The Dones of Church

This morning I read an article from Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed by Thom Schultz called “The Rise of the Dones.”

It highlighted that many leaders in the church are leaving for good.  Why? Schultz notes, “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.
Schultz preceded the above remark with, “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.”
Interestingly enough, this interviewee did not seem like he wanted to play either unless that play centered around him.
I think when we contextualize the point of Schultz’s article, it boils down to what the churchmen said in Malachi’s time. Present congregationalists won’t admit to this, but the parallel is stunningly similar. Those leaders in Malachi’s time could also be saying, “I’ve heard it all. I have labored fruitlessly. I’m tired of being bashed by God. Been there, done that. God’s word is wearisome. So bye.”
Is it not a heart issue for the Dones also? Are they not really pointing their finger at God and saying, “What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance…?” The current crowd of the Dones may also be saying, “What profit is there in being a disciple and serving God in he church?” The cycle returns.
It seems that the issue always seems to find its way in the heart.  It is a sad commentary when people echo the churchmen in Malachi’s time,
“I left the church because I didn’t get anything out of it.  No recognition for my service.  No pat on the back or attaboy.  No since of control over programs.  It seems to boil down to, “What’s in it for me?”
Many want to attend the Church of Me and sit on the premises rather than stand on the promises (as Southern Baptists used to say).
One person replied,

Perhaps, it is a heart issue – but not the way you think.  It isn’t that it is useless to serve God – rather it is useless to continue to be part of a congregation where your role is to “plop pray and pay” and to provide hands (no brain necessary) for the leader’s vision…I understand why so many may be. … especially if their church changed under their feet leaving no opportunities.”

Hmm.  My reply is,

Malachi expressed that same sentiment about the “churchmen” in his day. “Ploppers” are not engaged in serving God. Of course, prayer is a gift. Samuel prayed for the people daily and even said, “God forbid that I should sin again Him in not praying for you.” But when we become exhausted in our prayers, God becomes a burden. Augustine’s mother, Monica, made it her life-long ministry to pray for her son daily. In God’s timing, God answered that one prayer, and look at what happened. Augustine became one of the most influential theologians in church history after leaving a life of debauchery. As for “paying,” that is turning God’s gift of giving into a “pay to play” situation. Many take that one by offering conditional gifts to the church.

God is the one who disburses His gifts in His church. Would He then allow those same gifts curl up and die? He also opens up opportunity. Faith sees those opportunities and steps out. Often, it is what we want and not what God wants of us. Opportunity always exists in the church to serve people. It is not always in the big stuff or before a large crowd to be seen. There is the coffee ministry, greeters, ushers and hushers, custodians, money counters, visiting the sick at their homes or in the hospital, or changing stinky diapers in the nursery while singing a lullaby. The last one does not need to be formalized. While doing these things, the opportunity to share the gospel one on one with new comers always exists. Nike’s motto is, “Just do it.”

Again, it is a matter of the heart and not the art of ministry. This past Sunday, my pastor brought up in teaching from Malachi that we should be taking an inventory of our heart. I like what Zig Ziglar once said, “Perform a check up from the neck up to prevent the hardening of the attitudes.”

Wise advice for all the Dones who are fed up from the neck up.”

Only a personal inventory and faith reveals true motives.  The challenge still remains, Who do we worship and serve – ourselves or God?  Isaiah’s response is very telling,

“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of †unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

After God touched his lips and asked,

Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” (6:8)

The prophet’s reply was,

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” (6:8)

Isaiah did not say, “I’m done” but “I’m undone.”  He chose the better response to which the LORD declared,

And He said, “Go…”

God determines the mission with the gift and the power.  Ours is to walk by faith by also declaring, “Here I am, send me!”