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An Open Letter to the “Done”

May 27, 2015

A few weeks back, a member of our local church body posted an article that caught my attention. It has to do with a group of people being called “Dones,” as in folks who haven’t walked away from faith in God, but have decided to no longer associate with the church. Not just the church they were part of before this decision, but any church at all. To get some perspective on the rest of this post, you might want to go read that article here.

In a nutshell, the article speaks of folks who were very active and participatory in their communities of faith prior to making the decision to leave the body, and gives church leadership some questions to ask in order to try and keep folks plugged in rather than affording them reason and/or opportunity to step away. While some of these questions can and should be asked as a common sense way to continue the process of edifying the body and growing people into a more mature faith, I have real trouble with the premise of having to ask them in order to keep folks from leaving the body with no real reason for doing so.  To that end, I choose to speak to the “Dones” directly.

Dear “Dones,”

I get it. You’ve served tirelessly for years. Perhaps decades of your life have been given to the local church body, only to be asked to serve a little more, give a little more, change a little more… You’ve heard messages on almost every topic ever thought of, and have read the Bible cover to cover several times. You’ve participated in almost every all-church event, fundraiser, work day, building project, children’s musical, worship night, and potluck dinner. You’ve also heard all the junk “behind the curtain” as you’ve worked alongside other leaders and team members. Perhaps you know some of the struggles your leadership has just to get things moving at a snail’s pace, much less a pace that generates excitement and energy for the congregation. You’ve been the 20 in the 80-20 rule for years, and you’re just… well… DONE with it all.

I’m guessing the Billy Sunday quote that “going to church doesn’t make me any more a Christian than standing in my garage makes me a car” resonates with you deeply. Trust me when I say as a pastor that it resonates with me too from time to time. I have moments where I would much rather stay home and spend time doing something else instead of serving the body if it were not my profession. That’s the luxury you have as a volunteer, and I can completely understand why you might choose to exercise that opportunity.

Even so, there’s one glaring issue in your decision: It goes against Scripture.

Faith is Corporate

Hebrews 10:23-25 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Colossians 3:15-16 – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Acts 2:46-47 – Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

These are but a few of the verses devoted to the corporate nature of faith in Christ. The passage in Acts 2 is right after Pentecost, when the Church was founded! It doesn’t say they accepted the gift of faith and then went home. It says they continued to meet together and God added to their number daily! How are we to teach and admonish one another if we are not meeting together corporately? How can we possibly spur one another on to love and good deeds if we have given up the habit of meeting together? The truth is, we can’t.

Being done goes against Christ’s character and example

Philippians 2:3-8 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Being a “Done” is not an option if those who claim the name of Christ are to exude His character and actions. Is the Church a messy place? YES! Do pastors get it right all the time? NO! Does that give one a valid reason to leave it all behind and go it alone? NO! Even so, our obedience to Christ means we follow His lead. He had every opportunity to stay in Heaven and leave humanity to rot in sin, but chose instead to live among humanity and sacrifice Himself for us. He had countless moments where He could have simply slipped away from the disciples and done it all by Himself, but it is precisely His love, compassion, encouragement, rebuke, and presence with the disciples through which God turned the world upside-down. After Jesus ascended, those men were the ones who caused the ripple effect we still feel today. Think about how many lives you might miss touching… how many men and women who might go on to change the world if you stick and stay… 

Being done harms the body

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Romans 12:3-5 – For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Anyone who has dealt with the loss of a limb will tell you that it changes how everything works. Normal tasks that take mere moments for a fully capable person end up taking much longer for someone who is less than whole. This is not a knock by any means on those who have disabilities, but rather, an object lesson for those who claim Christ. When you’re “Done,” it is effectively like amputating a part of the body and expecting it to function properly without that part. The Church is an organism, not an organization. No organism functions correctly when one or more parts is missing. Every one of us is uniquely designed to perform a specific function within the local church setting, and when we are missing, it becomes that much harder for the body to function and complete the task of going, making disciples, baptizing, teaching, and witnessing.

The bottom line

Being “Done” is selfish. Not only that, it is unscriptural, which makes it a sinful act. It stunts the growth of the Church, the growth of the Kingdom, and even more so the growth of the individual that has unplugged from the body.

I understand some will see this as a pastor who is worried about his job security. If you’re one of those, I would say that’s an unfortunate point of view to hold. The God I serve owns the cattle on 1000 hills, so I’m not concerned with where my next meal is coming from. What I AM concerned with is your spiritual growth and maturity. Unplugging from the local body of Christ only serves to allow less opportunity for spiritual accountability, maturity, & growth, and more opportunity for the evil one to get a foothold in your life. Christians can be some of the most difficult people to work with and serve with, but the Church is God’s Gospel distribution plan, and He has called every one who claims His name to serve and work together. There’s a spot on the rope for you to grab hold and pull together. The question is, will you take it?

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