In front of a room of pastors and other church leaders, Andrea began to tell her tale of leaving the church she had helped to launch. She began to weep as she described her odyssey into becoming a “Done.”
“I felt as if no cared that we left,” she said. “That once we were no longer part of the ‘club,’ that was it. We were in exile.”
After she spoke, several pastors approached her and apologized on behalf of the church. But others whispered that they shared similar feelings of “doneness,” but felt trapped in their professions.
Andrea Syverson retells her experience in her new book Alter Girl: Walking Away From Religion Into the Heart of Faith. It’s a refreshingly honest account of her lifelong quest to relate to the real Jesus.
She writes: “Maybe the Dones need a bit of rebranding. They may not be so much about being done with church as they are about coming full circle and realizing that it’s all done. God did it all for us! We can’t do anything to change that–not by building a church, not by going to church daily, not by attending a Bible study every day, fasting for 40 days and nights, not by any other holy, holy, holy means we can think of. God already did it all for us. It’s done. He simply wants us to be in relationship with him and receive his gifts.”
I talked with Andrea in this week’s Holy Soup podcast. She describes how her various experiences prompted her to BE the church, rather than merely sit in a church. Give it a listen here.
Jesus prayed in John 17 for the unity of the body, yet we (usually unintentionally) hurt one another and cause divisions in the body. I just read a book about how God is using small groups to build bridges in the body of Christ. It’s called “ONE: Unfolding God’s Eternal Purpose From House To House.” It’s by Henry Hon and is available @ http://amzn.to/2f5Ofts
Whenever one assigns a title like the “dones” it needs explanation because words connote thoughts and I have no way of knowing what anyone else is thinking. For me the crazies have taken over the asylum and i have considered myself “done with that system” because that’s by and large what church has seem to become, a system. It has become more about maintaining and growing an organization than producing life in an organism. The real church is an organism not an organization. Organisms are living and are concerned with living and producing life while organizations go by rules or laws and can’t have or produce life. So, for me consider me dead to organizations, done, finished or however you want to think about it, i want life and I also love to gather with those who want the same thing.
Very informative, and concise explanation of what it means to be “done” with the system. I too long for that same thing. Many times attending worship is more like going to McDonalds.
Well said!!! Thank you
“I felt as if no cared that we left,” she said. “That once we were no longer part of the ‘club,’ that was it. We were in exile.”…that is exactly how I feel. My faith is strong, I’m not a ‘non,’ however, I am done at the moment, at least, with the organized church. I’m tired of being ignored, spoken to as if I were in second grade, and ‘experiencing’ worship that is self focused and shallow (which is not worship, at all). Thank you for this…very helpful.
I view the rise of the Dones as a potentially watershed moment quite possibly as disruptive as was Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Churches today need to understand what it is that they are doing to and with their membership and what the culture is doing to their ‘market’. It is not 1950 anymore, nor even 1999.
There is a collective yearning for deeper relationships. Our approach of ‘feeding’ the Sunday morning monster and emphasis on ‘learning’ over experiencing and relationships is not tapping into that desire like it once did. In short, we sold Sunday morning as ‘the answer’ and folks are discovering that the result doesn’t meet the hype despite giving it their best shot.
(yes, we all know Jesus really IS the answer but He’s been lost amidst our other solutions, practices and traditions)
I don’t understand what people are looking for. In today’s world it’s to easy to quit. God placed you in that family to just quit? Help the family to grow. It might not happen over nite but it will in Gods timing.. if God is moving you on there are sooooo many small churches looking for workers. Praying for workers. God didn’t institute the church family just so we can throw it away.
So this nice lady left the church to start something more like what Jesus was doing and ended up creating the very same thing she left.
Maybe,… just maybe, this is exactly the circle of life, the ebb and flow that is suppose to happen. Like a plant that grows up, flowers and produces seeds. The seeds fall off the dying plant and die to be planted and regrow into another plant, exactly the same thing it fell from.
We all who went to church were part of a growing plant. Some of us were the leaves, some were the stalk and some are the flowers. Some are the soil that to which the church plants grow. The plant produces seeds that leave the plant to grow another plant like the one it came from. This is just the way we human beings are wired.
This nice lady has done her job. She has not done one thing wrong. In the end we go to the dust to which we came.
Dones are either those like this nice lady, a seed that grows elsewhere or a leaf that has died after doing its part in growing the plant and fallen to the ground with no more work to do.
It’s been a while, Thom. I thought you were ‘done’.
Your concept of reproduction does not fit the Early Church unless she produces a church like the Roman Catholic. It took almost 300 years begin that system and another 300 to bring it to organizational level.
I think one can just get tired of what ever the human church organization they are in and find that even after going from one church to another, keep finding the same faulty things. As much as we want to find something or make something that doesn’t have the downsides of the place we came, it ends up becoming that again because that is just the nature of we human beings.
As much as dogs and cats by nature, do what dogs and cats do, we are the same way. From two friends up to a giant corporation, there is always a leader and a follower, leaders and followers, ethics, morals, both written and unwritten rules. From the smallest church group to a large mega church, you can’t get rid of the human element, the things about ourselves that both draw us together or push us away.
Whether a church or a business corporation, it’s personalities that have to work with other personalities and its one giant lesson in allowing yourself and everyone around us to just be human and be themselves and work with the people that come our way. At the end of the day you go home.
With church, we’re often putting ourselves in a position to be something and someone we are not, in essence, rubbing our own fur the wrong way, putting our own selves into misery. Not only this but putting ourselves in a place to be manipulated by guilt, fear and intimidation and put under pressure to be someone we are not. I won’t say that wanting to be better human beings is a bad thing…IF that is what you want. It’s one thing if you want that, but another when someone else wants and expects that from you and you can’t live up to it.
So as I see the confusion about churches. Christ created the Church and it is synonymous with the Kingdom of God which came without visibility. Jesus said that no one would see it coming. Why would he describe it like that? Because, it is not a physical Church. It is a Spiritual Church. There is only one and it is not necessarily made up of the physical churches that we have been exposed to. Jesus is the head of his Church and it is within you. He never described it as a body outside of the members. In another concept you cannot go to Church because, you are the Church, you are never separated from the Church. The Church can be assembled, when members, of Christ’s body (followers of Christ) are gathered together. Any reference to church being at a physical place when members are not present is an improper description of The Church. Thus, there are many objects and organizations which members and the world has called church, which does not have a description from scripture to support its existence. You have mentioned, “With church, we’re often putting ourselves in a position to be something and someone we are not, in essence, rubbing our own fur the wrong way, putting our own selves into misery.” And this is exactly the opposite of what Christ taught. We as Christians are never to place ourselves into a position different in the presence of like minded people than we are at any other time in our lives. Our lives are to be lived in the world as if Christ is right beside us all the time. In another illustration, the world should see us as examples of Christ in everyday life, even when we are not assembled. Anyone who does not possess this visibility in the world would never be a light to the world through their assembled brethren, which they call church. And we wonder why the world is not drawn to the assemblies. We have not properly analyzed our influence in communities, otherwise we would have understood the message we display to the world. What we have called church is not a Biblical rendering of Christ’s Church.
As a children’s ministry worker, I have a slightly different pov on the Dones movement.
And, yes, I think the trend’s sufficiently strong that it’s a movement. Not an organized one, not one that’s necessarily unified, but the tide away from church parking lots on Sunday morning is real, and growing, and lasting.
My concern: What are you doing to provide Christian education for your kids? The truth is that the church has always been on the margins of faith-shaping when it comes to children; parents are far and away the larger influence. That’s real, and as it should be, but few parents I know are intentional about giving their kids an intentional grounding in the faith. The institutional church was one place that happened and if the institution is gone, there needs to be great intentionality on the part of parents.
Is that happening? If so, how? I ask not to criticize; I ask because I’d honestly like to know.
I, for one, know better than to blame Dones for being done; that’s their journey and they and God can work it out. But if children are along for the ride, I want to know how–as someone called to work with kids–can provide relevant assistance to any parent who wants it, done or not. Thoughts?
CEER, Your question is a good one and your comments regarding the Dones being a movement is insightful.
I’m not sure whether it’s true or not but my observation seems to be that Dones tend to be an older generation of former church attenders. If so, then, They are unlikely to have young children other than potentially grandchildren. As such they will have great interest in seeing them become mature Christ-followers and possibly undertake the role of training them up.
You see, many found that ‘church’ didn’t really do the job for their own kids and didn’t realize their own responsibility, often until too late. It was part of the reason they have become Dones. They were not equipped by the ‘church’ to make disciples–beginning in their own families, their Jerusalem if you will. Everyone thought it was the ‘church’s’ job to get Believers and did t understand that church was really supposed to be a group of people helping each other carry out the Great Commision–making Disciples.
I suspect you have any number of parents in your sphere of influence who would be quite interested in learning how to be more intentional in their own lives and by extension into their children’s lives.
Don’t wait for the local church to sanction a class or your ministry–just begin where you can and God will open doors. All too often we think we need a program or a class or a recognized venue of some sort for it to ‘count’. It simply isn’t so.
I appreciate your comment, as I feel the same way. My husband and I have been “done” for more than 10 years. We joined with another couple in just meeting together on Sunday nights, reading the Bible, singing hymns, taking communion, and sharing a meal together. Over time we have almost 30 people at any given time attending. It ebbs and flows, people move away, and we have growing pains, but it is the purest form of being the church that I can see. No buildings to pay for, we each are responsible for our own tithing, and no one is the “leader” in the wave of following cult personalities that I see. We both grew up in churches that are large, and one is closing its doors, and the other has over 1000 members…who don’t know each other, who can’t care about everyone because they don’t know them. However, the preacher makes over $100,000 in a town where no one else does, and things won’t change until they decide they should. It’s a business. I’ll take my little home church group any day. We love each other, are there for each other in good and bad times. We help those around us, and I feel such joy listening to each one read the Bible aloud each week. It has changed my life for the better!
I became ill with long term chronic fatigue syndrome around two years ago, and hardly anyone from my regular church kept in touch. I’ve heard this is a big problem. We expect Christians to be different, more thoughtful, compassionate, likely to reach out, and sometimes find they aren’t that much different from anyone else. Out of sight, out of mind.
Of course, we have to forgive, that is absolutely vital, and we also have to accept that people have families, jobs, struggles and issues as well. I’m also beginning to believe that vast impersonal ‘church’ organizations, with millions of adherents, are not the basis for Christian life, fellowship and a relationship with Jesus Christ. American organized Christianity has merely become a reflection of American society, an obsession with prosperity, and more darkly, an obsession with right wing politics and empire building. In England, organized Christianity has largely become a cosy club for the affluent middle class and wealthy, justifying their wealth and the social order. Neither has much to do with a living and transforming faith in Jesus Christ. There is a thirst, and always will be, for those who have faith in and obey Jesus, to find worship, evangelizing, fellowship and Christian living that is far more than two hours on Sunday morning.
This is great. I can’t wait until she figures out the protestants are just as bad as the catholics. : )
(and this is meant with humor, not vitriol or anger) . Have a great day everyone!
I believe that the “Dones” are, for the most part, a reaction to the teaching-learning model of what happens in worship in most Protestant churches, regardless of the theological emphasis, worship style, or musical tastes of any particular denomination or congregation.
A person who attends any educational institution normally expects to graduate some day. Most of the “Dones” whom I know hold no ill will toward their church(es). They’ve merely, in their own minds, “graduated” from church. Most have the same sense of good will toward their church(es) that most of us have toward the schools, colleges, and grad schools we’ve attended.
To adequately address the questions raised by the emergence of the “Dones”, I believe the churches need to develop our Sunday morning worship gatherings so that they are far more about experiencing some level of communion with the God whom we worship, rather than being merely for the purpose of “learning things about our faith”.
By Robert Winkler Burke 775-690-7293
Book #12 of In That Day Teachings
Copyright 4/24/16 http://www.inthatdayteachings.com
(Hat tip to Pastor John White’s YouTube video “Why I broke down in tears at “The Future of the Church Summit.” Google this selfie-video! – rwb)
You’re done with Emergents,
Lazy King Throne Regents,
Impresarios of fey delusion,
Masters of the con illusion,
You’re done with 10% tithing,
Pastors saying God isn’t lying,
If you pay for their endless, nagging, nugatory, big needs,
You’ll get in return glorious rainbows without any weeds?
You’re done with brazen-scandalous lying,
And you keep hearing of prophts a’ dying?
Prophets who went along with wildcat clericalism’s anything,
And you’re done with doubting… God is an allseeing King?
Hold on, hold on, hold on to your hats,
There are prophets unafraid to rebuke!
Like you, they are Done-With all that’s,
Wrong with church. Search now and look!
Look and see what’s happening In That Day,
See who the gatekeepers blindly de-platformed,
Search Google, YouTube: “Robert Burke, Reno,” okay?
And you’ll see how church and state are once and for all reformed!
(Simply defund Prog Ed K-12, university, law and Journalism: so deformed,
Replacing pedagogy with Western Enlightenment informed!)
& Stop ribald church subtext selling of bad emotions formed,
And honor Christ-in-You (Yes!) in each soul: so warmed!
Whenever, wherever and in whomever: you find it,
Who, for you, have eruditely, cogently: mined it,
In That Day Teachings: Christ-in-You lined it.