The Almost Dones

They’re Almost Done with Church–and More Conservative

Soon-to-be defectors are sitting in the pews of America’s churches. Unless something changes, they’re going to join the Dones. While conducting research on the phenomenon of the Dones—those formerly faithful churchgoers who have given up on the organized church—sociologist Josh Packard uncovered another sizable group—the Almost Dones. Packard’s book Church Refugees describes the large group […]

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Church back door

The Church’s Hidden Back Door

Beef up outreach. Emphasize evangelism. Plant more churches. Polish the marketing. None of this is reversing the overall trend of church decline. Even when a church attracts new members it doesn’t grow. Why? It can’t add people fast enough to make up for the legions slipping out the back door. They are the Dones–those who […]

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Church giving on decline

Donations Up–Except at Church

Are people in the pew pinching their pennies? Across the country, congregations and denominations are recording year-over-year declines in giving. For some it’s reached panic time. What’s going on? Have general economic conditions made people stingier? Apparently not. National statistics show that overall charitable giving has actually increased in recent years. And donations are expected to increase […]

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Societal decline

The Big Unrealized Hope for a Crumbling Culture

These days, what is the American church known for? Is it known more for what it stands FOR, or for what it stands AGAINST? We’ve posed that question to audiences across the country. Overwhelmingly, they say the church today is most known for what it opposes. Research shows that the church’s finger-wagging reputation is a […]

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Church for sale

What’s Next for Idle Church Buildings

“In a decade, America is going to have a whole different look, as far as what is a church and where is a church. And what about all these empty buildings?” asks American Church Magazine publisher Steve Hewitt in the documentary When God Left the Building. Verlon Fosner watched his church, Westminster Community Church in Seattle, […]

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Small trying to be big

How to Impersonate a Big Church

While the senior pastor was out of town he received a message that one of the church members had fallen ill. She was hours away from death. The pastor immediately contacted his newly-appointed associate pastor with the news. The woman died later that day. When the senior pastor returned to town, he learned his associate never attempted […]

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Running from culture wars

Running from the Culture Wars

“This gay rights thing is going to destroy the American church,” the pastor said. Is that true? Many church leaders–on both sides of the gay debate–believe this issue will be the watershed moment for the church. That could be. But not how they think it will. Sociologist Josh Packard’s research for the book Church Refugees uncovered some […]

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Millions are done with the weekly monologue

Done with ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’

People are leaving their churches because they feel excluded. Excluded from participating in the communication of the message. This is one of the unanticipated findings in sociologist Josh Packard’s research on the Dones–formerly active church members who have walked away from all institutional religion. These are people who have heard countless sermons. They tend to […]

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A Message for Control Freaks

Why are some of the organized church’s most dedicated and active members choosing to leave?  Sociologist Josh Packard, author of Church Refugees, sometimes refers to these people as the church’s A students. They’re most likely to contribute, work hard, and lead others. But, increasingly, they’re done. Done with the institutional church altogether.  But why? Why […]

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Kicking out the nominal Christians

Good Riddance to Nominal Christians?

Christian shrinkage. Is that bad news or good news? Well, it depends, it seems. The Pew Research Center’s new study shows that the proportion of Americans who identify as Christian has declined by nearly 8 percent since 2007. That’s significant and historical. And the decline is felt across all Christian sectors–Catholic, mainline Protestant, and evangelical Protestant. […]

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