. @ singleman:
    I do not think it is a good idea for Ametican churches to be affiliated in this way with Anglican churches in other countries. Just plain unwise, for all kinds of reasons, very much including the rising hatred and fear of LGBT people in far too many African countries. That people from the US are behind much of that – self-professed xtians, no less – is also very scary.

  80. @ singleman:
    Are they affiliated with the Moore College/Sydney Anglicans? That would make the church covenant make some sense, I think. From what I understand, the Sydney Anglicans are a different breed of Anglican/Episcopalian, and there is quite a bit of cross-pollination with SBTS and SEBTS which effectively means with Acts29 and 9Marks as well.

  81. @ Adam Borsay:

    Why would I want to return when I know I’m going to get burned again?

    Some of their problems are due to their theological beliefs.

    For example, a lot of church going Christians think Bible reading should be sufficient to deal with clinical depression (which I used to have for years).

    If I go to yet another church and confide in the members about the grief I had over my family member’s death, I just know I’m going to get the same old garbage: “pray more,” “go work at a soup kitchen,” etc.

    To sort of use one of your analogies, it would be like returning to my jerky, cheating boyfriend over and over, or, dating the same kind of guy over and over, hoping for different (better) results. But you know I’m never going to get different results.

    As a woman, and a single one to boot, churches don’t want me. I don’t have any interest in babysitting toddlers in the nursery or answering the church’s phone (secretary work), which are some of the only avenues open to women in churches.

    Churches offer nothing else for single, childless women, especially not ones past 35. I even tried volunteering some of my skills at a church or two, and they found no use for them.

    Churches also usually tend to limit interesting positions to men only, due to misinterpretations of biblical passages about men and women.

    So long as most conservative churches keep holding on to gender complementarianism, some of these issues are not going to be resolved, so why bother going?

    (I’d not feel comfortable attending churches with more liberal theology.)

  82. Gram3 wrote:

    I think it is a mistake to write the Done phenomenon off to a culture of individualism. I think that God saves individuals. I think the Holy Spirit indwells individuals and gifts individuals who then use those gifts for the benefit of the Body. I think that God works through individuals *and* through groups like local churches. But I think it is a mistake to think that God is restricted to acting mostly within a recognizable organization.

    One of the things I’ve kept hearing for 20+ years is how people are tired of being squeezed into program-oriented “ministry” roles, where all that’s really needed is some warm body to volunteer and it is not spiritual-gift-based ministry. I’m not against volunteerism, but when programism and institutionalization replaces and negates spiritual gifts and the Holy Spirit’s leading, something is *seriously* wrong.

    The “dones” seem to be one of the most recent manifestations of that business-model, limited-pedagogy approach to “doing” church. When there is little freedom to innovate indigenous ministry, and the only service accepted involves implementing some out-sourced program, what is the point? The human element is gone; it’s in essence just a machine and the people are but cogs therein to keep the institution going.

  83. Muff Potter wrote:

    Is that kinda’ like “…I’ll never get laid cuz’ Jeezus is my boyfriend…” type of thing?

    LOL, I guess so. You’d have to give me the context.

  84. numo wrote:

    Many of them have tried so hard to be part of the church, and given a LOT of themselves in the attempt.
    I think sometimes thr only sane thing we can do is to walk away. It doesn’t mean people cease to believe, rather, that they’ve bern burned and judt aren’t going to subject themselves to it anymore.

    If that isn’t the truth!! And it seems that all that got done was buildings built from money given, hours and hours of volunteer time spent within the church building, and pastors full financial support and insurance and housing. Then add on the beratings for not “evangelizing” enough, not giving more, or not being at every meeting while working full time and giving birth to your children. Many (not all) full-time pastors don’t have a clue what it is like to have a family, a job, and a church that all demand full time attention to their desires.

  85. @ numo:
    Yep, that’s the Lavender Scare, the lesser known companion to the Red Scare.

    @ numo:
    If an Anglican church in the United States has affiliated itself with an African Anglican church, I’d run away as fast as my moderately out of shape legs could carry me. Americans, notably among them Scott Lively (whom I don’t think has any connection to Anglican denominations per se), who stirred up anti-LGBT animus in Uganda, leading to the passage of a vicious bit of legislation over there. I don’t understand the culture to be able to know what drives this intense animus, but regardless, this is why I don’t trust African-affiliated Anglican churches for a split second!

  86. Adam Borsay wrote:

    My disconnect, to clarify my longer thoughts, is that why aren’t any of these millions of people establishing NT churches?

    Some of them did. A trend called “home churches” started about ten years ago.

    I don’t know if they are still popular, but one problem with those is that once they get more members, they sometimes morph into a big church that the people who joined the home church were trying to get away from in the first place.

  87. Gram3 wrote:

    …is that when you have lived through the ups and downs and especially the really deep and seemingly bottomless downs, you come to see that some of the things about which you were so very certain are not quite as high-res as perhaps we thought when we were younger.

    Yep.
    I also agree with the rest of your post.

    So far as I remain in the faith at all, my beliefs sound pretty close to yours, but Southern Baptists really limit women, so I don’t find SBs very welcoming or appealing.

  88. I know, we need a new expression of church to emerge. Let’s call it the “emergent church” and…

    …oh, that’s been done? Well…

    Seriously, though, this story has played out a zillion times in my moderate-lengthed lifetime alone. It plays out on the macro scale (within larger evangelicaldom) and on the micro scale (individuals).

    Dissatisfaction. Reinvention. Engagement. Corruption/malaise. Reawareness. Dissatisfaction… rinse, repeat.

    The seeker churches, the emergent churches, the fundamentalists before those, the current neo-Cals, the home church movement, Jesus people… blah, blah, blah. Cycle after cycle after cycle.

    Are we tired of watching our own navels yet?

    I, too, might easily be considered a “Done”. But instead of walking away from fellowship, I have chosen to work at it, knowing that the guy in the pew, our pastors, the usher taking offering – nine of them are perfect. Neither am I.

    And I can point out various issues in our church. The “women” issue (drives me nuts). Occasional silly talk of building projects. $$$ going to fairly spurious “short term missions.” A few knuckleheads who do nothing yet attempt to obstruct everything. Etc. we all know the drill.

    I could just walk off and say “have a nice life.” But instead I immerse myself in a couple of ministries in the church. I have found a bible study group of mainly likeminded folks. I take part in some community and para church ministries (some with aforementioned bible study group). Etc.

    The issues still bother me. The banal choruses some mornings bother me. (Thankfully fog machines are a non-starter… phew). But I rarely notice those as I’m too busy with other things.

    My main “done” feature is probably the fact that, if things really went south, I’d be pretty quick to pull up the stakes. My loyalty ain’t my parents’ loyalty.

    But beyond that, I appreciate the flawed fellowship, knowing that I am also a flawed fellow.

  89. Christy, formerly known as Mandy wrote:

    At our last church, nobody from the pastoral team could be bothered to visit us when various members of our family were in the hospital nor help us out after the hurricane despite the fact that we had spent many years volunteering and tithing there

    Oh yes, this is very, very common. This is one thing I find very disturbing about so many churches today, and I have read similar stories as yours by many other people on other blogs and in books about why people are leaving churches.

    People can spend years at a church, donating their time and money, but when they need the members of that church or the preacher to help them, that help never comes. This is a very common problem. I see it mentioned quite a bit by other Nones or Dones.

  90. Thank you all so much for the amazing discussion here. It’s really great to see how people are engaging with this. I assure you all that it is very much appreciated. Follow us @DechurchAmerica on twitter to stay updated with The Dechurched Project.
    -Josh

  91. One more for your list, dee.

    10. The elevation of secondary issues to the level of essential doctrine.

    Being told you’re “not really saved” because you are egalitarian, don’t hold a young earth perspective on creation, or can’t attend a shepherding group with nary an absence, also makes heads (and hearts) tilt toward exit doors.

  92. Gram3 wrote:

    Where should an older woman who is a conservative, inerrantist, Baptist Berean go? Our denomination and other conservative denominations have been hijacked by gyno-phobic men who mistake their phobias and obsessions for faithfulness to God and his Word. Why are the Dones the ones on trial?

    Oh, yes.

  93. Gram3 wrote:

    @ singleman:
    Are they affiliated with the Moore College/Sydney Anglicans?

    Not as far as I know. Although it’s worth noting that John Yates, rector of The Falls Church Anglican, is a member of The Gospel Coalition’s council.

    Sorry folks, but it’s after midnight here and I need to hit the sack. Goodnight.

  94. @ dee:

    One other small detail of his confession or statement that bothered me (other than him seemingly saying, “Hey, you can’t blame me for cheating on my wife, she did it first!”).

    If I am recalling it correctly: I think he said after his church elders confronted him about an affair only then did he admit it and step down.

    If he was a preacher, I would hope he would have gone to his elders and confessed the sin, not waited for them to rat him out and hold him accountable. But I guess that is human nature.

  95. @ Daisy:

    Another neo-Cal cheating in his wife. Although she was supposedly cheating on him first. Not that that amounts to a hill of beans.

  96. @ dee:

    The church members of TVC who I saw defending TVC no matter what came across like automatons programmed to spew the church’s party line.

    I wonder if other TVC members who saw that really scary, uncritical loyalty were also creeped out and are thinking about leaving the church?

  97. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I finally walked away when I realized that their Jesus was only able to freely forgive the sins of heathens. But his own sheep could not receive forgiveness as easily

    A lot of Christians do seem to teach or believe this.

  98. @ E.G.:

    But what if you can’t serve where you feel led, gifted, and interested because the church won’t permit you, and because of your gender?

  99. @ E.G.:

    Yes, I saw the news stories about him admitting that his wife had an affair and he had one, and that he resigned, I just thought there had been yet another development I had not heard yet, but thank you.

  100. Adam Borsay wrote:

    But I am convinced that the NT clearly indicates that the regular, organized and deliberate gathering of believers is the normative

    I’m convinced that a regular gathering of believers in pews or chairs to listen to a lecture has nothing to do with the Christian community.

  101. I have a lot of reasons to be “done” with the institutional church but I’m still trying, this portion resonated

    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.

    I’ve grown in understanding reading and interacting here than in the hours of lecture I’ve sat through over the years, correction decades.

    From “The way Church Was Meant To Be” by Terry Stanley:
    “An organization tends to replace relationships. People relate to the organization rather than each other. People belong to the organization, instead of each other. People depend on the organization instead of only depending on each other. People give their money to the organization, instead of giving to each other. People invite others to be a part of their organization, instead of inviting others into their lives. People invest in and build up the organization, instead of investing in and building up one another.”

    I disagree with Stanley on some things but this paragraph took the words out of my mouth.

  102. adam borsay wrote:

    but it clearly isn’t exclusively corrext

    substitute “little to do with” for “nothing to do with” and maybe we can agree.

    You’d asked up thread what another 20 years would do to change your mind. I’m projecting because it has had an enormous impact on me. Hopefully you won’t get hit by the same proverbial truck that ran over me. In some ways it was beneficial as it showed myself and others that we had devolved in our faith to serving an institution rather than each other and our Lord.

    It was a badly run authoritarian church that opened my eyes to the problem described in this post by Dee. Many left that church, some left the church, and some left their faith. I’ve seen many wonderful people undermined in their faith by the supposed institution that is meant to help.

    One of the problems I face is trying to get church leaders to understand that this is a problem. I’m involved in many para-church non-profits and rub shoulders with many pastors and others who are very active in their church. Ive found there is a big tendency to dismiss and not consider what they don’t understand or want to understand. If however you can come to an understanding of how great this problem is, why so many are disillusioned, without having to experience spiritual abuse by a church then it may well help unlock how to break through.

  103. mirele wrote:

    Tullian Tchividjian and his wife both had affairs

    It is interesting that this is what took him out of leadership. In my former denom it would also have readily removed a pastor. The problem there was that several authoritarian pastors drove off over half their members and that didn’t cost them their jobs. In my book that type of divisiveness and pride is just as bad and it certainly affects a lot more people. I recall that as Tullian took over half the congregation left.

  104. @ Josh, Doctor of Pulchritudinousness:
    The Falls Church (in Falls Church, VA) was originally affiliated with the Anglican church in Nigeria, iirc, and believe me Peter Akinola is not exactly warm and fuzzy when it comes to LGBT people. There is rising anti-LGBT sentiment in many African counties, very much including West African nations like Nigeria. Uganda is nowhere near, though Rwanda is.

    And no, Lively isn’t Anglican, but he did write that odious book, The Pink Swastika, in which he claims that all the top SS people were gay, and that gay people were directly responsible for the Holocaust. It is incredibly warped stufg, and can still be found online. Back in the late 90s, big chunks of it were posted on the Exodus website. 🙁

  105. Daisy wrote:

    @ E.G.:
    But what if you can’t serve where you feel led, gifted, and interested because the church won’t permit you, and because of your gender?

    Then leave, yes. Definitely. But work to find a fellowship that will include your gifting.

  106. My wife and I have been done with our local brand of churches for a few years. Reading Packards book was very familiar, and I recommend it.

    We are connected with a few home based groups of refugees, and they are great people. But still, when it comes to the business of doing church outside the institution, most of us don’t know what we are doing. There are no cultural forms to follow, unless you want to sing three songs and have a preach.

    Why not just start a church? We’ve considered it, studied it, discussed it. We want to see more Dones find a home, a place to feel safe, to worship. A typical church scares them. A hipster church amuses them. It needs to look and feel different, and be cheap to start and maintain. Because we know many of the Dones in our town, and there are lots of them. It would takes a large number of these different sorts of fellowships to provide a spiritual home for everyone who wants one.

  107. Excellent post. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been a done for several years for all of the reasons listed above. I’ve been a member of several churches in the past as well as two missionary organizations. I quit because women were becoming more and more sidelined as 2nd class citizens under men, because politics became as important or more important than the gospel (“if you’re a Christian you must be a staunch Republican” – ignore the fact they have affairs and gay relationships too) and the last straw being the bordering on hateful attitudes towards the GLTB community, Muslims and other minorities. I sincerely miss the sense of community and ability to debate theology that I experienced in at least one church (which ended up in a spit when the pastor went neo Cal) and YWAM, which at the time was very open to all, multi cultural and not discipline oriented. Sadly, I’m now in very poor health and don’t hold out much hope of finding anything local that I can participate in. Finding communities like Wartburg Watch has been a godsend.

  108. I wonder how much of the current dissatisfaction with church is because so many paid pastors in all sorts of evangelical churches aren’t really pastors but paid evangelists calling themselves pastors.

    Perhaps these celebrity “pastors” wanted the work of reaching people with entry-level aspects of the gospel of “being saved” verses the much different work of growing people to maturity.

    Maybe a whole lot of celebrities sitting on stools wearing skinny jeans and trying to target the next group of hearers with fog machines and concert-like sound shows weren’t interested in doing the hard work of pastoring.

    Could it be that a bunch of evangelists who didn’t want all the hassles of moving their families from place to place, who didn’t want the uncertainty of going before a potentially hostile audience without having the resources of a built-in venue and staff and salary , and who wanted to reach huge numbers of people are now running the show?

    It certainly sounds to me like a lot of paid celebrities “pastors” really ONLY want to do is the front end work of an evangelist with the built in benefits of having an established venue.

    I’d guess that if people stick around an evangelist-only type for long periods of time, they eventually discover that they aren’t getting pastored. That’s because the evangelist’s focus on always on the entry-level types who easily believe they know nothing and the “pastor” knows so much more. Evangelists stay at the basic or easy level since their job is to attract people; therefore, evangelists are always trying to figure out the latest way to “market” the gospel to whichever group they see on the horizon. But if these evangelists put down roots and don’t “take their show on the road,” the local church becomes little more than a venue that cycles in and out of nothing but evangelism.

    Evangelists are always going to want more money to attract more and more people to the show (where the evangelists are always the stars, btw) because the local crowd has grown bored with the show that’s been playing for the last couple of years.

    People who start to question things are seen as problems since the primary reason the evangelists established the venue (church building) in the first place was evangelism, not pastoring. As the questioners become more concerned about various things, it could explain why the evangelists feel the need to react with disciple—in essence, those people who desire someone who does the work of a PASTOR as well as a church that is moving people towards greater levels of maturity are threatening the leaders’ primary goal of their job: evangelism.

    It could explain at least some of the Dones. They look around and see “churches” that are little more than permanent circus tents for evangelists. Frankly, I have no desire to go to a circus every Sunday. I’m six years old anymore, and I seen enough of the clown show.

  109. I would love to know the percentage of people who, given the option, would check this response (quoted in Dee’s article):

    “Often, those who do come back view these worship groups as the only viable option in a sea of religious organizations that they find to be otherwise dissatisfying.”

  110. Daisy wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    How would 20 more years of life convince me otherwise?

    Daisy wrote:

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

    It will.

    Not necessarily. (And it doesn’t seem very helpful to be laughing at someone here.) I’m 50+, and I agree with Adam.

    Just because SOME churches have been abusive doesn’t mean that ALL churches are.

  111. Thanks for writing this article Dee, great job!

    This is a subject I have been doing much reading on lately. I am currently reading the book “Church Refugees” and, as the back cover of the book states, “If you’re among those done with church, look for your story to be echoed here. You’re not alone – and at last you’re understood.”

    I am not quite a “Done” but fairly close to that status. I am definitely “done” with heavy-handed, authoritarian pastors and their plurality of “yes-men” who demand you sign their documents of conduct prior to allowing you to become one of them. I think the only church I would ever consider formally joining is Emmanuel Baptis in Enid, OK!

    I have been attending an Anglican church located right next door to the 9Marx/Mark Dever knock-off I fled a few years ago. I must say it has been quite refreshing. The sermon is only about 20 minutes in length, but I have decided there is nothing said in a 60 minute sermon that cannot be said in 20 minutes. If forces the pastor to focus his thoughts and not overwhelm the parishioners with his vast knowledge of scripture. Besides, most people mentally check out after about 20 minutes anyway.

    I have also appreciated the meaningful partaking of the Lord’s Supper, the liturgy, confessing of faith through reciting the Nicene or Apostle’s Creed, confession of sin and the reading of four passages of scripture. The focus is not on the performance of the pastor, but rightly placed on the Triune God.

    Here are a few good quotes from Church Refugees:

    “In this book, we take up the task of understanding the dechurched as church refugees. They’re people who’ve made an explicit and intentional decision to leave organized religion. They didn’t drift away casually. They didn’t move to a new city for a job and never got into the groove of church in a new community. They didn’t marry agnostic spouses and give up on convincing them. No, at some point, the dechurched decided, in a very intentional way, that they would be better off leaving the church altogether.”

    “The church, they feel, is keeping them from God. According to them, the church, not God, is the problem, and they’ve stayed in the church long past the point that it ceased to be fulfilling or even sustaining.
    Furthermore, they flee the church not because they hate the church. They have, in fact, worked tirelessly on behalf of the church. They flee for their own spiritual safety, to reconnect with a God they feel has been made distant to them by the structure of religion as practiced in organizations.”

    “Since 2010, though, when we finally left the church, we’ve just done house church where we create and do things with others rather than for them. I’m done with the top-down, institutional church. I thought we could fix it from within, but we got beat up pretty bad. I know we didn’t always handle things the best way, but at the same time, we kept showing up and volunteering because we felt the church was God’s home.
    I don’t think that’s the case anymore. The church is wherever God’s work is being done, and too often the way we were treated and the things I saw happen in the institutional church to other people just weren’t in alliance with what we thought God wanted.”

    “Perhaps more than anything else, what people want out of a church is a community of people who are experiencing God together.”

    “But much of the way they feel institutional church tries to construct community, by focusing on uniformity over unity, is counterproductive to what they feel is true and authentic community.”

    “Our respondents often claimed that church should be a place where people are loved collectively rather than judged individually.”

    “Community happens when people share life together, when they see each other repeatedly and share experiences. These commonalities lead to a feeling that people can be counted on and to a shared sense of reality and values.
    Sociologists have long understood these to be the fundamental traits of community formation, but for some reason churches seem to often get this equation backwards. Instead of understanding that shared life leads to shared beliefs, churches frequently want to make sure that everyone signs on to a common belief system before they can begin to do life with each other.”

    This is from another good book on the subject, titled “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey.”

    “Why do people go to your church, Jake?”

    “Because we’re supposed to have fellowship. We need it to be fed, to stay accountable to others, and to grow in God’s life together. Are you saying that’s not right?”

    “So if someone doesn’t attend anymore, what happens to them?”

    “They should find another local church and get involved, or they will wither spiritually or fall into error.”

    “Listen to yourself, Jake. You’re using words like ‘need,’ ‘should’ and ‘supposed to.’ Is that the body life God’s called you to?”

    “I thought so.”

    “Scripture doesn’t use the language of need when talking about the vital connection God establishes between believers. Our dependency is in Jesus alone! He’s the one we need. He’s the one we follow. He’s the one God wants us to trust and rely on for everything. When we put the body of Christ in that place, we make an idol of it, and we end up wrapped in knots over such a situation. Religion survives by telling us we need to fall in line or some horrible fate will befall us. We share body life together, not because we have to, but because we get to. Anyone who belongs to God will embrace the life he wants his children to share together. And that life isn’t fighting over control of the institution but simply helping one another learn to live deeply in him. Whenever we let other factors get in the way of that, we only use love to get our hooks into people. We reward them with affection and punish them by withholding it.”
    (p. 74)

  112. More quotes from “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey.”

    “I’d say more ironic than funny, but that’s the problem with institutions, isn’t it? The institution provides something more important than simply loving one another in the same way we’ve been loved. Once you build an institution together, you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even ‘love’ gets redefined as that which protects the institution and ‘unloving’ as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and they never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love.” John reeled in the empty hook and held it up. “It’s love with a hook. ‘If you do what we want, we reward you. If not, we punish you.’ It doesn’t turn out to be about love at all. We give our affection only to those who serve our interests and withhold it from those who do not.” “What a mess!” “Do you see how painful it is? That’s why institutions can only reflect God’s love as long as those in it agree on what they’re doing. Every difference of opinion becomes a contest for power.”
    (pp. 69-70)

    “The problem with church as you know it, Jake, is that it has become nothing more than mutual accommodation of self-need. Everybody needs something out of it. Some need to lead. Some need to be led. Some want to teach, others are happy to be the audience. Rather than become an authentic demonstration of God’s life and love in the world, it ends up being a group of people who have to protect their turf. What you’re seeing is less of God’s life than people’s insecurities that cling to those things they think will best serve their needs.”
    (p. 71)

    “That’s fabulous.” “I never realized how much of what I thought was ministry was only manipulating people’s shame— whether it was to make them feel guilty for falling short or to earn other people’s approval.” “That’s what religion is, Jake. It’s a shame-management system, often with the best of intentions and always with the worst of results.”
    (p. 144)

    This system has made God’s people so passive most can’t even imagine living without a human leader to identify with.
    (p. 152)

    That’s all Jesus ever wanted— one flock drawn to him alone, and each helping lighten the load of others they find going the same direction as they are. “That’s the gathering. It’s not when you meet, where you meet, or how you meet in meetings, but that you are gathering your heart to him. If that’s happening, you usually won’t find yourself going it alone very long. You’ll find others heading the same direction, and by traveling together you’ll be able to help one another along the way. That’s why you only hurt yourself when you look for people who want to meet a certain way or think like you do about everything.
    (p. 170)

    I don’t demand others do it my way, and I hope in time that those who see it differently will stop demanding we conform to theirs.
    (p. 189)

  113. Quote from “Finding Church: What If There Really Is Something More?” by Wayne Jacobsen

    “Realize that the hope of reformation often falls on deaf ears. People like it that way or they wouldn’t be there. If you find you no longer fit in, feel free to move on. A commitment to a congregation is not a life sentence. When it ceases to inspire your life in Jesus, it is time to move on and see what else God has for you. That may come in seasons of great pain, as you come to realize what God is stirring in you no longer fits the group you’ve been in; it may come with great joy, as God draws you into other opportunities more consistent with his work in you. It would be best not to leave with a volley of condemnation, nor to try to drag others with you. Just follow him as he leads you. Those who are worried only about the success of their group rather than building up the whole body of Christ will find this discussion threatening. They have even coined the accusation “church hopping” to discourage people from considering leaving their group.” (Kindle Locations 2586-2593)

  114. Quote from “Finding Church: What If There Really Is Something More?” by Wayne Jacobsen

    “Christianity has spawned an entire industry of congregations, seminaries, publications, and denominations, all of which have turf to protect to guarantee their survival. They want people to stay dependent on them and thus promote a fear-based Christianity that considers belonging to the wrong “church” or believing the wrong doctrine as a cause for divine rejection.”
    (Kindle Locations 2922-2925)

  115. Quote from “Finding Church: What If There Really Is Something More?” by Wayne Jacobsen

    “His church is coming together in ways that transcend our capabilities. It won’t be at a specific location, under any particular organization, or behind some charismatic leader. It will be in him. As you learn to live there, you will find yourself in proximity to others on a similar journey. Cooperate with his working by engaging the relationships he invites you into and watch what he can do. Wherever you find an act of self-sacrificing love, a group of people who care for one another with generosity and compassion, you’ll find his church. Whenever you engage a conversation that illuminates the work of Jesus in your life, you’ll find his church. However you can relax into the reality of his working, rather than trying to accomplish his work on your own, you’ll find his church. How do you find his church? By drawing to him and seeing where love leads you. Every morning I ask him, “Who are you asking me to love today?” Then I live with heart and eyes wide open to the people I cross paths with and those he places on my heart to contact. Follow him there and in the end you won’t have to find the church. He’ll make sure she finds you.”
    (Kindle Locations 2977-2986)

  116. Quote from “Finding Church: What If There Really Is Something More?” by Wayne Jacobsen

    “Eighth, are people being equipped to have their own spiritual journey, or are they encouraged to be dependent on the leaders? If they forbid you to read books that make them uncomfortable or if you are told you will wither spiritually if you don’t regularly fill your tank at the meetings, you’re already being taught to be more secure under human leadership than from following Jesus. Perhaps the best way to tell if you’re in a healthy environment is to take your internal temperature every few months. Is your heart growing increasingly full and is God becoming clearer to you, or are you finding yourself exhausted and no closer to God than you were months before? As best you can, ignore the institutional chatter especially if it is laden with guilt and commitment. I find the most fulfilling relationships in a congregation tend to avoid the politics of leadership teams and planning groups because that’s where manipulation and obligation first assert themselves to keep control of the group. In the end each of us has to decide at what point the institutional side of congregational life overruns the relational side. When it gets to the point that you spend more time recovering from a service than it took to get ready for it, maybe it’s time to disengage from that system.”
    (Kindle Locations 2554-2562)

  117. Quote from “The Importance of Being Foolish: How to Think Like Jesus”
    by Brennan Manning

    “The last desire that hinders us from putting on the mind of Jesus Christ is the lust for power. In his ministry, Jesus rejected any display of power except the power of the Holy Spirit. Unlike “the kings of the Gentiles [who] lord it over them” (Luke 22:25), the disciples were not to exercise authority. The Lord himself performed the menial service of the slave at the door by washing the dusty feet of his disciples, then required them to do the same. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).”

  118. 1. “Church” (as the word is typically used) is a business.
    2. CHURCH is not a business.
    3. In “Church” things are never as they appear on Sunday mornings. (Think “Wizard of Oz)
    4. CHURCH is real.
    5. “Church” wants your money…always…no matter how things appear…or what you think…(see #1 above).
    6. CHURCH wants your heart. Cares about you as a person…not your ability to fund the biz.
    7. “Church” isn’t safe. No matter how things appear…or what you think. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN NOR SPOUSE ALONE AT A “CHURCH.” (Yes, that’s a period at the end of that sentence…this is an absolute statement)
    8. CHURCH is a safe haven.
    9. “Church” will disappoint you unless your vested interests are being met, i.e. business connections, lust for power (think SS teacher, elder, deacon, choir, etc.) Once your vested interest is compromised, there’s disappointment. Sorry, this is just the way it is.
    10. CHURCH will not disappoint.
    11. “Church” has a man at the center.
    12. CHURCH has a Man at the center.
    13. “Church” (by the increasing numbers) requires a signed contract.
    14. CHURCH requires nothing, except your entire being. It takes you at your word. No contract necessary.

    **The bottom line: Your spiritual life is the most precious thing you possess on this earth. Guard it like you’re guarding your aorta. NEVER place the care of this most precious commodity in another’s hands.

  119. Thank you for the links and the article on the “dones”. I have been “done” since 2008 after a 20 year, very active membership in what I now recognize as a Neo-Cal, Willow Creek type mega church. Keep those articles and links coming our way as many of us are flying solo these days, not through choice but out of necessity.

  120. dee wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    What would I see differently? Not at all meaning to sound facetious. But I am convinced that the NT clearly indicates that the regular, organized and deliberate gathering of believers is the normative. How would 20 more years of life convince me otherwise?
    Sharon wrote:
    K.D., I’m curious what you think Adam will think differently when he’s 55
    I would like to answer this question since i ditto’d KD’s comment. I am one who can speak to this because I used to believe that, in general, all churches were like the ones I had been in-great pastors, elders who actually disagreed and spoke out, church members who were encouraged to start ministries and Bible studies, women were allowed to teach and churches which actually looked at child sex abuse and domestic violence as despicable as opposed to being debatable. (Did that really happen? Maybe the wife egged him on? )
    Then, about 8 years ago, I encountered a church which poorly handled a pedophile situation and then attempted to chase my husband and me to another unrelated church to discuss our (along with many others) call to repentance for not disclosing the full truth of the matter. In other words, they tried to pull retroactive church discipline on the wrong people.
    God was so good to me. He allowed me to see the dark side of churches. Oh, in case you were wondering. one of my former pastors is on TGC’s council which says a lot about how TGC views child sex abuse failures. I needed to see this stuff up close and personal so that i would know what is going on in churches today.
    In our area, the so called faithful churches push CJ Mahaney’s books, hire ex pastors from SGM, support SGM by flying down and giving sermons in churches, think Gary Ezzo is incredible and tremble if John Piper is within 50 miles. I have written this blog for 6 years. Right now, I have about 10 stories backed up that we will post of well known, “faithful” churches which act like jerks their treatment of people who ask the wrong questions.
    We are currently looking into another well known church which has covered up the despicable child sex abuse business of one of their beloved members. I have just finished dealing with TVC which would never have apologized if a couple of us hadn’t disclosed the story. The same goes for Sovereign Grace Ministries, James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll. Most people just kept their mouths shut until, of course, the end was in site then everybody agreed that there were problems.
    I have changed in these years, The *Dones* are primarily middle aged faithful church members who are well versed in Scripture and have gotten sick and tired of the nonsense going on in many churches today.
    So, you have got my name on this blog and I am one who can give you a full history of my Pollyanna view of churches through most of my life until God decided to slap me upside the head to see the pain and sorrow which many people have suffered at the hands of arrogant church leadership.
    So, remember KD and me when you are 55 and let us know if you get it then. It took me a long time to get it as well.

    Exactly

  121. dee wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    And I would contend that any gathering of believers that is walking in spirit in truth won’t stay “small” for long. Not to conflate pure numbers with being “right”, but that evangelism/the Great Commission was the hallmark and marching orders of the early church.

    I will buy that the early church grew by attracting new converts but I would disagree that it is happening today in the same way. Most churches grow by being hipper and cooler than another church and the people just switch church.

    The numbers of people in churches are declining today. So, it is merely a game of “let’s go to that church-they give you fee coffee cups.”

    @ Dee
    I think that the error in church thinking is that the goal is to build a bigger church. Yes, Acts presents a model of a constantly growing church, and I agree that the heart cry of pastors is to see people come to faith in Christ, but the truth that we all know is that the growth in most mega churches is just transfer growth. So, I conclude that the people who lead the church should focus on living out the Fruit of the Spirit, help people to see Christ working in their own broken souls and trust and believe that God will bring the people to himself whom HE wants us to serve. And if the local church body get larger, ok. But if it doesn’t, don’t try and manipulate it. And that is what I think Megas do, manipulate.

  122. Sharon wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    Adam Borsay wrote:
    How would 20 more years of life convince me otherwise?
    Daisy wrote:
    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.
    It will.
    Not necessarily. (And it doesn’t seem very helpful to be laughing at someone here.) I’m 50+, and I agree with Adam.
    Just because SOME churches have been abusive doesn’t mean that ALL churches are.

    You have gotten lucky where you are….or you are just not seeing what is going on.
    It took my mother a while. She is well educated,( EdS.) but has a blind spot as a SBC. In the last few years her eyes have been opened to what is going on…..now she isn’t leaving because of the ” community” but she is starting to see. Mom turns 84 in October.

  123. Daisy wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    How would 20 more years of life convince me otherwise?
    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.
    It will.

    I am sorry, I laughed too….shot coffee through my nose when I read about 20 years of life changing you….

  124. Why I am done.

    I was raised in a Dutch Reformed parsonage where I was sexually and physically abused and sat twice/weekly listening to my abuser pontificate about God. I went to a wealthy christian school that was deeply socially stratified. I attended an undergrad denominational college and the president would occasionally see me on campus and repeatedly tell me how wonderful my father was.

    During college, I briefly attended a charismatic church but they only made me feel awful for not being healed or speaking in tongues. When I was in my late 20’s I had a PTSD collapse and went into the Christian Reformed Church’s psychiatric institution. They refused to deal with my father’s abuse of me and my sibs. They also didn’t deal with our marriage problems. When I left, my resident psychiatrist harassed me to keep seeing her, even going “over my head” to my husband to say that I was a very sick woman. I refused to do so. 6 months later, she shot herself in her basement. The hospital did nothing.

    I left my husband, who predictably had some characteristics similar to my father. The pastor of our church counseled my husband, not me, and helped him “see” that he simply had to learn patience. My best friend’s mother cornered me on a walk and told me that God hates divorce and would hate me too, then. So I went back to husband.

    During grad school, I attended a Baptist church in Baltimore. We became friends with the assistant pastor/wife. I wept every Sunday while walking to church and 1/3 of the time could not enter but turned around at the door and went back home. I made no secret of my problem but no Christian offered help. A tarot reader and a lesbian offered help. I took their kindness.

    (con’t)

  125. …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.

    This is so far away from what Jesus said and from the spirit of the NT that I wonder how whoever wrote that can say that with a straight face. Maybe that’s why they write so much about it: so that we can’t see their faces.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Peter%205:2-3 ,
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+20:25-28

  126. K.D. wrote:

    It took my mother a while. She is well educated,( EdS.) but has a blind spot as a SBC. In the last few years her eyes have been opened to what is going on…..now she isn’t leaving because of the ” community” but she is starting to see. Mom turns 84 in October.

    “Our respondents were already acutely aware of their own failures. In fact, Layla, an 84-year-old lifelong churchgoer, recently stopped attending church because, she said, “I’m 84 and tired of being lectured to.” But here’s the thing: She still goes to her church’s quilting group. She explained, “We just know each other. I can’t imagine leaving them. We understand each other’s lives. We don’t always get along, but that’s OK. It’s like that with a family. But I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.” These relationships, rather than an abstract version of authority that comes from the title “pastor,” form the basis for accountability.”
    -Church Refugees, page 47

    Just a guess, but Layla’s pastor was probably some 25 year old wet-behind-the-ears recent seminary graduate who had it all figured out!

    It may have been on this blog that I read that a person should get a job out in the real world for 10 or 15 years prior to becoming a pastor. I agree. We should let Christ be our example in this matter, as in all other things!

  127. Why I am done, con’t

    Later, my husband and I became members of a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. The membership classes passed over most real-life questions and it bored me. Meanwhile, I slowly fell back into PTSD collapse (since it had not been dealt with in my 20s). I went into the psychiatric floor of local hospital. My pastor saw me walking in and asked if I needed help. I said, “please, yes. Come visit me?” and he promised, but he didn’t. A unitarian hospital chaplain was very kind/helpful.

    In between, I was on the board of a local community theatre run by Christians and sponsored by a Church of Christ church. The young director of the theatre was discovered using the theatre’s computers for extensive porn use. Everyone wanted to schlep it under the rug and a friend was made a scapegoat for making a stink about it. I confronted the pastor who promised that he would counsel the young man, saying he had education/experience in that field. I later found out that he had no education beyond some nouthetic stuff and that he saw the young man for three sessions.

    Eventually I left my marriage for good. All my Christian couples’ friends (including above-mentioned Baptist assistant pastor/wife) except one, took the side of my husband. My depression was deemed lack of faith in God. Also, it “takes two to tango/tangle”. I was left alone with my daughter even though I was still in the throes of PTSD. My ex found a “christian” divorce lawyer and let me know he was doing the godly way, while trying to take everything away from me.

    These isn’t a complete list of my bad experiences with various Christians. And as a positive, the therapist I finally found, who helped me back to life, is a lovely Catholic woman. Because of her, I am ok.

    I love God with all my heart and will never again belong to a church group.

  128. Gus wrote:

    This is so far away from what Jesus said and from the spirit of the NT that I wonder how whoever wrote that can say that with a straight face

    I agree Gus, and thanks for the bible passages. The best teaching I have ever heard on this subject matter was from Wade Burleson. https://vimeo.com/69920147

  129. @ Boyd:

    Very interesting analysis, Boyd. Pastor vs. Evangelist… looking at it that way explains a lot.

    The comments today have been even more excellent than usual, and have given me a lot to think about. Thanks everyone!

  130. This is a wonderful, cogent post. My wife and I were functionally exiled from a church in which we had been members for ~20 years, and I had served as an elder for about half that time. We were resistant to a change in our leadership culture to a more authoritarian paradigm. Awful time–the functional excommunication took place over a prolonged period.

    We stayed away from institutiional church for about a year, though we remained in relationship with close friends with whom we share similar values. We began to reapproach institutional church a few months ago; at first my skin crawled just entering through the doors. I am now past that stage, though I doubt that I will ever fully engage with any institutional church.

    Interestingly, since that time, my eyes to what some would refer to as ‘Common Grace’ has become much more alive to my wife and me. We dialog much more with those outside the church and faith–we have built relationships with some who have no church experience at all. I am seeing ‘Common Grace’ not as a leftover, but as a dynamic, utterly good gift from God to people who do not yet know Jesus–but whom He loves incredibly. I feel that the freedom from inward focus of church leadership and maintenance has brought a wealth of guileless ministry opportunities. I understand God’s love much better than I did before; as painful as alienation from the institutional church has been, we have not been separate from Christ’s love; to the contrary, we are more aware than ever.

    Also, interestingly, God has brought some university and grad students our way who have questions regarding what it means to live for Jesus in this world, and in the western church culture. We feel llike we are ‘elding’ in a non-imperative way–it is pure oxygen to us. Evidently, our 40 plus years of being ‘kicked’ around the Kingdom has given us some level of perspective that these younger Christians find of interest.

    BTW, during our months away, E-Church was our source of teaching and encouragement. Thank you, Dee and Deb, for the graceful place to rest and heal.

  131. Cousin of Eutychus wrote:

    Interestingly, since that time, my eyes to what some would refer to as ‘Common Grace’ has become much more alive to my wife and me.

    Great comment “cuz!” Your life sounds like many others I have been reading about lately. It would appear the Holy Spirit is working in a new way amongst the Church.

  132. Interesting post. There is nothing new about this, even in my earlier life there was an exodus from traditional churches over charismatic doctrine and practice before this was got side-tracked into being weird. A common saying amongst people I knew was ‘There’s got to be more to it than this’, meaning a diet of dry sermons, stuffy worship and leaders (Deacons in Baptist Churches) who had ‘been in the Way’ for a very long time! Offering worship ‘to an unknown God’. Going through the motions before a God who doesn’t actually ever seem to do anything.

    I’ve spent quite a long time out of institutional churches; I don’t equate church membership with actually being Christian, nor attending a building once a week as necessarily ‘meeting together’. Church attendence can be in my experience a matter of habit or guilt at not attending.

    What’s the point of trying to be faithful to scripture and live it out if the local ‘church’ is full of compromise or ignores the difficult bits? Why should I bother if they don’t? Why not go with the flow and be lukewarm? Indulge in mysticism and immorality, it doesn’t bother anyone else.

    There may be good answers to these questions, but I’ve certainly struggled with them. I wonder if humanly speaking I might have ended up agnostic if I had continued going to our local Willow Creek outfit. More man centered than God centered.

    I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that my conscience has been increasingly uneasy at contracting out of church and the famous Hebrews verse and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
    not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near
    has bothered me.

    It’s easy to say we ought to go to church, but if you have never wanted to throw up at the thought of darkening the door of a church, it’s easy to be glib and condemn those who have.

  133. One thing about modern music, lasers and fog machines make no sense to me. However, using modern “rock” instruments does- in that it’s just a musical language that the majority of people speak these days. You are going to find more guitar players than organ players, and it’s music people know and understand.

    “Performance” music doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not the entire music part of the worship service. I’ve been bless by organ performance pieces just as well as more contemporary performance pieces. But it’s all about one thing- bringing our focus on to God and responding to him. I don’t see how lasers and fog machines do that, but I do see how honest musicians playing the music they know how to play does that. Of course, all music must be selected with care so that if it is congregational, it is inviting them to worship, not distracting them from it.

  134. numo wrote:

    I would rather be with people who accept that pain snd doubt are a part of life yhan with those who keep trying to paper over gaping wounds with Band Aids.

    Exactly. If Christ came, and if Christianity is true, followers would understand pain, struggle, and doubt at least as deeply and clearly than any other group.

    That not being the case, I suspect that this rendition of church has gone very awry.

    And since God is everywhere amongst, where I find Him, I am satisfied.

  135. Jeff S wrote:

    One thing about modern music, lasers and fog machines make no sense to me. However, using modern “rock” instruments does- in that it’s just a musical language that the majority of people speak these days. You are going to find more guitar players than organ players, and it’s music people know and understand.

    I don’t know how old you are, but you sound like you were fortunate enough to not be around during the ‘music wars’ of late fame. The thing is, what you have said above is true of some people but not all. 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.

    IMO these congregations do use various ways of culling the flock and perhaps this is one tool they use

  136. Gus wrote:

    This is so far away from what Jesus said and from the spirit of the NT that I wonder how whoever wrote that can say that with a straight face. Maybe that’s why they write so much about it: so that we can’t see their faces.

    This view of church membership and discipline is who they are. That is why they cannot even consider for one moment that they might have got this all wrong. I’ve had the conversations with folks into this movement, and they cannot see beyond “authority” by which they mean the authority of one competent adult human over another competent adult human in marriage and the church. The bring their overarching lens of Authority/Submission to the text and that is exactly what they find there. And that is also why conversations with them are dead-ends. They are not really concerned with the authority of the Bible but rather the authority of themselves and their human idols. Boy, did I have to learn that the hard way!

  137. singleman wrote:

    Although it’s worth noting that John Yates, rector of The Falls Church Anglican, is a member of The Gospel Coalition’s council.

    That’s what the tipping point for me in leaving an Anglican church and returning to the Episcopal Church.

  138. Daisy wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    My disconnect, to clarify my longer thoughts, is that why aren’t any of these millions of people establishing NT churches?

    Some of them did. A trend called “home churches” started about ten years ago.

    I don’t know if they are still popular, but one problem with those is that once they get more members, they sometimes morph into a big church that the people who joined the home church were trying to get away from in the first place.

    And that’s just it – bigness in a country of our population density almost becomes inevitable. Then bureaucracy and bickering and budget and all the things that come with organizing a big group of people come into play, and slowly the life is sucked out.

    Perhaps one thing we’ve forgotten is that bigness is meaningless? “Reaching more people” is what we do day by day living the Christian life, at work, at school, etc, not necessarily a local church program. The main purpose of the fellowship is to equip us and strengthen us to then “go back out in the world” and be a light.

    I would say it would be a glorious thing in theory to find 5-6 people you can be tight, open, honest, and edifying with, and break the cycle of dead churchiness for the group and for the next generation you might raise. This churchy culture needs to change from the ground up.

    But just how I see it here and now, if I’m using my time, talent, and money to help further the cause of Christ, then I’m being part of the body. What a church does these days is provide simple convenience to use my time, talent, and money. Drop the money in the plate and forget about it, volunteer for the nursery, maybe sing in the choir or play guitar for worship, etc. Yeah, I can see how that would turn off people, in more ways than one. Gram’s kudzu analogy comes into play again.

  139. K.D. wrote:

    As I have written, I will at some point be UMC or Anglican or something liturgical…but my mother is still with us. And she just would never understand why her little ” Baptist seminary alumni” is no longer Baptist….

    You’ll be welcome when you get here. 🙂

  140. @ Gram3:
    I’m learning that the hard way with my best friend of many years. As I’m growing and waking up, he ain’t – he’s going under the yoke. He’s attending a CHBC church plant in DC now. Ugh.

  141. So anyway, I doubt I’ll be a “done”, but as of right now, we are taking a break from my church. I know, many of you saw it coming. It is what it is. The father’s day sermon was a bridge too far for me, unfortunately. Which is too bad, because my pastor is a good man and even in a misguided sermon he had a LOT of good points (such as, pointing out that men can be more emotionally fragile than women, but they hide it by covering over their real emotions with “masculine” ones that are more socially acceptable- that men don’t allow themselves to be fearful, but anger is OK in many people’s eyes). Unfortunately, all his good points were couched in a sermon about encouraging men to be better leaders in the home (with an aside that women can encourage or damage their work- ugh).

    I have no doubts he honestly believes this is the problem. As I said, he’s a good man and I love so much about the church. I think he is deceived. The problem is, I don’t even feel like I can speak to him about it (even though he has invited me to share my views on gender roles with him) because for him to change his views means leaving the PCA. Talking about it just seems like tilting at windmills.

    I’ve been talking a lot recently to our worship pastor, and I’ve been very vulnerable about this particular issue*. He is very respectful and has asked if we can just agree to disagree- that community is more important than doctrinal agreement, but for me gender roles is not just a “doctrinal disagreement” any more. It’s about how we treat people at a fundamental level. It’s about treating people with love and dignity, which is one of the greatest commandments in scripture.

    My worship pastor told me that the PCA is having lots of conversations about how to do complementarianism without harming women, and I said I’d love to be a part of that discussion, but I can’t since the premise is flawed. Even now, though, when I told him we are taking time off from the church, and he knows why, he has been incredibly supportive. I’m trying to decide how/if I should approach my pastor about the sermon he gave. I know I won’t change his mind, but I do want him to consider what he said to women and how devalued it must make them feel (even if many don’t realize it). I feel like it would be wrong to leave without having that discussion.

    I don’t know, I feel like every one I know at the church has been incredibly accepting and loving, and no one has judged me. And now I’M THE ONE turning around and saying this “secondary doctrine” isn’t secondary to me. That it’s worth dividing over. And I hate that, but I just felt so gross this Sunday that I left before communion was served- I just couldn’t sit in the room anymore. The more impassioned I get about it, the more vocal I feel I need to be, and it’s hard to see how I can be peaceful and loud at the same time.

    Anyway, I’m taking a month away from our church. I’m going to see what other churches are out there. It’s hard to find an egalitarian church. 🙁

    My wife is a big fan of Andy Stanly’s church, and honestly I do like a lot of his preaching, but mega church is hard for me . . . do they have smoke machines? 🙂

    We may return after a break. Maybe there are ways to have constructive conversations about gender roles. Both of my pastors have seemed respectful and willing to talk about it. I have not once been judged by anyone when I’ve said I don’t believe in gender hierarchy. But it’s hard to be at church when it makes my heart hurt.

    *as an aside, the conversations with my worship pastor have been very interesting. We discussed ESS, and he honestly had no idea what I was talking about. When I explained ESS and how I thought it sounded heretical, he agreed with me. I told him it was a Grudem thing, and he mentioned that some people in the PCA are becoming uncomfortable with how revered Grudem is.

  142. Nancy wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    One thing about modern music, lasers and fog machines make no sense to me. However, using modern “rock” instruments does- in that it’s just a musical language that the majority of people speak these days. You are going to find more guitar players than organ players, and it’s music people know and understand.
    I don’t know how old you are, but you sound like you were fortunate enough to not be around during the ‘music wars’ of late fame. The thing is, what you have said above is true of some people but not all. 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.
    IMO these congregations do use various ways of culling the flock and perhaps this is one tool they use

    Oh, I was around. I served as a worship leader through them when people were getting upset at the idea of having drums on a stage. Going through that, I always tried to be as flexible and accommodating as possible to people with all kinds of tastes, but since I play guitar, that necessarily limits what I’m able to do for those would prefer to hear organ music.

    At the end of the day, we speak with the voice we have. Mine is with my guitar (usually), and I do the best I can. I try to always pick music that is singable, doctrinal, and accessible to many tastes and styles. But at the end of the day, I’m still limited in how well I can provide for a congregation with different wants/needs.

  143. One thing I really appreciate about my current (maybe soon to be former) pastor is his view on church size. He wants people to come to Christ, but he doesn’t want to be a big church. The church has grown so much recently they are likely having to go to two services, and he is very concerned because he feels like it will divide people. But at the end of the day, there just aren’t enough chairs.

    The church has already recently spawned a second church, and I can see planting another to try and keep the numbers lower so people don’t get “lost” in the shuffle. Keeping it at < 200 people on a given Sunday is the target, but when people keep coming . . .

    I really do love my church and my pastor, so potentially leaving is very hard on me 🙁

  144. GovPappy wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    I’m learning that the hard way with my best friend of many years. As I’m growing and waking up, he ain’t – he’s going under the yoke. He’s attending a CHBC church plant in DC now. Ugh.

    That must be difficult. I hope that your longstanding friendship will cause him to remain open to what you say and also to what he observes there. Sometimes people just need to see things for themselves. Happened to me in an authoritarian church.

  145. @ Gram3:
    That’s what the missus and I are hoping (he married her sister), but unfortunately I think he’s just going to thrive there. I don’t doubt he’ll be in leadership in the not so distant future.

  146. @ Jeff S:
    That is so sad, but I understand completely. Your pastor sounds like some guys I know who mean well but are so caught up in this that they cannot see beyond it. What is truly sad is that they do not know what they are giving up in order to pursue things which are *not* what please God and which are not what God planned. In addition, in the PCA there is the doctrine of church office where the officers must be male. Keller skates on some thin ice with his deaconesses but ultimately gets a pass because he is the new PCA whale now that Sproul is getting older. The guys I know in the movement would also have to give up a lot, including some prestige, in some cases, and an income in all cases.

    I agree that the “gender” issue is a matter of how we see one another and how we see ourselves as created in God’s image. There is nothing wrong with a husband leading in his family. The problem is what leadership means and on what it is based. If it is based on gifting and interest, then that is a good thing. If it is based on a gender hierarchy, then that is a sinful thing. Fear drives much of this, IMO, and fear is a very difficult emotion to conquer.

    May you and your wife find a great place to fellowship, and may your pastors seek the truth without fear of man. It is sad that your worship pastor did not know about ESS, but hopefully he will look into it. How awful to make the Son less than he is while talking so much about spreading the fame of Jesus’ name.

    How great it would be if the Piper/Grudem/Ware/CBMW stranglehold could be broken or at least weakened enough that people would be willing to search the scripture and seek the Holy Spirit instead of blindly following fallible humans. Men have institutionalized the insecurity and weakness and fear of a few influential men and in the process are enslaving men and women with those doctrines. Maybe you will be the ones to start shining the light. Perhaps not with your pastors but with others who observe your life and testimony and start to ask some questions.

  147. @ Jeff S:
    That’s great news, and it is clear that you love and appreciate your pastor and your church. I hope they realize that you are questioning out of love for them and others and not because of rebelliousness against authority.

  148. Jeff S wrote:

    Nancy wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    One thing about modern music, lasers and fog machines make no sense to me. However, using modern “rock” instruments does- in that it’s just a musical language that the majority of people speak these days. You are going to find more guitar players than organ players, and it’s music people know and understand.
    I don’t know how old you are, but you sound like you were fortunate enough to not be around during the ‘music wars’ of late fame. The thing is, what you have said above is true of some people but not all. 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.
    IMO these congregations do use various ways of culling the flock and perhaps this is one tool they use

    Oh, I was around. I served as a worship leader through them when people were getting upset at the idea of having drums on a stage. Going through that, I always tried to be as flexible and accommodating as possible to people with all kinds of tastes, but since I play guitar, that necessarily limits what I’m able to do for those would prefer to hear organ music.

    At the end of the day, we speak with the voice we have. Mine is with my guitar (usually), and I do the best I can. I try to always pick music that is singable, doctrinal, and accessible to many tastes and styles. But at the end of the day, I’m still limited in how well I can provide for a congregation with different wants/needs.

    @ Jeff S:
    It sounds like you are at a good church! But if your doctrinal disagreement becomes too much you could check out the EPC….they have egalitarian churches and presbyteries…..they allow each individual congregation to follow their own conscience regarding that issue.

  149. Jeff S wrote:

    And now I’M THE ONE turning around and saying this “secondary doctrine” isn’t secondary to me.

    Allow me to run this past you, notwithstanding we approach this subject from different angles!

    This is indeed a secondary issue in and by itself. However, treating women as second class and/or running an authoritarian church system are not secondary matters if these result in damaging people or wrongly binding their conscience or restricting their Christian liberty.

    Now from my point of view, the Kingdom of God does not turn on 1 Tim 2. My problem, from my experience and side of the fence, is those who ignore this or seek to explain it away, and in doing so feel free to ditch or amend apostolic instruction. The particular issue may not be so desperately important, but a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to scripture is important.

    So really important things can hinge on seemingly secondary issues.

  150. Gram3 wrote:

    I agree that the “gender” issue is a matter of how we see one another and how we see ourselves as created in God’s image. There is nothing wrong with a husband leading in his family. The problem is what leadership means and on what it is based. If it is based on gifting and interest, then that is a good thing. If it is based on a gender hierarchy, then that is a sinful thing. Fear drives much of this, IMO, and fear is a very difficult emotion to conquer.

    I totally agree. And I think I’ve mentioned, that I really *am* the “spiritual leader” in my home. That is, I generally take responsibility for a lot of the spiritual activities in our house and family. And my wife does tend to look to me to do these things. But the key is the *basis* for this dynamic, and it isn’t because of our genders, but how God has gifted and led us to this point. The sad thing is, we may not look that different from a lot of complementarian couples, but the underlying principle means so much.

    When people talk about proof texts for egal/comp “sides”, Galatians is brought up a lot. But I kind of agree with the comps about Galatians. I don’t think it’s a great egal proof text in context. IMO, the better text for egals is when Jesus talks about the highest command being to love one another. And when Paul says the summation of the law is love. When these are your primary doctrines, you simply cannot subjugate a person based on her being. That is not loving 🙁

  151. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    My key point: Proceed with caution! These kinds of hijacking efforts could jsut as easily happen again with “post-done” ministry strategies and structures.

    I had some add-on clarifications to be aware of, in going forward with new kinds of ministry involving “dones.”

    If you’ve been following this issue and discussions about the *Church Refugees* book in social media, you’ve probably seen some attempts to distinguish some sub-categories.

    Not all “dones” are survivors of spiritual abuse, and vice versa. But at least some “dones” have been victims of spiritual abuse. So, the interests in ministry dynamics for “dones” and what’s on their “discernment radar” will vary. And so will their susceptibility to people with take-over agendas that might capitalize on whatever post-done strategies for ministry emerge.

    For instance, if it’s accurate that a lot of “dones” come from high-control, program-oriented churches, they might be especially vulnerable to going to the opposite end of the leadership spectrum with supposedly populist, open structures approaches. But we’ve seen some of those become orbits around charismatic thought leaders and celebs, too.

    But, given their backgrounds and compositing what’s on their discernment radar, both of these kinds of “dones” working together might innovate forms of missional ministry and maybe “being” church rather than just “doing” church that make great strides toward wholeness and healthiness. Now, that could be spiritually energizing!

  152. adam borsay wrote:

    It sounds like you are at a good church! But if your doctrinal disagreement becomes too much you could check out the EPC….they have egalitarian churches and presbyteries…..they allow each individual congregation to follow their own conscience regarding that issue.

    The closest EPC is 40 minutes away 🙁 I wanted to check it out at one point, but such a long distance (even longer if there is traffic) would mean a loss of community that is critical.

  153. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    “It’s love with a hook. ‘If you do what we want, we reward you. If not, we punish you.’ It doesn’t turn out to be about love at all. We give our affection only to those who serve our interests and withhold it from those who do not.”

    This is exactly why I find most churches so tiring. Instead of allowing freedom in the congregation for Christians to develop their own convictions by drawing near to God, peer pressure is used manipulate followers into conforming to the status quo. This results in superficial relationships and a very shallow faith because people are afraid to be themselves or share an opinion that is contrary to the majority. It as though the leaders don’t really believe God could actually work in an individual’s life without the leaders/organizations oversight.

  154. It’s amazing skimming through some of these stories y’all are sharing. Wish I had time to go through and comment on each one. I love it.

  155. Gram3 wrote:

    That’s great news, and it is clear that you love and appreciate your pastor and your church. I hope they realize that you are questioning out of love for them and others and not because of rebelliousness against authority.

    No, they don’t talk about “rebelliousness” or “authority” much. My pastor knows that I have been considering leaving the church due to some things NOT related to gender roles (basically, because of my wife’s work schedule, it’s been difficult for her to plug in) and after I told him that, he called me to tell me he was blessed in the way I was handling potentially moving on. That he would hate to lose me, but that he understands I have to do what is right for my family.

    And the worship pastor who I’ve talked to about my recent frustration over gender roles has wished me nothing but good things, and has lamented that if I leave then the church will not benefit from my perspective.

    This is one reason this is so hard- the church is nothing like the authoritarian churches that have caused so many problems. They are interested in dissenting opinions. My worship pastor has told me over and over again that relationships are more important than doctrine. If only gender roles could just be “doctrine” to me.

    And yes, when the pastors invite me to potentially be an agent of change, there’s an opportunity there. So I’ve by no means made a final decision. I’m really wrestling right now. But it’s a good wrestling.

  156. Gram3 wrote:

    It is sad that your worship pastor did not know about ESS

    Well, I’m thankful he didn’t 🙂 They don’t teach it at much church, so it’s better for it!

  157. dee wrote:

    But still hanging out here. I am glad. I really enjoy your comments.

    Of course. If I left only HUG would be here to remind people about how some church practices are downright Scientological.

  158. @ GovPappy:

    You have a point here: we used to meet after church at my house for dinner every.single.sunday night. Those people became our family, our “church” for lack of a better word. The church itself later folded, but those people were our lifeblood.

    Until one of them had an affair. 🙁 Our little “family” fell apart after that.

    I share this just to let you know that all of the same pitfalls that occur in big churches can occur in little ones too. And vice-versa. I’ve learned that people are stubbornly human creatures. I have to be mentally and emotionally prepared to be disappointed *and* elated by any gathering of humans.

    That does *not* mean we ignore huge problems for the sake of preserving unity! THAT has been the major problem that the large churches have perpetuated: let’s push through a hurried “forgiveness” process to keep the church rolling on. 🙁

  159. @ Jeff S:
    Me too–a guitar player for 20 years now. It’s so hard. Even in multi-racial churches, they say music is the most difficult bridge to build, and the most frequent source of conflict. They joke that when Satan was cast down from heaven, he landed in the choir loft. 😉

  160. I have been lurking in the shadows for some time and this post prompted me to come forth and finally post.

    This post and many of the comments resonate with me so deeply. I have been a “Done” for some time now.

    I fear if I start to type out all the reasons “why” I am done, it would read like a manifesto the size of Tolstoy’s War & Peace.

    In addition to the way single women are treated and has been highlighted in the article/comments, and the loud music, and the judgmental way the church members have become, which makes it more like an exclusive social club not open or welcoming to anyone that does not fit into the evangelical mold, I have many more reasons.

    I am also tired of being treated like God’s personal ATM Machine. Where he is one big vending machine in the sky “Insert money and out pours blessings”.

    The fact that I am a middle aged single female, disabled and on a fixed income, and also care for my 90 year old mother with a full plate just trying to survive and do the right thing, that is proof enough to them that I am somehow a sinner, destined for hell because God is not prospering me with financial riches. The fact that I do not interpret the “speaking in tongues” doctrine of the AOG churches, it is further proof that I am not touched by the holy spirit and somehow am living outside of Gods will. The fact that I do not find the fluffy Beth Moore bible studies worthy of walking 2 miles each way to go to this bible study as I cannot afford a car, I am defiant and don’t love God enough, when my attentions are needed at home serving and honoring my parents and am so exhausted physically, that such a walk is beyond my physical capabilities. The fact that I have to hold onto my pocketbook and choose between giving 10% of my fixed income or putting dinner on the table or keeping the mortgage company from kicking us out of our home, is proof that I am living outside of the will of God, instead of giving all my income to a pastor that is in cathedral building wars, and takes more Hawaiian cruises per year than a normal person can afford in a lifetime.

    Yet, I am given the “Just Pray About It” shallow advice, when I have started to open up about my struggles. The church wants to know your business, but do not want to be there for them. I am not looking for folks to run to my rescue but a little compassion would be nice. I am convinced at this point, them wanting to know my business is more so they can have something to gossip about, and so these “Christians” can feel superior to me.

    Things were a lot different when I first attended, as I used to work in an industry where there is a lot of fame and money involved. I am pretty sure that the figured that I still had a lot of money from my old days… and at that point they were really nice. Once they realized I was not the rich person they considered, the welcome wagon rolled up their red carpet and I was pushed to one side.

    Don’t even get me going on the nepotism in the church with serving…

    The fact that I am not a Fox News loving Republican, and have worked and do work from time to time for some of the Democratic candidates is further proof that I am a fornicating, abortion loving heathen destined for hell. Some of the sermons read more like a Fox News broadcast than teachings of Jesus loving the least amongst us. The reason why I work for the Democratic candidates? Because of my belief in Jesus to care for the marginalized in society. My heart goes out to them, because I am one of them, and know the struggles of the elderly on fixed incomes.

    The music is so loud that it sends me into panic attacks, and I have to retreat to the bathroom (often) during the gatherings.

    I have been excluded from any social gatherings with the exception of when I can cook a bunch of food or bring gifts for one of the more “anointed” members… (a.k.a. tongue speaking). How nice of them to invite me to open my wallet for them, but never once when they get together for a movie, or anything else am I worthy.

    The back biting, and gossiping of these precious jewels is more than I can handle. I have been a victim of this. Since they have not seen me I am “Backslidden” in their eyes, of which I have never quit loving God, nor have I turned my back on him. I probably spend more time deep in bible study than any of them combined with their fluffy Beth Moore, let’s meet once a week and watch a video series. But since I am not there, rumor has it that I am out back getting drunk, fornicating and who knows what else, despite the fact that I have not dated for ten years (I don’t have time) and am far from being a drunkard, and tried marijuana once when I was 14 and never did it again because it gave me panic attacks. If you don’t “fit” their mold, you then have your character assassinated.

    Those are just a few highlights, of my experience and there are many more. I have met so many folks that have been hurt by the church and are “Done”. I am opening my home to some folks that have been hurt by the church and we are starting bible study here. People that would never in a million years enter a corporate church. People that are marginalized by the church. I put the word out on my facebook, and thought oh, maybe one person “might” be interested in a bible study in my home… nope! I will have a full house starting July 7th. It is a cancer to the church what is going on today.

    I could go on and on and on… But I think I have typed enough.

    Thank you for the space to allow me to write out my experiences, honestly.

    Yes, I am Done, Done, Done, DONE.

  161. XianJaneway wrote:

    @ Jeff S:
    It’s my understanding that Andy Stanley is a complementarian. I may be wrong though.

    I’m not sure- I actually called the church and asked. They told me they have women elders who have the power to fire Andy if they felt it was necessary, so they do not believe, as a church, in gender hierarchy.

    But with Andy it’s a little different story that with my current pastor even if he is comp. Since his approach on cultural issues is to have those conversations in private rather than in sermons, even if he is a complementarian, it probably won’t saturate his messages.

    I’m actually more concerned about their doctrine of divorce, given I know that was the dustup between Andy and his father, and divorce for abuse is another line in the sand for me.

    Anyway, with NorthPoint, I’m likely to have a whole different set of concerns because I’m not a fan of mega churches and churches built around a single personality. That being said, my wife was incredibly blessed by the small group ministry (they put a HUGE emphasis on this); after her divorce, her small group was her life line. So I at least owe it to her to give it a shot. Also, they have services that she can attend every single week, so that’s a selling point as well.

    I’ve also identified another local church that looks like they have a woman elder, so I’ll be checking that one out. But honestly, it feels like the options are quite limited.

  162. I look for the “Done” numbers to dramatically increase within the next few years as millions of disillusioned New Calvinists get wise to the scheme and bail out of that mess. Where will they go next? Many of the “resurgent” folks were formally “emergent”; they simply moved to the next cool thing when emergent church fell out of favor. This time they may go “submergent” and never resurface.

  163. XianJaneway wrote:

    @ Jeff S:
    Me too–a guitar player for 20 years now. It’s so hard. Even in multi-racial churches, they say music is the most difficult bridge to build, and the most frequent source of conflict. They joke that when Satan was cast down from heaven, he landed in the choir loft.

    Haha- yes. People who haven’t done it rarely have an idea of how much criticism you take. So many people all wanting different things and feeling hurt when you do things different. More Christmas hymns, less Christmas hymns, louder, real drums, softer, no drums, etc. It’s enough to drive you from the ministry altogether. All I can do is express that my primary goal, and this *is* my primary goal, is to facilitate people responding to God with their whole being, emotions, bodies, and minds fully engaged. I may not do that perfectly, but it’s what my focus is always on.

    Worship music is really important to me, because I tend to bury my emotions a lot and live in my head. Worship music is one place where I do allow myself to be emotionally involved, and so it’s an important part of my spiritual life.

  164. E.G. wrote:

    Then leave, yes. Definitely. But work to find a fellowship that will include your gifting.

    I don’t think any will.

    I don’t get anything out of church. Churches should be meeting my needs, it should not be me meeting their needs, but they want a one-way relationship where I show up and participate in things I have no internet in, but churches won’t help me.

    The expression “Go to church to serve not be served” is not in the Bible, btw.

  165. Law Prof wrote:

    My family can be counted among the “Dones”. We left not to run from faith in Jesus, but in a desperate attempt to preserve a true faith in Jesus.

    We have been out two years. We miss the fellowship, but we hated the manipulations, behind-your-back whisper campaigns, passive-aggressive abuse and back stabbings. All of these things were nominally done in the name of God, but they had absolutely nothing to do with the Lord.

    We are not wild-eyed liberals, we are not perpetually wounded malcontents, though I am certain that many religious leaders would label us as such. We have been abused and slandered by neocalvinists and Arminians alike, we have been lied to, lied about, abused, manipulated.

    We are done, and we will not go back into anything that calls itself Christian fellowship until we can at least be assured that it is less hateful, less harmful and less disingenuous than the average meeting of the average skeptics or atheists society. I tell my adult daughter: “Honey, just know that what you have experienced and are currently experiencing (she’s attending a YRR neocal with her boyfriend) has nothing to do with Jesus.” I never thought it would come to this, that I would feel more safe in the company of atheists and agnostics than those who call themselves Christians. Our faith in Jesus is not diminished–maybe it’s strengthened. But we will not go back to anything that calls itself “church” unless we hear clearly from the Lord.

    Excellent post. I wholeheartedly concur

  166. Music that is so loud that the words are not understood.

    Doesn’t mater if you can understand it or not when it is so loud as to be physically damaging to the hearing of those in the room. That’s just plain stupid. And done all the time.

  167. Adam Borsay wrote:

    5- Analogy for value of the church to Christians—-I was an “athlete” in highschool, thought I would totally take advantage of all the great workout facilities in college……NEVER went my first year. Without a team I just never got the same motivation and accountability to REALLY do what I was so sure I would do.

    With many of us the problem is when we show up “with the team” we are told the rules have changed, Socks must be worn at “this” height. We all must attend a team picnic on Sundays at 3:00PM (or be suspended for a week). And on and on and on. Oh yeah, the coach gets to inspect your diary or else.

  168. Adam Borsay wrote:

    4- I personally have trouble conceiving being Done and Gone. Not to be a personal attack towards anyone’s particular viewpoint….but…For me, it is alllll about Jesus.

    Yes, but which Jesus? This is a seripus problem absolutely glided over by religious authorities. It’s an unbearable problem among evangelicals, who ignore any scholarship which threatens the inerrancy of scripture. But it’s hardly less of a problem in liberal churches where the meat of what is being taught in seminary isn’t coming across the pulpit.

    It might be all about Jesus, but which Jesus? There are so many…

  169. mirele wrote:

    It might be all about Jesus, but which Jesus? There are so many…

    “… even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).

    The greatest need in the American church is for the pew to pray for discernment. Folks, you better read the red and pray for wisdom. It’s come to that!

  170. My husband and I are both “dones.” At 60, it has been made clear to us that if we dare say we miss the old hymns, or at least decent music, we are told that we are “irrelevant.” We used to be involved with a lot of church music, but it has been made clear that we are just not wanted. If we say that the teaching is shallow, we are told that we are snobs and should be more appealing to the unchurched. If I want to volunteer some of the many things I have learned over the years, particularly about women in the church and cults, I am greatly limited in what I can do. I am told that I can only teach women – but I have to use the line of teaching that I do not accept about women as basically second class Christians. Or I told that I can teach little children – but I have no skills to do that and my topics are not really for children.

    We get stuck in grandiose building projects, or in churches where there is so much emphasis on helping those in need that no one wants to preach the gospel so as to offend no one. (I guess they would just rather let people go to hell, but since so many churches have bought into the “nice people go to heaven” heresy that no one thinks it matters.)
    We don’t like this. We would love to find a church where we belong, but over the years, we have become too cynical to even have a desire to try. We find that most churches are more interested in keeping things in order, and that we aren’t sure if we will ever be willing to submit to an “authority” that just wants us to conform to a standard that we don’t hold.
    We are so tired of feeling like outsiders in churches that we don’t even want to go. We are not retired, we have no family in the area, and churches are not looking for people like us. So we aren’t looking anymore either.
    I would be glad to pass this along to anyone who would listen.

  171. @ Sharon:

    Maybe it’s crisis plus age. One thing that really changed for me was a death of someone very close to me. And when I went in church people for some support, I got criticism instead.

    Prior to that death, when I went to church in my min 30s another eye opening thing is how the churches I visited were catering to married couples. If you walk in to a church alone, you feel and notice a difference.

    I’m in my 40s, and trust me, when Adam gets older and/or hits some very difficult life experiences, he will change his mind.

  172. “…and he mentioned that some people in the PCA are becoming uncomfortable with how revered Grudem is.”

    I can only hope.

  173. Sharon wrote:

    (And it doesn’t seem very helpful to be laughing at someone here.)

    I was laughing at his naiveté.

    (I find his naiveté – and lack of life experience – sad and amusing at the same time.)

  174. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    If forces the pastor to focus his thoughts and not overwhelm the parishioners with his vast knowledge of scripture.

    I think it depends on which church you attend

    The seeker friendly mega churches don’t quote Scripture that much. Someone like TV preacher Joel Osteen might mention a lone verse in a 30 minute sermon, but the rest of his sermon is a self-help pep talk, based on his personal experience and personal opinions.

    I am not opposed to a little bit of that sort of thing in a sermon, but I think Osteen goes too far with it.

    But there are some Christians who want 100% Bible quoting, or 90%, but seeker friendly preachers only dole out about one percent of Bible quotes during sermons.

  175. I am sitting in my living room with my foot in a cast from recent surgery. I have had multitudes of phone calls, cards, visits as needed from our church. Ours is a liturgical Baptist congregation, people-led, no elders. The organ accompanies congregational singing, led by the choir with minimal miking. We sing standard hymns and new hymns with challenging, theologically sound texts. We are grounded in the traditions of worship that have marked out history…Gloria Patri, Doxology, people-led prayers, women and men deacons and pastors, and we continue to grow, because the "dones" come to us. Our membership seems evenly spread, old, middle, young..strong youth, and frequent baby dedications. No discipline issues, no covenants…a very strong community involvement in the inner city, and we have exceeded out budget every year for years. We are CBF, and nominally SBC. There is hope out there…42 rush to attract youngsters with entertainment cannot last long…our youth love the stability and thoughtful liturgy that brings focus to their living. We're not perfect, and not for everyone, but we thrive and live in grace.

  176. @ XianJaneway:
    Indeed – the idea in my mind is to get away from institutional crazy. People crazy is gonna happen regardless, but when it happens, I don’t need institutional crazy enabling it and making it worse. The missus and I need to grow into handling problems ourselves with the help of others where possible and necessary, not trusting an organization to do things for us.

    Most of us have jobs, careers, families – things that keep us busy enough. I think it’s easiest for a lot of people to be passive and do the minimum. It’s easy, certainly for me, to sit back and let “appropriate leadership” handle conflict and decisions while I just hold down a pew and do the minimum to pull my weight. I still believe I have work to do in the Body, and getting away from “convenient serving” forces me to get out of my comfort zone and find people to help and useful tasks to perform. It forces me to seek out, on my own, causes that could use my money, time, and talent; not simply trust a church organization to put me where I belong.

    Frankly, there isn’t much use for a specialized technician with no formal church-related training or musical talent in a traditional church setting.

  177. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    “Because we’re supposed to have fellowship. We need … to stay accountable to others,

    Considering all the married preacher sex scandals that are in the news every other week, this is pretty funny.

    I live a cleaner life style as a single adult and not going to church, than these married guys do working at a church every week.

    I find the “accountability” teaching off-base and a flimsy reason to give to people to tell them why they should go to church.

  178. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    The problem with church as you know it, Jake, is that it has become nothing more than mutual accommodation of self-need. Everybody needs something out of it.

    I don’t have a problem with people using church to get their needs met; that is actually one of the reasons God created the body of believers. Paul tells believers to meet each others needs, to pitch in financially to help those in a tight spot, to weep with those who weep.

    I’m no longer interested in belonging to any group who tells me or shames me into thinking that me having needs or wanting them met is wrong, selfish, and that I should stuff those needs down.

    I’m also not interested in belonging to a group where we are told we are going to have a one-way
    relationship, where I do all the giving and they do all the taking.

    I used to go through life that way, and all it ever got me was exploited and taken advantage of.

    I can’t believe churches still expect people to donate their time, money, work, and affections, but get nothing in return for it.

  179. NJ wrote:

    “…and he mentioned that some people in the PCA are becoming uncomfortable with how revered Grudem is.”

    I can only hope.

    I wish SBC’s New Calvinists would become uncomfortable John Piper. They definitely revere the Pied Piper.

  180. Daisy wrote:

    Todd Wilhelm wrote:
    “Because we’re supposed to have fellowship. We need … to stay accountable to others,
    Considering all the married preacher sex scandals that are in the news every other week, this is pretty funny.

    Rank Hath Its Privileges, and an Alpha Male/Herd Bull or Roman Paterfamilias has claim of ownership (including sexual privileges) over ALL his inferiors.

    And the latest sex scandal two-step is Billy Graham’s grandson whose name I’m not going to even try to spell. Somebody really ought to start a take-a-number system.

  181. Daisy wrote:

    I’m also not interested in belonging to a group where we are told we are going to have a one-way
    relationship, where I do all the giving and they do all the taking.

    A give-and-take relationship. You GIVE GIVE GIVE, I TAKE TAKE TAKE.

    I can’t believe churches still expect people to donate their time, money, work, and affections, but get nothing in return for it.

    Guilt Manipulation and the Threat of Eternal Hell make such a good whip.

  182. Daisy wrote:

    I’m in my 40s, and trust me, when Adam gets older and/or hits some very difficult life experiences, he will change his mind.

    “Oh, I was so much older then;
    I’m younger than that now…”

  183. NC Now wrote:

    Music that is so loud that the words are not understood.

    Doesn’t mater if you can understand it or not when it is so loud as to be physically damaging to the hearing of those in the room. That’s just plain stupid. And done all the time.

    May as well be passing out glowsticks and Ecstasy for Communion.

  184. Daisy wrote:

    The seeker friendly mega churches don’t quote Scripture that much.

    Heck, they don’t even mention Jesus much!! If you listen carefully to New Calvinist “preachers”, you will hear a lot about God, but much less about Jesus, and hardly a mention of the Holy Spirit. It’s all about God and His sovereignty, you know. Whether its mega- or mini-church, in “elect-friendly” churches the Cross and the message of Christ are diminished.

  185. @ Patrice:

    I am really sorry for everything you went through, in your Part 2 here and the Part 1 post.

    I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like the cruddy or insensitive responses you get from Christians hurts more than the original thing or original incident was that you are reaching out to help for in the first place.

  186. Adam Borsay wrote:

    But I can’t find my way to see a scriptural basis for a deliberately permanent removal from the description of a Christians life within deliberate community as portrayed in scripture.

    Do I find a NT that tells me teaching and corporate worship should be the halmarks of Christian community?

    No.

    I find John who tells me that I am not in need of teachers, as I have one teacher, the Holy Spirit.

    I find little discussion of what constitutes an acceptable “meeting together” in the NT, I certainly don’t see Jesus, Paul, and of the epistles telling me that meeting for coffee or lunch with another believer or two doesn’t count. I find Jesus telling me “where two or three meet together…”

    Where do you get this stuff, Adam? From the Bible? No.

    I find Jesus Who clearly tells me I ought to call no one teacher or father or rabbi or anything of the sort, as I have one who is my teacher, and that’s Jesus.

    I just don’t find your deliberate meeting standard in the Bible, nor your central halmarks being teaching (i.e., sitting in a series of rows with all eyes on someone who calls themselves “pastor”, whatever that means, the NT doesn’t define really) and corporate “worship” (which, to put it crisply, often ends up being another example of people sitting (or standing) in a series of rows with all eyes on a worship team with clashing cymbals and electric guitars.

    Just not finding that in the Bible. Hey, I know it serves the interests of those who always like to tell us about their “calling” and who like to single themselves out as something distinct, whether they be a mediocre speaker (who couldn’t quite make it on the motivation speaker circuit in the secular world) or a mediocre musician (who couldn’t quite make it in secular music). I understand that a lot of jobs are at stake and the idea of people looking at each other in a one-on-one setting, meeting together, sharing their faith, is threatening to the system, but I personally think the system is threatening to believers and many have made a very wise choice to count themselves as dones.

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    …shouldn’t there at least be an observable trend of these dones establishing at the very least home based small churches that pursue the NT description of the life of a christian?

    Also, don’t assume we’re not meeting together or haven’t tried home fellowships. I’ve been heavily involved in two. The reason you’re probably not “observing” a “trend” is because many dones aren’t interested in establishing a trend, aren’t interested in promoting themselves and their lifestyles, and don’t make extensive use of the media and marketing techniques to push themselves to the front, such as many churches have been doing. We don’t care to show up on your radar.

  187. Daisy wrote:

    Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    “Because we’re supposed to have fellowship. We need … to stay accountable to others,

    Considering all the married preacher sex scandals that are in the news every other week, this is pretty funny.

    I live a cleaner life style as a single adult and not going to church, than these married guys do working at a church every week.

    I find the “accountability” teaching off-base and a flimsy reason to give to people to tell them why they should go to church.

    The problem is they’ve defined accountability ultimately as submission to church leadership and forced interaction with a small group lead by a male elder.

    Oh yes, I believe in accountability. I believe in letting good people into my life close enough to know when there’s something wrong with me. But that’s what happens in friendships organically, if they’re worth anything. Again, by wanting a good thing, they’ve decided to create a rule structure to make it happen, and if you don’t subscribe to that, you “don’t want accountability” in your life.

    The missus saw this pressured in her ladies small group meetings at the 9marks church we attended for awhile. Drove her to tears. Being pressured to share your deepest struggles to a group of people you barely know is not accountability.

  188. K.D. wrote:

    Adam, wait until you’re 55+ and read what you’ve written. You’ll have a totally different look at stuff.

    Agreed, I know this sounds snotty, but I get the feeling Adam, who seems to be a thoughtful person who’s groping towards truth, has an awful lot of growing up to do and a lot of hard lessons to learn. I look back on myself even at 40, old enough to start to know better (when I was in a paid ministerial staff position in a church), how shamelessly I promoted myself and the system I thought could lift ME up to prominence. Wish I could go back in time and slap myself silly.

  189. Max wrote:

    NJ wrote:

    “…and he mentioned that some people in the PCA are becoming uncomfortable with how revered Grudem is.”

    I can only hope.

    I wish SBC’s New Calvinists would become uncomfortable John Piper. They definitely revere the Pied Piper.

    Not that it helps ghe SBC, but I had lunch with a PCA pastor recently who told me he doesn’t like Piper’s teaching at all.

  190. Denise wrote:

    It as though the leaders don’t really believe God could actually work in an individual’s life without the leaders/organizations oversight.

    And this is a total lack of faith in God whom they claim to worship. They would rather (any one of a dozen things) than love, fellowship and pray with people.

  191. Law Prof wrote:

    Also, don’t assume we’re not meeting together or haven’t tried home fellowships. I’ve been heavily involved in two. The reason you’re probably not “observing” a “trend” is because many dones aren’t interested in establishing a trend, aren’t interested in promoting themselves and their lifestyles, and don’t make extensive use of the media and marketing techniques to push themselves to the front, such as many churches have been doing. We don’t care to show up on your radar.

    This! Most of the “Done” people I have met, don’t want to be on the radar. They sit face to face, and are able to share, and discuss the bible and learn without the condemnation and manipulations that the corporate church placed upon them before they were “done”. Why would a group that meets together in private, want to even deal with all that?

  192. Max wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    The seeker friendly mega churches don’t quote Scripture that much.
    Heck, they don’t even mention Jesus much!! If you listen carefully to New Calvinist “preachers”, you will hear a lot about God, but much less about Jesus, and hardly a mention of the Holy Spirit. It’s all about God and His sovereignty, you know. Whether its mega- or mini-church, in “elect-friendly” churches the Cross and the message of Christ are diminished.

    The YRR Trinity: John Piper, the ESV translation and you local church pastor.

  193. @ Law Prof:

    Thank you! This is certainly where I am at this time. I’d much rather be with six people in a home worshipping, praying, and exhorting one another to love and good deeds than in a building sitting aimlessly staring ahead watching what is often a show of music or preaching.

  194. @ Jeff S:

    Gender complementarian views can be very harmful to men too.

    I won’t list all the reasons, but one is, lots of time, the gender comps assume all or most men will marry and become fathers.

    I’ve heard never married / childless adult Christian men say this makes them feel excluded, or the assumptions that all men are married or will be married (or will become fathers), or that single men are not “real” men, angers them.

    I wonder, if a woman had gone to your pastor and worship leader to register disagreements of opinion about gender roles, would they have been accommodating and nice about it?

    Usually men will treat other men with much more respect and hear another man out far more than they will a woman.

    The fact that you are a man may be what is making them more patient about all this, than if your wife had talked to them about it.

  195. Daisy wrote:

    The years I had depression I got similar responses from church-goers: got cliches, platitudes, was told by some churchy people that “real Christians” don’t experience depression, or told to just read my Bible and pray more.

    Blessings to you. I suffer from depression and keep it in check with prescribed meds. It has become a little mission of mine to enlighten those who think depression=sin or failure. That is the last thing a struggling person needs to hear.

  196. GovPappy wrote:

    The missus saw this pressured in her ladies small group meetings at the 9marks church we attended for awhile. Drove her to tears. Being pressured to share your deepest struggles to a group of people you barely know is not accountability.

    It’s “Enlightened Self-Criticsm before Party Commissars”.

    Or (in Scientology) a mix of “Auditing Session”, “Bear Baiting”, and “Gang Bang Sec Check”.

  197. @ Dave A A:

    What a combo. And is Owen still holding his job at CBMW as well? He needs to get a job out where a job is earned, not attained because of his sexual anatomy (my not so humble opinion).

  198. mirele wrote:

    dee wrote:

    But still hanging out here. I am glad. I really enjoy your comments.

    Of course. If I left only HUG would be here to remind people about how some church practices are downright Scientological.

    When your church practices remind people of Scientology, that’s NOT a good sign.

  199. Bill M wrote:

    I’m convinced that a regular gathering of believers in pews or chairs to listen to a lecture has nothing to do with the Christian community.

    Me too.

  200. Daisy wrote:

    Usually men will treat other men with much more respect and hear another man out far more than they will a woman.

    That has been my experience. I sent something regarding mutualism to a pastor and he gave a one sentence response and never said another word to me about it. Pretty dismissing attitude.

  201. mirele wrote:

    It might be all about Jesus, but which Jesus?

    Mark Driscoll liked to go around saying “It’s all about Jesus,” but that was just something he said.

    Driscoll was all about money and ego. A lot of churches misuse the teachings of Christ or Christ himself. And usually they do that to get fame or money.

  202. Law Prof wrote:

    the ESV translation

    Definitely the sword of choice in New Calvinist ranks! The no-commentary ESV is harmless enough, but the ESV Study Bible is particularly encouraged in reformed works … it comes loaded with Calvinist commentary. You know you are in a New Calvinist work if you observe the multitude carrying ESV bibles, note the pastor exclusively using this version in his expository, hear a lot of Piper Points in the hallway, see reference to preaching and teaching elders in the bulletin, and are asked to sign your Christian liberties away by putting your John Henry on a membership covenant.

  203. Max wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    the ESV translation
    Definitely the sword of choice in New Calvinist ranks! The no-commentary ESV is harmless enough, but the ESV Study Bible is particularly encouraged in reformed works … it comes loaded with Calvinist commentary. You know you are in a New Calvinist work if you observe the multitude carrying ESV bibles, note the pastor exclusively using this version in his expository, hear a lot of Piper Points in the hallway, see reference to preaching and teaching elders in the bulletin, and are asked to sign your Christian liberties away by putting your John Henry on a membership covenant.

    I think what you’re getting at is right, let me amend my list:

    The Holy Trinity: John Piper, the ESV Translation, the Membership Covenant

  204. I thought I was done with bible version insanity when I left the KJVO nonsense.

    Then the neocals and their ESV study bibles showed up.

  205. @ Albuquerque Blue:

    And I have nooooo idea what that skateboarding Jesus cartoon thing is about. It looks like it might be a color book for kids?
    But I still can’t figure why anyone would want to make a skateboarding Jesus coloring book for kids? 🙂

  206. GovPappy wrote:

    Being pressured to share your deepest struggles to a group of people you barely know is not accountability.

    —–
    Given my negative experience in being vulnerable with other Christians after my loved one died, I learned the hard way not to open up easily or quickly to other people about my dirty laundry, especially not other Christians!

    I really was dismayed and shocked (and still am) at how when I went to other Christians (at churches and family) in good faith, expecting to receive compassion over my grief (and other, unrelated things), I really got shamed for it, scolded, judged.

    Other people in this thread said they encountered the same thing in their time of struggle as well.

    I either wince or roll my eyes when I see talking heads on Christian TV shows encouraging other Christians to “take your masks off at church, be authentic, share with others.”

    It would be great if people could share and open up at churches or among Christians in person, but my experience has been, when you do so, other Christians then feel entitled to judge you, condemn you, utter unsolicited advice, give cliches, or blame you for your problems.

  207. @ Jeff S:
    Gramp3 and I look exactly like a textbook Complementarian couple without the hierarchy. It is because we are mutually respectful and mutually loving. He is a natural leader, and I am not. Spiritual issues we discuss together. The thing is that I don’t think that every marriage needs to look exactly the same. I think that our creative God loves diversity of expressions of his goodness and his image.

    I’m going to agree and disagree about Galatians. No one text is a killer text for either “side” of the issue, IMO. However, the overall message of Galatians is not just Jew/Gentile but rather the whole idea of social hierarchies being of no value in the Kingdom. There is no privileged position in the Kingdom according to human social arrangements which tend to be hierarchical. So, in that sense, the principle to be extracted from Paul’s teaching of the Galatians is very applicable to the gender issue.

    I just wish they would get on with it and start raising money by selling plenary gender indulgences. Because they have made being female an unpardonable sin.

  208. Law Prof wrote:

    find John who tells me that I am not in need of teachers, as I have one teacher, the Holy Spirit.

    Some pastors are not real fond of having that passage mentioned. I know first hand from a few years back. :o)

  209. Jeff S wrote:

    I totally agree. And I think I’ve mentioned, that I really *am* the “spiritual leader” in my home. That is, I generally take responsibility for a lot of the spiritual activities in our house and family. And my wife does tend to look to me to do these things. But the key is the *basis* for this dynamic, and it isn’t because of our genders, but how God has gifted and led us to this point. The sad thing is, we may not look that different from a lot of complementarian couples, but the underlying principle means so much.

    Now imagine the scenario for a family in a comp church if the woman is the gifted and natural spiritual leader in the home? The children, husband and wife can all be denigrated in a church that views this as sinful.

  210. Law Prof wrote:

    Also, don’t assume we’re not meeting together or haven’t tried home fellowships. I’ve been heavily involved in two. The reason you’re probably not “observing” a “trend” is because many dones aren’t interested in establishing a trend, aren’t interested in promoting themselves and their lifestyles, and don’t make extensive use of the media and marketing techniques to push themselves to the front, such as many churches have been doing. We don’t care to show up on your radar.

    A few months ago when following threads on the internet I ran across a website on dones. It had a link to a conference with a bunch of paid speakers. I wished I had documented it as it was a good example what dones are running away from.

  211. @ Patrice:

    I want you to know that I greatly admire your courage. Not all would tell their story on a public forum as you have done. Funny, but after reading it, Madonna’s song Live to Tell started playing in my head. Please don’t think it trite or disrespectful. There’s much to be said for Madonna’s work as an artist and a wordsmith.

  212. lydia wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    find John who tells me that I am not in need of teachers, as I have one teacher, the Holy Spirit.
    Some pastors are not real fond of having that passage mentioned. I know first hand from a few years back. :o)

    In 35 years I have never heard a teaching on Sunday morning covering these scriptures.

  213. GovPappy wrote:

    It’s amazing skimming through some of these stories y’all are sharing. Wish I had time to go through and comment on each one.

    Agreed.
    I also found a lot of similar stories from my own community. Most won’t engage as they probably get back a load of platitudes but scratch the surface and there is a lot of disillusionment. Listening is a lost art in many churches.

  214. @ Dave A A:
    Oh my word…so quick! The recently appointed young pres was a protege of Mohler as one of his many assistants. He was known in some circles here for covertly turning some older sbc churches to calvin when sent from seminay to help as an interim.

    I knew Owen would get a pay off for CBMW like Burk.

  215. Bridget wrote:

    lydia wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    find John who tells me that I am not in need of teachers, as I have one teacher, the Holy Spirit.
    Some pastors are not real fond of having that passage mentioned. I know first hand from a few years back. :o)

    In 35 years I have never heard a teaching on Sunday morning covering these scriptures.

    My Sunday school teacher at my former sbc church dealt with it very fairly one morning. I don’t agree with them on everything, but at very least they have the idea down that they’re mainly a complement to the believer’s growth, not the primary source.

    But other than that, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it approached.

  216. Charity wrote:

    They sit face to face, and are able to share, and discuss the bible and learn without the condemnation and manipulations that the corporate church placed upon them before they were “done”.

    I have heard some Christians criticize this manner of Bible teaching, Bible sharing, or study.

    They don’t like it when a group of Christians sit around in a small circle, read a verse or chapter aloud, then turn to the group and say, “What does this passage mean TO YOU.”

    The critics of this approach believe there is only one set way or correct way to interpret any particular passage.

    To a point, I think they are right, as I am not in complete agreement with those who think that the entire Bible is up for grabs, but.

    I see entire denominations in the Protestant tradition who disagree with each other – churches and denominations that are headed by one or two guys in charge – and they differ over certain passages or verses.

    So how is that any better than the little group of average Jane and average Joe Christians trying to make sense of the Bible?

    Are these critics just more comfortable with the idea of possibly incorrect hermeneutics done at the official, corporate, large group denominational level, than they are when it comes from among small groups of Average Joes and Janes in someone’s house?

    Why do they think big mistakes at a big level are better or safer than little mistakes at a smaller level?

  217. There is no reason that a group of people can’t say, the local church here has been hurtful and we can’t go back, there are “x” number of us who feel/experienced that. The NT calls us to gather and have a part of our christian life and witness “these” things, so let’s do it.

    I look forward to the day when I see Hebrews 10:24-25 used as encouragement and not as a weapon against those who’ve been hurt by the church.

  218. Law Prof wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    Adam, wait until you’re 55+ and read what you’ve written. You’ll have a totally different look at stuff.
    Agreed, I know this sounds snotty, but I get the feeling Adam, who seems to be a thoughtful person who’s groping towards truth, has an awful lot of growing up to do and a lot of hard lessons to learn. I look back on myself even at 40, old enough to start to know better (when I was in a paid ministerial staff position in a church), how shamelessly I promoted myself and the system I thought could lift ME up to prominence. Wish I could go back in time and slap myself silly.

    I look back when I was 50 and still teaching high school…..I now look at stuff SO differently now Law-Prof. I wonder what revelation I will have in my 70s?

  219. From reading the accounts of Tullian, I was struck by one of the paragraphs in the Washington Post article:

    Before he became senior pastor of the Fort Lauderdale congregation, Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge. Seven months in, a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. Church members voted 69 percent to 31 percent to keep him, but a group of congregants formed a new church in response.

    This sounds like one of those YRR take-overs of an established church. Is that what happened?

  220. @ Jeff S:
    I would be shocked if Northpoint had female elders. Deacons I would expect. Also, a long time ago Andy Stanley taught the permanence view of marriage which we discovered from a sermon by another pastor who cited him. And once we visited with some folks at Buckhead Church where there definitely was a fog machine. And lots of flashing lights with ear-splitting amplification.

  221. @ Bill M:
    Recently had a good friend tell me I was the first person who hadn’t blown her off or laughed at her for sharing doubts, or even the fact that she had doubts about things.

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The heck are churches teaching these days?

  222. GovPappy wrote:

    @ Bill M:
    Recently had a good friend tell me I was the first person who hadn’t blown her off or laughed at her for sharing doubts, or even the fact that she had doubts about things.
    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The heck are churches teaching these days?

    I want to cry, just hearing this. 🙁

  223. Daisy wrote:

    Charity wrote:
    They sit face to face, and are able to share, and discuss the bible and learn without the condemnation and manipulations that the corporate church placed upon them before they were “done”.
    I have heard some Christians criticize this manner of Bible teaching, Bible sharing, or study.
    They don’t like it when a group of Christians sit around in a small circle, read a verse or chapter aloud, then turn to the group and say, “What does this passage mean TO YOU.”
    The critics of this approach believe there is only one set way or correct way to interpret any particular passage.
    To a point, I think they are right, as I am not in complete agreement with those who think that the entire Bible is up for grabs, but.
    I see entire denominations in the Protestant tradition who disagree with each other – churches and denominations that are headed by one or two guys in charge – and they differ over certain passages or verses.
    So how is that any better than the little group of average Jane and average Joe Christians trying to make sense of the Bible?
    Are these critics just more comfortable with the idea of possibly incorrect hermeneutics done at the official, corporate, large group denominational level, than they are when it comes from among small groups of Average Joes and Janes in someone’s house?
    Why do they think big mistakes at a big level are better or safer than little mistakes at a smaller level?

    For us, we will have bible commentary, and study with Matthew Henry and other books, guides, etc. in addition to just our bibles. But, we will not have just one position crammed down our throats (i.e. many of us came out of prosperity gospel, tongue speaking churches and reject that theology).

    We may not be theologians but we are not alone now, in the wilderness and perhaps, sitting together will help one another heal the wounds of the past. I am sure there are many pastors that will claim that we are not “educated enough” with their theological training, but so far, we have heard so little theological training put to use in the evangelical prosperity tongue speaking AOG churches we attended in our area. Others experiences may vary of course, I can only speak of our area and experiences.

  224. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I personally have trouble conceiving being Done and Gone. Not to be a personal attack towards anyone’s particular viewpoint….but…For me, it is alllll about Jesus.

    Some of us are very reluctantly done, provisionally, precisely because we love Jesus and because we love the church. That is the point. When the “churches” stop looking like the Church who should look like Christ, then the people who really love Jesus are going to have a very difficult time staying in an environment where people talk about Jesus but they elevate other things way above him.

    When you are young and energetic, it is not quite as daunting to be entrepreneurial, and I think that is a good thing. However, believe it or not, when you get older you just don’t have the margin that young folks have, and launching a church is not what most older folks have the desire or capacity to do. Some, perhaps do, and I applaud them. I believe that is why the Body should be composed of young and old. But some of the young have basically expelled the old unless the old worship the same idols that some of the young worship.

  225. @ Florence in KY:

    About everything that guy says about Southern Baptist leadership pushing out Traditionalists to favor Calvinists can also apply to Southern Baptists (and other groups) marginalizing adult singles and favoring married couples.

  226. Lord have mercy. I cannot relate to any of this. Fog machines? Seriously? Now I’ve heard everything.

    People leave the Catholic Church all the time, alas, but it’s not over fog machines. And it’s certainly not because the pastor regards his sermon as the be-all and end-all of the service. Um, nope, that would be the Eucharist.

    I feel as if I must be inhabiting another planet. Even though I’m right here in the NC Bible Belt. LOL.

    Around 107 AD, Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of Saint Peter and friend of the other apostles, wrote: “Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

    Works for me. 🙂

  227. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    When your church practices remind people of Scientology, that’s NOT a good sign.

    Not just Scientology, but some Christian biblical interpretations I see on some subjects reminds me of either Mormonism or Islam.

  228. @ Bridget:

    I wonder, if you made up an e-mail address with G-mail, Hot Mail, or whatever, under a male name or a neutral name, and identified yourself as a “male guest who wishes to be anonymous” and sent that guy the same or similar material, he’d probably give it a fair hearing.

  229. @ Law Prof:

    Let me be clear. There is NO WHERE in the NT that says, Everyone must meet on Sunday for 1-3 hours if they are to be a good christian.

    But how do you go from that to missing that the description of the church in the NT did have very clear indications of what was occurring, and while not a definitive prescription of the first order, it is very clear on what the Church looked like…

    1- Appointment of Elders and Deacons who were responsible for(amongst a number of things); 1- Teaching scripture, 2- “protecting” the flock, 3-leading the community, 4- organizing and facilitating the helping of those in needs(widows, orphans, etc)

    Paul even goes on to detail how to have an orderly gathering in 1 Corinthians 14.

    The NT is written entirely in the context and assumption that those who are followers of Christ are in some recognizable capacity within a regular gathering.

    To jump to the conclusion that the regular gathering of believers is totally unnecessary and not described in the NT is sort of like if I wrote a book on a healthy marriage and people were like, “Oh, I guess you don’t have to actually live WITH your spouse”. I wouldn’t feel it necessary to make a long drawn out case about living with your spouse because the natural assumption would be that you were.

  230. Gram3 wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    I believe that is why the Body should be composed of young and old. But some of the young have basically expelled the old unless the old worship the same idols that some of the young worship.

    The ” New Bloods” could care less about the older members. Their mantra is sit down, shut up and give your tithe. We don’t care about your problems, we don’t care about witnessing to people your age.
    I really believe they wish we would die…..It’s sort of like the movie ” Logan’s Run.”

  231. Adam Borsay wrote:

    K.D. wrote:

    Adam, wait until you’re 55+ and read what you’ve written. You’ll have a totally different look at stuff.
    —–
    What would I see differently? Not at all meaning to sound facetious. But I am convinced that the NT clearly indicates that the regular, organized and deliberate gathering of believers is the normative. How would 20 more years of life convince me otherwise?

    In 20+ years churches will not care if you attend or not. Now they want you because you’re a millennial. Yes, a deliberate gathering of believers is normative, but too many churches work at gathering in only SOME of the believers.

    I grew up very active in a moderately evangelical UMC, and had been an active member (served on Trustees & Administrative Council, choir member) of an urban UMC for many years, but went through church-shopping a few years ago when I moved. I was shocked at how little churches (not just UMC) cared about bringing in someone who was actively seeking church membership.

    It never occurred to me before I moved that finding a church would be so hard. Yes, there are lots of types of churches in the area and I have found one whose preaching & liturgy & classes are great but the music is soul-suckingly depressing (and I truly like a wide spectrum of music genres). I’ve found another with some pretty good music but not much else. Though almost everyone in these churches looks just like me, I want, but haven’t found, any that reflect the wide diversity of my community as my old church did. Also, not everyone thinks social justice issues should be limited to (or even include) the typical pro-life Sunday and support for a crisis pregnancy center. I recognize that no single church is perfect, but I would settle on one of these churches if any one of them made the slightest effort to reach out beyond a Sunday morning handshake or gift baggie with an expensively produced DVD patting themselves on the back about how friendly and diverse they are.

    Please understand that when you appear to not be able to appreciate any experience or perspective other than your own, that’s, IMO, part of the problem.

  232. Gram3 wrote:

    Because they have made being female an unpardonable sin.

    It’s an even bigger sin with them if you are a single, childless female.

  233. Daisy wrote:

    I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like the cruddy or insensitive responses you get from Christians hurts more than the original thing or original incident was that you are reaching out to help for in the first place.

    Totally agree. A person experiences abuse but believes that the rest of the world will be different than that small situation. When further experience turns out to be only more versions of abuse/neglect/shunning, a precious hope dies.

    These abused people are left to their own devices, knowing very well that they aren’t really adequate to the task. Surprisingly, they often do get through, but with some deep scars, one of which is a deep (and practical) distrust of others.

    That’s why it doesn’t make sense to expect such people to go out and build churches of their own. They’d have to believe there is benefit to it, but outside their forlorn wishes, they have found very little.

    If church was the only way one could worship God, be a testimony to the Light, and live in joy with Him, then these abused people would be up sh*t creek. But God is very good indeed; it isn’t the only way. 🙂

  234. Dave A A wrote:

    He will join fellow recent-hire Jared Wilson, who directs content strategerie.

    Owen BHLH and Jared “Doug” PCCP Wilson are a great pair. You totally cracked me up with the “relish” reference to Owen BHLH.

  235. refugee wrote:

    This sounds like one of those YRR take-overs of an established church. Is that what happened?

    The New Calvinist movement is rapidly establishing itself via two avenues: (1) new church plants, and (2) takeover of established non-Calvinist churches. The first pathway is an easier row to hoe – young reformed pastors can easily plant their theology and set up reformed belief and practice with few obstacles (New Calvinism is more about planting theology than churches). The takeover approach requires deception to gain control of a non-Calvinist church – the SBC is full of horror stories about young militants lying to pulpit search committees about their theological persuasion … and then proceeding to split the church. While the takeover strategy has more weeeping and gnashing of teeth associated with it, a successful young reformer can capture church resources that a previous generation paid for! I suspect the Kennedy family had concerns about Tullian’s motives in this regard … and must now feel justified for their actions to split and form another church. Unfortunately, the church assets Dr. Kennedy labored for so faithfully remains in New Calvinist hands.

  236. @ XianJaneway:
    Sadly, I believe Mr. Patrick is going to find their is no place for him in the new SBC. “His” kind are the previous “moderates” who had to go and he and others like minded will have no place at the table. The SBC is a very strange place.

  237. Bridget wrote:

    lydia wrote:
    Law Prof wrote:
    find John who tells me that I am not in need of teachers, as I have one teacher, the Holy Spirit.
    Some pastors are not real fond of having that passage mentioned. I know first hand from a few years back. :o)
    In 35 years I have never heard a teaching on Sunday morning covering these scriptures.

    In fact, I heard the following from the pulpit in a neocal at which I was an elder: “The Scriptures tell us that you need teachers!”

    The sermon was one of those set-the-laity-straight-because-there’s-been-some-divisive-questioning-of-the-anointed-leaders sermons, it was specifically cited to answer some concerns from many of us pew-dwellers about all of the teaching being controlled in a top-down manner and whether we all ought to instead submit one to another. The preacher in this case had specifically said that “submit one to another” in the Scriptures specifically did not apply to the leaders, that taken in proper context, we were supposed to submit solely to them, a pure one-sided affair.

    Of course the Bible sets out some as teachers, and prophets, and so on through the various gifts. But at the end of the day we have One Teacher, and He’s from above and He works through the Holy Spirit in us, which is why the systems that Adam defends are dead on wrong and I personally believe are driven by forces very much opposed to the true Church and are seeking to marginalize it or destroy it if possible.

  238. Bridget wrote:

    He needs to get a job out where a job is earned, not attained because of his sexual anatomy (my not so humble opinion).

    It’s not just his anatomy. It’s also who he married and who her father is. Loyalty to the Big Men is richly rewarded.

  239. Gram3 wrote:

    Also, a long time ago Andy Stanley taught the permanence view of marriage

    Yep. I’m listening to a sermon about it right now that they sent me. That’s pretty much a dealbreaker.

    But they did tell me that had female elders on staff. Perhaps I misunderstood- it was a few months ago I asked.

  240. XianJaneway wrote:

    I want to cry, just hearing this. 🙁

    I want to cry practically every time I read TWW. So much evil going on in the name of Jesus. Makes me wonder just what’s going on, really…

  241. Max wrote:

    Definitely the sword of choice in New Calvinist ranks!

    The ESVonlyists. I don’t think they believe that the ESV is a translation, as a practical matter. Grudem practically invented Koine in their view.

  242. GovPappy wrote:

    I thought I was done with bible version insanity when I left the KJVO nonsense.
    Then the neocals and their ESV study bibles showed up.

    I see you beat me to it!

  243. Gram3 wrote:

    Also, a long time ago Andy Stanley taught the permanence view of marriage which we discovered from a sermon by another pastor who cited him

    Of course you know his father is Charles Stanley, who was, IIRC, strongly against divorce and said he’s step down from the pulpit if he ever got divorced. Until his wife divorced him. Then he changed his tune on divorce.

  244. Daisy wrote:

    other Christians then feel entitled to judge you, condemn you, utter unsolicited advice, give cliches, or blame you for your problems.

    This is so true. I went through a similar experience during a crisis in my life and the reactions I got when I shared were unforgettable and make me hesitant to share much beyond hello, how are you, I’m fine! On with the show!

  245. Adam Borsay wrote:

    why aren’t any of these millions of people establishing NT churches? Again, not to speak to any one individuals personal story, but statistically speaking, shouldn’t there at least be an observable trend of these dones establishing at the very least home based small churches that pursue the NT description of the life of a christian? IE, teaching the word, evangelism, discipling, serving their community, etc.

    Because I’m an attorney and not a preacher or teacher. Starting a church is a huge undertaking that very few people are called to do. It’s not that I wouldn’t give my time and effort to a church but it can’t be a full-time occupation in addition to my day job. I have long been good at caffeine-fueled all-nighters but not everyone is or not everyone is good at them at every stage of their lives.

    Your arguments make it sound as if you who can’t appreciate where other people are in life. I’ve certainly been guilty of doing that as well.

  246. Adam Borsay wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    Let me be clear. There is NO WHERE in the NT that says, Everyone must meet on Sunday for 1-3 hours if they are to be a good christian.
    But how do you go from that to missing that the description of the church in the NT did have very clear indications of what was occurring, and while not a definitive prescription of the first order, it is very clear on what the Church looked like…
    1- Appointment of Elders and Deacons who were responsible for(amongst a number of things); 1- Teaching scripture, 2- “protecting” the flock, 3-leading the community, 4- organizing and facilitating the helping of those in needs(widows, orphans, etc)
    Paul even goes on to detail how to have an orderly gathering in 1 Corinthians 14.
    The NT is written entirely in the context and assumption that those who are followers of Christ are in some recognizable capacity within a regular gathering.
    To jump to the conclusion that the regular gathering of believers is totally unnecessary and not described in the NT is sort of like if I wrote a book on a healthy marriage and people were like, “Oh, I guess you don’t have to actually live WITH your spouse”. I wouldn’t feel it necessary to make a long drawn out case about living with your spouse because the natural assumption would be that you were.

    I would like to know how a meeting of people in a non-deliberate manner, Christians just meeting together on a regular, non-scheduled basis, praying for one another, reading the Bible in their homes or coffee shops, on the phone, etc. would not fit within that NT paradigm, particularly considering the Bible specifically refers to that church that met in a house.

    I would also like to know how it is you can read about elders in the Bible and pretend that you are capable as a millenial of teaching one of those older people who’ve been around and gotten over themselves and stupid ambition, who’ve raised children to adulthood, who’ve made the same foolish mistakes as you are and been a part of the same destructive paradigm, and not listen to them. There are many here who could very much be considered your elders, the older ones.

    You have taken the bare fact that Timothy was told to appoint elders in a formerly pagan area that was newly exposed to the teachings of Jesus and His Disciples and made some magic of it that does not rise up from the text. He was quite probably going round and with the people recognizing those who fit the qualifications already. The Jews had been doing this for millenia, he was being told to help as something of a missionary to do the same thing. You treat it like some mystical magic rather than what it is. This is why you, as a veritable boy, think yourself capable of teaching anyone here much of anything. Or did Peter, who knew Jesus and had felt His censure personally, speak in vain when he told you how to regard those older in Christ than you?

    You should be listening to your elders in Christ right here on this forum who are attempting to help you along a bit and perhaps, in humility, considering others better than yourself, as a young man, understanding that you just don’t know enough yet to know that you don’t know enough.

    But do as you will, I believe you’ll learn, either the easy way or the hard way.

  247. Daisy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    When your church practices remind people of Scientology, that’s NOT a good sign.
    Not just Scientology, but some Christian biblical interpretations I see on some subjects reminds me of either Mormonism or Islam.

    LOL! I can totally resonate with both your responses..

    Case in point, I can remember my old church something like this

    “We are having a week long bible study series in the evenings. For just a mere $300, reserve your seat for this great bible event!” (yes, this really happened at my old church)

    Later the next week: “Hey, did you go to that study, bla bla bla”… Me: “No, I could not afford the $300 to go”… Them: “Oh, well how are you supposed to know the word of God, if you don’t attend?”. Me: Head Desk!

    And the series was usually something on financial prosperity and tithing. So, you had to pay $300, to go to a class, to teach you how to give more to your church so God could bless you with more financial blessings…

  248. Bridget wrote:

    In 35 years I have never heard a teaching on Sunday morning covering these scriptures.

    Bridget, there are several reasons for that. Some pastors are not living holy enough lives and are uncomfortable mentioning the Holy Spirit. In other churches, the pulpit steers away from sermons on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit because they think it is something that gets on pentecostals and they don’t want it on their people. Still others don’t want to admit that embedded in New Testament teaching is the truth that individual believers are priests and that individual souls are competent to stand before God in Bible study and prayer to receive truth without it being filtered by the pulpit. These have been long-established Baptist doctrines of “priesthood of the believer” and “soul competency.” The New Calvinist movement doesn’t want you to know that. Soooo … the Holy Spirit has been relegated to the back pew. As long as we grieve and quench the Holy Spirit in this way, Scriptural truth will not be revealed to us and we will have to rely on the teachings and traditions of men (and Jesus warned us not to do that!).

  249. @ Gram3:

    As to the Galatians passage, the issue of “full inheritance” just does not resonate today as it would have then. It is a big deal. And when it comes to male/female it is not “nor” it is “and”. Which is Gen 1!

  250. Charity wrote:

    And the series was usually something on financial prosperity and tithing. So, you had to pay $300, to go to a class, to teach you how to give more to your church so God could bless you with more financial blessings…

    Pure, cultish, Satanic, evil.

  251. @ Adam Borsay:
    Well, the internet wasn’t around when Paul wrote his epistles. Some Christians today get their regular meetings with other Christians on forums and blogs.

    Some get in their cars and meet for coffee at coffee shops.

    I don’t see the point in going to a group that has elders and other offices if they are not performing their biblical functions correctly anyhow.

  252. dee wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the church wants to look like it used to “50” years ago then start behaving like it did 50 years ago.
    ——
    You mean like endorsing Jim Crow and all that stuff?

    Exactly! Most churches have given up support for Jim Crow but too many still think Leave it to Beaver is the fifth Gospel. They even invented the term “complementarian” to make it sound Biblical©

  253. K.D. wrote:

    The ” New Bloods” could care less about the older members. Their mantra is sit down, shut up and give your tithe. We don’t care about your problems, we don’t care about witnessing to people your age.

    I think I mentioned on this blog over a year ago a book I found on a book selling site.

    The title was something like “Who Stole My Church.”

    The back cover blurb, IIRC, said things like, “Have your old hymns been replaced by rock and roll and laser shows, you’ve told church leadership this bothers you, they don’t care, and you find this upsetting? This is the book for you.”

    At first glance, you would assume that this book was for older believers who were being marginalized or kicked out of their churches and how to remedy this.

    But upon closer inspection, the elderly people who left reviews said that the book was a big example of Cat Fishing or bait and switch.

    When they read the book, they say it actually says that church should only be for younger people and unbelievers – so sit down, shut up, keep giving your tithes, and if it takes rock music and laser shows to bring in the kids, then get over it already.

  254. Pingback: Linkathon! » PhoenixPreacher | PhoenixPreacher

  255. Daisy wrote:

    Of course you know his father is Charles Stanley, who was, IIRC, strongly against divorce and said he’s step down from the pulpit if he ever got divorced. Until his wife divorced him. Then he changed his tune on divorce.

    As far as I know, he hasn’t changed his view on divorce, just on his ability to preach and teach. He still will not get re-married.

    This was a huge rift between father and son and the reason I inquired about it.

    Anyway, I just sent the person from North Point who sent me the video a (respectful) earful about the effects of this teaching on abuse victims.

  256. XianAtty wrote:

    In 20+ years churches will not care if you attend or not. Now they want you because you’re a millennial.

    I agree with this.

    When the last millennial turns 30, 35, or maybe 40 years old, churches will have already moved on to the next group of then-twenty-somethings (unless they continue to perceive millennials as a cash cow).

    I think this is true of many churches too:
    Marketers Create Mania over Millennials
    http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/marketers-create-mania-over-millennials/

  257. Charity wrote:

    The fact that I am a middle aged single female, disabled and on a fixed income, and also care for my 90 year old mother with a full plate just trying to survive and do the right thing, that is proof enough to them that I am somehow a sinner, destined for hell because God is not prospering me with financial riches.

    No, you are actually a treasure, a wonderful person who deserves any help and understanding you can get. The fact that those prosperity heretics don’t understand that is a judgment on them, not on you. Thank you for all that you do!

  258. lydia wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    As to the Galatians passage, the issue of “full inheritance” just does not resonate today as it would have then. It is a big deal. And when it comes to male/female it is not “nor” it is “and”. Which is Gen 1!

    Galatians 3:28 could be plausibly read as an escalating set. People might see how Jew/Gentile did not matter, but the difference between slaves and masters? Probably would have been conceptually difficult. But no male or female? That goes to our very identities, and that would be unthinkable. Paul, who was skilled in rhetoric, would know this. I need to check the interlinear, but I believe that the no male/female grammar is different from the two other pairs.

  259. roebuck wrote:

    Charity wrote:
    And the series was usually something on financial prosperity and tithing. So, you had to pay $300, to go to a class, to teach you how to give more to your church so God could bless you with more financial blessings…
    Pure, cultish, Satanic, evil.

    Thank you! It is so healing to hear those words… I sat in silence for so long and afraid to speak out. Just hearing one person say this, is more healing than you will ever know.

  260. Gram3 wrote:

    But I think it is a mistake to think that God is restricted to acting mostly within a recognizable organization. That does not make sense to me personally.

    Agreed! I’ve had more opportunities to share my faith since I left the organization known as church. J.B. Phillips wrote a book entitled, “Your God is Too Small” years ago and if anyone threatens that He only or even primarily works within the confines of brick and mortar, their God is too small.

  261. Gram3 wrote:

    I’m going to agree and disagree about Galatians. No one text is a killer text for either “side” of the issue, IMO. However, the overall message of Galatians is not just Jew/Gentile but rather the whole idea of social hierarchies being of no value in the Kingdom. There is no privileged position in the Kingdom according to human social arrangements which tend to be hierarchical. So, in that sense, the principle to be extracted from Paul’s teaching of the Galatians is very applicable to the gender issue.

    Fair enough, and I don’t disagree with any of this.

    I guess I’ll just say that I think the line from “love one another is the most important” to “no hierarchy based on a person’s being” is a bit straighter in my mind.

  262. Max wrote:

    The greatest need in the American church is for the pew to pray for discernment. Folks, you better read the red and pray for wisdom. It’s come to that!

    I’m Outside the Household of Faith. Praying for discernment may work for some people in their lives, but far too often I’ve seen it used as a way to squelch the tiny voice of reason struggling to be heard.

  263. Jeff S wrote:

    He still will not get re-married.

    Well, of course he says he won’t. But he said he would resign if it came to divorce and then he had a new revelation when the divorce occurred where God told him to continue to preach. So, I think his doctrine on divorce and pastoring might be similarly flexible if necessary. And I think that the overwhelming number of people at FBA would be perfectly accepting of that just like they were with his switch the first time around.

  264. @ Denise:

    I relate. I hesitate now before opening up to people in person.

    On the internet, it’s not so bad, since you can lurk for days or weeks to get a feel of how others on a forum or blog will react to what you say, but in face- to- face meetings, or on the phone? It’s much more dicey.

  265. Adam Borsay wrote:

    To jump to the conclusion that the regular gathering of believers is totally unnecessary and not described in the NT

    But that is not what people are saying. They do want to be in relationship and care and love and worship and pray and give and learn. They are not finding this in the churches we see today. The institution called church today consumes what should be the one anotherings and the worship that should be directed to God.

    You seem to be missing what IS being said in favor for what you think people are doing or missing. Perhaps listen without the filter of looking for sin.

  266. Gus wrote:

    No, you are actually a treasure, a wonderful person who deserves any help and understanding you can get. The fact that those prosperity heretics don’t understand that is a judgment on them, not on you. Thank you for all that you do!

    You just made me cry, in a good way! God Bless YOU! 🙂

  267. mirele wrote:

    Praying for discernment may work for some people

    Only for those who have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. Until then, we only have human intellect and reason to guide us, not the Holy Spirit who leads us into all Truth.

  268. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If I found myself in an environment where there was legitimately zero faithful and healthy churches within a reasonable distance, I would start something myself.

    Now again, I’m not a “none” (yet). However, if I were to run out of churches (my two biggest leads right now just went kaput), the idea of starting something myself is . . . terrifying. I don’t feel remotely mature enough to try something like that.

  269. Jeff S wrote:

    the line from “love one another is the most important” to “no hierarchy based on a person’s being” is a bit straighter in my mind.

    Definitely. It is hard to get past Jesus teaching that the Mark of his disciples is, oddly, not church discipline but rather love for one another. I see grasping for authority by these men that does not look like Philippians 2. And I believe they are projecting their own grasping ambitions onto women whom they label as usurpers. But I am not a psychologist, though I have read quite a lot of Paul Tripp.

  270. Dave A A wrote:

    In other news, Owen BHLH (not John) has a new job at Midwestern Seminary engaging Culture– in which he will relish the gospel opportunities. http://www.mbts.edu/midwestern-seminary-names-scholar-owen-strachan-faculty-associate-professor-christian-theology-head-forthcoming-center-theology-culture/
    He will join fellow recent-hire Jared Wilson, who directs content strategerie.

    These guys need a year’s sabbatical working somewhere that not a religiously-affiliated organization. And they need to try and live off the money they’re paid. They haven’t a clue as to what modern life is about. I’d probably trust the advice I’d get from the clerk at the Circle K ringing up my 12 pack of diet Coke than I would an Owen Strachan or Jared Wilson. At least a Circle K clerk is less likely toouth pious platitudes at me.

  271. XianJaneway wrote:

    @ Jeff S:
    Me too–a guitar player for 20 years now. It’s so hard. Even in multi-racial churches, they say music is the most difficult bridge to build, and the most frequent source of conflict. They joke that when Satan was cast down from heaven, he landed in the choir loft.

    I am part of the late-Boomer generation that first brought drums & guitars into the sanctuary in the 1970s and loved both the contemporary group AND the Chancel Choir. When I don’t like something now I try to remember how horrified some of the older folks were when we were first rocking out in church and try to broaden my musical horizons. Now, I look for musical diversity in part because as others have said, if you just have one type of music exclusively it effectively winnows out people who are really set on another type. Same for music from other cultures and ethnicities. I agree with you that music can be the most difficult bridge.

    Re Satan landing in the choir loft. LOL! Hadn’t heard that one before, but from years of sitting there, I can agree that Stan reared his ugly head from time to time.

  272. @ Law Prof:

    I appreciate your desire to interact with me. If you feel as if I am being dismissive of you or anyone else’s viewpoint, that is not my intent.

    I don’t think there is something “magical” about Elders and church “structures”. The reference to leadership and deliberateness in the early church is through out the entirety of the NT. That does not therefore mean that the brick and mortar normative of Western Christianity is the end all and be all. If someone said they were done going to “x” institutional church that would simply warrant further discussion. Not a blanket condemnation. If they were indeed, as you described, fellowshipping with other Christians for the purpose of study, edification and application of scripture together—regardless of the context(house, coffee shop, skype etc) I would not believe that to be outside of the stream of NT teaching.

    When we see how much of the church world wide has to function, especially in totalitarian regimes like the former USSR and China, it clearly was not even possible to go to a good old brick and mortar location. Yet, they still functionally gathered together to the best of their ability. There wasn’t, and isn’t, a movement in these locations of people saying, “here is your bible, your a christian now, talk to you later” They put into practice the gathering together described in the NT even at great risk to themselves. If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    I don’t presume to be some sort of youthful guru who old folks are lucky to learn from. The reason I am not in a parachurch ministry is my personal Biblical conviction that the multigenerational church is where we should be as believers. I am gifted(not that I am indicating that I am amazing by any means) in teaching and communicating scripture, not in espousing my own views and interpretations. Our elder board has an average age of around 60 and I consider them to be above me if we were to give artificial hierarchial structure to it. Until recently I was actually the only pastor of a small rural church with mostly older folks, and we decided to merge with a sister church in our area(for a number of reasons) and I happily took on a secondary role to their Sr Pastor who is in his 60’s and has been there since the 70’s. I don’t have any need to be in charge or have people listen to me. They are going to bring me in “permanently” in the next few weeks and asked what my long term plans were, and I could honestly say that I don’t care about being a senior pastor, that isn’t some sort of “career” goal. I just want to serve where God has me with the gifts I have been given and I will joyfully do what ever they need me to do. And one of my main roles is leading the “stretcher bearers” ministry where I spent a large chunk of my time in local nursing homes. Even though I am only 33 I have a reputation in the community as “that nursing home guy”.

    I say all that to circle back to; Either scripture lays out a description of “this” is what christian community looks like, or, not. Regardless of ones personal experiences and perspectives, it doesn’t change what scripture says. If I am wrong about that, then show me in scripture. Not to be argumentative, but appealing to experiences and “age” does not convince me that scripture doesn’t say what I believe it says.

    Now, that doesn’t absolve church “leaders” from being sensitive towards peoples experiences when we think about “how” we do church. We shouldn’t be adding millstones to peoples necks to enter into community as described by scripture. i am a big believer in keeping it simple and to not think of any thing we choose to do in our personal practices as sacrosanct.

  273. Daisy wrote:

    I wonder, if a woman had gone to your pastor and worship leader to register disagreements of opinion about gender roles, would they have been accommodating and nice about it?

    In this case, I think they would. I mean, these guys, especially the worship pastor, are men I know very, very well. I think I have a good grasp of their heart.

  274. Law Prof wrote:

    The reason you’re probably not “observing” a “trend” is because many dones aren’t interested in establishing a trend, aren’t interested in promoting themselves and their lifestyles, and don’t make extensive use of the media and marketing techniques to push themselves to the front, such as many churches have been doing. We don’t care to show up on your radar.

    This is true for me and the people in my life. We have no established format but we talk about God and life, and we talk with God about life, and we love each other. It matters not a whit whether the institutional church knows or what it thinks of how we do our faith.

  275. Adam Borsay wrote:

    But how do you go from that to missing that the description of the church in the NT did have very clear indications of what was occurring, and while not a definitive prescription of the first order, it is very clear on what the Church looked like…

    Actually it is not real clear as in a command form. That is why when people obtained freedom from the thousand year reign of a state church political system, hundreds of “denominations” bloomed – not to mention the anti denominational types.

    Some scholars have pointed to the church in Corinth that operated for quite a while (some say 9 years) with no discernable elders unless you want to include Chloe because “she had people”. :o) who were the elders at Philippi? Lydia?

    We are a long way from Jew/Gentile gatherings in the 1st century and all the chaos that would naturally bring. Not only that but we live in a literate age. We don’t really need ” special” people to read and interpret for us. Now, someone wise and mature actually operating in the real world can be a great model for others. But even that changes as others mature. I tend to think scripture focused on functions not offices.

    And none of this is what I am seeing in the institutions on a broad scale. Maybe more of us have questioned the typical definition if pastor/elder and did more digging.

  276. Max wrote:

    Only for those who have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. Until then, we only have human intellect and reason to guide us, not the Holy Spirit who leads us into all Truth.

    Hi Max, I appreciate your forthright statement. Since I’m guessing you have this discernment, I have a question if you’d like to take a stab at it. There are 30,000+ different denominations, all with their own particular take on Christianity. So which one has the right discernment? Which ones are the ones that have been “redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb”?

  277. K.D. wrote:

    The ” New Bloods” could care less about the older members. Their mantra is sit down, shut up and give your tithe. We don’t care about your problems, we don’t care about witnessing to people your age.
    I really believe they wish we would die…..It’s sort of like the movie ” Logan’s Run.”

    Or the ending of an earlier movie, Wild in the Streets.

  278. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    Hi Max, I appreciate your forthright statement. Since I’m guessing you have this discernment, I have a question if you’d like to take a stab at it. There are 30,000+ different denominations, all with their own particular take on Christianity. So which one has the right discernment? Which ones are the ones that have been “redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb”?

    The ones who Agree 1000% with Max in everything, of course.

  279. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    Hi Max, I appreciate your forthright statement. Since I’m guessing you have this discernment, I have a question if you’d like to take a stab at it. There are 30,000+ different denominations, all with their own particular take on Christianity. So which one has the right discernment? Which ones are the ones that have been “redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb”?

    Different denominations doesn’t equal not believing that one another aren’t Christians. But beyond that, the visible church (who is in a denomination and goes to a church or whatever) is different from the invisible church (true believers).

    Anyway, I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that God only answers believers . . .

  280. Charity wrote:

    Later the next week: “Hey, did you go to that study, bla bla bla”… Me: “No, I could not afford the $300 to go”… Them: “Oh, well how are you supposed to know the word of God, if you don’t attend?”. Me: Head Desk!
    And the series was usually something on financial prosperity and tithing. So, you had to pay $300, to go to a class, to teach you how to give more to your church so God could bless you with more financial blessings…

    Did they spend this series holding the cans of a Hubbard E-Meter?

    Because additional charges as you go Up the Bridge is very Elron.

  281. @ Daisy:

    Well, it did do one thing (because God is more powerful than the prosperity preachers!) is that it caused me a lot of questions, in which I spent more and more time in bible study, at home alone. It caused me to reach out, and search and search, over a period of years…with a lot of prayer, and find answers and every route I took the answers always came back the same. It caused me to learn more about the bible than I would have ever learned if I had sat there, taking in whatever was spoon fed to me and not digging deeper. It has caused me discernment. It has caused me to interview pastors of other denominations on the phone, with all of this and the answers always came back the same, that I was not crazy or wrong in my discernment. Because of this, my faith has deepened a lot, but not in the cheap big show kind of way. My personal relationship with God has deepened, in a more quiet respectful way. I am still healing, licking my wounds so to speak and in time, I know that it will continue to get easier the further away from all that I get. Modern psychology would call my experience “Gaslighting” which I think is appropriate. The sad thing is, that type of gospel is out there, front line and center on the airwaves and in many churches today. There are a lot of wounded folks left in the wake of this. Many I run into that I used to attend church with (and have found out they ran out the back door too, but are afraid to speak out) have sadly become “nones” instead of “dones” as a result of this teaching. I don’t know what God has for the future of the church in America, but I do know that he isn’t finished yet and so I go forth, finding my peace and picking up the pieces and remaining in my faith. God will lead me to be, where he wants me to be, eventually 🙂

  282. Gram3 wrote:

    Because they have made being female an unpardonable sin.

    Yes, Jesus died for all sins, except the sin of Eve. If they really believed in the saving power of Jesus, they wouldn’t be so exclusive.

    “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” – Patti Smith “Gloria” (1975)

  283. Tom Parker wrote:

    @ XianJaneway:
    Sadly, I believe Mr. Patrick is going to find their is no place for him in the new SBC. “His” kind are the previous “moderates” who had to go and he and others like minded will have no place at the table. The SBC is a very strange place.

    The Dantonists purge the Hebertists (Chop! Chop! Chop!)
    The Jacobins purge the Dantonists (Chop! Chop! Chop!)
    The Thermidorians purge the Jacobins (Chop! Chop! Chop!)

  284. Daisy wrote:

    @ Bridget:

    I wonder, if you made up an e-mail address with G-mail, Hot Mail, or whatever, under a male name or a neutral name, and identified yourself as a “male guest who wishes to be anonymous” and sent that guy the same or similar material, he’d probably give it a fair hearing.

    Back when publishing was a Boy’s Club, female authors used to routinely take male or neuter pseudonyms to get published.

  285. @ Adam Borsay:
    Sounds like you are doing the work of the Body. I think another thing that might be playing into the discussions you are having here is that I, at least, am remembering when things were not this big and complicated and burdensome in the church. I don’t see the bad trends reversing any time soon. Though the young people are the ones with the power to turn things around from the prosperity/authoritarian/mega mindset. You can be an agent for change.

  286. @ Jeff S:
    No argument from me. Someone tells me they’re a Christian I take them at their word. However Max was saying that only those who are saved with the blood of the Lamb have discernment in response to Mirele bringing up that discernment isn’t the most reliable measure for a lot of people. I’m interested in his take on what he’s discerned from his as position on the Holy Spirit as the right way to do Christianity.

  287. Jeff S wrote:

    these guys, especially the worship pastor, are men I know very, very well. I think I have a good grasp of their heart.

    That is exactly what I thought right up until they proved me wrong. Flipped a switch when I touched their third rail. Now, your pastors may not be third-rail guys, but for sure if they apostatized (or is it apostasized?) from the Complementarian faith, they would lose their positions. Pronto.

  288. Brad wrote: “If you’ve been following this issue and discussions about the *Church Refugees* book in social media, you’ve probably seen some attempts to distinguish some sub-categories.

    Not all “dones” are survivors of spiritual abuse, and vice versa.”

    This gets lots of attention, but there may be a whole iceberg of Dones that are leaving for reasons other than spiritual abuse.

  289. I am a middle-aged conservative “born again” Christian and I am a “done”. I get my fellowship now in a weekly local Bible study that meets at a Chic-Fil-A along with one on one fellowship with individual brother and sister “dones”. If there are any “churches” in my area that are not problematic, I am not aware of them.

  290. Muff Potter wrote:

    Not all would tell their story on a public forum as you have done. Funny, but after reading it, Madonna’s song Live to Tell started playing in my head.

    It doesn’t take much courage to tell my story because I’m long gone from those circles and my current life is sturdier than it’s ever been. Plus since I’m disabled, I no longer have anything, career-wise, to lose by the story being told.

    I’ve recently had several conversations about privacy and boundaries. People draw lines differently. I am still learning to draw them better in my personal life but publicly I don’t care.

    I think Madonna is a fascinating highly talented mess. How can she not be, when she also sings:

    “A man can tell a thousand lies
    I’ve learned my lesson well
    Hope to live to tell
    The secret I have learned, ’till then
    It will burn inside of me….

    Will it grow cold
    The secret that I hide, will I grow old?
    How will they hear?
    When will they learn?
    How will they know?”

    So thanks for the compliment.

  291. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Even though I am only 33 I have a reputation in the community as “that nursing home guy”.

    That is a blessing to hear! What a rarity these days.

  292. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Either scripture lays out a description of “this” is what christian community looks like, or, not. Regardless of ones personal experiences and perspectives, it doesn’t change what scripture says. If I am wrong about that, then show me in scripture. Not to be argumentative, but appealing to experiences and “age” does not convince me that scripture doesn’t say what I believe it says.

    You’re not wrong about what scripture says, although I think your interpretation of it is unnecessarily narrow.

    But, you’re wrong about how easy it is to find or start anything like what scripture calls for. Most of us want to find a community of believers (in some fashion) to join. It’s our life experience in searching and finding (or not) that you can’t seem to appreciate.

  293. Bridget wrote:

    You seem to be missing what IS being said in favor for what you think people are doing or missing. Perhaps listen without the filter of looking for sin.

    Most excellent observation and response. If I knew how to needlepoint, I’d sew your comments on a pillow. 🙂

    I’ve seen this happen with a lot of Christians on other subjects, too.

    Sometimes the are so busy trying to detect your supposed “sinful motives” or finding something else wrong about your post, or assuming they already know what you think, that they do not really hear the content of what you are actually saying.

  294. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    Anyway, I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that God only answers believers . . .
    Oh like the universalists? Or the Caloremen in the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia?

    Well, I’m just saying that it seems God does communicate with unbelievers in scripture, so I don’t see there being a wall of communication that only comes down when you become a believer. But I do think that only believers (in the invisible church) are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

  295. Bridget wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    though I have read quite a lot of Paul Tripp.
    May I enquire why?

    Sure. That was a tongue-in-cheek remark about nouthetic counseling. However, as it happens, I did meet Paul Tripp before he was a guru and before he became so hip. Story of my life. Anyhow, his name and books kept coming up for various reasons, and it is always good to know what is influencing people.

    I don’t think he is a bad person, but I think his model is flawed and has damaged and hurt a lot of people and kept them from getting the help they need. I think he has not always exercised good judgment and discernment when he had the opportunity to make a real difference. Mars Hill is an example where he bailed only after it was inevitable that the ship was going down. I think like most of the YRR, he is captivated by ideas which developed in reaction to the 70’s. Back in the day, Jay Adams was the guru. I have seen so many gurus come and go I’ve lost count…

  296. lydia wrote:

    @ Patrice:
    What is happening is not really measurable. That leaves the institutions to interpret the exodus. Sadly.

    IMO, for the majority of them, if the data was collected in full, diagrammed, venned, summarized, printed, collated, bound, and handed to them in person, they wouldn’t read/interpret it correctly. It would require them to dismantle a complete system of life, and that is too much to risk.

    In many ways, they are the rich young ruler.

  297. Gram3 wrote:

    That is exactly what I thought right up until they proved me wrong. Flipped a switch when I touched their third rail.

    I can relate. It is a dizzying experience right out of the twilight zone.

  298. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Because additional charges as you go Up the Bridge is very Elron.

    Don’t you get to meet Xenu or something when you get to the end of the bridge? Or Tom Cruise? (I’m not up on all things Scientology.)

  299. Gram3 wrote:

    That is exactly what I thought right up until they proved me wrong. Flipped a switch when I touched their third rail. Now, your pastors may not be third-rail guys, but for sure if they apostatized (or is it apostasized?) from the Complementarian faith, they would lose their positions. Pronto.

    Yes to the latter part for sure. Which is why it’s so hard to feel like I can make the case against complementarianism. It’s a hard argument to make when accepting it means losing their jobs. 🙁

    But at the same time, I want to have the conversation about just how vocal I can be about my dissent on this topic. I realize that one thing that hurts my heart is that I feel like I have to keep silent to keep the peace. But my worship pastor sent me this in an email yesterday “my prayer for you and [your wife] is that in spite of differences you may have, you would continue to pursue real people, flawed thinking and all.” The “flawed thinking” in question is complementariansim as I view it. It makes me wonder if there is a room for my voice in the church. Can I talk about the dangers of complementarianism to women? Is there a way to be an agent of change of thinking within a church that is interested in relationships over doctrinal purity?

    I’m still wrestling with this a lot.

  300. @ Charity:

    Hi Charity – I am so glad my words were helpful to you! Stick around here, and I believe you will find deep healing and understanding. And further, your story and words can help heal others. How sweet it is to know that one is not alone, that the problem is not you!

  301. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    We are not saying anything to the Christians in other countries who suffer under different circumstances. Many of us support and pray for them. This honestly sounds like a guilt trip on dones.

  302. @ Bridget:

    You raise another good point. Christianity is banned in other nations, or very limited.

    So some Christians cannot meet at a weekly meeting with elders, deacons and in a building with a steeple.

    Would Adam B. argue that their meetings are less than, or not as good, or something?

  303. Jeff S wrote:

    But my worship pastor sent me this in an email yesterday “my prayer for you and [your wife] is that in spite of differences you may have, you would continue to pursue real people, flawed thinking and all.” The “flawed thinking” in question is complementariansim as I view it. It makes me wonder if there is a room for my voice in the church. Can I talk about the dangers of complementarianism to women? Is there a way to be an agent of change of thinking within a church that is interested in relationships over doctrinal purity?

    No one can answer that question for you, and actually I think that God may have different answers to that question for different people whom he has placed within the Body for different purposes and with different gifts. I will say, however, that I have received similar communications about “flawed thinking.” Perhaps it would be a good idea to ask your worship pastor exactly what he thinks what he is suggesting looks like. If he is allowing that their thinking is flawed, then how willing is he to examine the textual evidence and evaluate the arguments on the issues? Or is he saying that your thinking is flawed?

    The question of how much you can say is a bit tricky in the PCA context because it is actually part of their official doctrine, at least with respect to church officers. It is commendable that the church is more interested in relationships than doctrinal purity, but how do they see this doctrine contributing to healthy relationships? My personal opinion is that it would be wisest for you to speak to the men and your wife to speak to the women. That isn’t to say that you can’t speak to women and she can’t speak to men. It is simply wisdom and not a rule. You can speak from the perspective of a man and she from the perspective of a woman. I think that is helpful when attempting to establish trust. There is a great deal of mistrust on this issue from just about every angle. The enemy must be delighted by all the division and strife and damage this causes!

    Wrestling is a good but difficult thing.

  304. Daisy wrote:

    But what if you can’t serve where you feel led, gifted, and interested because the church won’t permit you, and because of your gender?

    Well, here is my question. How much crap do these “he-man women haters club” pastors have to drag the church through before they realize that – just perhaps – they are wrong. I mean, think about the tragedy of eliminating 50% (higher, actually) of parishoners from ever serving as pastor, and then watching what’s left debauch and destroy. What will it take?

  305. I don’t know if this is another topic Deb and Dee would ever want to take on, but so many Christians either deal with those in grief inappropriately, or just want to brush other people’s grief under the carpet.

    I thought this lady’s open letter to preacher Joel Osteen was on target.

    I have experienced some of the very things in this that she mentions, but by other Christians, as I’ve tried to grapple with the death of my family member. It’s been one of several things that has pushed me away from the faith and reluctant to go to a church.

    Dear Pastor Joel Osteen: You Owe Me and Millions an Apology
    http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/why-megachurch-pastor-joel-osteen-owes-an-apology/

    I would like to quote her entire page (it is really that good, IMO), but will limit it to just a part:

    Shame on you, Pastor Osteen, for lecturing us to shake off the self-pity, change the channel, and dwell on the good things God has done in our life.
    To ignore the suffering victim who suddenly had his right arm severed would be cruel.
    To instruct him to look past the agony and instead focus on his remaining left arm is devastatingly ignorant.

    There are Christians who may be in grief who are driven away from churches or the Christian faith itself, when their grief is handled in an insensitive manner.

  306. Daisy wrote:

    Would Adam B. argue that their meetings are less than, or not as good, or something?

    I don’t think that is exactly what Adam’s point is. I think he does not understand what the Dones are actually saying and doing. From my own experience, I can say that I might have said something similar to what Adam is saying about 10 years ago. At least he is listening and interacting which is, honestly, more than I can say about myself ten years ago or so.

  307. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    It is interesting to think, as I’ve been contemplating my current situation, how I would handle it if my church were literally the only church around. If I didn’t have the freedom to just be done and “shop” for a new church. In that case, rather than leave, I would probably be more willing to “cause trouble” and argue for a change within, rather than seeking another church that more aligns with my beliefs. And as I’ve considered this, I wonder what that means. Is the illusion of being able to find “just the right church” something that enables churches to languish in bad teaching? Because people can just leave rather than invest in relationships (which is he point of my worship pastor)?

    TWW has all of these posts about membership contracts and such, and all of that is because we can move on to new churches when we find them disagreeable. But people you are describing don’t have that option. Churches don’t have to try and keep them from moving on or worry about “releasing” them.

    So all this comes back to my current struggle: What is the breaking point? What points do you divide over? When do you stay and work toward the will of God being done at the church level, and when to leave and go find churches already doing that will? And what is worth sacrificing for the sake of peace?

  308. Jeff S wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:

    That is exactly what I thought right up until they proved me wrong. Flipped a switch when I touched their third rail. Now, your pastors may not be third-rail guys, but for sure if they apostatized (or is it apostasized?) from the Complementarian faith, they would lose their positions. Pronto.

    Yes to the latter part for sure. Which is why it’s so hard to feel like I can make the case against complementarianism. It’s a hard argument to make when accepting it means losing their jobs.

    But at the same time, I want to have the conversation about just how vocal I can be about my dissent on this topic. I realize that one thing that hurts my heart is that I feel like I have to keep silent to keep the peace. But my worship pastor sent me this in an email yesterday “my prayer for you and [your wife] is that in spite of differences you may have, you would continue to pursue real people, flawed thinking and all.” The “flawed thinking” in question is complementariansim as I view it. It makes me wonder if there is a room for my voice in the church. Can I talk about the dangers of complementarianism to women? Is there a way to be an agent of change of thinking within a church that is interested in relationships over doctrinal purity?

    I’m still wrestling with this a lot.

    Unfortunately that last question is an unpardonable sin to implement. Trying to get the woman to wake up without going to the man first is the height of sin.

    And really, knowing comp beliefs, I wouldn’t want to go that route except in direst need to save someone from certain abuse.

    From a former comp guy here, it took some women’s perspectives to wake me up and start thinking. No men in my life were making me think about that issue. Now, of course, I follow a few who are egal. Sometimes it just takes circumstances and being in the right place at the right time to wake someone up.

  309. @ Daisy:
    They already have, but only the upper echelons know about them, or maybe i shoild say knew. The internet is a deal-breaker that way.

    L. Ron Hubbard was writing bad sci-fi prior to becoming a cult leaddr.

  310. Max wrote:

    takeover of established non-Calvinist churches. The first pathway is an easier row to hoe – young reformed pastors can easily plant their theology and set up reformed belief and practice with few obstacles (New Calvinism is more about planting theology than churches). The takeover approach requires deception to gain control of a non-Calvinist church – the SBC is full of horror stories about young militants lying to pulpit search committees about their theological persuasion … and then proceeding to split the church.

    Here’s what bothers me…I’m reading on this blog and so many others about SBC take over by Neo-Calvinists. The SBC is not the only denomination dealing with this problem. I’ve been involved in the Evangelical Free Church in my past and this is tearing about the Evangelical Free. There are a number of churches in the DC area that are Evangelical Free that have moved in this direction. You can find Evangelical Free on the 9 Marks locater. But the Evangelical Free is largely forgotten or not talked about. A lot of Neo-Cals are going out of Trinity Evangelical which is to the Evangelical Free what Southern Seminary or SEBTS is to the SBC.

  311. Gram3 wrote:

    Perhaps it would be a good idea to ask your worship pastor exactly what he thinks what he is suggesting looks like. If he is allowing that their thinking is flawed, then how willing is he to examine the textual evidence and evaluate the arguments on the issues? Or is he saying that your thinking is flawed?

    He’s definitely saying that his thinking is flawed from my perspective. That is, he understands that I see it as such. He also told me (in person), he would prefer not to lose my wisdom and thoughtfulness over this issue. I think the hard part is, for him it’s an abstract concept. He hasn’t heard from the many women who have been hurt by complementarianism*.

    And I have scheduled a lunch meeting with him to ask him exactly what he thinks that could look like in this context. I doubt he has an answer, but it will be a good conversation.

    The thing is, this worship pastor (I never refer to him that way in real life, but I’m not posting names here) is someone who I’ve butted heads with a lot. We are VERY different personalities and it’s caused us to rub each other the wrong ways, and we’ve come together many times to address it as brothers and have both come out stronger in the end. We don’t always end up agreeing, but we do more than you’d think given how far away we start sometimes 🙂

    So what I’m saying is, my guess is that this topic is a bridge too far. But it might be a helpful conversation anyway. At the very least, I can get him thinking.

    *Regarding how women respond to this topic, I had a very telling conversation with my wife. I told her something my pastor said in the sermon about how women can empower or destroy a man’s work, and I asked her if it made her feel equal or valued. Her first response was to deflect the question and say how she never felt secondary to me and that she was so appreciative that I viewed us as equals. But I pressed how she would feel if I agreed with that statement, and she got very quiet and sad and said “No, I would not feel equal or valued”. And this is what I think the comps miss. A lot of women hear this stuff, and it’s not new or radical. It’s a consistent line in the church, and they tell themselves that their husbands value them and that’s all that matters. But they don’t realize that the deep down message is a harmful one 🙁

  312. @ Bridget:

    My point is if the the regular and deliberate gathering of Christians for the purpose of to the best of their/our ability to reflect the picture of the church in the NT is completely unnecessary why in the world are they risking their lives for it.

    For comparison, if some people were saying, we are willing to be killed to make sure we only use chardonnay for communion I would say, “are you crazy, who flipping cares??” If gathering together as the ‘church’ is not too important in the grand scheme of things shouldn’t we literally be begging our brothers and sisters to stop risking their and their families lives by continuing the practice??

  313. GovPappy wrote:

    Sometimes it just takes circumstances and being in the right place at the right time to wake someone up.

    So true about life in general. The biggest problem with the whole issue is that they super-glued it to biblical authority from the outset. They cleverly framed the issue so that any objections could be dismissed as caving to the feminists who were denying the authority of the Bible.

    Humans are governed by risk-avoidance and inertia, among other things. So, as long as things don’t get ridiculous, most people can go with the flow to maintain some kind of social equilibrium. But when gender hierarchy is made into a first-tier Gospel issue such that to deny Comp/Patriarchy is to deny the Gospel and the Fatherhood of God, then that is where they jump the shark clear to next year. ESS is where they go down the black hole. I do not understand the hard hearts of men who deny their savior that way.

  314. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    First of all, the “Dones” are not an organized movement. They are finding one another on the internet but not in any organized way.

    But the illustration you use is not really applicable to us, is it? If they had been free to assemble, over the decades they would most likely be facing some of the same issues the dones are facing as they evolved into institutionalization. I am having trouble understanding what you mean by “regular gathering of believers”. That says institution to me. Tradition (not always something wrong with that either but has a tendency to evolve in a caste system way)

    I would say to them: Don’t institutionalize when you get free! :o)

    My sister visited churches in China when traveling there years back. You know, the ones government approved. She said they reminded her of what was happening to churches in America where everyone has to be on the same page so to speak or they are breaking the rules.

  315. @ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist:

    You raise good points.

    Also, as I’ve mentioned before, that gender complementarians have to keep changing the foundations and justifications for their views every few decades or centuries is telling.

    It’s telling in that their position rests less on the Bible and more on cultural assumptions and their own biases against women, especially against women making their own choices or being in leadership roles.

    Regardless of all that, they are driving women away from the church.

    Why are Working Women Starting to Unplug from Their Churches?
    http://blog.tifwe.org/working-women-unplugging-from-church/

  316. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Did they spend this series holding the cans of a Hubbard E-Meter?
    Because additional charges as you go Up the Bridge is very Elron.

    No, but usually after a heavy push for funds, and the collection plate passed around 5-6 times during a service, the pastor & his wife would take a luxurious vacation and the pastors wife would have a new Coach bag.

    But yes, it was very “Scientology” in the way that one is charged to hear sermons and workshops through the church. It seemed like there was always some sort of marketing, or book selling, or “honor the pastor” days, where money was always involved. Don’t even get me going on the guest speaker racket with “faith healers” and such, and again, hold on to that checkbook!

  317. XianAtty wrote:

    Re Satan landing in the choir loft. LOL! Hadn’t heard that one before, but from years of sitting there, I can agree that Stan reared his ugly head from time to time.

    I know some people who would claim that Stan (of South Park) is evil. 😉

    There’s also the old church announcement faux pas, “Before Pastor So-and-So comes up to deliver today’s sermon, let’s sing hymn 409, ‘When We All Get to Heaven,’ as the choir goes down.”

  318. Jeff S wrote:

    I told her something my pastor said in the sermon about how women can empower or destroy a man’s work, and I asked her if it made her feel equal or valued.

    I think the devaluation comes from the implicit assumption that a man cannot empower or destroy a woman’s work as well. And along with that is another one: The woman has a bent toward desiring to emasculate her husband or her pastor. That to me is the most corrosive part of the doctrine along with blaming God for the hierarchy rather than owning their own lust for power and control. The teaching that God designed women *for* men in the sense of for his purpose and use as an assistant to further the *real* work is another corrosive teaching.

    I don’t know about your pastors, but the ones I approached could not or would not see how corrosive their teachings are to the souls of women. Most women are afraid to say anything lest they be accused or condemned for committing Eve’s Original Sin.

    You might also email them a link to Wade Burleson’s excellent article on the Ephesian historical context. And you might ask them how they derive Complementarianism from Genesis 1-2, particularly 1:26-28. Their responses will tell you a lot about where their hearts are. It happens that I found mostly very hard hearts.

  319. @ Jeff S:

    I appreciate your thoughtfulness concerning leaving or staying. One of my most formative books was, “What is Christianity all About” by Scoles. In short, he boils down the non-negotiables of Christian saving faith to a very small group. After that, we have to be willing to live within the tension of others not agreeing with our personal hobby horse theological position. EVEN if we feel that being wrong in “that” particular” issue is completely wrong.

    For example, on a spectrum I am more comp than egal. But I don’t think your soul is in trouble, or that you are compromising the Gospel by disagreeing with me. I think the problem comes from both ends of the spectrum when we address these issues….1- Leaders push people out for not toeing the party line,, 2– members quit because leaders don’t agree with them….

    I am not saying there IS NEVER a breaking point where one has to say that it is time to attend elsewhere. BUT, we are all deeply influenced by a desire to find the PERFECT fit. Whether it is in marriage, careers, or churches. We have this romantacized notion that there will never be a problem. Real love is not never disagreeing, but agreeing to love and serve one another EVEN as we disagree. To say, I don’t see it that way, pretty sure I never will, but I want to love you and live with you and serve with you.

    What is sad and most obvious is that leaders do the poorest job of exhibiting that attitude. Too much mans kingdom building. Which means franchising YOUR model(which includes doctrinal practices) to set up everywhere. They seek for immortality in church legacy’s that bear their fingerprints, instead of seeking immortality that is found only in being lost within Christ.

  320. Max wrote:

    Only for those who have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. Until then, we only have human intellect and reason to guide us, not the Holy Spirit who leads us into all Truth.

    I’ve seen a lot of people claim to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and to have the Holy Spirit as their guide. And they have led themselves and others down paths of folly, danger and illegality. You’ll pardon me if I choose to stay with human intellect and reason, along with personal experience and observation. It’s safer.

  321. Jeff S wrote:

    But I pressed how she would feel if I agreed with that statement, and she got very quiet and sad and said “No, I would not feel equal or valued”. And this is what I think the comps miss. A lot of women hear this stuff, and it’s not new or radical.

    Junia Project did a post about how so many male preachers use gender related jokes (usually at the expense of women), and a lot of women find it offensive, but the male preachers making the jokes seem completely clueless how their “humor” comes across.

    5 Reasons Not To Use Gender Based Jokes in the Pulpit
    http://juniaproject.com/5-reasons-not-use-gender-based-jokes-pulpit/

    Many Male complementarians do seem to be blind to how this stuff makes women feel, or how it impacts women in real ways. (Not just the gender jokes, but complementarianism itself.)

  322. Adam Borsay wrote:

    EVEN if we feel that being wrong in “that” particular” issue is completely wrong.

    Yes, I get this. And in most cases, I’m willing to agree to disagree.

    The problem now is, when I sat there this Sunday listening to the sermon, all I could think was how harmful the teaching was. That women were being devalued and harmed by his words. And my heart hurt.

    Because it isn’t about theology- it’s about real people who have the image of God and are worthy of love. That I am called by God’s highest command to love.

    I’ve thought a lot about what caused my emotional reaction. I wanted to test myself and understand was I feeling my views offended, or was it something more?

    And I think it’s something more. It’s a desire for Godly justice to be done. To see women not subjugated, but to be elevated.

    If a pastor said “a black man can either destroy or empower a white man’s work”, we ALL would feel sickened. We would know what was being taught and it was NOT good for the black man. That same radar is what was going off. Not because I am upset about a doctrine, but because I have dear sisters in the congregation who are being told their identity is found in being an appendage to a man.

  323. Adam Borsay wrote:

    1- Leaders push people out for not toeing the party line,, 2– members quit because leaders don’t agree with them….

    And also 3) Leaders make people feel like such nothings that they give up either in despair or disgust.

    Actually, this makes some leaders in the Acts29/9Marks/GospelGlitterati world very happy. They would, naturally, prefer that people bow to their commands and dogmas, but they are not grieving over people leaving.

    I am interested in what you would say to me as an older woman about how I should feel valued as a daughter of the King under the hierarchical view of Complementarianism.

  324. Adam Borsay wrote:

    For example, on a spectrum I am more comp than egal. But I don’t think your soul is in trouble, or that you are compromising the Gospel by disagreeing with me.

    And to be clear, I think the pastors and people at my church are all believers and wonderful people. Good people do bad things. But the issue is what I am a part of, and if what I am a part of I believe is actually harming people . . . that’s what makes it difficult.

  325. @ Adam Borsay:

    Why does a meeting have to be “deliberate.”

    Can’t two Christians just meet over a cup of coffee and talk about life and/or the Bible?

    Why do they have to meet with ten or more people with elders and deacons before it will “count”?

  326. Adam Borsay wrote:

    My point is if the the regular and deliberate gathering of Christians for the purpose of to the best of their/our ability to reflect the picture of the church in the NT is completely unnecessary why in the world are they risking their lives for it.

    I have a pretty good understanding why just based on convos with converted Afghans and some others. And it is not what we tend to think of in terms of worship service or even education. There is a real focus on “helping each other” with some very basics in life with things going on that we cannot even fathom. It always made me think of Paul so zealous in gathering offerings for the Jerusalem believers who were being persecuted. He talked about it everywhere he went. They needed the money to exist!

    My cousin went to Romania right after the tyrants were ousted and killed for humanitarian aid. She told me stories about the believers there operating in such an oppressive environment for so long. Examples such as :so and so had a cousin who worked at such and such ministry who could get this or that for a needy believer. They tended to function as an underground network to help people. Even down to mountain farmers sneaking meat to believers in the cities which they told as if really putting one over on the oppressors.

    I sometimes think we have romanticized this to believe they went to great lengths to sneak around and meet only to pray and worship. It seems to be much more.

    And that is sadly missing in most institutions. A great sound system is of great importance. Not the single mom who needs new brakes on her car. Of course, she is supposed to tithe, you know.

    I think our institutions are pretty much the “gathering of believers” but backwards. Worshiping Jesus Christ entails living out the kingdom now and IS about what we “DO”. Yes, I know, a dirty work. Putting brakes on a single moms care would be “filthy rags”. Sigh.

  327. Adam Borsay wrote:

    I am not saying there IS NEVER a breaking point where one has to say that it is time to attend elsewhere. BUT, we are all deeply influenced by a desire to find the PERFECT fit.

    The “perfect” argument is usually a straw man. Gramp3 and I have been married long enough to be your parents with lots of room to spare, so we are somewhat prehistoric for a lot of young folks. We are perfectly fitted because we have learned to accept and value one another and, IMO, the Holy Spirit has used both of us in our relationship to shape one another. That’s probably going to buy me some disagreement, but that’s how we see it. BUT neither of us believes or acts as if the other one is ordained by God to be the ruler of the other. That is truly unthinkable in a relationship where ultimate unity is the point. How can a superior be one with a subordinate? How can a pastor be in fellowship with the other members of the Body when the pastor is elevated in an Office above the other members?

  328. Someone asked earlier if Tullian was a classic YRR takeover that caused the church split. While he is def more in the reformed camp, the problem they had is that Coral Ridge used to be one of the main “moral majority” churches and the previous pastor was BFF with Falwell back in the day. They were known to be highly political and overtly involved in partisan issues. Tullian said he wasn’t going to teach about why democrats are bad(my paraphrase) and dropped their “tv” broadcasting(which was very much like good ole pat robertson) and they old religious righters were po’d. THAT is why the church split happened.

  329. Daisy wrote:

    Don’t you get to meet Xenu or something when you get to the end of the bridge? Or Tom Cruise? (I’m not up on all things Scientology.)

    Well, the (current) end of the bridge is OT8. That’s after you’ve exorcised all of your space alien body thetans. At that point, the end cognition is: “Now that I know what I am not, I can find out who I am.”

    There. I’ve saved you a half-million dollars or more.

  330. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    What is it with this totalizing ‘completely’ this and ‘completely’ that? This thought-stopping binary language is not really helpful. People are pouring their hearts out here, telling you why they are done. Most become dones with reluctance, and for very good reason. Some have said that it might not be a permanent condition.

    And I’ll bet every one of them prays for our less fortunate sisters and brothers in hostile lands.

    Please consider nuancing your language a bit – it seems like you are setting up straw men to knock down. Have some heart.

  331. Very good article. To me the issue isn’t so much with the church as it is with society. America has been feeding it’s kids the “You are Great!” mentality since the early 80s. The country has been focused on “me” for DECADES!

    The last thirty years has raised a generation of unchurched people who have been told that they can be anything that they want and that “You DESERVE the good things in life.”. Now, we are trying to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

    Yup, fog machines, loud music and slick presentations will get them in the building. But what is the FRUIT of all of this?

    The other issue I see with those calling themselves “christians” (and who do attend church regularly) is that, although they know scripture, they don’t practice that scripture in their individual lives.

    So many are worldly in their life. I can’t begin to tell you about how many brag about their jobs, vacations and the incredible kids that they have and the schools that they are going to … but NEVER talk about Jesus.

    We live in the Facebook world of one-upping each other, gossiping, slandering, and climbing over each other’s backs to get to the top of the ladder. Oh, we don’t think that we do, but we do.

    Think about the 7 deadly sins (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony). Which of these are we calling out in the Christian church these days???

    Gluttony? Have you seen the 4x4s in the parking lot hauling in people the size of cows? Goodness no. Don’t say anything. We might hurt their feelings!

    Greed? Yes, we need that $10 million new building to serve Christ in this town! Nobody ever says “We need $3 million to build a soup kitchen in our town that will feed those in need”. Nobody!!!

    Pride? My son got a 2200 on his SATs! My am I great! Look at my facebook post ..don’t my “ducky” lips look sexy in these tight pants? My daughter is goint to MIT in the fall! I just got promoted! ‘ll have $1.2 million dollars in the bank when I retire!

    I haven’t heard a SINGLE sermon on any of those in yeras. Not a single one. Why? We don’t want to offend anyone with the truth of scripture.

    As the American church continues to “entertain” the masses and follow “celebrity pastors”, we will continue to fall in to the pit that we ourselves have dug on our own.

    There is no magic bullet for the church in the United States.

    My hope is that the coming economic storms, plus the wars, will shake the church to its core and that many will come to, and return to Christ as the one and only hope that they have. Nothing short of Jesus’ return will get us off of our butts and back on our knees faster then death, destruction and despair.

    Our government can’t save us. Our 401K can’t save us. That new Lexus can’t save us. My son’s entrance to an Ivy League school won’t save us. My perfect pastor can’t save us. Nothing can save us or the church! Except for Jesus.

  332. Adam Borsay wrote:

    And one of my main roles is leading the “stretcher bearers” ministry where I spent a large chunk of my time in local nursing homes. Even though I am only 33 I have a reputation in the community as “that nursing home guy”.

    Having worked in several nursing homes many years ago as a nurses aide, I know how much visits are appreciated in that setting. One woman missed her granddaughter so much that she often asked me to sit on her lap so she would remember the closeness they had. I always accommodated her even though I felt a bit foolish. lol

    Bless you for having such a reputation that reflects a caring heart! What you do to the least of these….you do unto Him.

  333. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If they were indeed, as you described, fellowshipping with other Christians for the purpose of study, edification and application of scripture together—regardless of the context(house, coffee shop, skype etc) I would not believe that to be outside of the stream of NT teaching.

    Then I guess there’s no controversy, at least on this point, no disagreement with this.

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    Either scripture lays out a description of “this” is what christian community looks like, or, not. Regardless of ones personal experiences and perspectives, it doesn’t change what scripture says. If I am wrong about that, then show me in scripture. Not to be argumentative, but appealing to experiences and “age” does not convince me that scripture doesn’t say what I believe it says.

    Problem is, the Scriptures most decidedly do not lay out a precise or even vague description of what a Christian community looks like in the terms to which you refer. And your notion that the Scripture sets up as normative that this “deliberate community” ought to primarily be about two things: teaching and corporate worship is not only not established in the Scriptures, but seems to be an out-of-balance paradigm in defiance of the Scriptures.

    I know something about logic, by training, education, and profession, in fact I teach a section on it to students roughly your age. You are currently in the “D-” range for logic, Adam. You are ignoring quite a few good points made to you by those on this forum and putting forth your points as if they have been proven by logic and reason, but you haven’t supplied us with either the logic or the reason. The impetus is on you to prove your point that there is some sort of normative biblical pronouncement regarding the mode of the regular meeting of believers and that it fits the mold you have given us, not upon me to disprove it. Realize again that nowhere have I said I do not believe in believers meeting together on a regular basis, sharing their faith with others and listening to them, learning from the Scriptures together.

  334. I had struggled recently with going to church. I extracted myself some months ago from a church I’ve been a member of for 14 years. I relied on knowledge gained from TWW and asked , in writing, that the leaders desist from ringing me, texting me and calling to my home. I have been a Christian for 35 years and this is my second experience of serious spiritual abuse. I have started , gingerly, to attend another church. The teaching is very sound but I am not trendy , it is the least friendly church I have ever experienced yet when two good looking young adult members of my family came with me they were immediately welcomed, chatted to and asked to go for lunch. In discussing church I am very concerned for the children in my family, evangelicals are very thin on the ground where we live, church provides the children with a place where they can mix with others and know they are not alone. Deciding to stop attending a church is more daunting , I think, when there are children involved.Currently I steel myself before I go, I rely on a few faithful friends for deep, close Christian fellowship, I love TWW as it helps me realise my experiences are not unique. I want to see Jesus glorified, I want to love Him and follow Him with all my heart, soul, mind, body and strength. I want to survive as a believer, I’m putting one foot in front of the other.

  335. roebuck wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?
    What is it with this totalizing ‘completely’ this and ‘completely’ that? This thought-stopping binary language is not really helpful. People are pouring their hearts out here, telling you why they are done. Most become dones with reluctance, and for very good reason. Some have said that it might not be a permanent condition.
    And I’ll bet every one of them prays for our less fortunate sisters and brothers in hostile lands.
    Please consider nuancing your language a bit – it seems like you are setting up straw men to knock down. Have some heart.

    He loves the straw man. But that is common for inveterate scoundrels, those who are running for political office, those who know they’re a bit out of their league, or those who simply haven’t knocked around the world enough to know what they’re doing yet. I do not think Adam’s a scoundrel, I think he’s honestly seeking the truth, and I certainly wouldn’t want to accuse him of being a political candidate–but the last two categories fit him like a glove.

  336. Daisy wrote:

    @ Adam Borsay:
    Why does a meeting have to be “deliberate.”
    Can’t two Christians just meet over a cup of coffee and talk about life and/or the Bible?
    Why do they have to meet with ten or more people with elders and deacons before it will “count”?

    Perhaps it’s because the latter leads to salaries, status and control.

  337. Going back to the original post here:
    “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.”
    Passive worship is one that gets me, and this is coming from a feller that still loves a good teaching sermon. It has always bothered me that you’re just expected to sit there and listen to the preacher for an hour in silence or in single-word affirmation, and this has been just about universal in my church experience. In every church but one, both Sunday school and all services, the preaching portion was completely passive. Just drink it in, and if you have a question, see me after the service (ha! Joke is on you, don’t you dare interrupt the preacher’s lunch schedule). No discussion. No pushback.

    In contrast, one thing my old SBC church did well was actively encouraging audience participation during Sunday school and all services. Got a question, raise your hand and let it fly. Consequently, you could tell a difference in the level of pastoral preparation.

    Just that little thing–opening up the floor throughout the meetings–changed the whole dynamic. Even the women could speak up, and this is a strong comp church! Men and women in the church could, and very often did, raise objections. The pastors stayed pretty honest. Really, it was a beautiful thing, and something I haven’t seen repeated yet. Even with the rest of the traditional southern Baptist trappings that I don’t care much for, that place still feels like home and family to me.

    Just that alone could keep me from being Done. I’m a huge introvert, and sharing publicly is not my thing in the slightest, but even I was comfortable with speaking out from time to time. Now granted, I never questioned complementarianism there (I’m a recent convert), but still.

  338. Lydia wrote:

    Not the single mom who needs new brakes on her car. Of course, she is supposed to tithe, you know.

    This is a pet peeve of mine.

    I watch a lot of Christian television and have done so for years. I have seen this many times, a preacher will say during his sermon how his church has an unmarried mother who lives in poverty.

    But in spite of her poverty, she manages to tithe every week – so what is your excuse for not tithing, the preacher asks or implies.

    So single mothers are used as object lessons in churches.

    What I find more annoying are the same examples, but with a twist, where the preacher ends his example by saying,
    “But during the service, after we took up money in collection plates, we invited the faithful tithing single mom up to the front where we gave her a check for $X,000 dollars and the collection.”

    This has come up a time or two on shows I’ve watched.

    It’s not that I am against a church financially aiding a single mother of four kids, or helping her buy a new car, or whatever. That’s fine.

    (But I guess non-tithing unmarried mothers don’t deserve financial assistance from their church, is that one implication of this?)

    I can’t explain it, but it grates on my nerves that almost every time a preacher uses an example of a faithful tither, it’s almost always a single mother of ‘X’ number of children who still tosses a dime in the plate every week.

  339. @ Law Prof:
    I think that Adam’s heart is shown by his work at a nursing home. For a young guy to be known as “the nursing home” pastor is really something. I know of exactly one pastor who visits nursing homes and shut-ins and hospitals. I can tell you for sure I have not received such care from any pastors. And that pastor is paid to do only that by the rather large church. I think that we are, for some reason, talking past one another on this issue.

  340. @ Gram3:
    That was unclear. I meant that for some reason Adam and the rest of us are talking past one another on this issue. Adam is unlike the knotheads I’ve come across, including the one in my mirror.

  341. Daisy wrote:

    I can’t explain it, but it grates on my nerves that almost every time a preacher uses an example of a faithful tither, it’s almost always a single mother of ‘X’ number of children who still tosses a dime in the plate every week.

    It’s because they totally missed the point that Jesus was making about the widow’s coin. He wasn’t saying that even poor widows should plink some money into the box. He was pointing out the shameful attitudes of the rich who made a display of their wealth and piety. Of course, that is not good for guilting people into paying to play.

  342. @ Gram3:
    I think if I had been here a year ago, I’d be saying the same things he was. Grace, time, and conversation work wonders. Not saying either he or the rest of us are wrong, but the fact that we can gracefully converse on the subject is awesome.

  343. Gram3 wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    I think that Adam’s heart is shown by his work at a nursing home. For a young guy to be known as “the nursing home” pastor is really something. I know of exactly one pastor who visits nursing homes and shut-ins and hospitals. I can tell you for sure I have not received such care from any pastors. And that pastor is paid to do only that by the rather large church. I think that we are, for some reason, talking past one another on this issue.

    Adam might be truly doing the nursing homes out of a generous and Christ-like heart.

    But…when I was youth director at a church years ago, less than a decade older than Adam (and thus, should’ve known better) I gave a lot of nursing home talks, was in the regular rotation with pastors, hit every old folk’s home in town, took along my kids, and I’m sure a lot of those elderly people loved seeing a relatively young guy there. And for all I know the Lord used it (I don’t think He wastes anything, even our selfish ambition, for His good), but you know what? I was primarily there for ME ME ME and I only see that in retrospect. I’m just not certain it’s entirely a good sign that he goes out of his way to defend himself by informing us of his favorable reputation and that sobriquet: “The Nursing Home Guy”.

    Not saying he’s a jerk or a blight or anything of the sort. The fact he hangs around here and stays to have a little give-and-take says something good of him. He might be going at things in the right way, who am I to just assume because I was a self-centered, self-aggrandizing @$$ even in my nursing home work that he’s just the same? Of course, I cannot know, but I do know that a lot of what I thought was pure gold was perhaps the least pure part of me. That takes time to learn, and I sincerely doubt he’s there yet (nor am I).

  344. Gram3 wrote:

    Adam is unlike the knotheads I’ve come across, including the one in my mirror.

    You’ve got one in your mirror, too? Seems like they’re everywhere! 😉

    I really do think Adam has some heart – I just wish he would think about his use of language. My last reply to him addresses a tendency in people that really gets to me – the use of totalizing language that inaccurately portrays his ‘opponents’ (that is how he seems to be thinking), setting up a straw man to knock down. Shades of gray are just swept away, and a real chance for useful discussion is gone.

    It’s a very easy trap to fall into – that guy in the mirror does it now and then and I have to admonish him from time to time…

  345. @ Victorious:

    Thank you for this Victorious! I tend to judge a man (or a woman) by his (or her) deeds and not by what he (or she) purports to believe via ‘rhetoric’ and ‘logic’. It’s a very Jewish perspective by the way.

  346. We were a member of a sovereign grace church in Maryland for over 5 years…. My daughter tried to join a care group but the kids ostracized her bec she didn’t appear to dress like them…or talk like them… I tried to serve on the worship team and was told no we already have a pianist… Tried to reapply but was told I needed to be in a care group… Just flat out rejection… Tithed for years…. Not one pastor ever called to visit us or contact us…this was a church that had Dave Harvey preach twice a year… Also very close ties to cj mahaney

  347. Gram3 wrote:

    @ Law Prof:
    I think that Adam’s heart is shown by his work at a nursing home. For a young guy to be known as “the nursing home” pastor is really something. I know of exactly one pastor who visits nursing homes and shut-ins and hospitals. I can tell you for sure I have not received such care from any pastors. And that pastor is paid to do only that by the rather large church. I think that we are, for some reason, talking past one another on this issue.

    I agree. Most of the nursing home pastors I have seen are Senior Ministry types paid by larger churches, are in their 60’s and almost retired. And there are few of them. I admire Adam for that. It will be one of the biggest blessings of his life. It really gives one perspective. My mom was always dragging us to nursing homes where she played the piano and visited.

  348. FWIW, I think some of what complicates this entire discussion is that “church” (in the U.S. at least) is generally a combination of three distinct layers that are intertwined:

    * Relational – personal connection, with enough freedom to accommodate both individual and group needs.

    * Organizational – the non-profit tax-exempt entity, which brings with it specific requirements for formal organization to accommodate IRS regulations (e.g., mission statement, governance, financial accountability, etc.).

    * Institutional – a legacy to pass on to next generations. (Not talking liturgical practices or abstract theological systems here — but, ideally, the legacy of a missional mindset that cares about living out the Kingdom, and transformed lives through purposeful discipleship and mentoring.)

    There may be issues at each level that contribute to people staying as “nones,” becoming “dones,” or moving toward “gone” from Christianity entirely. i think it would help to consider each level when thinking through what potentially contributes to people going in any of these directions — and therefore what constructive things can be done to prevent that, if it isn’t already too late because the leaders and/or system won’t allow it.

    What I believe contributes to an environment that pushes faithful people toward becoming “dones” is a collapse in the foundational layer of concrete personal relationship and an over-building of abstract systems and frozen-in-time structures.

    * The flexibility aspects of the relational element get de-emphasized. Or there’s been a significant disconnection so that “church” and “ministry” are very impersonal.

    * The governance, strategy, and structural aspects of the organizational element get overemphasized. It becomes about leaders, rules, and regulations — in other words, control.

    * The institutional legacy element shifts toward being institutionalized, which means what lasts and gets passed on is a system and structures and financial assets, but not so much the assets of the heart and spirit and community. It requires recipients of the legacy to fit a specific mold. This means the whole system has become so inflexible that it cannot survive in a world of change. It’s unsustainable — it turns out disciples who are culture-bound to the present and develop little ability to discern the times and make wise decisions about what to do in the future.

    When the organizational and institutional aspects overshadow the personal ones, it no longer matters what unique spiritual gifts and ministry passions the Holy Spirit has endowed to individual disciples or to the community as a whole. It becomes about mechanistic maintaining of other things, not sustaining the vibrancy of the spiritual community. No one person can impact The System any longer. How does one stay a faithful disciple when you are denied the use of your spiritual gifts and what looks like “participation” doesn’t actually promote the Kingdom? When you’ve come to a question like that, you’re probably almost done.

    And while that kind of combination of relational-organizational-institutional is dehumanizing, it isn’t necessarily at the same level as spiritual abuse. But, when you add malignant ministers who are devoid of conscience, compassion, and character into the picture — and theologies that make false/artificial distinctions between types of people in the Body of Christ — you get the system being co-opted to orbit around the personal benefit of the leaders. That changes the system dynamics. Instead of the system seeking to self-perpetuate itself and thus frustrating innovation and participation, there is the addition of spiritual abuse through grooming people to stay as cogs in the machine, using negative conditioning to scare them from leaving or to inflict revenge if they do, etc.

    Anyway, there are some thoughts I’ve been working on to go with a chapter I’m writing on how to navigate this threefold relational-organizational-institutional reality in ways that still allow us to do good plus do no harm.

  349. __

    “Upstanding Member In Obscurity?”

    hmmm…

    Debby wrote:

    We were a member of a sovereign grace church in Maryland for over 5 years…. My daughter tried to join a care group but the kids ostracized her bec she didn’t appear to dress like them…or talk like them… I tried to serve on the worship team and was told no we already have a pianist… Tried to reapply but was told I needed to be in a care group… Just flat out rejection… Tithed for years…. Not one pastor ever called to visit us or contact us…this was a church that had Dave Harvey preach twice a year… Also very close ties to cj mahaney

    ****

    Debby,

    hey, 

    Welcome! Sorry about your trying experience at SGM.

    Do you attend a church now?

    ATB

    Blessings!

    Sopy

  350. @ Debby:
    I’m so sorry you and your family had to go through that. It should not be that way in the Body of Christ, and I’m ashamed of the “leaders” who still to this day protect Mahaney so fiercely. Their loyalty is obviously to a man and not to the little sheep in the Lord’s flock. I truly do not know what is wrong with these men who claim to represent Jesus.

  351. Daisy wrote:

    Churches should be meeting my needs

    The Church is Christ’s bride, and as such should be “meeting the needs” (a bit of a nebulous term, but let’s go with it) of the world around it. In other words, we, the Church, are the continuation of the story of Jesus. Our church communities should model Jesus and our actions in the community should model Jesus as well.

    To say that a church is just there to “meet my needs” is absurd. Let’s take a typical 150-attendee church. You have one, maybe two, pastors and a secretary. Is it their job to meet every “need” in the church?

    You also have the other 149 attendees. Is it their job to meet your needs at all times? As volunteers? What if they’re all there hoping to have their needs met too? Now everyone is just asking/taking, and no one is giving/loving.

    It is, in fact, everyone’s job to love everyone in the way that Jesus loved. Love in the church, and love pouring outward as well.

    If I show up at church simply to “have my needs met” and not to simply love others, then I’ll never feel satisfied in any church.

    Look for a church that models Jesus’ love within and without. Find a way in that community to love others (despite their flaws, for surely they are loving you despite yours).

    It’s a hard task, I know. I often fail (there are certain people in my church, for instance, who I’d NEVER associate with outside of that fellowship… they are hard to love). But it is our calling.

    (And, yes, there are many unloving churches. As shown in many examples at this blog, sadly. If you find yourself there, run!)

    If you’re ever interested in this type of thing, you might like this:

    http://www.reframecourse.com

    (That’s from the Canadian Regent College, not Pat Robertson’s US Regent University… very, very different places.)

  352. I am not done with church as a whole, as much as I am done with Acts 29. I started out a large, well known A29 church, and I have sent at least three or four communications to the church about my experience with a situation that seemed to favor the person who was popular with the staff at the church. No one gives me the time of day or replies with any sincerity. It has been a “Oh, too bad” reply. I made a serious effort to find community and all I found was cliques, gossip and favoritism. I also won’t be attending mega churches in general anymore. They are too big for a single pastor to sheperd everyone well.

  353. Gram3 wrote:

    BUT neither of us believes or acts as if the other one is ordained by God to be the ruler of the other. That is truly unthinkable in a relationship where ultimate unity is the point. How can a superior be one with a subordinate?

    Gram3 thank you for good words about unity. A Facebook friend shared this gem today about unity in Christ: from Crystal Lutton: “Too many people confuse “unity” with “uniformity” and they are two very different things. Uniformity is what you get when everyone thinks and acts alike. Unity is the relational connection of love that is active and binds us together when we do not have uniformity. Loving someone you agree with is easy. Loving someone you disagree with . . . that’s something that gets people standing up and taking notice.”
    I think this is something that we Dones miss in many churches.

  354. E.G. wrote:

    To say that a church is just there to “meet my needs” is absurd.

    No, it’s not.

    In the New Testament, to use one example, Paul says you are to “weep with those who weep.”

    So, when I approached people at two local churches to have someone “weep with me” after the death of my loved one, I was either given platitudes, or scolded, or shamed, and told to go help homeless people in soup kitchens. None of that addressed my needs.

    Nobody at those churches, and none of my church going extended family, would weep with me, as they are instructed to in the Bible.

    Please read the book, 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy which addresses some of these points.

    There is nothing wrong with an individual person wanting to have her needs met, or seeking to have them met, and not by a church. It’s actually very biblical.

    The church has more then one role, by the way. It is not a mutually exclusive proposition.

    The church’s role is not only to “meet the needs of the world outside,” but to meet the needs of those within.

    I saw on the other blog, about domestic violence, when the woman divorced her abusive husband, she and her children lived in poverty.

    The church she had been attending for years kept refusing to help her, they refused to buy her groceries or allow her to use the very food pantry she used to contribute to when she had money.

    For years, I ran around meeting other people’s needs, because my Christian mother taught me it was sinful or selfish for me to get my own needs met. All that did was create resentment in me, as well as frustration, and many people took advantage of my giving nature.

    I’m not the only one. There are books by Christian authors who explain one reason why adult singles are quitting churches is that in the ones where they are being exploited as free labor, they have realized they have served for years, but their churches won’t help them when they need help.

    That is unfair for churches to do that, to expect people to invest their time and money but not be helped in return when or if they need it.

  355. Gram3 wrote:

    If only the people and organizations we talk about here would pay some attention to what you say. But honestly I don’t think they care.

    Thanks for the affirmation, GovPappy and Gram3. And Gram3, I think you’re right — in general, people don’t seem to care enough about issues of balance or sustainability like this unless the problems are so extreme that they either have to care, or have to shut it down. Organizations don’t fly well on autopilot … especially when the winds of cultural change of paradigm shifts are blowing!

    I hope what I write is helpful for groups/organizations that have problems so they can intervene and make course corrections where possible. But, my target audience is far more those who want to use this kind of information as preventive measures for healthier start-up enterprises, whether church plants, ministries, non-profit agencies, or social transformation endeavors. And the whole curriculum is called, Do Good Plus Do No Harm.

  356. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Not to minimize suffering someone may have endured in an abusive church, but it strikes me as a sort of, “I dated this jerk in highschool and so I will never date again”.

    Goodness! The “but” completely cancels out the comment that comes before it. You are minimizing suffering with that comment. The abuse heaped upon so many believers by abusing churches can in no way be equated to sour grapes over dating a jerk in high school. It’s not just one thing, it is many things that happen over and over again that tends to lead us out the door. For some it involves criminal acts against them that the church chooses to ignore. Speaking for myself as a single female Christian, I have no voice in these types of churches. I have been shushed because I am female (Dee wrote about it in her post), I have been rudely disciplined by a pastor in a group setting to shame me over something he misunderstood, I have been told I was probably never a Christian because I left my pastoral authority, I have been shunned and ostracized. This hardly equates to one bad experience means I will never do it again.
    One of the hardest things in the world to do is to sit in pain, suffering, questions, and anger with someone and wait patiently for them. It is so much easier to dismiss it, tell them to get it together and do what the Bible says. Because that is what Jesus would do, right?

  357. E.G. wrote:

    (despite their flaws, for surely they are loving you despite yours).

    Again, no. I was not being loved in “spite of my flaws.”

    I have been scolded, shamed, told to “just get over it,” and given a ton of advice I don’t need or want, by church-going Christians when I went to them for assistance.

    Other Christians I know in person and/or at churches do and did not want to expend any time or effort on me or walking me through my personal struggles.

    And they won’t let me serve anyway.

    When I volunteered to serve at doing ‘X’ (related to my career field, which I shall not mention here) at one church, they had nothing for me to do. They turned me down or would not figure out how to use my skill set (I offered some suggestions, but they were not interested).

    I hate to be a broken record (I’ve already mentioned this in several posts above already), but a lot of Christians won’t allow women to serve where they are called, because they discriminate against women (ie, sexism), under the heading of “gender complementarianism” or “biblical womanhood and manhood.”

    A lot of women leave churches where they are not allow to pursue their “calling,” and go use their skills and talents at para-church groups or secular charity groups.

    Also, when you said,

    Let’s take a typical 150-attendee church. You have one, maybe two, pastors and a secretary. Is it their job to meet every “need” in the church?

    I did not go to all 200 members at one church I went to and ask for help.

    I reached out to a handful of laypersons at that one church, and a few extended family.

    I did not seek out the church secretary and preacher. I never said I went to church staff, you are just assuming that.

    And yes, the Bible says in- so- far as you are able to do good to someone, you should do it.

    They pretty much refused or did some insensitive things.

    But yes, the Bible says it is your job to meet the needs of other Christians.

  358. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    @ mirele:
    I remember discovering Operation Clambake back in ’99 or 2000. Haven’t stopped sniggering at Hubbard yet. Those poor people though, stuck in a horrible cult.

    If Scientology wasn’t so destructive to its people, it’d be a great joke.

    If you could ever do an accurate movie about it…

  359. Gram3 wrote:

    Where should an older woman who is a conservative, inerrantist, Baptist Berean go? Our denomination and other conservative denominations have been hijacked by gyno-phobic men who mistake their phobias and obsessions for faithfulness to God and his Word. Why are the Dones the ones on trial?

    And you have just summed up what I have been agonizing over for a few years. It was not easy to leave, it is not easy being a Done. But, I will admit that I have a much deeper, personal relationship with God since walking away. It’s almost as if leaving the church removed the scales from my eyes and deepened my faith. I study the Word weekly with a small group of believers, I listen to EChurch and other pastors on TV. I no longer feel like a second class citizen, but rather a beloved daughter of God. The church should have contributed to this truth instead of being the catalyst that pushed me closer to the door.

  360. numo wrote:

    @ Daisy:
    They already have, but only the upper echelons know about them, or maybe i should say knew. The internet is a deal-breaker that way.

    L. Ron Hubbard was writing bad sci-fi prior to becoming a cult leader.

    Circa 1980, I was working in North Hollywood and attending LASFS (biggest & oldest SF club in California) in Burbank. Many of the older writers (old enough to remember the pre-Dianetics Hubbard) told me that “Elron never stopped writing Pulp SF.”

    There was even an urban legend that Scientology started as a bar bet at an SF con long ago, when well into the serious drinking (SF authors were infamous as drinking men) some editor (different in each retelling) challenged Elron “If you come up with this new psychological theory, I’ll print it!” And that was how Dianetics was born…

    That’s also where I first heard the famous quote in old-school SF:

    “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If you want to make a million dollars, start your own religion!”
    — L Ron Hubbard

  361. roebuck wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?
    What is it with this totalizing ‘completely’ this and ‘completely’ that? This thought-stopping binary language is not really helpful. People are pouring their hearts out here, telling you why they are done. Most become dones with reluctance, and for very good reason. Some have said that it might not be a permanent condition.
    And I’ll bet every one of them prays for our less fortunate sisters and brothers in hostile lands.
    Please consider nuancing your language a bit – it seems like you are setting up straw men to knock down. Have some heart.

    I guarantee that persecution would weed out many of the stupid proceedures and harmful policies that made many of us “dones” in the first place.

    (I’m only “done” w/ trying to fit in with complementarian, culture-war type churches.)

  362. Lori wrote:

    I no longer feel like a second class citizen, but rather a beloved daughter of God. The church should have contributed to this truth instead of being the catalyst that pushed me closer to the door.

    It is tragic that women are being effectively pushed toward the margin and possibly out the door because of these false doctrines which are cherished above God’s word and his love for his daughters whom he created very good. Meanwhile the men are shamed because they are not gods. It truly is insanity. It’s not what the Bible says, so I do not understand why people want to cling so tightly to something that has such a flimsy basis and yet which hurts and discourages so many. Maybe things will reach a tipping point where enough people wake up.

  363. If the “Church Refugees” project is reading this, I’d like to share some links to my story:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R14MHSGLXFX58Z/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm (Being at a Great Commission Church, where I was introduced to the Pearls’ teachings.)

    https://calvinistjaneway.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/15/
    (The journey away from complementarianism.)

    https://taylorjoyrecovers.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/dear-sheldon-a-story-of-maternal-abuse/ (my first experience w/ spiritual abuse.)

    Wow, I really need to condense all of this into my new blog.

    This is what happened at my *current church*, which I’d thought was pretty good towards women:
    Part 1: http://iprefercaptain.com/2014/08/the-advice-an-abused-woman-received-at-my-church/
    Part 2: http://iprefercaptain.com/2014/08/the-advice-my-church-gave-to-an-abused-woman-part-2/
    And then it happened AGAIN!
    http://iprefercaptain.com/2015/04/physical-healing-vs-marital-healing/

  364. I Have not posted in a while. Tried to read thru this thread, but it got a little long. We are part of the dones because I have a mental illness and was part of SGM for 18 years, which added layers of crud. We tried 3 different churches since leaving SGM 5 years ago, but found the leadership of these churches viewed mental illness as sin as well and said leaders tried to control me instead of walk beside and help. I have recently found fellowship in a mental health support group that is lead by a trained mental health counselor. This group is sponsored by and meets at a church, but there is no obligation or pressure to join or even visit a church service so far. I am optomistic about this group, and enjoying what feels so sa far..

  365. @ Bob M:
    I am a Done for many years..because i found no one who was in one accord..as God tells us we must be..everyone i found was told something different by the Holy Spirit about how we believe the scriptures..and i am yes very judgemental and picky about God’s Word ..

  366. Mrs Stretch wrote:

    I Have not posted in a while. Tried to read thru this thread, but it got a little long. We are part of the dones because I have a mental illness and was part of SGM for 18 years, which added layers of crud. We tried 3 different churches since leaving SGM 5 years ago, but found the leadership of these churches viewed mental illness as sin as well and said leaders tried to control me instead of walk beside and help. I have recently found fellowship in a mental health support group that is lead by a trained mental health counselor. This group is sponsored by and meets at a church, but there is no obligation or pressure to join or even visit a church service so far. I am optomistic about this group, and enjoying what feels so sa far..

    Mrs. Stretch, I”m so glad you’re getting help. I’m a mental health writer IRL, and am writing a blog series on how our family was helped by getting good treatment for mental illness. Please feel free to join us!

    http://adhdrollercoaster.org/adhd-and-relationships/chapter-1-you-me-and-adhd-online-book-club/

  367.   __

    Is the attending of a 501(c)3 Christian church viewed as maniditory or is voluntary participation permissible?

  368. Gram3 wrote:

    You totally cracked me up with the “relish” reference to Owen BHLH.

    That was his reference, not mine: “I relish engaging the culture and believe that it is a vital part of doctrinal instruction. It’s my hope that the center for theology and culture will serve as a power plant for knowledge of the Word and the times.”
    I can’t resist one more, slightly modified quote: I want to help train up an army of gospel Navy SEALs who do not fear the world; who laugh at Stan’s schemes;
    “an army of gospel Navy SEALs”?

  369.   __

    What is generally the time commitment involved when attending a local 501(c)3 Christian church?

  370. Sopwith wrote:

      __
    What is generally the time commitment involved when attending a local 501(c)3 Christian church?

    Sopy, if we’re leading worship, and attending wed night Bible study, then roughly 16 hours that week. If neither, than 4 hours.

  371. @ Dave A A:
    Yep, that’s what I thought you were doing, because only Owen BHLH writes like Owen BHLH. Relish? What guy has recently used “relish” as a verb??? Owen BHLH would be chopped up like relish if he ever got near a SEAL and, worse, a female fighter pilot. He would melt into a metaphorical puddle on the tarmac or possibly spontaneously combust. Metaphorically.

    Is there a Fake Owen on Twitter? Seriously, comp guys, is this the face you want for Complementarianism? Owen, grown up. Please.

    Dave, you need to repent of relishing quoting Owen and making him make himself look so silly. Somewhere I hope someone is keeping a list of the words these guys have totally ruined.

  372. @ Lori:
    Meant to address that comment earlier but then work happened and it slipped my mind.

    Sure, there are folks out there who are the classic “I was hurt by a church once and they’re all full of hypocrites”.

    I don’t think I’ve seen a single person here share a sentiment like that. The stories some of the folks have here (my own story is not as graphic, but still, I’ve spent the better part of my life in two awful churches) are insane. Many are not cases of one cult church going crazy and hurting someone, in the spirit of your analogy, Adam, but institutional, doctrinal crazy across a wide swath of churches. Story after story of pastors, elders, and members hurting people in the name of religion. Whether we agree with their assessment or not, many Dones see the pastor/elder/laymen model you see nearly everywhere–the traditional church model hierarchy–as an abusive system, even if it’s not always abused.

    The abusive boyfriend of your analogy is the traditional church model, not just Heil Hyles Baptist of Brumby, Georgia, USA. It’s fine and dandy if you disagree, but don’t misrepresent us.

    Let’s not minimize the abuse many of us have felt repeatedly. You apparently didn’t intend it that way, but it came across that way, and I’ve seen that exact same sentiment from so many people on social media. I’m sick of “the church isn’t perfect, what do you expect? Just find another one and move on from your hurt ” sentiment.

  373. Sopwith wrote:

      __

    Is the attending of a 501(c)3 Christian church viewed as maniditory or is voluntary participation permissible?

    Yes. The latter is stated, the former is expected.

  374.   __

    What is generally the financial cost(s) involved in attending a local 501(c)3 Christian church?

  375. Dave A A wrote:

    “an army of gospel Navy SEALs”?

    Picture the hilarity which would ensue if Owen BHLH held up a big banner at the Army-Navy game about his call for an Army of Gospel Navy SEALS.

  376. @ GovPappy:
    In hindsight I’m a little sorry for the rant – it’s not entirely at you Adam, you’ve certainly shown to me you’re a decent chap.

  377.   __

    GovPappy wrote:

    Sopwith wrote:
      __
    Is the attending of a 501(c)3 Christian church viewed as maniditory or is voluntary participation permissible?

    Yes. The latter is stated, the former is expected.

    Q. If attending a 501(c)3 Christian church is viewed as mandatory what must one do to fulfill that requirement/commitment? Is there a minimum time requirement/expectation? How does one plan for out of town commitments? Do you attempt to attend another church? or forgo attending services until you return home?

  378. @ Sopwith:
    Every time the church doors are open, ma’am, every time the church doors are open. If not, you can be reasonably certain you’re being judged by those who are present.

    As far as out of town goes, individual results may vary. I’ve been at a place where we had to plan every vacation around being back for Sunday morning, and been to another where they just required you to find a local approved establishment on the road.

    Really, if you want to follow Jesus closely, none of that should be an issue to you!

  379.   __

    Will I need to be represented by legal council, if and when meeting with 501(c)3 christian church officals becomes required?

  380. @ Gram3:

    A big hearty AMEN here Gram3, because when all is said and done, this is where the rubber meets the road. Good is good no matter who it’s done by, otherwise ‘good’ can have no real metric, even though some will make the claim that God’s ‘good’ is wholly other. C.S. Lewis dismantled this fiction quite handily in my opinion.

    And Adam? This Bud’s for you (so to speak): ===> [Ecclesiastes 9:7]

  381. Sopwith wrote:

    Will I need to be represented by legal council, if and when meeting with 501(c)3 christian church officals becomes required?

    Absolutely. You might want to bring along a couple of bodyguards while you’re at it. Can’t be too careful with this lot!

  382. Sopwith wrote:

      __

    Will I need to be represented by legal council, if and when meeting with 501(c)3 christian church officals becomes required?

    Are you a woman? Then yes.

  383. __

    GovPappy wrote:

    Really, if you want to follow Jesus closely, none of that should be an issue to you!

    If ‘caution’ is the order of the day, and one must ‘trust’ but verify’ , could you please explain your answer?

    ATB

    Sopy

  384. GovPappy wrote:

    I’m sick of “the church isn’t perfect, what do you expect? Just find another one and move on from your hurt ” sentiment.

    The typical line of reasoning from one who hasn’t yet been slandered, lied to and abused multiple times by multiple churches. Or, in the alternative, from one who’s perpetrating the abuse.

    This is the sort of spirit that in time leads to a situation like at TVC, where the abused was more-or-less told to “Move on, get over it already, why you’ve had weeks to recover from the shock of your husband getting his thrills from the rape and torture of infants, forgive and forget, what’s your problem?”

    Of course, the abusers and sociopaths are almost invariably the ones embraced and given a pass by these spiritually corrupt churches because they’re ruthless and opportunistic enough to fake contrition–and the church can thus proclaim another “miracle of their system”–while the abused often just honestly speaks their pain from the heart, and refuses to become the topic of a tear-jerking, uplifting, look-at-me-in-the-spotlight-the-great-savior-of-the-worst-reprobate sermon. It all boils down to how you advance their agenda.

  385. @ roebuck:

    I certainly plan on sticking around 🙂 I have been lurking in the shadows for a few years here, but today was the first time I came forward and told any of my story at all to anyone. I am afraid it would not be well received where I was going to church previously, and have sat silent partially out of frustration and partially out of fear! It is from reading similar stories on the internet that have aided in my healing. Not only here but also on the Azusa Street Survivors group. I feel free to speak now, as everyone from that church has “shunned” me for the most part (well, I never really belonged to begin with). What my sin was I don’t know? Nobody will tell me. They don’t talk to me, except maybe a passing “church smile” when I see some of them. Many of them would just as assume walk past me in the supermarket and not utter a word or make eye contact.

  386. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    I find this a tad disingenuous, Adam.

    No one here writes that all Dones are correct. Nor is anyone writing that there are no regular gatherings done by at least some among them (which you yourself, in the preceding para, admitted there might be).

    To then compare your facile assumption of our poor behavior with the superior behavior of persecuted brothers/sisters—–well, that is quintessential guilt-tripping.

    Please don’t do that. It doesn’t work because it isn’t accurate. And it makes people less likely to be cooperative because they get cranky.

  387. @ Charity:

    I’m so glad you are here, Charity. This place is made for you and me, and all of us. Not only a place to share and heal, but also to learn and grow – some of the people who post here are so wise and articulate. You know this if you’ve been lurking around for a while.

    And you can also ‘argue’ and ‘debate’ and otherwise carry on – everyone will still accept you and I dare say love you. They will just want to dig deeper to find out what you (and they) really mean. Because it seems to me that the people here do not forget their own humanity, nor are they afraid of or tired of learning. I’ve never encountered an online community like TWW. The Deebs have done something wonderful and important here…

  388. As a former baptist pastor (and lawyer) I’m done with institutionalism. But I have a greater love for Jesus, his people and the lost than ever. I have found a richness of conversation and relationships within simple, open-participatory gatherings in homes, organic church, similar to what I read about in the New Testament.
    I strongly recommend: Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity and Frank Viola’s Reimagining Church. Mark Driscoll stated that Pagan Christianity was antithetical to everything he believes about the church. What better recommendation!
    Cheers

  389. Patrice wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?
    I find this a tad disingenuous, Adam.
    No one here writes that all Dones are correct. Nor is anyone writing that there are no regular gatherings done by at least some among them (which you yourself, in the preceding para, admitted there might be).
    To then compare your facile assumption of our poor behavior with the superior behavior of persecuted brothers/sisters—–well, that is quintessential guilt-tripping.
    Please don’t do that. It doesn’t work because it isn’t accurate. And it makes people less likely to be cooperative because they get cranky.

    Another point is that Adam assumes their gathering together approximates what he considers a valid, appropriate gathering as opposed to the more informal gatherings of many dones. He has not established that presumption as factual in any manner. Further, he has not established what one has to do with the other. As a point of fact, it could easily be used against him, many dones tell stories of behavior from institutional churches every bit as Machiavellian as oppressive governments. Could not the point be turned upon him along the lines of “How dare you, Adam, judge those who are being abused and oppressed by the domestic system you champion while your heart apparently bleeds for those who are being abused and oppressed internationally?”

    But as you put it, the larger point is that his was not a point at all, but merely a raw, unadulterated attempt to guilt trip.

  390. Jeff S wrote:

    TWW has all of these posts about membership contracts and such, and all of that is because we can move on to new churches when we find them disagreeable. But people you are describing don’t have that option. Churches don’t have to try and keep them from moving on or worry about “releasing” them.

    That is true but I wonder how many of these stratifying and power-determining doctrinal conflicts would even occur under intense external pressure. I suspect things are stripped to essentials and gratitude is the predominant response for whatever good comes by, from whomever brings it.

  391. Patrice wrote:

    @ Bridget:
    I wrote my comment before seeing yours. I think I’ve done this before, too. Ach.

    Doesn’t bother me a bit. It comes as a confirmation that maybe I’m not off my rocker (in this case any way) disseminating what I read.

  392. Re: Tullian Tchividjian

    I was reading Chris Rosebrough’s post about Tullian Tchividjian’s story and find it strange how often Rosebrough credits Satan with Tchividjian’s fall.
    You can read the post here:
    http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2015/06/my-perspective-on-tullians-sin.html

    Rosebrough does state at one point,

    With Tullian’s sin, and believe me when I say that just like Adam, Tullian is responsible for this whole mess…

    Despite that qualifier, there are several times the devil is invoked on the rest of the page.

    From a conservative Christian view, I realize that the existence of a personal, literal being, the Devil, is acknowledged, and it’s believed that the Devil can tempt people, but this post reads in spots too much like a “devil made him do it” sort of thing, which sounds like it downplays Tchividjian’s choices and personal responsibility.

    A quote or two more from Rosebrough’s page (this is referring, again, to Tullian Tchividjian’s resignation and affair):

    … The devil concocted the perfect plan to tempt a pastor to sin and the devil left nothing to chance.

    …The plan was perfect. It was executed flawlessly and the devil played Tullian and a whole lot of other people the way a concert violinist would play a Stradivarius. It was breathtaking to watch.

    I’m just not sure how much of all this is really so much the devil’s plans and just a guy who messed up in his marriage.

  393. Gram3 wrote:

    Where should an older woman who is a conservative, inerrantist, Baptist Berean go?

    Gram3 – I have no idea who you are or if our paths have crossed online, but I so relate to this.

    I’m 48 and never would I have thought I would be a Done. I won’t get into our entire story, but it includes a couple of episodes of spiritual abuse as well as learning that people with chronic illness really don’t fit into the church and apparently don’t have legitimate needs.

    My husband and I don’t have the energy to do it any longer. We love Jesus and nothing about that has changed. We simply do not have the energy to try one. more. time. to find a church. And believe me, we’ve tried. We’ve been flexible on a variety of significant doctrinal issues such as mode of baptism in order to try to find a church home. The biggest issue for me is we have an eight year old daughter and it troubles me to bring her up without a church home. But where do we go?

    We’re Biblical egalitarians who believe in the authority of the Scriptures. That eliminates a large percentage of churches right off the top. We’ve tried to compromise on the comp/egal issue in a few different churches and we can’t do it. It is too important to us both for my sake as well as how our daughter hears about the Lord. I simply cannot suck it up any longer and listen to complementarian teaching. I’ve tried. I cannot do it. And I don’t want my daughter listening to it.

    My daughter and I are both highly sensitive. Any church that is loud is out. We should not have to take a day to recover from the overwhelming stimuli in church. That eliminates a whole bunch of churches.

    We’re fairly conservative is most ways. We wouldn’t fit into a liberal, mainline or progressive environment.

    So what does that leave? Not very much at all.

    I am open to a small house gathering, but so far we haven’t found that. And, honestly, managing a chronic illness, homeschooling a gifted/2e daughter, and trying to keep a business afloat with my husband while trying to crawl out from under a pile of medical-related bills is all I can handle right now. I don’t have the energy to try to start a new church.

    So that’s my story of why we’ve been Done for a few years. 🙂

  394. Adam Borsay wrote:

    My point is if the the regular and deliberate gathering of Christians for the purpose of to the best of their/our ability to reflect the picture of the church in the NT is completely unnecessary why in the world are they risking their lives for it.

    Christians feel deeply lonely in places where they are persecuted, as does any group that is culturally sidelined and/or ostracized. In that context, meeting together is a sought-after safe haven.

    That is not so here. Most people in the US still describe themselves as Christians of one sort or another. The culture itself still bends to some of the ideologies of Christianity.

    Thus there is no urgent need to gather together here, and its loss is generally only felt after a period of time. And because it is a society that is open to Christianity, there are more alternatives available to that felt need than there are in such extreme situations.

    You are still looking to lay a guilt-burden on people who have already been on a long heavy path away from what they knew/believed. What I’d like to know is why you want to do that?

  395. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    At this point, nothing would surprise me re. the veracity of those stories.

    Also, fwiw, the literary set (writers, eds and publishers) were heavy drinkers back then, as were many visual artistd, musicians, theater people… well, our society in general. That was long befor 3-martini “lunches” fell out of favot, after all.

  396.   __

    “And pastors had fun, fun, fun, fun, until lack of pastorial accountability and declining attendance took the tithe away?!?”

    hmmm…

    ;-(

  397. Meanwhile, back to the 800 pound gorilla…the reason the SBC is bleeding members like a severed carotid is the fundamentalist takeover. Many of the leaders have replaced the doctrine of grace and the Baptist distinctives with a ham-fisted legalistic fundamentalism. They will continue to fail until reasonable, moderate baptists, like those who led the schools and convention through their peak, return.

  398. @ Sallie Borrink:
    I am so sorry to hear about your batyle with chronic illnesd, along with whatever you’ve been through with church types and their judgmental attitudes re. said illnesd. Hsve been through my own strughles with that, and it got very ugly (from their side, not mine).

  399. Bridget wrote:

    And is Owen still holding his job at CBMW as well?

    He plans to maintain his role within CBMW as he “transitions”.

  400. E.G. wrote:

    To say that a church is just there to “meet my needs” is absurd. Let’s take a typical 150-attendee church. You have one, maybe two, pastors and a secretary. Is it their job to meet every “need” in the church?

    It is, in fact, everyone’s job to love everyone in the way that Jesus loved. Love in the church, and love pouring outward as well.

    When I look at the book of Acts, I see that one of the first internal crises that the church faced was dealing with the complaint that the needs of the Hellenistic widows were not being met.

    If everyone is loving everyone else as Jesus loved, needs will be met…and it would not require paid staff to do so. I believe Daisy is saying that she was not loved well by her local church, even though she thought that she had poured love IN for many years. The reality that there was NO love poured OUT to her when she expressed her need – that instead she was given condemnation and chastisement – is what made her a “done”.

    This is just my impression, but I don’t think adding your own condemnation and chastisement will make her feel differently.

  401. @ Sallie Borrink:
    It sounds like there are some real similarities in our stories. Well, except for the age part. 🙂 I’m so very sorry about your daughter and all the other daughters and sons who have no place where they fit. Being gifted and probably very curious makes it that much more difficult for her to fit within a conservative church where questions of any kind are not encouraged. Especially about the now-sacred hierarchical complementarianism. And even more especially from a female. I hope that more young pastors will start thinking through the implications of what they are teaching and promoting. I do believe that by the time your daughter is a young woman, there will be more conservative options available. Somehow we need to decouple the doctrine of the authority of God’s word and Jesus as Lord of the church from the authority of the particular interpretations of the authoritarians and the authoritarians themselves who have set themselves as lords of the flock. I will certainly grant that they have masterfully linked those ideas such that many dare not question the interpretations.

  402. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    as well as learning that people with chronic illness really don’t fit into the church and apparently don’t have legitimate needs.

    One thing I’ve figured out the last 2, 3, 4 years, and what some of us concluded on an older thread here, is that most American churches only want happy, healthy, financially stable people who don’t have any tragedies going on in their lives, to attend and become members.

    Churches don’t want people who actually have problems or pain showing up.

    I hope you and your family finally manage to find a church that suits you.

  403. @ Daisy:

    I think in some way we are both agreeing. I call it love, you call it meeting needs. Same difference, I think, except the “meeting needs” thing has a consumerist ring to it.

    But I know that’s not what you mean. I don’t think you mean “the music doesn’t meet my needs” or “the sermons are lackluster and don’t meet my needs” or “the kids program isn’t meeting my children’s needs for excitement”.

    Right?

    Then I agree with you.

    It’s just that the “meet my needs” lingo is exactly why we are where we are today with mega churches, coffee bars in foyers, fog machines, and the whole get up.

    On that latter, and wrong, “meet my needs” this is useful:

    http://skyejethani.com/how-churches-became-cruise-ships/

  404. Dave A A wrote:

    He plans to maintain his role within CBMW as he “transitions”.

    But of course. We must play our roles, mustn’t we? I need to look up the seminary where his next performance is. It is not ringing a bell with me. I wonder if the guys there know they are about to be conscripted into Owen BHLH’s naval army? For an assault on the Gospel.

  405. Gram3 wrote:

    It sounds like there are some real similarities in our stories. Well, except for the age part. 🙂 I’m so very sorry about your daughter and all the other daughters and sons who have no place where they fit. Being gifted and probably very curious makes it that much more difficult for her to fit within a conservative church where questions of any kind are not encouraged. Especially about the now-sacred hierarchical complementarianism. And even more especially from a female. I hope that more young pastors will start thinking through the implications of what they are teaching and promoting. I do believe that by the time your daughter is a young woman, there will be more conservative options available. Somehow we need to decouple the doctrine of the authority of God’s word and Jesus as Lord of the church from the authority of the particular interpretations of the authoritarians and the authoritarians themselves who have set themselves as lords of the flock. I will certainly grant that they have masterfully linked those ideas such that many dare not question the interpretations.

    Yes, she’s busy, bright and not afraid to voice an opinion. LOL! I wrote a whole series of posts on my learning website about parenting gifted/2e children in the Christian church. They do not fit into the typical church structures at all. That’s another issue we face that I didn’t even mention about why we have been Dones.

    I do hope by the time she is an adult she will have more options. I press on for her sake as well as my own. I will continue to press the point so more and more women will be set free in Christ.

  406. Daisy wrote:

    One thing I’ve figured out the last 2, 3, 4 years, and what some of us concluded on an older thread here, is that most American churches only want happy, healthy, financially stable people who don’t have any tragedies going on in their lives, to attend and become members.

    Churches don’t want people who actually have problems or pain showing up.

    You are sooooo right about this. Happy, healthy, financially stable and no trouble, pain or problems. It’s okay to have them for a week or maybe two, but after that… Churches have no idea what to do with chronic illness.

  407. @ muzjik:

    As I just noted, I think we are saying the same thing. True love in a church “meets needs” in the church and beyond.

    But approaching church simply to have needs met (in the lingo of a decade ago, “felt needs”), isn’t going to get you anywhere. That’s a consumerist mindset, and it’s the reason why we have mega churches and all the nonsense that goes with them.

    Needs aren’t truly met by programs, needs are met by love.

    Needs of widows were met in Acts by love, not a fancy program, a satisfaction survey, and a fog machine.

    Just love. Jesus’ love. A fellowship that show that meets needs as a byproduct of the love. Love is foundational.

  408. @ Sallie Borrink:

    I honestly never been to a church like that, in Canada (where I currently live) or the U.S. (Where I used to live).

    Once while choosing a church, I used what I call the “parking lot test.”

    I.e., if a church parking lot was filled with >$50k vehicles, I didn’t stick around.

    Civics, Focuses, and Pontiac mini vans? Then I’d give it a shot.

    My current church is the “richest” that I’ve ever attended (in terms of demographic tax bracket), and it’s the one with the most problems under the surface. I.e., the least hands-on participation in ministry by parishioners who, generally, would rather just open the wallet.

    Open wallets are nice, but they aren’t relational.

  409. @ Carmoll:
    Hi, Carmoll. That’s a hard path even without kids! I am glad that you have a couple of good friends–sometimes that is what church becomes, at least for a while, and that’s not all bad.

    Anyway, welcome.

  410. 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.

  411. E.G. wrote:

    But approaching church simply to have needs met (in the lingo of a decade ago, “felt needs”), isn’t going to get you anywhere.

    This is a straw man.

  412. @ Sallie Borrink:

    Homeschooling itself is exhausting, but when you have health issues it feels like a Sisyphean task. I hope you at least have a supportive homeschool group that welcomes you and your daughter with loving, open arms.

    Our family has its own sad megachurch exit tale. We’ve found refuge in a very small liturgical church a few blocks from our house. I’m an introverted HSP, and the traditional service they offer is such a relief.

  413. Law Prof wrote:

    he has not established what one has to do with the other. As a point of fact, it could easily be used against him, many dones tell stories of behavior from institutional churches every bit as Machiavellian as oppressive governments. Could not the point be turned upon him along the lines of “How dare you, Adam, judge those who are being abused and oppressed by the domestic system you champion while your heart apparently bleeds for those who are being abused and oppressed internationally?”

    I think the connection is that neither persecuted believers nor informally-gathered Dones carry their steeples around with them. In which case, yes, the tables can be turned because, except that one group is better, they are totally the same.

    Or, as much better said by Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

  414.   ___

    There was a substantial documented decrease in tithes and offerings attributed to among other things, the increase in ‘negative media attention’ surrounding the Marshill church controversy prior to it’s closing. Did social media played a part in this attention? How So?

  415. Daisy wrote:

    find it strange how often Rosebrough credits Satan with Tchividjian’s fall.

    Possibly Rosebrough thinks pastors are important thus they are singled out for Stan’s attention. If you or I fall it is due to our sin, if it is a pastor it is because of Stan, because pastors are more important. I’m extrapolating from past experience being around some pastors and their mindset.

  416. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    Adam please re-read this and I hope you can see that this is a straw man argument. We risk talking past each other.

  417. roebuck wrote:

    Please consider nuancing your language a bit – it seems like you are setting up straw men to knock down. Have some heart.

    Reading up thread and skipping around I missed your comment till after I made the same observation. It is hard to engage when people talk past each other.

    I recall going to lunch with a fellow with whom I had contrary beliefs. I mentioned that I enjoyed engaging with his opposing viewpoint but I didn’t care much when it appeared he was trying to score points. After that we both found much more agreement and appreciation for each other.

  418. @ Bill M:

    Unfortunately not. It’s pretty much the raison d’etre of the mega-seeker-sensitive-emergent-neoCal-ChristianBookstore evangelical industrial complex.

  419. Gram3 wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    “an army of gospel Navy SEALs”?

    Picture the hilarity which would ensue if Owen BHLH held up a big banner at the Army-Navy game about his call for an Army of Gospel Navy SEALS.

    For what it’s worth, the retired Navy SEAL who’s in charge of the database and exposes Fake SEALs says that a good chunk of the Fake SEAL posers are clergy.

  420. Gram3 wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    “an army of gospel Navy SEALs”?

    Picture the hilarity which would ensue if Owen BHLH held up a big banner at the Army-Navy game about his call for an Army of Gospel Navy SEALS.

    For what it’s worth, the retired Navy SEAL who’s in charge of the database and exposes Fake SEALs says that a good chunk of the Fake SEAL posers are clergy.
    Sopwith wrote:

      __
    Will I need to be represented by legal council, if and when meeting with 501(c)3 christian church officals becomes required?

    As Warren Zevon put it, “Bring Lawyers, Guns, and Money.”

  421. E.G. wrote:

    Unfortunately not. It’s pretty much the raison d’etre of the mega-seeker-sensitive-emergent-neoCal-ChristianBookstore evangelical industrial complex.

    I’ve heard this a lot about people being shallow and just wanting to be fed or their needs met and it was often directed at people unjustly. I’ve been guilty of the same tendency to categorize others, label them as being less understanding, and then take the quick off-ramp rather than continue on and consider what actually motivates others.

  422. Charity wrote:

    But yes, it was very “Scientology” in the way that one is charged to hear sermons and workshops through the church. It seemed like there was always some sort of marketing, or book selling, or “honor the pastor” days, where money was always involved.

    You have to hand it to Ed Young, jr.: he shamelessly tells his pewsitters exactly what he is about (“It’s all about the money”), and he gets away with it, because they keep giving him that money. He’s extremely gifted in the con department, and there seem to be a lot of pastors who are either equally gifted or paying close attention.

    If the CHURCH is to have any meaningful future, these “churches” need to come down, and none too soon.

    I don’t know if any of these pastors believe in God’s justice, but I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. They are stealing from those poorer than themselves, often literally from the poor they are tasked to feed.

    I can’t believe anybody that self-delusional. They must know what they are doing. They must all be cynical Elmer Gantrys.

  423. Bill M wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    Adam please re-read this and I hope you can see that this is a straw man argument. We risk talking past each other.

    To Adam, I don’t think the Dones are claiming moral victory. I don’t wish what I feel on anyone. I think we are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually spent. I cannot bring myself to invest in one more corrupt church. I just can’t.

    Saying I don’t respect those dying for the right to gather as a church because I’m personally done trying is like saying that if I don’t join the military and go overseas and fight right now, then I should not enjoy free speech because I do not appreciate the sacrifices made for my freedom. That’s absurd.

    Indeed, if I went overseas I might find a church worth reinvesting in. Right now, based on the churches I am seeing where I live (and I freely admit DFW is ground zero for clerical lunacy) I am fairly certain God doesn’t attend them either. He’d either be too angry or too embarrassed.

    Your instincts serve you well to be pursuing this demographic. They are gold to a young pastor if you can re-engage them. However, you need to first understand who the Dones really are. They are people who have truly lived their lives to serve God, the Church and the Kingdom and have done so for decades. They aren’t newbies who walk away lightly because their faith wasn’t grounded deeply in the first place. They aren’t the fringe. They aren’t the trend setters. They are solid service oriented, dedicated Christians who profoundly love the Lord so much that they refuse to continue supporting the kabuki theater charade that is the modern Anerican church. I don’t think you have appreciation for how much we walk away from when we leave on principle. No one makes the Done decision frivolously.

    Dones aren’t done with God or faith. They are done with the 501(c)3’s and deservedly so. If you want to bring the Dones back you might want to spend your time calling out false teachers and supporting higher standards for shepherds. Clean up the garbage first.

  424. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    Where should an older woman who is a conservative, inerrantist, Baptist Berean go?
    Gram3 – I have no idea who you are or if our paths have crossed online, but I so relate to this.
    I’m 48 and never would I have thought I would be a Done. I won’t get into our entire story, but it includes a couple of episodes of spiritual abuse as well as learning that people with chronic illness really don’t fit into the church and apparently don’t have legitimate needs.
    My husband and I don’t have the energy to do it any longer. We love Jesus and nothing about that has changed. We simply do not have the energy to try one. more. time. to find a church. And believe me, we’ve tried. We’ve been flexible on a variety of significant doctrinal issues such as mode of baptism in order to try to find a church home. The biggest issue for me is we have an eight year old daughter and it troubles me to bring her up without a church home. But where do we go?
    We’re Biblical egalitarians who believe in the authority of the Scriptures. That eliminates a large percentage of churches right off the top. We’ve tried to compromise on the comp/egal issue in a few different churches and we can’t do it. It is too important to us both for my sake as well as how our daughter hears about the Lord. I simply cannot suck it up any longer and listen to complementarian teaching. I’ve tried. I cannot do it. And I don’t want my daughter listening to it.
    My daughter and I are both highly sensitive. Any church that is loud is out. We should not have to take a day to recover from the overwhelming stimuli in church. That eliminates a whole bunch of churches.
    We’re fairly conservative is most ways. We wouldn’t fit into a liberal, mainline or progressive environment.
    So what does that leave? Not very much at all.
    I am open to a small house gathering, but so far we haven’t found that. And, honestly, managing a chronic illness, homeschooling a gifted/2e daughter, and trying to keep a business afloat with my husband while trying to crawl out from under a pile of medical-related bills is all I can handle right now. I don’t have the energy to try to start a new church.
    So that’s my story of why we’ve been Done for a few years.

    We’re not done, but I understand some of your issues. I have chronic migraine and had to leave the practice of medicine. The woman who coordinates meals at our church is a friend and frequently asks if we need any meals when I’m having a bad string of migraines! I am grateful for that. Otherwise, though, no one quite knows what to make of a chronic illness. My husband and son go to church, but I’m only there about once a month, so people don’t quite know what to say or how to act. Illness is very isolating.

    My daughter just turned twenty and won’t have anything to do with the Evangelical Church. I’m thrilled that she’s going to join the local Episcopal Church. In fact, she was excited that I’m getting her a leather-bound Book of Common Prayer for her birthday. I can’t really blame her. My daughter’s best friend (who was a “unofficial” foster child of mine for six months) is gay and my daughter couldn’t handle all the negativity about LGBT people coming from our church leaders. Our church is soft complementarian and we raised our kids to be pretty egalitarian. My daughter much prefers the egalitarianism she finds at the Episcopal church. She’s also a musician and hates modern worship music.

    But, my husband and I are staying right now. My husband is an elder, although he’s not on the elder board right now since he just started teaching high school math last year (he was a homeschooling dad and then ran our yarn store for several years). My husband is happy that his primary ministry is in the high school. I’m considering starting some kind of support group for people with chronic illness in our church. I know there are a lot of us. I also know that some aren’t taking good care of themselves. I wonder if we could get Social Services and Dieticians and Nurse Practitioners to come in and help those who need help. And, if nothing else, it would be so nice to just sit and have coffee with people who can also say, “Yeah, I got up with everything hurting today too.” And to congratulate each other on walking around the block even though you feel crappy. I think many churches aren’t doing that kind of thing well. We need to figure out how to love each other, even when they don’t have any thing to offer. And those of us with chronic illness have nothing at all.

    My biggest concern is that our church is more political than I’d like it to be with our current pastor (who has been here about three years). My issue is that my 17 year old son is going to be a worship intern next year. I’m overall Evangelical in theology, but I don’t agree with this pastor on Origins, End Times, or his emphasis on politics. So, I hope we can find a good balance. He’ll be spending most of his time with the Worship Director, who is a good friend (and a woman – we’re a pretty softly complementarian church!). Listening to the conservative 17 year old son talk to the liberal 20 year old daughter talk can be interesting. She’s got the theological chops, though. He needs more Bible education. (She was homeschooled through 12th grade. He started public school this year in 11th grade, so he missed New Testament Survey and won’t get World Religions.

    So, we’re not leaving the church anytime soon. Right now, this one’s the best party in town. May as well stay till midnight.

  425. I’d like to take on Adam’s challenge about ‘dones’ not starting NT type churches if there isn’t one in their locality, having been there and done that. I think he is making a fair point, but…

    To start a church requires the prompting of the Spirit imo, and needs at least some reasonably mature believers who can teeach and pastor and impart a bit of wisdom. The informal nature of some new starts at least means those with gifts can emerge and learn to use them on the job, without an established ‘structure’ being in the way.

    The downside of this is immature believers can and do gravitate to such new churches in order to establish their “ministry”, that is, where they can be the centre of attention. The can soon ruin a fellowship unless someone with some authority intervenes to deal with them.

    It’s also true that a new church can soak up a lot of time, a price has to be paid if you are in full-time employment (and it doesn’t help always if you are newly married and constantly being called out to people …).

    If there was as hint of criticism in Adam’s post, I take it that it is very easy to be critical of established churches and their structures and traditions – and failures – when you don’t have the responsibilty of caring for a church yourself. Easy to say what they ought to do e.g. if a paedophile infiltrates, and you know what you would do if you pastored a church, but in fact have never had that responsibility yourself. Being a barrack room pastor if you like! Being able to confront people is vital, but I’m afraid it’s not something I am any good at, I tend to avoid it if possible. So when ‘professional’ full-time pastors fail, I’m not sure I would do much better were I in their shoes.

    Finally, a new church does not mean it’s easy to get old ways of thinking out of the members. In particular, in my experience years ago it was difficult to get the women to start to ‘minister’ in the church where previously they had not been able or given the freedom to do so. They brought with then a reluctance, born perhaps from inertia, the effort to change thinking and behaviour was too much? It’s very difficult to shed the church-meeting-being-centred-around-the-man-at-the-front way of operating.

  426. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    It sounds like there are some real similarities in our stories. Well, except for the age part. I’m so very sorry about your daughter and all the other daughters and sons who have no place where they fit. Being gifted and probably very curious makes it that much more difficult for her to fit within a conservative church where questions of any kind are not encouraged. Especially about the now-sacred hierarchical complementarianism. And even more especially from a female. I hope that more young pastors will start thinking through the implications of what they are teaching and promoting. I do believe that by the time your daughter is a young woman, there will be more conservative options available. Somehow we need to decouple the doctrine of the authority of God’s word and Jesus as Lord of the church from the authority of the particular interpretations of the authoritarians and the authoritarians themselves who have set themselves as lords of the flock. I will certainly grant that they have masterfully linked those ideas such that many dare not question the interpretations.
    Yes, she’s busy, bright and not afraid to voice an opinion. LOL! I wrote a whole series of posts on my learning website about parenting gifted/2e children in the Christian church. They do not fit into the typical church structures at all. That’s another issue we face that I didn’t even mention about why we have been Dones.
    I do hope by the time she is an adult she will have more options. I press on for her sake as well as my own. I will continue to press the point so more and more women will be set free in Christ.

    Dear God, we could be twins. My firecracker is 2e, and so.stinkin.bored with church right now, because she reads on a 12th grade level, and is in the 4th grade. 😛 We stepped off the stage after leading worship last week, and almost stepped on her–she was hiding in the dark backstage area, reading “Inheritance” by Christopher Paolini with a music stand clip-light. We let her stay there. 😉

  427. @ LT:
    This is the truth. The production value and the fake-ness are just sooooo hard to deal with, when there is so little relational substance.

  428. 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!

  429. Patrice wrote:

    That is true but I wonder how many of these stratifying and power-determining doctrinal conflicts would even occur under intense external pressure. I suspect things are stripped to essentials and gratitude is the predominant response for whatever good comes by, from whomever brings it.

    I think the same underlying issues, just manifest a different way.

  430. Haven’t yet had the chance to read the whole article and comments, but considering many of the things here discussed, the Churchix software mentioned in the previous article (Really, I thought it was a joke video initially), and many other issues I’ve been experiencing and reading about in the last few years, I have to admit that I’ve also been considering the ‘Done’ status for myself.

    The church I attend is a rather wealthy one. Not ‘megachurch wealthy’ but it’s in an affluent area and the annual budget is high, especially compared with other churches in the city. The congregation is currently considering the expansion of the building, as it’s supposedly not adequate for the current needs… However, I have a nagging doubt about it being that necessary. I know the building would require quite a bit of work here and there, but I’m generally a bit skeptic about massive changes and expansions… In any case, I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt as I don’t know yet what are the specific plans for it. And I doubt they’ll go the lights and fog machines route as it is a pretty conservative (with capital C) church that is supposedly mainly working on proclaiming the gospel… In any case, I’d be very surprised if they do something like that.

    In the meantime, last Sunday I visited a small Presbyterian congregation in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, which is struggling just to get enough money to finish fixing their building after a fire they had about a year ago. It’s difficult when you’re only about 30 in regular attendance and in an area of the city where a lot of people are not particularly wealthy… Even more, last Sunday there were only 10 in the congregation, including the visiting preacher who officiated the communion and me. I know that the Presbyterian Church (USA) has received a lot of criticism about their open position about certain issues, such as homosexuality, but I have to admit that visiting this humble congregation left a strong impression on me, with their friendliness and their motivation to keep going on despite their struggles, while at the same time helping the homeless and poor people of their neighbourhood.

    It’s made me think a lot about what actually are the priorities in our different congregations.

  431. XianJaneway wrote:

    Dear God, we could be twins. My firecracker is 2e, and so.stinkin.bored with church right now, because she reads on a 12th grade level, and is in the 4th grade. We stepped off the stage after leading worship last week, and almost stepped on her–she was hiding in the dark backstage area, reading “Inheritance” by Christopher Paolini with a music stand clip-light. We let her stay there.

    I’ve read your comments and Gram3’s over the past many months and often found myself nodding in agreement. I’ve been around Wartburg for years, but only comment every now and again.

    Feel free to stop by my learning site! I write primarily about homeschooling and learning differences (highly-sensitive, right brained, gifted, personalities, etc.) I also write at times about having a gifted/2e daughter from a Christian perspective. There aren’t many gifted/2e parents who write from a Christian perspective so I’m trying to be a voice of encouragement.

  432. numo wrote:

    I am so sorry to hear about your batyle with chronic illnesd, along with whatever you’ve been through with church types and their judgmental attitudes re. said illnesd. Hsve been through my own strughles with that, and it got very ugly (from their side, not mine).

    Thank you for your kind words. My experience has been more indifference and lack of understanding although I have felt judged and misunderstood at times. It’s hard for people to understand how much you can struggle to get through a day when you look perfectly “normal” on the outside.

  433. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    XianJaneway wrote:

    Dear God, we could be twins. My firecracker is 2e, and so.stinkin.bored with church right now, because she reads on a 12th grade level, and is in the 4th grade. We stepped off the stage after leading worship last week, and almost stepped on her–she was hiding in the dark backstage area, reading “Inheritance” by Christopher Paolini with a music stand clip-light. We let her stay there.

    Sorry. Forgot the website address. sallieborrink.com

    That might help. Heh.

  434. @ 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.

  435. Gus wrote:

    You have to hand it to Ed Young, jr.: he shamelessly tells his pewsitters exactly what he is about (“It’s all about the money”), and he gets away with it, because they keep giving him that money. He’s extremely gifted in the con department, and there seem to be a lot of pastors who are either equally gifted or paying close attention.
    If the CHURCH is to have any meaningful future, these “churches” need to come down, and none too soon.
    I don’t know if any of these pastors believe in God’s justice, but I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. They are stealing from those poorer than themselves, often literally from the poor they are tasked to feed.
    I can’t believe anybody that self-delusional. They must know what they are doing. They must all be cynical Elmer Gantrys.

    No, I have not heard of him. But, I did watch the Marjoe Gortner documentary film when I was seeking answers because things felt very very wrong, and went searching for answers. It was almost verbatim to my experience with the charismatic church. I felt sick to my stomach. If you have a chance to watch that film, I highly suggest watching it. I found the entire documentary on YouTube and it was freeing to see how this con-man exposed the con that he did on the church, and it read almost as a “how to” video with these prosperity preachers. Thing about the prosperity preachers and my life and self is that what we consider prosperity are two different things. Once upon a time ago, I lived the lifestyle with billionaire boyfriends and glamour, in a very glamour orientated industry. I learned stuff, it just stuff, and eventually walked away from that shallow lifestyle. Now days, my version of prosperity is a quiet home, with all my basic needs met, a garden out back and people that love & respect me. That sort of gospel never was a motivator for me. God is prospering me very well, when you come at it from my version of prosperity. The bible fulfills all those promises of prosperity for me when I read his word. I don’t need to seek riches on this earth, been there, done that and it is not all it is cracked up to be. It makes me sick that these preachers are teaching people to go after “things” by “planting seed money” and seeking riches, while they laugh all the way to the bank. It makes me sick with all this slick marketing and circus side show mentality, with faith healing, prophets, prosperity gospel where God can be manipulated like a big mafia God Father, by paying him off and he will bless you, and on and on…

  436. Jenny wrote:

    Homeschooling itself is exhausting, but when you have health issues it feels like a Sisyphean task. I hope you at least have a supportive homeschool group that welcomes you and your daughter with loving, open arms.

    Our family has its own sad megachurch exit tale. We’ve found refuge in a very small liturgical church a few blocks from our house. I’m an introverted HSP, and the traditional service they offer is such a relief.

    Hi Jenny! We do have a good homeschool co-op. I haven’t really be involved since it is a drop-off co-op. That really works best for me as it gives my husband and me a break. (We work from home.) It’s a Christian co-op, but includes everything from dresses only families to very laid back. LOL! That’s the best kind IMHO.

  437. LT wrote:

    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

    I am in total agreement with you. When I say, “Do something else” I don’t want to at all indicate “remake the American church”. As I have mentioned in other parts of this thread, if someone leaves the institutional “church” and instead has fellowship with other Christians for the purpose of edification and encouragement that is as equally valid as “going” to a brick and mortar location.

    I am going to make up some numbers to illustrate what my heart is…

    Let us say only 60% of self-proclaimed Christians currently attend a brick and mortar church on a regular basis(3 plus times a month). In my area 60% would actually be pretty high! If the brick and mortar edifice of the Americanized church went away and 20 years from now 85% of self-proclaimed Christians were regularly apart of Christian fellowship for the purpose of encouragement and edification and that the majority of these “fellowships” numbered under 10-15 people, I would consider that preferable to barely more than half of American Christians being a part of “something”.

    As a pastor I don’t care if I have a “job” in 20 years, my heart is to see more Christians engaged in NT communities(learning and living the word together) than a bunch of people sitting in “my” pews and tithing at my brick and mortar relationship.

    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. Many here have assumed I am attacking their choice to shrink their Christian fellowship from an institutional church to something less organizationally formal. And they have mentioned that they have regular NT esque community by studying the word with others, serving each other and encouraging their group to pursue Christ. And to that I say, “awesome!” I would rather have a bunch of people passionate about others and Christ in that setting than a bunch of country clubbers hanging out in the pews on Sunday mornings for a few hours.

  438. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    There are 30,000+ different denominations, all with their own particular take on Christianity. So which one has the right discernment? Which ones are the ones that have been “redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb”?

    AB, my comment was in reference to individuals not denominations. Jesus came to redeem individuals, not institutions! The true “Church” is comprised of baptized believers who function as individual priests – each capable of discerning and proclaiming truth as the Holy Spirit imparts that to them and each responsible to act on that truth as the Holy Spirit enables them.

    According to Christianity Today, there are 41,000+ Christian denominations and organizations on the planet earth! Which have a corner on the Truth? God gives individuals redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb discernment to try the spirits, to see if they be of God or not. The Holy Spirit will help you sort out truth from error; He will lead you to all truth and give you wisdom. I realize that weaving through the maze we call “church” is difficult. At the end of the day, it truly is an individual journey and you can’t always rely on the particular church or denomination you belong to help you along. If you have been redeemed, stay repentant, don’t grieve and quench the Holy Spirit, and pray for discernment. You are going to need it in the days ahead.

  439. Harley wrote:

    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.

    I experienced the same thing at my old church! I refused to sign anything like that too. As a matter of fact, I refused to sign a covenant agreement as well with becoming a member. In fact, when it comes down to it I was just a 6 year “visitor” at this church because of this. Once, I had my “offering” pulled to one side in the collection plate, and placed on the rim apart from all the others. I found that odd and I suspect so they could see how much I was putting in the collection plate, as I always used a privacy envelope. Shortly before this, I made mention of how I give what The Lord has placed into my heart… and when the collection plate went around the previous week, the pastors wife was up singing a song and stared right at me when the collection plate went around to see if I was putting anything in there. I always payed in cash, so nobody would know what I gave and refused to cut checks, even for tax purposes. It varied week to week what I would put in the collection plate.

  440. 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. Many here have assumed I am attacking their choice to shrink their Christian fellowship from an institutional church to something less organizationally formal. And they have mentioned that they have regular NT esque community by studying the word with others, serving each other and encouraging their group to pursue Christ. And to that I say, “awesome!” I would rather have a bunch of people passionate about others and Christ in that setting than a bunch of country clubbers hanging out in the pews on Sunday mornings for a few hours.

    Thank you for that! Because, that is exactly where many of us are at right now and the direction many of us are headed.

  441. Max wrote:

    AB, my comment was in reference to individuals not denominations. Jesus came to redeem individuals, not institutions! The true “Church” is comprised of baptized believers who function as individual priests – each capable of discerning and proclaiming truth as the Holy Spirit imparts that to them and each responsible to act on that truth as the Holy Spirit enables them.
    According to Christianity Today, there are 41,000+ Christian denominations and organizations on the planet earth! Which have a corner on the Truth? God gives individuals redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb discernment to try the spirits, to see if they be of God or not. The Holy Spirit will help you sort out truth from error; He will lead you to all truth and give you wisdom. I realize that weaving through the maze we call “church” is difficult. At the end of the day, it truly is an individual journey and you can’t always rely on the particular church or denomination you belong to help you along. If you have been redeemed, stay repentant, don’t grieve and quench the Holy Spirit, and pray for discernment. You are going to need it in the days ahead.

    Amen!

  442. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    Dave A A wrote:
    “an army of gospel Navy SEALs”?
    Picture the hilarity which would ensue if Owen BHLH held up a big banner at the Army-Navy game about his call for an Army of Gospel Navy SEALS.
    For what it’s worth, the retired Navy SEAL who’s in charge of the database and exposes Fake SEALs says that a good chunk of the Fake SEAL posers are clergy.

    That doesn’t surprise me. Viewing this from the academy, I’ve also noticed that clergy sometimes have a penchant for fake degrees from diploma mills or parading themselves as “doctor” when their only doctorate is honorary. Either is fraudulent.

  443. @ Charity:
    Charity, I think we’re twin sisters as I too am disabled and caring for a 90 year old mother. Being disabled brings up another point with a portion of the Church. The fact that we aren’t healed of our disability. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve been accused of being deceived, or filled with Satan because I am in a wheelchair or cornered by several people who wish to “heal” me. I finally got to the point I’d refuse to let anyone pray for me on that count. God had shown me that while He very well can heal, the spiritual is much more important.

  444. Eagle wrote:

    I’m reading on this blog and so many others about SBC take over by Neo-Calvinists. The SBC is not the only denomination dealing with this problem. I’ve been involved in the Evangelical Free Church in my past and this is tearing about the Evangelical Free.

    Eagle, the New Calvinism movement is a religious phenomenon which is penetrating various denominations. Even certain Assembly of God churches have fallen for it! Who would have thought that would be possible?! The apathetic, prayerless condition of the saints of the American church has allowed this to happen. New Calvinist leaders have successfully tapped into the restlessness of the Millennial generation and are serving up something different that has captured their attention. Young folks are rallying around proclamations such as the following:

    “Where else are they going to go? If you’re a theological minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you’re committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see gospel built and structured committed churches, your theology is just going to end up basically being Reformed, basically something like this new Calvinism, or you’re going to have to invent some label for what is basically going to be the same thing, there just are not options out there …” (Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

    For you non-Calvinist millions, Dr. Mohler is telling you that is not a viable faith option. He is essentially saying that Calvinism = Gospel. If you ain’t in, you’re out! What arrogance!

  445. LT wrote:

    Dones aren’t done with God or faith. They are done with the 501(c)3’s and deservedly so. If you want to bring the Dones back you might want to spend your time calling out false teachers and supporting higher standards for shepherds. Clean up the garbage first.

    This describes me. I am just tired, worn out after being spat out of three cultic churches in a decade, two of which I was an elder in. I’d love to find one of those “NT churches” that Adam touts. My problem, though, is when people try to tell me what a NT church is and it invariably includes a single supreme leader, slick marketing techniques and behind the scenes manipulations straight out of the early days of the Soviet Revolution. None of those things has anything to do with the NT church, least of all a single pastor as leader model who does most or all of the teaching to a passive congregation on Sundays. Simply not NT.

  446. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the “Done” movement is completely in the right in completely pulling up stakes from the regular gathering of believers what are we telling our suffering brothers and sister who were/are literally willing to be arrested and killed for the sake of gathering together?

    You think believers in oppressive regimes actually care about the worship choices of Christians in the West?

    Assuming that they do, I hope that the message that the persecuted are getting from the “dones” is: “Don’t let your congregations become the nightmarish entities we’ve had to escape, and recover from.”

  447. Niteowl wrote:

    Charity, I think we’re twin sisters as I too am disabled and caring for a 90 year old mother. Being disabled brings up another point with a portion of the Church. The fact that we aren’t healed of our disability. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve been accused of being deceived, or filled with Satan because I am in a wheelchair or cornered by several people who wish to “heal” me. I finally got to the point I’d refuse to let anyone pray for me on that count. God had shown me that while He very well can heal, the spiritual is much more important.

    I suffer from panic attacks (which feels like one is having a heart attack and not pleasant at all, and you go all day gasping for breath and it is pure terror). I must be living outside the will of God, or have satanic spirits inside of me, dontcha know! (LOL!)… The funny thing is, the more time I spend with my nose in the bible and away from the circus show, the better my anxiety/panic attacks are controlled. The whole thing with having tons of people around me “laying hands” on me is completely claustrophobic and does not help in my circumstances. It is actually a trigger! I feel for you!

  448. Max wrote:

    Eagle wrote: I’m reading on this blog and so many others about SBC take over by Neo-Calvinists. The SBC is not the only denomination dealing with this problem. I’ve been involved in the Evangelical Free Church in my past and this is tearing about the Evangelical Free.

    We visited a small EVFree church not far from our home and had high hopes it might work. The pastor was a Driscoll wannabe. I spent the first twenty minutes in the narthex with my daughter because the "worship" was so loud. And then, no joke, he spoke on male/female roles that day as part of a series. (My husband missed the sermon because he took our (ed.) daughter to the junior church class and stayed with her since we were visiting.) It took everything I had to sit there and not stand up and correct what he was saying. It wasn't just that he was preaching a soft comp sermon. It was a smirking "I'm just telling you what is in the Bible, ladies" type attitude.

    I guess on the plus side the Lord allowed us to know from the first visit that we would never fit in. 🙂

  449. Adam Borsay wrote:

    And they have mentioned that they have regular NT esque community

    Another thing to consider. I see a lot of references in your posts to the “NT community”. Acts 29, for example, is the very epitome of that mindset, and we all see where that’s going and has gone.

    This trenchant point that we ought to duplicate the NT church does not just leap off the pages of the Gospels and NT Epistles. Some of the things discussed there are descriptive, some are prescriptive. It was a different culture and a different set of circumstances, women were essentially uneducated chattel at that time and place, the Christian church was reaching into formerly pagan areas that hadn’t heard a whisper of Christ. I am not convinced that in a heavily-churched, blasé 21st Century America, for example, that it makes sense to go about doing the same things as those disciples two millenia ago. We should do what is clearly prescriptive, and Jesus’ words seem always to fit that mold, but to make hard and fast primary doctrine out of descriptions of what the disciples did under very different circumstances is dangerous and lists eventually into full-blown pharisaism. I have seen it.

  450. Max wrote:

    For you non-Calvinist millions, Dr. Mohler is telling you that is not a viable faith option. He is essentially saying that Calvinism = Gospel. If you ain’t in, you’re out! What arrogance!

    Mr. Mohler is an example of a man who, when tenderly young and full of the optimism, energy, arrogance and stupidity of youth, was put into a position of prominence that he had no business assuming, quickly grasped absolute control, and has now ridden it into middle age apparently without meaningful checks and balances. Thus, he now seems to be more arrogant and stupid than he was a tenderly young man.

  451. 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.

    I think a key source of confusion over much of what you’ve tried to communicate, Adam, is that you seem to have overapplied to the whole your experience of a subcategory of “dones” as you described in your most recent comment. I don’t think it was clear earlier that this sub-group had apparently become your description of the whole group.

    Anyway, there’s a lot more work to go to identify the distinctives and the overlap zones among nones, dones, gones, those are survivors of spiritual abuse from malignant leaders, and those who have survived corrupt institutional systems. There are likely a lot more nuances to see than any of us yet realize …

  452. Ken wrote:

    I take it that it is very easy to be critical of established churches and their structures and traditions – and failures – when you don’t have the responsibilty of caring for a church yourself. Easy to say what they ought to do e.g. if a paedophile infiltrates, and you know what you would do if you pastored a church, but in fact have never had that responsibility yourself.

    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.

  453. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    he spoke on male/female roles that day as part of a series.

    Sallie Borrink wrote:

    “I’m just telling you what is in the Bible, ladies” type attitude.

    New Calvinism’s macho delivery preaches to men. Women are lesser citizens of the Kingdom. You don’t have to be in a NC church for long until you see that on the countenance of the women – they are in bondage. This may very well prove to be the Achilles heel of the New Calvinist movement … when women get wise to this abuse of Scripture and drag their sorry husbands/boy friends out of the mess! Women, be encouraged, Jesus has set you free! “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Let no man take away your Christian liberty with their aberrant teachings.

  454. Law Prof wrote:

    It was a different culture and a different set of circumstances, women were essentially uneducated chattel at that time and place, the Christian church was reaching into formerly pagan areas that hadn’t heard a whisper of Christ. I am not convinced that in a heavily-churched, blasé 21st Century America, for example, that it makes sense to go about doing the same things as those disciples two millenia ago.

    I think this is important. The culture of 1st century Christians included the tension between the Roman government who viewed Christianity as superstitious and their refusal to worship the gods of the Romans, as well as the simple day-to-day lifestyles which were very different than ours today. Most homes of the middle class consisted of 1-2 rooms which a lot of activity taking place on rooftops for convenience, necessity, and the result of space considerations.

    In a sense there was already a community as those homes were generally centered around the open marketplace and shops. Gatherings often centered around daily shopping for food and drawing water from public wells. Personal goods were limited compared to today where most slept on mats on the floor.

    Persecution in the early church may also have played a part in the admonitions to not forsake their assemblies as well as the prevalent thought that they were living in the last days and judgment from God was imminent.

    Very different culture indeed.

  455. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    You are sooooo right about this. Happy, healthy, financially stable and no trouble, pain or problems.

    “Financially Stable” = Able to TITHE TITHE TITHE TITHE TITHE

    All about the Benjamins, baby.

  456. Max wrote:

    Eagle, the New Calvinism movement is a religious phenomenon which is penetrating various denominations. Even certain Assembly of God churches have fallen for it!

    Also, an Anglican pastor in our area is strongly affiliated with The Gospel Coalition. It's amazing how many denominations are being impacted by the Neo-Cals.

  457. Max wrote:

    New Calvinism’s macho delivery preaches to men.

    Just like Extreme Islam.

    Many years ago, at a website called “Church for Men”, there was an essay about “Why Islam Attracts Men”; their thesis was that Islam (and by analogy Calvinism) has a reputation for Getting Results – Perfect Society, Perfect Family, Perfection of Faith, all in the Great Chain of Command/Being. (With YOU higher up the Chain of Command than THEM.)

    Plus Comp Doctrine/subordination of women appeals to Hypermasculinity — “ME MAN! ME FIGHT! ME TAKE WOMAN! RAWR!” (though Calvinists are handicapped in this respect by monogamy, lack of “marriage by raid & pillage” tribal culture, and lack of 72 hot-to-trot eternal virgins per guy in Paradise).

    Add a bit of “Marching for The Cause, Changing the Face of The World” from classic Communism, and you can see the appeal.

  458. Beth wrote:

    @ brad/futuristguy:

    Brad, what is the difference between “nones” and “gones”? I was curious and a quick search didn’t help me.

    I don’t think there is much difference, though I’d guess that “nones” have simply GAFIAted while “gones” have additionally run like hell.

  459. Martos wrote:

    In the meantime, last Sunday I visited a small Presbyterian congregation in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, which is struggling just to get enough money to finish fixing their building after a fire they had about a year ago. It’s difficult when you’re only about 30 in regular attendance and in an area of the city where a lot of people are not particularly wealthy…

    Not true – Hell’s Kitchen is no longer the gritty area on the West Side of Manhattan as it was in rough-and-tumble days of Damon Runyon’s stories. The area has been gentrified and average rents in the neighborhood have increased dramatically so that as of April 2014, rents in the area are above the average rents in Manhattan. See “Manhattan Rental Market Report”, April 2014.

  460. Law Prof wrote:

    Mr. Mohler is an example of a man who, when tenderly young and full of the optimism, energy, arrogance and stupidity of youth, was put into a position of prominence that he had no business assuming, quickly grasped absolute control, and has now ridden it into middle age apparently without meaningful checks and balances. Thus, he now seems to be more arrogant and stupid than he was a tenderly young man.

    Oh, a Kim Jong Un or King Joffrey left to ferment with age.

  461. 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. 🙂

  462. Max wrote:

    For you non-Calvinist millions, Dr. Mohler is telling you that is not a viable faith option. He is essentially saying that Calvinism = Gospel. If you ain’t in, you’re out! What arrogance!

    Who needs Christ when you have CALVIN?
    Or a Bible when you have CALVIN’s Institutes?
    CALVIN who had God All Figured Out!

  463. Beth wrote:

    Brad, what is the difference between “nones” and “gones”? I was curious and a quick search didn’t help me.

    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,