On Leaving Church

There are many Christians who have stopped going to church. They have not given up on God, have not renounced their faith, have not denied Christ, and have not become pagans. They simply are no longer going to church. That this is happening is not a matter of doubt, but why this is happening is in fact a difficult question to answer.
One recent article spoke about this trend. Entitled “The Rise of the ‘Done With Church’ Population,” it looks at this scene – primarily in America – but does not offer us any clear indications as to why this is becoming such a problem. The article begins:
John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously and leads others passionately. But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person or another member. It wasn’t triggered by any single event.
John had come to a long-considered, thoughtful decision. He said, “I’m just done. I’m done with church.”
John is one in a growing multitude of ex-members. They’re sometimes called the de-churched. They have not abandoned their faith. They have not joined the also-growing legion of those with no religious affiliation—often called the Nones. Rather, John has joined the Dones.
At Group’s recent Future of the Church conference, sociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best.
For the church, this phenomenon sets up a growing danger. The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support are going away. And the problem is compounded by the fact that younger people in the next generation, the Millennials, are not lining up to refill the emptying pews.
Why are the Dones done? Packard describes several factors in his upcoming book Church Refugees (Group). Among the reasons: After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all. One of Packard’s interviewees said, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”
The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done. Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place. Preventing an exodus is far easier than attempting to convince refugees to return.
church 1Hmmm, interesting. There would be many reasons why people stop going to church. We all might have our suggestions as to why this is occurring. I have my own ideas. Let me list a few such possibilities here:
-Many believers are growing tired of the celebrity culture in our churches.
-Many believers are fed up with the incessant entertainment and worldly amusements found in the churches.
-Many believers are not being fed from the Word of God.
-Many believers are put off by the attempt to cater solely to youth, while ignoring their needs.
-Many believers are tired of just being bench warmers, with no role to play.
-Many believers are weary of the constant need to be “relevant” at the expense of biblical orthodoxy.
-Many believers are looking for the real deal. They want an encounter with almighty God, not just a razzmatazz stage production.
-Many believers are desiring genuine Holy Ghost revival, not just pep talks, self-help seminars, and a me-centred gospel.
-Many believers are starving for the reality of First Century Christianity.
Many more reasons could be mentioned. And this is just my take on things. Having spoken at so many churches and home groups and small fellowships over the years, I can get a bit of an understanding of some of these trends. And many of these believers who have left the church have not forsaken Christian fellowship though.
Mindful of texts like Hebrews 10:25 of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” they still meet with others. But often it is just a very small home group. Often it is just a small band of believers who meet in a small community centre.
They are still eager for God, but have been turned off by so much of the church scene today. Many are repulsed by the celebrity and entertainment culture that runs rampant in so many churches today. They just want to worship Jesus and encourage one another without all the worldly rigmarole.
I have spoken in many of these small fellowship groups. Some of their services can easily last 3, 4, 5 or more hours. They can’t get enough of genuine Christianity and heartfelt worship. But they have gotten enough of churchianity. They are fed up with a church that increasingly resembles the world more than it does the New Testament.
While this move away from the churches may be a way these believers find a new outlet for Christian fellowship, it is obviously tough on pastors and church leaders. One thing they may have to do is slow down, think, pray and ask some hard questions.
But the problem is, so often our leaders are so busy doing church, that they do not have this needed time to reassess, rethink, and re-evaluate. I once wrote a piece in which I made the serious suggestion that some churches might be best placed to actually shut down for a brief spell as the members, and especially the leaders, spend some quality time on their faces before God.
I said in part:
My recommendation is this: it may well be the best thing in many cases to simply shut our church doors and post a big sign on each entry with words something like this:
“Dear friends, sorry but our church is now closed for repairs. It will be closed for perhaps a few days, perhaps a few weeks, and maybe even longer, until a full and thorough renovation has taken place. These doors will remain shut for as long as it takes. We will notify you when the doors will reopen. In fact, there will be no need to notify you, because it will be apparent to everyone when the renewal work is completed. Thank you for your patience.”
Does that sound like a pretty radical proposal? Of course it does. But it may take something radical like this to deal with a church which seems to be losing its way, and is in many ways haemorrhaging to death. When things get that bad, radical surgery is indeed required.
I do not envy being a pastor or a church leader. They have a very tough job, and their work is often thankless, painful and exhausting. We certainly must pray for our leaders. They certainly need it. And they need regular encouragement as well.
But the church is going through tough times now. I certainly do not have all the answers for this. But we must be willing to at least pause and reflect, pray and seek God, as to how we might turn things around. We must at least begin there.
Let me finish with a few great quotes from a few great saints. Their words of warning and advice make for more helpful starting points:
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” A.W. Tozer
“Oh for radically Bible-saturated, God-centered, Christ-exalting, self-sacrificing, mission-mobilizing, soul-saving, culture-confronting pastors!” John Piper
“When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“The church has lost her testimony. She has no longer anything to say to the world. Her once robust shout of assurance has faded away to an apologetic whisper. She who one time went out to declare now goes out to inquire. Her dogmatic declaration has become a respectful suggestion, a word of religious advice, given with the understanding that it is after all only an opinion and not meant to sound bigoted.” A.W. Tozer
“The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men…Men of prayer.” E. M. Bounds

  1. Steve Davies 26.12.14 / 4pm
    Down goes the ship, every man for himself
  2. Hector Falcon 26.12.14 / 4pm
    What ever happened to the “making of disciples?” So many churches have become nothing more than businesses that provide entertainment and then a lecture with no dialogue by the people. You ask yourself, is there a better use of my time than repeating this same pattern week after week. The churches lack a purpose other than just hold on until we get raptured. What ever happened to fulfilling the Great Commission and discipling nations?
  3. Katherine Fishley 26.12.14 / 8pm
    I hope those leaving find some others for fellowship.We miss our friends when we miss church. We have a church with no frills and plenty of faults. However we feel we have missed something when we don’t go. You don’t leave your family because it is not perfect.
  4. John Nelson 26.12.14 / 8pm
    You hit the nail on the head Bill, I am one of the done with. They have changed the gospel to make it more Palatable in short the church has married the world. But the good news is that Jesus said,”I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”. He knows His own.
  5. Chris Dark 26.12.14 / 8pm
    Bill, I’m sort of one of these “dones”, and I appreciate what is said here. The church I was in, years back, went through a split, mainly to do with physical rather than spiritual issues. Radical changes were made to the building’s fabric and the older people hated it. Some of them left entirely, which I found upsetting because some were good friends to me (I was in my early 30’s then). The new pastor seemed to encourage a more modern service, geared to the young…which was ok…but everything started going that way. I left the area not long after.
    Since then, the few churches I’ve been connected with have been totally lacklustre; same old dreary monotones from the pulpit. Nothing of note, nothing inspired.
    I like the “plop, pray and pay” phrase….that’s absolutely it. That is how I have felt. I once read about chapels in Wales that, at the turn of the last century, had revivals where people claimed they saw fire above the buildings. Now THAT’s exciting! THAT’s what we want!
  6. Sharon Stay 26.12.14 / 8pm
    Hi Bill,
    I am so glad you have written about this topic. I have been contemplating the last few weeks asking you to write about this phenomena as I meet more and more passionate Christians who have stopped attending the church.
    As you say, these are righteous people who hunger for God and know God more than many others I know who attend church and are doing the whole program thing. They disciple, meet together, tithe, learn biblical Hebrew, listen to online sermons, have huge theological libraries and love to talk about the Lord for hours. It seems it is all just in a different model. It remind me of the difference between homeschooling and schools. The latter has an external, formal institution and homeschooling doesn’t, yet homeschooling statistically is more effective. In my observation, they are highly effective witnesses too, more so than most Christians I know in the church.
    This topic is certainly something I have been praying about as I become more and more disenchanted with current church heresies and programs. I think you hit it spot on with your suggestions.
    One such couple who left the church 10 years or so ago, gave me this book to read by a British minister who left the church. In the book he says why and speaks of his journey. He says God called him to use a different model. I am curious if you have read it.
    He has a second book called Custom and Command which separates the difference between what are customs in the church and what is actually a command from Jesus in Scripture regarding how the God’s people operate as a church. I haven’t read this one but have had it explained to me.
  7. John Angelico 26.12.14 / 8pm
    But the problem is, so often our leaders are so busy doing church, that they do not have this needed time to reassess, rethink, and re-evaluate. I once wrote a piece in which I made the serious suggestion that some churches might be best placed to actually shut down for a brief spell as the members, and especially the leaders, spend some quality time on their faces before God.
    Our church seems to have managed something a bit like that by being vacant for enough years to recognise what we need to do.
    We now have a regular preacher who’s been here almost two years, patiently laying the ground work for a renewal process, and has been appointed for a 3-year term to continue the good work.
  8. Steve Davis 26.12.14 / 8pm
    This is for me personally, a very timely article in fact. I am not a super regular church attendee, me and my wife might go once a month. Although I feel an attachment to my church, I do see quite a few things that you mention Bill, going on at my church, we have a good pastoral team up there but I see too much of the worldly concepts permeating the ranks, especially our young people, things like social justice/appeasement/pacifism/feminism and your general dose of political correctness. I have no doubt that my view is not wanted up there because I have tried to step outside the square and get people they to see the wider picture but frankly I am just sick of being told that I am too political or too judgemental or too unloving, it does tend to wear you down a bit that’s for sure. However, I have some wonderful Christians friends and work colleagues and we meet to discuss all sorts of Christian related matters which does tend to mitigate my mainstream church building attendance somewhat. Also, I need to point out that I am in no way perfect being loaded down with my own sins, failings and shortcomings. But I keep pressing on because I know that the God I worship has the power to finish the work He has started in me.
  9. Sharon Stay 26.12.14 / 9pm
    Here’s the link to a pdf of Custom and Command for those who might like to read it.
  10. Bonnie Oskvarek, US 26.12.14 / 11pm
    Bill…this is a more than a relevant and timely message for me. It may be a game-changer. I have been “done” for three years now and am attempting to find a local church that my husband and I can attend and get knitted in together. My reasons for stopping included most of your explanations and a few of my own admittedly self-serving ones. I do desire to get plugged in to a “home” church and might have even found a local one that, although it has demonstrated subscribing to a sober, solid and sound doctrine, is a little light on the ‘Holy Spirit’ and of allowing the congregation to be fully engaged. It is a conundrum…and I am honestly thankful and somewhat comforted to hear that I’m not alone in my search for a way out of Christian City and back to Biblical Christianity.
  11. Graham Wood, UK 26.12.14 / 11pm
    Bill. I too am glad that you have touched upon this.
    I also am a ‘done with’, but reluctantly having over many years sought to plead with a few churches and pastors to
    return to the simplicity of the New Testament church order.
    People leave for their churches for the reasons you give, and in these contexts we can suggest ‘wisdom is indeed justified of her children’.
    I have read many writers who have also sought to ask why this disillusionment is so pervasive in churches in the west.
    Maybe simplistic to suggest one other reason, namely that institutionalism is a real problem, where the “worship service, or “the pastor” is dominant in church life, and the New Testament largely ignored for any practical purposes.
    For those who seek more light on this sad phenomena and suggested remedy I cannot recommend too strongly
    Frank Viola’s book “Re-imagining Church”, and Dr. Jon Zen’s “The Pastor Has No Clothes”. Both very disturbing,
    but each charts the way ahead for those who sorrowfully remain aloof from such churches.
    In summary, it is the old enemy of the true spiritual manifestation of the church which is so often responsible for the disillusionment – in one word – tradition.
    Time to re-evaluate the NT teaching in 1 Cor 12-14, and Ephesians 2. Its not rocket science as they say.
  12. Neil Novotnak 27.12.14 / 12am
    Great article, Bill. But again, I think you need to go deeper by acknowledging the fact that the clergy/laity system was never the church in the first place. Yes, there are many godly-men as pastors, but that does not count for the fact that these men are hirelings in a system that splits the church. The “laity” and “clergy” who recognizes this will understand that the system is the problem.
    The “clergy” who fail to understand this do so because their livelihood is dependent upon them believing that their position is called by God. These men and women first had to ignore scripture on ways of the early church to believe that seminary training and scholasticism is necessary for their vocation. Yet, it is the Holy Spirit that gifts and distributes the needs of the local church. The “laity” who fail to understand this have done so because they have a consumer mindset. As if what church best fits their needs. Instead of becoming disciples themselves, these laity set the bar on how far they want to do church.Thus, a pastor that best fits their needs is the one they will honor and protect.
    But woe to the pastor who does not perform to their standards. They are expendable and just as easy to fire as they were hired. The pastor they cannot fire is usually the Senior Pastor who has firmly set a foothold in “his” congregation and has already replaced those “lay leaders” who do not worship his vision or ideas with those who do. Thus, it is easier for the laity person to end the membership and find another church.
    Those who leave the “church” all together are those who seek the true church, and not a system that has proven time after time that it is not the true church.
  13. Rusty Boden 27.12.14 / 12am
    religion= a set of man made rules and traditions centred around the worship of God/gods; pasta= a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine; Father= a man who exercises paternal care over other persons; Shepherd= A farmhand who gives the sheep a pep talk once a week.
  14. Galen Miller 27.12.14 / 2am
    I appreciate your article and all the comments, but I wonder, and have often wondered, who decides that a church isn’t fulfilling its commission? For years I have heard people say “there are so many ‘dead’ churches.” In whose eyes? It may be that the church you think is ‘dead’ is blessing someone else. Aren’t we judging those churches and their leaders?
    I am a lay speaker and have the opportunity to speak and serve in several churches of various sizes. A few of the churches had a large attendance, several are small—less than 12 people. I can honestly say that, if we allow ourselves to be open to the Spirit, we can be blessed in any church of any size and any “flavor.”
    It’s not always the church’s fault; sometimes “we” can be the problem. One can see it in the comments people make about churches. “The church isn’t ministering to ME. I don’t get anything out of that church.” And my favorite excuse, “I’m not being ‘fed’.” I, I, I, me, me, me. Folks, it’s not about us and our needs, it’s about worshipping our God and offering our praise to Him for His gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. If we leave ourselves and our wants behind, and allow Christ to be central we can be blessed in any church.
  15. Bill Krill 27.12.14 / 4am
    For too long ‘the Church’ has neglected to inject quality relationship learning for it’s membership. Arrogant pastors and ‘closed’ congregational communities simple curl into themselves….and die. We marry people, but then never give them any real, valuable and practical support to stay married. We offer FREE seminars for couples to churches, and never get taken up on our offer.
  16. Ivan Poulter 27.12.14 / 4am
    I could place it in one term, Fellowship. The lack of it. There is a touch on it in the article. The greatest problem is the lack of real fellowship, the imparting of godliness to one another. All we really have in ‘church’ is a hierarchy. A little god on the platform whether in a church building, or whether in a home fellowship meeting. Hence, we have the product of the Great Harlot and her daughters. We have the Babylonain system of Ba’al, The LORD and his subjects. We don’t have Father and His family of equals. In the words of the Son, we have those who ‘lord it over one another’.
  17. Daniel Moore 27.12.14 / 7am
    Hi Bill this is a great article and I fully agree I have recently left a church for that exact reason. It was all about the show flashy new equipment and look at me performance on stage. Santa was talked about more at Christmas than Christ and seemed to be more important and you hit the nail on the head when you said that the Holy Spirit could be taken out and 95% of what we do would keep going. I have found another church and do feel that they are different but this article is so right so many churches are more concerned with being relevant than being godly and in the process of being relevant they lose their impact on the world because they no longer stand out from the world they have just become another performance to try and attract the world
  18. Rod Smith 27.12.14 / 8am
    Thanks Bill,
    You’re article is very clear and objective and of great importance to me personally .I have recently stepped down from Pastoring a local Church and 21 years of passionate ministry following a series of unpaletable events which affected the minds of too many good people in my Church. Sadly many folk left before I did and the Church is slowly recovering under new leadership. I still love God and His Church but I am finding it difficult to re-settle in a local fellowship in part for some of the reasons you have suggested.
    I know I will settle somewhere in a good Church but that process may take time ,however I believe God has been showing me that great change is coming to the Church soon and Hope will be restored . I have much more I could say but will keenly follow this link determined not to become one of the “Dones”
    Thanks again for sharing Bill
    Rod Smith
  19. Geoff Horne 27.12.14 / 8am
    I think what is being described here can be termed a reaction to church-ianity. It’s often difficult to weed it out however I have personally found that a return to the basic tenets of why I follow Jesus (because He first loved me) allows me to maintain focus AND still function within a church.
  20. Ps. Gary Hannie 27.12.14 / 9am
    We hear all to often that “church has changed” or ” come experience the difference ” or “Hey, check us out”. I see almost none who pray, worship, and truly believe for God to bring the increase, without adding the entertainment, performance, professionalism, and the trendy to bring people into the “service that rocks”. How far we have fallen into the world to become like the world, to draw the world into the same world, with the shell replica of a “church” cloaked around it for relevance. What is needed? Repentance, holiness, obedience to the Word we already know, and true Godly love expressed toward the lost world around us, without having the world IN us.
  21. David Skinner 27.12.14 / 9am
    Unlike the first Christians who turned the world upside, the present church has become respectable and is desperate to keep in with the local councils. It refuses to get involved in politics or challenge the powers that presently rule this world. It believes its task is “just to preach the gospel” as a kind of therapy to solve the emptiness and unhappiness of people’s lives. But of persecution it has neither interest or knowledge.
    David Skinnner UK
  22. Geoff Taylor 27.12.14 / 9am
    The sheep would not be scattered if they were well fed, if they had not been ruled brutally & harshly, & if the injured how been bound up & the weak strengthened. Theology has replaced/redefined truth. 2000 years ago Jesus replaced ritual with relationship and ceremony with celebration, yet still we off theologically sanitized ritual and neglect the most important side of worship, in spirit and in truth. God is building His church yet again, but now in cells not denominations.
  23. Tracey Swenson 27.12.14 / 11am
    My husband and I have been ‘done ‘for 4 years. After 30 adult years of being super involved and having contributed in every job possible, we left our church.The church was full of lovely people, vibrant, catered for all ages and was friendly. We didn’t have a falling out or experience an offence as our reason for leaving. Simply – the religion both within ourselves and the religion from external sources (church) was killing us. There was a long period of time when I couldn’t read my Bible or talk to God much because it felt very tainted by my religious upbringing – it was difficult for me to disassociate the ‘religion’ from God – I guess that initial time was like a detox. Over time my relationship with God became stronger again and more authentic. I have gone back to church on the odd occasion but feel so (positively) different now that I feel like an alien trying to make sense of this strange world. I will not denigrate or criticize the churches – there are many positive aspects and I am grateful for the spiritual experiences and general teaching of my past but will say that for me to return would be a massive step backwards. I am very thankful to God that He led my family on this path – it brings me to (happy) tears as I write that God brought me to this place of freedom and genuine love for Him.
  24. Gerald Hunter Garwood 27.12.14 / 11am
    Oh dear, where does one start? Its interesting, so many dones visit this site. A hundred reasons for leaving the building could be given. I’m already tired, thinking about them! A pastor in America used to shut the church on Sunday, if he did not get the required number to the mid-week prayer meeting,stating it was a waste of time. Now that’s impressive! Sad that the heretic JWs are more committed and enthusiastic, to their cult than a lot of Christians. However they do keep “unspotted from the world” and are tight linked like “brethren” should be. Ditto the moslems. Maybe the end dream of islam keeps them going, when they can steal the infidels property, and rape the infidel women, all in a legitimate manner proscribed by their wondrous spiritual leader mo. I suspect there will be a lot of responses to this article “On leaving Church.”
  25. Roger Marks 27.12.14 / 12pm
    Fellowship is two way. You to me and me to you. Most church services are me (the paid staff) to you and no you to me so no fellowship. In other words the priesthood of all believers is a non entity. We are still living in the OT religious system which was reinstated by the Roman Catholic Church and copied by the protestant reformation.
    I found a book written by Archpriest, the Very Reverend Father Lawrence Cross AO. What a load of baloney. Can anyone believe Paul insisting he be addressed as the Very Reverend Leading Apostolic Father Paul?
    I think when a denomination insists that their leadership is given titles and addressed accordingly, they are not very secure in who they are in Christ as they need to keep having to remind people who their leaders are and how spiritual they are.
  26. Bill Muehlenberg 27.12.14 / 12pm
    Thanks guys. This post has generated both heat and light. So let me just point out a few truths to help keep things in perspective. I of course nowhere in this article said that it was necessarily a good thing that people are leaving church (but not Christ). I merely pointed out the reality of this situation, and suggested a few reasons as to why this might be the case. I also clearly said that we must pray for our pastors and leaders.
    And of course I did mention Heb. 10:25 and the need to have some sort of regular fellowship. How exactly that is translated into specifics can be discussed. That is, what form that may take, and how exactly we are to understand the concept of church (the stuff of another 1000 articles at least) is a massive topic of discussion and debate, and that was not something I specifically dealt with in my article.
    But what is interesting at the very least is that so many Christians do describe themselves as “dones”. But as I say, whether that is good or bad, and what can be done about it, was not within the confines of my article. It looks like I will have to pen many more pieces to just keep up with all the issues being raised here!
  27. Wes Wright 27.12.14 / 1pm
    Hi Bill,
    Interesting thoughts you raise. I haven’t read all of the replies here but in my experience, most of the Bible believing Christians I know who don’t attend a church regularly, only have themselves to blame.
    These people have such tight views on certain doctrinal/theological matters that they have no room to move and no respect for other views on the matter in question. They search for a church that is true to scripture in every way, but what that really means is they do things their way and how they think it should be.
    Some classic examples:
    1) The debate on creation and for that matter, literalism of parts of scripture
    2) Must we have communion every time we meet together
    3) Defining what inherency of scripture really means and how we understand the concept
    4) Translations
    There’s plenty more but I think we all get the point. The fact that there are multiple denominations all with roughly the same beliefs on who God is, how he works and what he’s done to me is so blatantly obvious that scripture isn’t black and white to the nth degree that some pertain on every matter raised in scripture.
    Having said that, inline with your original post, if a church hasn’t got solid Christ centered teaching that views the bible in its entirety then that is certainly grounds to find somewhere else.
  28. Mark Johnson 27.12.14 / 2pm
    “I am not what you call a civilised man! I have done with society entirely, for reasons which I alone have the right of appreciating. I do not, therefore, obey its laws, and I desire you never to allude to them before me again!”
    So spoke Captian Nemo (no man) to his unwelcome guests aboard the Nautilus in answer to their question about his solitary sojourns.
    And several years ago, as I sat (re) watching this old classic movie from my childhood, with my own children, then 10 and 14, now nearly grown, I understood in a flash that I was done. Done with religious society for reasons that suit me. And done with obeying (or trying to obey) their ‘extra-biblical’ laws. No ill will…no hard feelings…no anger…just: done.
    Out of economic necessity I still work part-time for a church, but it is a job. I have found other, more meaningful Christian, charitable activities and I’m thriving there now. As soon as our kids are grown, and I can find a replacement income stream, I”m outta there. . .
    Thank you for putting voice to what’s been in my heart for years now.
  29. Liz Darcy 27.12.14 / 2pm
    Hi Bill, once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    I’m guessing you’re referring mainly to Evangelical / Pentecostal churches? Many of my friends who no longer go to church were simply burnt out. As you say, they haven’t stopped believing in God, they were simply burnt out by “doing church”. I call it the Hillsong ripple effect. I’ve seen the trend of many churches desperately trying to copy Hillsong church, thinking that was the sure way to being a successful large church. I don’t blame Hillsong, nor do I have anything against Hillsong. The problem was the Pastors / Leaders, of our church & others around us, burnt out their congregation with endless & unrealistic demands, totally neglecting God’s word and becoming more of a circus that was only interested in putting on big expensive shows to impress people. People just became sick of it. As for me, I now attend a small Baptist church, that has a very simple service. If I told you the things our former Pastor did and made us do – to appear “relevant” & by the type of glitzy productions he put on and ran us into the ground to produce them, and the money that was wasted…!! you would be appalled. Tragically we were not the only church who fell into that dreadful trap.
    I can see as with everything over History, there comes a time of revival, then growth, then complacency, then decadence. I can see we are now at the stage where decadence is reaching it’s peak, and things are starting to turn around full circle. People are more hungry for a real relationship with the true God. Could we be on the brink of a huge revival? Is the church age moving into a new era as freedom of speech is slowly being outlawed and so the stage is set for those of us who want to freely worship the true God will need to meet in secret like the underground church in China….only time will tell, anyway they’re just a few thoughts….
    Keep up the great work Bill, I really enjoy reading your articles. God Bless you!!
  30. Victor Pena 27.12.14 / 2pm
    I am a Christian pastor in a church in Ecuador, South America, I read this article and I humbly ask to post my comment. By the way English is not my native language, therefore I may have some errors in my writing.
    After reading the article and its comments, with much grief I have to say, that much of what is said may be true.
    But we must not forget that we are the Church, the body of Christ and if the Church has failed then we have failed.
    I don’t think that stop going to church is the solution for the problems in our congregations. I’m sure that we all know that there is not a perfect Church, but one thing we know for sure is that the PERFECT is in us and also in the Church, trying to work in us His perfect will.
    As a pastor I know the feeling of most of you, but the only way out is to pray asking God for forgiveness and to send revivals in our churches. My advice for the Christian people is to stay in the house of God until He manifest Himself with Power. Remember that “The prayer of a righteous man availed much” God Bless the Church.
  31. Annette Williams 27.12.14 / 6pm
    Thanks Bill – spot on as usual.
    I’m a ‘done’ too.
    So grateful and blessed to be able to come on to this site and others, and find words of correction, rebuke, encouragement and most importantly, truth.
    Definitely missing from most churches.
    God Bless you Bill – keep up the good work.
  32. Neil Coup, NZ 27.12.14 / 8pm
    Should not this issue be reframed to see things from God’s perspective, rather than just our own? The Church IS “the Body of Christ – with Christ as its Head, and we as his members through faith in the Risen Lord and Baptism. (1 Cor.; Eph). Furthermore, It has been said that “a Christian without the Church is not intelligible.” We need to be: 1. humble to hear Christ; 2. faithful and obedient to the Gospel; 3. Prayerful in all things. (Such is the priesthood of believers (1 Pet.). Surely much spiritual/church burn-out is the result of poor stewardship of our time, talents, & resources… – Pope Francis (30 January 2014).
  33. Mike Stehr 28.12.14 / 5am
    A thought provoking article. If people truly want to have the Holy Spirit move, no longer be married to the world, be used & embrace a first century model then a couple questions arise that I’m curious about.
    1. If the “done” crowd is spiritually mature enough to properly assess the state of the church and identify it’s many faults & failures why are they not mature enough to effectively activate change?
    2. If they must leave why not come together to form a church done “the right way” to set an example & be a light rather than retreat to seclusion?
    I understand some have embraced the home church model and that’s great! I’m questioning those who are done completely.
  34. Cath Rayment 28.12.14 / 8am
    We went to an ACC church for many years but left essentially due to the pastor bullying the sheep instead of leading them.
    We are now members of a church that has a family feel and is congregationally led rather than a single head pastor with a corporate feel to it.
    I’m not very knowledgeable about church trends etc so my opinion in this area is limited to my experience.
    I worry about head pastors who have little accountability and who have bullying tendencies. There seems to be such an acceptance of this type of leadership with no recourse.
    I say this only to point out that many dozen key leaders left and left the church completely, which is heartbreaking.
    People need relationship not corporate style leaders who are so program/result focused that they cause burn out in their people in the process.
    I think this is why people leave the church.
    A lot of these long term, strong God loving leaders are now preferring house churches where the church life style is vastly different from the one we left.
    There’s so much to consider in this discussion and I usually avoid this sort of thing but I’m concerned.
  35. Jon Burns, UK 28.12.14 / 1pm
    I think for me the issue of biblical orthodoxy and genuine spiritual encounter is my prime issue. I’m tired of hearing a watered down gospel and reluctance to embrace persecution for speaking against the wickedness of this world.
  36. Robert Withall 28.12.14 / 1pm
    Fair enough comments, by all but they answer nothing really.Until we are able to consider the inconsiderable and go back to the root no matter what we try will end in disappointment. Home fellowships are not the answer, nor are our traditional or contemporary ideas of church and until we are willing for our God to take them along with this thing we call Christianity and hang them up on the cross and well and truly put them to death there is no possibility of seeing a resurrection or a coming into being of that magnificent body for which we all hope for. The very fact we are still trying to figure it out finds us out. Old things have served their purpose and we need to let them go, they were faulty from the start from their inception from about 200 AD onwards. What we have in comparison with the early body of believers is seriously compromised and certainly not sufficient for the times ahead let alone sufficient for the day we presently live in. If we cannot run with the footmen today how do we think we will run with the horsemen in the future? Evangelicalism Pentecostalism and all the other isms whatever you like to call it has failed. We need to admit what we have called Christianity (originally called Christianism) has come to an end, it will not be revived. Abraham went out not knowing where he was going but being led by the spirit and we need to be the same. The late Art Katz a gift to the body addressed many of these things to the body but in the main was ignored and rejected . His observations were timely to say the least but it is our tendency to defend our calcified religious systems to the death, pride does not die an easy death. As Art astutely noted the very fact we are putting on services disqualifies us from even being an authentic expression of the faith once entrusted to the saints, Jewish saints. Frankly I suspect not much will change until we do in reality come to the end of our plans programs schemes and idea’s to force revival, God only resurrects the dead and I also suspect we have some way to go yet. Though our God is able to speed up that process drastically especially by throwing his people into the fire. Humility and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We have missed it saints, we have been missing it for over a millennium and a half, we missed it way back when we the supposed church became a thing in itself separate from our Jewish Hebrew roots and until we reconnect we will languish in our religious activities. And if you want to go ahead I for one wont be a part of it. I have been done far longer than most! The very fact that we even use the word “church” a divisive word contrived in the 16 century (and opposed by Luther, Tyndale and the Puritans) as yet another tool of separation from our real heritage is condemning on it’s own. I seriously doubt when the last days are upon us we will even be using it and the other traditional words to describe ourselves? Do you realize Yeshua the Messiah is not coming back to establish some sort of Christian Kingdom on the earth? Or that the Jewish people will never convert to a religion called Christianity? The bottom line! It is time to let go of the old wineskins, stop trying to put them back together again and be led by the spirit into being members of Gods magnificent masterpiece, the community (Kahal) of believers that began with Abraham and again comes into maturity at the end of the age to fulfil it’s original purposes as seen in Eph 3:9-11. Abraham the father of the faith life was characterized by a going out from, letting go and leaving behind and we need to be the same. Even lot had to go! and there is a lot we need to let go of. Home fellowships will never do it, they just end up being church all over again, never!
  37. Larry Hitch 28.12.14 / 2pm
    Very interesting article that voices what many feel but have not articulated.
    There are right and wrong reasons for leaving a church.
    Discernment and obedience to God’s leading is essential.
    Let the peace of God be our umpire in these decisions and when it is the right decision to leave or stay, peace and joy will follow as well as renewed purpose and power.
    Thank God born again believers are part of His Church wherever it is.
  38. Roger Marks 28.12.14 / 2pm
    Robert, if home churches are not the answer, why did Jesus create a home church model in scripture? I didn’t read the rest of your post as there were no paragraphs which are essential if you want people to read and understand.
    i say that because I taught English to high school students.
  39. Kesha Byrd 28.12.14 / 5pm
  40. Michael Mercier 28.12.14 / 5pm
    A lot of churches have either forgotten, put on the back burner, or just plainly or consigned communion to an antiquated time waster.
    The intimacy of communion that takes us to a heart felt, spirit inspired, connection with God in awesome worship has been pushed aside by many churches for the sake of what? Modernism and seeker friendly preaching.
  41. Eddie Sim 28.12.14 / 6pm
    I’ve been a Done for many years now. Reason? Most people, when reaching the end of their life-span, have a strong desire to leave behind something worthwhile for future generations – a legacy. The church failed to recognise that the “old-timers” are their invaluable source of knowledge and wisdom. They failed to tap into this source simply because they have no idea how.
  42. Spencer Gear 28.12.14 / 6pm
    Thanks Bill for a thoughtful, confronting and provocative article. My Christian son in his early 40s said to me recently, ‘Dad, you think church sucks’. He was close to hitting the mark. My church bores me out of my brain with its sombre, traditional dullness. I have the alternative available of loud, commercial-sounding, seeker-sensitive mentality, but that is just as unappealing.
    This is what I long for and was what was happening in the first century: ‘What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up’ (1 Cor 14:26 NIV). The early church was a participatory house church for every member participation. Today that best happens in some small groups but not in the rock ‘n roll or traditional church services.
    I consider that the Dones are done with one-way communication and ho-hum tradition and call on the church to get back to every-gifted-member participation according to 1 Cor 14:26.
  43. Catherine M. English 28.12.14 / 7pm
    I agree with HECTOR FALCON’S comment …….the Church today is lacking in Discipleship…..Churches today go through ‘the motions’ and quite frankly in my opinion. it’s simply ‘works’……the ‘talk’ is money and entrepreneurship…..the Holy Spirit doesn’t get so much as an ‘invite’ to move in the hearts of the people…..the Pastor gets up on the platform and gives the flock “6 steps to change your attitude to move forward”….that’s just the start…..so very sad….it’s no wonder the Saints move out of a ‘dead’ church atmosphere because there simply is no Life.
  44. Christopher McNicol 28.12.14 / 8pm
    You’ve obviously touched a nerve with this Bill and that’s great. I just felt to share my two bobs worth also. There’s another saying from Os Guinness to start. Years ago, Os compared the baby boomers, then the current generation, with previous ones. He said then that the current generation was an ‘all or nothing’ generation; whereas previous generations tended to have the ‘significant something’ approach. He suggested the latter was more healthy.
    Another point of relevance, when small groups in churches are dominated overly controlled by church leadership, then this can become a killer to the spiritual life of an individual. Each of us needs to be jealous for the calling placed in our hearts by the Lord. There is a tension here with fitting into the ministry of a local body, because we are also to be part of a body.
    Regarding this, early in my Christian walk I was fortunate to come across the teaching of Hans Burke, who taught of the role of levels of personal relationships, like concentric circles coming into the centre, in the life of our Lord and Saviour. Starting with: the multitudes in Israel; 120 disciples at Pentecost; 70 disciples who were sent out in pairs; of course the 12 disciples / apostles; but then within this it is clear that Peter, James and John experienced a much closer level of intimacy; and Hans Burke finished with the observation that it is clear from the gospel writers that John, above the other two in this last group experienced a greater level of intimacy with our Saviour. Hans Burke’s conclusion was a question: “If intimate relationships were so important in the life and ministry of our Lord and Saviour, how can they be any less important to each of us?”
    On another point regarding this topic, the following 6 part set of audio sermons preached in 1959 by Martyn-Lloyd Jones remains a valuable sources of encouragement regarding revival. www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=34
    Chris McNicol
  45. Daniel Lee 28.12.14 / 8pm
    Many churches have lost the connection with a supernatural God, many pastors and leaders have lost the sense of servanthood for a supernatural God, my prayer as a lay preacher was, Lord, use me as your servant and let your people hear your voice through me and be blessed. I have gone through theological college, I have a BD degrtee from London Uni. Yet, I am acutely aware that my BD, my commentaries, my Greek and Hebrew must be subsumed under the power of God, working thriough all the academia so that the people see and feel that power of God coming through my words and deeds, yet the theological training insures accuracy of transmission and exegesis of the word. Sadly, human pride in a pastor / leader stigmy that divine power and servanthood, and many can hear the voice of man in many sermons, but not the voice of God, many thinks that an M Div, B Th, BD is sufficient for them to minister to people, to teach and preach to Gods people in a qualified manner. But more than academia, almost a necessity I feel, but more than that, the presence of God being felt by the congregation in their pastor and leader, this cannot be acquired by formal academic training, it comes from God in answer to a humble servants prayer: “Use me. even me, in your service and let your people know I am genuinely your servant, let your people feel your presence as I ministrer to them. Well, how many pastors you know can make you feel that? Then perhaps the done with church will not be done with that church? I have my view on those who are done with church have gone wrong, but perhaps another time.
  46. Barbara Brookshire 28.12.14 / 10pm
    Bill, I have left because of sitting and listening to doctrines made by man, every week, every meeting. Why can’t the truth of what the Bible says be the subject? Haven’t any of these preacher read the bible and not just a few verses based on their own ideas?
    The verses pulled out of context have entire doctrines built on them and they leave me dry, sick on my stomach and sad.
    I have tried a couple of times to go back but as long as the pagan ways are the glorified ways I won’t step foot in the place.
  47. Steve Blizard 28.12.14 / 11pm
    Check out the Shalom House facebook site – everything the “dones” want we’re doing with the Shed Happens ministry here in Perth WA.
    When men are at the end of the line God is there.
    Best ministry I’ve been involved with in 30 years.
  48. Dawn McGregor 28.12.14 / 11pm
    Bill, judging by the huge response, you have really touched a nerve here. My husband and I are so very blessed to be part of a church fellowship which is opposite to the ones previously attended by the “dones”. Three baptism in the ocean next Sunday and a Pastor who proclaims the Word faithfully, with no compromise.
  49. Rob Merrells 28.12.14 / 11pm
    Sadly, very sadly I agree. Church has become a club, where hymns which have words etched on my heart, are no longer sung, but where entertainment, stories and jokes have a high priority. Job 28:28 says to ‘depart from evil is understanding’. We know if a sermon has impact, because it changes our behaviour long after the Sunday.
    But surely what matters is that I worship God. My best times are so often alone, standing, kneeling, crying, arms raised, handing Him my heart in prayer and song and tears.
    Roger, I think fellowship has 4 ‘dimensions’. I have to matter to someone, they have to care about me, the ‘us’ has to matters to others, and the extent to which I am loved directly affects how much I am enabled to love others. This last part which is of course 1 John 4:19 is not learned from a text or a sermon, but from walking the hard road with Jesus. So in a sense any criticism of church is a criticism of me.
    The heartache of this situation is not how it leaves me – because I do still love my own worship times, but where it leaves the prodigals. At the top of my prayer is that somehow despite the sugar and meatless stuff in churches, Jesus will find a way to come into their lives.
    Jesus had the same problem with ‘church’ in His day. But He goes around, taking burdens off people, shutting down Mammon and the flesh, and opening the door for the spirit and life of God to change lives. So I end up saying stuff the church, I have to walk like Jesus walked and lift burdens and open doors for God. Not easy!
  50. Rachel Smith 29.12.14 / 12am
    Instead of turning their backs and walking away, the Dones are probably the very people we need. They should thrash back against the dreary platitudes of career ministers who lack the fire of conviction. They could strengthen the gatherings in fellowship and be as salt and light, without being too proud to mingle with people who they see as missing the message. It is jarring and presumptious when someone keeps saying “God wants us to do this and no matter what, God will do that”. I prefer to follow the teachings of Jesus. To affirm yourself as a believer, and to notice the looks askance in the face of cynicism and disbelief from friends and family, is the right place to be, if we are to push back from the toxic culture of secular humanism which is being foisted on us by law. We should remember the Sabbath and keep it holy; the only trouble is there is some confusion which day the Sabbath is. In my mind it is Saturday. The gospel of early Christians was suppressed and it was forbidden to judaise by resting on the Sabbath and they were compelled to work on the Sabbath and rest on The Lord’s Day. Holy communion is for fellowship and a symbolic way to affirm being part of the body and blood of Christ. Christmas celebrations are a mix of pagan and Christian tradition. These discrepancies put Christianity on a shaky foundation. I say: work with what we’ve got. Be of good cheer. Remember the proverb: A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
  51. Margaret Zerbel 29.12.14 / 3am
    I am fed up with the loud “rock and roll” music. The church I attend is good in that we study the bible verse by verse, but because of the music I don’t feel like I have been worshiping God. No quiet songs that make me feel like I am connecting with God on a one to one basis.
  52. Roger Birch 29.12.14 / 4am
    By the look of the responses to an article which has certainly hit the mark, I may be in a very small minority here – an ex-‘Done with’!
    Several years ago, we moved from an area in Australia where the church seemed so vibrant to another city where we struggled to find a fellowship, especially one where both my wife and I could be happy. For about 5 years, we attended a church where the preaching was reasonable, but the congregation was just so unbelievably ‘cliquey’ that it seemed impossible to be accepted. I had the opportunity to preach one week and, in part, gently chided the congregation for not being more open and welcoming. After the service, a couple of people came up to me and simply said they wanted to be anonymous and simply vanish after the service without getting to know others!
    By chance, we met several couples who felt the same way as we did – all of whom were on the point of leaving – and formed our own ‘after-coffee coffee-group’, i.e. where we would move on after coffee at church to have our own mini-fellowship group – which happily accepted any ‘newbies’ – and this worked very well for another couple of years.
    However, we eventually tired of that and I became a ‘Done with’ and contented myself with my teaching (my wife persevered with other churches) until I even tired of that. Sadly, many of the people coming through ministry training had absorbed the liberal/humanistic view of the Bible and whose closed minds didn’t want to hear about the theological implications of moving from the inerrancy of Scripture (or, for that matter, the creation debate – contra Wes above). It’s interesting to note that it’s the Bible-believing Christians whom Wes, and others, portray as having ‘tight views’!
    Galen, above, also refers to what he calls his “favourite excuse: I’m not being ‘fed’” and 21 months ago, I might have agreed with him accepting I fell into that category. However, after moving to the UK following our retirement with the basic intent of travelling, I now take issue with that view also having now discovered something completely unexpected – a church in England where I am being fed through excellent, Bible-based, expository preaching!
    The feeling of being fed once again after becoming so spiritually hungry has been the most unbelievable experience. I now actually want to go to church again. When we do miss a Sunday for whatever reason, I listen to the sermon (sometimes more than once) on-line. Furthermore, the experience of being back in fellowship is amazing.
    I was recently hospitalised for a month and was blown away by the number of visitors I received from church. When discharged, I was still unable to get to church for another 3 weeks, but had more visits at home. Then, when I finally managed to get back to church, involuntary tears just poured down my face – it was simply so great to be back!
    What I find really sad about many of the responses above is that they indicate that what we have been so blessed to find here is such a rarity.
  53. Jessica Brown 29.12.14 / 4am
    I guess I fit that crowd that has left the church too!. Powerless, full of pride and greedy for self-gain, is how I would describe the local churches. Then there is a few with what appears to be right but, after church if they see you they will run you over or cross over to the other side of the road to keep from speaking. All I want is Jesus and the true power of God operating in my life. Lord help us all!
  54. Rick Cannon 29.12.14 / 4am
    I left the church scene quite a few years ago. The reason: Pastors etc. are not standing up for what they believe. I look for churches that are not afraid to preach their politics. The tax exemption program needs to go away. I will not attend another church until I find one that preaches the gospel and their politics. I wish Doug Giles had a church in my area. I would definitely attend.
  55. Mark Webley 29.12.14 / 4am
    My Family quit going due to the constant “one verse Charlies”. After doing research of my Church’s doctrine, I found that teaching the true word of God with understanding wasn’t even considered by our Pastor. Our Savior, Lord Jesus told what Churches he found favor with. After sitting in on some meetings, I found our church was more interested in the collection plate take & maintaining their tax exempt status with the government. The only “investments” I ever heard of in the Bible were the ones Lord Jesus made in Man, not some play actors pimping for money.
  56. Bob Eichhorn 29.12.14 / 4am
    - Gossip: Too much talking at each other or about each other, not enough understanding of each other or coming alongside to support each other
    – Arrogance: Living immorally and blasphemously claiming to be within the Lord’s Will
    – Favoritism: Showing grace to those who can materially benefit you while being harsh to others who can’t
    – Idolatry: worshipping the Pastor, the Worship Music, the Outlined message instead of the Living God
    It’s not always the fault of the guy in the pulpit that this happens. We in the congregation are often the cause of these problems. The only blame that “might” be justifiable to ascribe to pastors is that they don’t stand up boldly against it.
  57. Gerald Eaton 29.12.14 / 5am
    One major problem which contributed to my leaving was the realization that the Churches are not teaching our place in HISTORY, and addressing with moral Responsibility the great threatening political/economic/religious ISSUES of our TIMES, and forming prayerful PLANS of ACTION to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM!!! The Pulpits are NOT EDUCATING and INFORMING their congregations. There are no “Davids” SLAYING “Goliath” today.
    The Reformation, the Establishment of Bills of Rights–FREEDOM–written into LAW, the present Islamic threat, the godless takeover of Western Governments by antiChrists REQUIRE united ACTION unto BLOOD if necessary, and it usually IS NECESSARY!
    Ignoring these ISSUES is to ABDICATE our DUTY as CHRISTIAN CITIZENS–which will lead to being physically CONQUERED by the forces of the DEVIL working through antiChristian secular, occult, governmental, military powers.
    There were countless times in history the Church had to STAND with Bible and SWORD.
  58. Melissa Costa 29.12.14 / 5am
    I have been “done” for several years now. Our church had turned into a one family (the pastor’s) operation with only a few other outsiders like me and my kids. I tried other churches but they were either legalistic (to the extent that they wanted to control the music I listened to and the material I read…and how often!) or they were part of the “entertainment” group that has invaded our places of worship. My heart is broken, but I will not attend a so-called “church” where God is not in attendance. Instead I meet with a devout friend or two either at a restaurant, a home, or on the phone and we share in this way and uphold one another.
    I would not be at all surprised if the real church were beginning its exodus to the “underground” as more and more persecution arrives on our shores and as increasing numbers of “Christians” move away from and shun the core values of our faith.
  59. Karen Tokarse 29.12.14 / 5am
    People are leaving because of all the reasons you wrote, but also because MANY of us have been LED by the Holy Spirit to come out of the church and to come out of Babylon to the degree we can. Our desire is to walk with JESUS so closely throughout EVERY DAY (not just Sunday), that we begin to talk like Him, and ACT like Him. He is the reason we breathe. He is the reason we LIVE. He is our reason for everything. There really is a peace that surpasses all understanding for those who KNOW Jesus and walk with HIM! Hallelujah!
  60. Michael A. Johnson 29.12.14 / 6am
    Add also those like me who are handicapped. Mostly deaf I can’t even hear 85% of what goes on, so just watch a mime show. And worse have to duck in and out with my wheelchair disturbing all. A few try on occasion give a one time visit. When they can’t talk me into joining the mime show every week, they refuse to have anything to do with me. The rare visitor knows only the minimum of Christianity and is scared off that I know more and try to share what I learned over 40 years of study. I have had nothing else to do but read and study for the last 20 years after all.
  61. Janet McPhilimy 29.12.14 / 7am
    The church has forgotten prayer. When fervent, effective prayer is taught and made a priority, God will show up in church.
    “The fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
  62. Ann Kingsley 29.12.14 / 7am
    Where is Jesus Christ’s (Yeshua’s) teaching that created Saints and Prophets? What I hear, both in this article and in many of the Comments, is a lack of Christian “meat” on the table.
  63. Tonya Phillips 29.12.14 / 7am
    Hi Bill, your article is quickly circulating Facebook among a lot of my friends and co-workers. It really is a reality facing Christians today. I myself left church 5yrs ago for all the reasons above and more. In my circle, I realized that I had been a part and involved in a lot of heresy and end time doctrines like dominionism and the NAR. It took 15yrs for God to wake me up and show me what I had been involved in. I too had my hands in it all. From cleaning the church, to giving financially, to the prayer and praise team, I did it all. When I left, I literally had a nervous breakdown and didn’t even know what I believed anymore. It took 3 yrs of fasting and praying and seeking God for Him to reveal the truth to me bits and pieces at a time. I am now “gun shy” when it comes to getting involved and almost feel sick when I darken the doors of any church. It has made me bitter, suspiscious and on guard. Although I have developed a great relationship at home with the Lord, I still yearn for the relationships built within a congregation. I have come to peace where I am at and even attend a local congregation a few times a month, but have no desire to get involved. I just had lunch with some friends of mine who are senior citizens and it broke my heart to sit and listen to them speak about how the church that they have been attending for years has completely changed as the son of the pastor has taken over and pushed the services toward the younger generation. They have been pushed out of the praise team and their ministry for a younger crowd. Have they backslidden? NO! Have I backslidden? No! We still love God with all of our hearts and seek Him daily. I really think that America is in a state of a “Great falling away” from truth and the basic foundations and principals of the word. It has become all about relevance, political correctness and the youth. I long for the days when I find a church that actually believes in holiness, righteousness and sound doctrine. Lord, hear our cries…………
  64. Jeff Ledel 29.12.14 / 7am
    Thanks for the great article. I feel that the “church” that Jesus was talking about is inside me wherever I go. I still have the passion and desire to go to church, but I don’t feel guilty not going any longer. My church has been through a lot of changes for the young and for the old, but the sense of just sitting and giving where I have no control of my tithes makes little sense to me. We now in this economy have family members that are losing homes and cant make rent or put food on the table. I made a decision to take care of my family the best I can and pray to God every day that I am doing his work and the right thing. I love my church, but I don’t feel as needed any longer. I have been Lutheran my entire life, and now would consider any open denomination to go to if I felt the inner peace. Maybe the pressure of funds that went to church are now diverted to help others. I hope this makes sense.
  65. Rose Hope 29.12.14 / 8am
    So a friend’s child gets a medical thing and then soon shows himself autistic. The whole family life changes now. You’ve got someone in the house in constant pain and mental distance trying to make it in life, probably full of heavy metals which no one seems to acknowledge and deal with. Mom has to stay home and take care of everyone long term. They cannot show at church anymore because the suffering child needs constant supervision.
    So they quit. They aren’t supported.
    And at church they’ll miss future messages on the great medical marvels of western society, how one day there may be tribulation or persecution here (but not yet).
    Meanwhile the suffering family remains home and loses their social contacts because they won’t “stay with the program”.
    The baby boomers in their church will not see what transpired, not having a paradigm to deal with these things in their generation.
    Or a family shows up with a nursing baby and they are kept from entering the worship time because the sleeping baby will silence the Holy Spirit (and the cameras rolling, and the college age hipster environment), meanwhile the mature elders of the church are leaving because the sound level is so loud its unbearable. The sound cannot be turned down, even a bit for those who helped build the church because they are stopping the work of the Holy Spirit.
    One can get better service from a secular institution (not that I’m insinuating that church is a service).
    We grew up on teachings about the Body of Christ, the compassion and encouragement of the Saints, and now that numbers are down, its about keeping those that know their scriptures and the realities of this corrupt society from causing too many waves.
    Teachings are modernistic and simplistic and do not feed the soul.
    Yes, there is much to be done by stopping. Praying together and asking the Lord what we need to do.
    And He may just say, leave your 501c3 behind and become a fellowship of believers again.
    Doners may be on the cutting edge.
  66. Aaron Livingston 29.12.14 / 10am
    I agree with all those reasons combined. I may add a few:
    – Wanting to get in to the reality of Hebrew Roots
    – Realize today’s “Church” is not run Biblically
    – Realize there are alot of Pagan traditions in the Church today that have been born from the heretical Roman Emperors who chose to change G-d’s orders/Commandments with Traditions of Men
    – Fed up with many doctrines that keep people blind e.g “It is a Sin not to go to Church every Sunday” (Not based on Scripture at all!)
    – Realize G-d is now sifting the Chaff from the Wheat and we are told in preparing for Yeshua’s return to “Come Out From Among Them! (Apostasy Church’s)”
    – Getting a Sugar Coated message which doesn’t grow a persons walk or relationship with G-d or his brothers and sisters.
  67. Dick Carmack 29.12.14 / 10am
    I pastored for 20 years and planted two small Bible believing, Baptist churches. Now not able to do the work required (I’m 84).I think perhaps to answer lies in the fact we now try to build one church with 50,000 membership instead of 1,000 churches with a membership of 50 each.
    Plant a church, nurture it up to where it is sef-sustaining, then go out and plant another, and another and another, THEN, go out and plant another. That will take care of the sense of not belonging.
    Hell fire and damnation is what brings people to the realization they are lost and need to be saved, and that’s what it’s all about.
    Some folks like big churches ’cause they can get lost in them and have no part in helping build or sustain it, and then go home and pat themselves on the back saying, “We went to church today.”
  68. Sandra Maddox 29.12.14 / 11am
    Too many churches are becoming politically correct and following man’s rules rather than the laws that God gave to man. Sinners should always be welcome in the pews of the church. But when we allow people who openly defy God’s laws to preach and force their views on others, that opens the door for people who come to church to hear God’s word to walk out and not return. God gave us the 10 commandments as a guide for a life well lived and when we throw them out, we throw out good people from the church.
  69. Karen Carlton 29.12.14 / 11am
    Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” We don’t have any excuse for leaving church. Leave “a” church if you have valid Scriptural reason, but we are out of fellowship with Christ if we leave His Church.
  70. Joe Garnett 29.12.14 / 11am
    My wife and I have been “done” for several years. The internet makes finding good teaching easy. The bigger problem is fellowship since we live in a very rural area. For a while we had delightful times with a homeschool family until they moved out of state. They found us through House Church Network. I would hope that all who read and comment on this good article would sign up at some home church network so all of us could find others in our areas with whom we could fellowship.
  71. Dallas Clarnette 29.12.14 / 1pm
    A rediscovery of the early Methodist class meeting(s) within the life of a large congregation would go a long way to preserving many from any sense of insignificance. This is where early Methodism grew like fire; heart to heart, open, authentic fellowship was its key. Usually church programs are so structured that intimacy is precluded. No wonder many get to the point of being Dones
  72. Daniel Simpson 29.12.14 / 1pm
    Too many Churches preach on prosperity, instead of Salvation, they are ashamed of the Cross, the Blood and the name Jesus Christ, they DONT want to “Offend” the unsaved!

  73. Marlene Crouch 29.12.14 / 1pm
    thank YOU
  74. Craig Bathurst 29.12.14 / 2pm
    Could it be that Christians are grieved at their church is gradually going emergent and being kicked out or leaving? The “traditional church” is being changed into a “transitional church”, which is being changed into a “transformed church” . This is being done deliberately. These “churches” are caught up in the church growth movement, which is man centered and using man’s methods instead of letting Christ and the Holy Spirit grow the Church. The Gospel and biblical teaching is watered down, so it will not offed the unsaved and the true believers are starving for the deep teaching of the Word of God. I recommend listening to worldviewweekend.com to understand what is going on with the Church. It will blow you away. I left my church and went to another church that still is orthidox and biblically sound.
  75. jim stein 29.12.14 / 3pm
    Thank you. Reflecting on your comments, a departure from relevant service has been true for me for a number of years and, while your comments resonate, I do not feel innocent but stuck.
  76. Charlotte Lloyd 29.12.14 / 4pm
    We had to stop because of my husband’s illness. But like many I was getting tired. The emphasis was on youth, numbers and dollars, not feeding and fellowship. It is hard to attend churches that say if you are not prospering or doing well, then you must be sinning. They seem to forget that Paul and other New Testament people suffered and they definitely had a heart after God. My other problem are preachers that preach humility yet live in big, expensive homes while the majority of their congregation often barely gets by.
    My hope is once my husband dies I can find a small church that is not caught up in entertaining, prosperity teaching, youth over the rest of the church, etc. but on relationship with God.
  77. Lori Hubin 29.12.14 / 4pm
    I found this article riveting and the subject matter timely. We go to a United Methodist church which is a little more than 60 yrs old and has been losing members for the last 10 years. It and its members had settled into complacency about the time the exodus started. It really took off when we had a “corporate”-type pastor – very non-Bible- based preaching, lots of big words (just because he COULD, I guess), and a too-familiar manner with younger women. We lost between 15-20 young families who were very heavily involved in church and giving. Fast-forward through 3 more pastors, and now we have one who is actually willing to change things for the better in spite of what some may not like.
    You see, we had members who had joined the church in the early 1960’s in positions of control. They controlled everything and nothing could get done in the church if it didn’t pass their approval. I know there were earlier posts where (presumably older) posters didn’t like the changes to music, the sound, etc happening. Why, I ask you, do we think church should be “done” like it was in 1950? Or even 1980? Do we drive cars with features like the ones made in the 50’s? I am not saying what is preached should be anything but Biblically-based, but it does not have to be DELIVERED like it was 20 years ago.
    Yes, churches try to attract younger people – who is going to be coming to church and keeping it open so you can have your funeral there? People who are younger now, that’s who! It is not an attempt (at least for us) to drive away older people, but trying to attract newer, unchurched people. If we do not try to attract them, then are we fulfilling Christ’s mission to make disciples of all people? How can we be His disciples if we don’t do as He commanded? I feel that people should try to change and help a church rather than just leave, if they don’t like what’s happening; AND pray for discernment and God’s will. And finally – church is not about YOU, it’s about worshiping GOD.
  78. Roger Marks 29.12.14 / 4pm
    “We are out of fellowship with Christ if we leave church.” A strange comment from someone who seems rusted onto religion.
    One, you can’t leave church because you are the church so you can’t leave yourself.
    Two. Who’s to say that the religious organisation that you attend is the church?
    Three. You only need two or three to be the church.
    Four. The New Testament Church meeting comprised of probably no more than 30 people.
    Five. The NTC met in homes not buildings.
    Six. Their meeting comprised of an ‘agape’ meal amongst other things.
    Seven. No one ‘led’ the meeting. That was the Holy Spirit’s job.
    Eight. if you want to develop a persons ministry you need the priesthood of all believers.
    NIne. if people sit in the pew they won’t stand on the promises.
    Ten. We are commanded to make disciples, not spectators.
    Finally Karen, I found out who Christ truly was after I left the so called ‘church’ so your comment about being out of fellowship with Christ couldn’t be farther from the truth.
  79. Sean Bennett 29.12.14 / 4pm
    I would like the definition of “church” explained in greater detail…
    Do you mean a corporation under the authority of the US Federal government? Licensed to operate under Roberts Rules of Order and as a Charitable Organization? I don’t consider those Biblical “churches”…
    Do you mean those institutions that are Romans 13 institutions where the pastor is part of, and paid to be informants in clergy response teams?
    Does anyone find it interesting in this age of deceit and perfectly timed with Rev 3 and Christs letters to the Laodicean church age that Christ must “stand at the door and knock” to get His people to come out of the churches of those days?
    I shall remain far, far away from these institutions, thank you and God Bless!
  80. John Bradford 29.12.14 / 5pm
    Some interesting discussion here. Some a bit balmy including the long rambling one referred to by the English teacher. In my recently published autobiography, “An Abundant Life” I grapple with some of these issues. Much along the lines Tim Keller has.
    But let me say to the “dones”: get undone! I think it’s important for all Christians to be connected to a church. Actually, very important. Having returned from the mission field again recently we have been attending a church which has a female pastor on the staff who preaches from time to time. Now, I’m not buying into that argument except to say that she sounds like a feminist and more recently like a pacifist. I need to talk to her about that but I haven’t quite summoned up the courage yet.
    But my point is that in all the “churches” of just about every complexion I have attended in numerous countries and cultures in the past 50 or so years there are things I haven’t ‘liked’. But I encourage people to ‘hang in’. In the same way as I believe Christians should be ‘involved’ in politics I believe its even more important for us to be involved in a church instead of just carping from the sidelines.
  81. Rob Davidson 29.12.14 / 5pm
    Thank you Bill for being courageous enough to address this issue of the present day church. I am definitely a “Done” after over 40 years of service in Historical and Pentecostal churches in both clergy and laity positions. Although there have been some heart breaking times, there have also been some very fruitful times. God has moulded me and hopefully refined me through it all. However, after years of observation, I would have to agree with others that the model of the church as it has been since the time of Constantine is a “Babylonian” model with the familiar pyramid structure of heir achy. The real problem,however, is in the fallen nature of man which seeks a “king” as illustrated with Israel in the case of Moses and King Saul. History shows us that church movements begin well Iin the power of the Holy Spirit( with or without the clergy style of leadership ) but, over time, become fossilised around a particular truth and end up as lifeless monuments. Whether it be a house church or conventional church, restructuring the way we gather as believers because of obstacles or abuses we have previously encountered May provide some solutions. We need to be careful,though, that we are not putting ” new patches on old garments” both corporately and individually. God not only delivered the Israelites to get them out of Egypyt but, more importantly, to get Egypt out of them. There is no doubt that we are living in extraordinary times where the Enemy knows that his time is running out. The Scriptures very clearly describe these as times of great light and great darkness – the shaking of all things so that only that which is of God will remain.
    I don’t believe that The Lord is really very interested in what expression of the Body of Christ we are in (conventional or otherwise). His call for us is to return to our “first love”. Our response should be to remove all obstsacles, either religious or worldly so that His light can shine through us as the Bride being prepared for the Bridegroom.
    Over the years I have seen several people leave their church for a variety of reasons to avoid “spiritual contamination” and be free of religious hindrances. So often it all starts well but, unfortunately, over time, spiritual superiority, judgemental ism and arrogance begin to manifest. Those who don’t follow their lead are regarded as compromises or worse just as the ones who stay in the original church regard the ones who leave as misguided or deceived. What tribal creatures we can be!
    Your church or fellowship is not nearly as important as the condition of your heart toward Jesus. Whether you choose to stay or go, returning to your first love is not a matter of geography. It is my hope that we all continue to grow in humility, love and forgiveness as we work out these issues with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  82. Neil Coup, NZ 29.12.14 / 7pm
    Sean Bennett has stood-back from the wealth of personal testimony pro-and-con concerning continuing to meet regularly with other Christians in the assembly of the faithful (= local manifestations of “The Church”, to request that “the definition of “church” (be) explained in greater detail…” Meanwhile, Lori Hubin concluded “Church is not about YOU; it’s about worshiping GOD”. These two perspectives meet in the Biblical conviction that “in the Spirit” through water Baptism and Faith, Christian believers become participants in the Body of Christ with the Risen and Glorified Lord as “Head” and each of us as “members”. (cf. 1 Cor. & Eph.). As such, we worship in Spirit and in Truth (Jn.4: 24-25) whenever two or three gather together in His Name to find Christ present amongst us (- according to His Promise (Mtt. 18:20). And we find him present particularly in “the breaking of Bread”. This is the pattern of Church already obvious in the Acts of the Apostles where the believes met together regularly to share the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, for the “breaking of Bread and the Prayers” (Acts 2:42)…”And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b).
  83. Tom Burns 29.12.14 / 8pm
    Agree strongly with comments made by Rob Davidson.
    As one of the “Dones”, I appreciate the article. I would like to add one point and that concerns the common usage of the word “leader” or “leadership” to describe the people who are in fact only church managers.
    Since my youngest days in the “church”, it has always interested me to see that men who have responsible positions at work, have families that are in order, able to to borrow large amounts of money and give substantially to the offerings, are treated like little boys on Sunday as they sit there and are told.
  84. Mike Gantt 29.12.14 / 8pm
    The institutional church (large or small, denominational or otherwise) cannot be redeemed; it must be abandoned. In its place we put the One who saved us – our first love, Jesus Himself.
  85. Sarah Hunt 29.12.14 / 9pm
    I have also been discouraged – certain experiences have affected me with experiences of being unwelcome, judged, criticized, slandered – heavy words but this sums up my experiences at church in recent years. I am serious about my faith and have a gentle disposition, spiritually mature, with gifts of encouragement with a heart for God. I don’t complain but retreat and work it through, however I need to be in fellowship and worshiping the Lord – setting aside the Sabbath for this reason. All day. Sarah
  86. Daphne Bell 29.12.14 / 9pm
    This is so very sad. The church is made up of people. People like you and people like me. We are all imperfect, so sadly the church will be imperfect too. Why did the Apostle Paul have to write so many letters to the churches way back just after Jesus walked this earth. Because the people then were imperfect too. However it didn’t stop the church from growing. Satan must be wringing his hands with glee to see that there are so many Christians who are ‘done’ with church. We are playing right into his hands. There are many thousands, even millions, of Christians in other nations who are persecuted and even killed because they go to church to worship God, and they still go knowing the danger, yet we complain about the way church is ‘done’. Be thankful we still have the freedom to go to church, because I believe this won’t always be so. As John Bradford said above….’get undone’, while you can. Be a support to the local church. Yes there will always be disagreements with people wanting to do things in different ways, but this is where grace and forgiveness come into play. Don’t be ‘done’ with the church, BE the church.
  87. Treena Gisborn 29.12.14 / 11pm
    An excellent article Bill thank you for posting this. I have posted it to my own website in the UK with credit to you of course. This is such a critical subject in these last days – I believe that the church is reverting back to its roots in Acts 2 where believers met in homes. It is not just the entertainment and lack of depth that are the problem. Many of these “pastors” are not called to be pastors and should leave the ministry. They may work hard, but so often they are building their own kingdoms. Many are also involved in Ecumenism and Interfaith which is in fact the worship of other gods which Paul the apostle defined as demons (1 Corinthians 10/20). The Bible tells true believers to “come out of her” (Revelation 18/4). I personally believe that it would be sinful to remain in an apostate church even though there is a mixture of truth and error (a deadly combination). This is the “falling away” of (2 Thessalonians 2/3) which is a sign of the end times. John Piper is not sound in my opinion by the way. God bless you. Treena

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