You’ve heard of The Dones – those who once served on boards, taught classes, volunteered to usher, and sang in the choir – who have now left the Church. They were the faithful ones, the leaders. And many of them have left.
I’m told that many of The Dones left in order to save their faith. They learned stories of grace but didn’t experience grace. They were invited to share their brokenness, but then their brokenness was held against them. Even their children noticed that the lessons taught in Sunday School were not always lived out by their brothers and sisters in Christ.
What I’ve read less about are those who are Done because their church life was less about their relationship with God and more about their relationship with the pastor, their church friends, the pipe organ, whatever.
I’ve lost count of how many fresh faced Christians were elected to serve as elders and deacons but they bolted from the Church after witnessing what goes on behind the curtain. Maybe they imagined that being a church officer would be comparable to initiation into The Holy of Holies – an opportunity to tap into a wellspring of spiritual peace and contentment. But what they actually experienced was not quite like that.
With this in mind, what’s also a bit troubling is that many of us pastors are also Done (or would like to be.) This happens for the same reasons as the Dones who loved the Tiffany Windows more than they loved Jesus. We pastors are often spiritually challenged people, but we didn’t start out that way.
Maybe we spend so much time planning worship, that we never actually worship. Maybe we easily lead others in prayer but spend little time talking with God ourselves. Maybe we busy ourselves with Church Stuff but forget the point of it all. (Note: The point of it all is not to perpetuate an institution.)
Attention Parishioners: you deserve a spiritual leader who has an authentic relationship with God. Please check in with your pastor about this. Just like you, your pastor needs a Sabbath and uninterrupted vacation time and study leave. If your pastor reaches the point that she is Done, we’ve all failed as a congregation.
Imagine a church that nurtures our relationship with God so well that we don’t want to miss an opportunity to get together with those folks. Imagine a church that cares more about our spiritual lives than how much money we pledge or how many committees we’ll join. Imagine a church that enfolds people without suffocating them, that doesn’t freak out when life is messy, that craves figuring things out together.
I’ll never be done with that kind of church.