By Not Known
CM seemed like every church’s dream member. He grew up as a Christian since his youth, active in Bible-study and even led one of the groups. He gave generously and even led several to Christ. Most of all, he was a faithful servant serving as a deacon at church.
But abruptly, he left the church. He didn’t switch to another church. He just dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of any ugly episode with any member or church leader. It wasn’t triggered by any single event. No one saw it coming.
Actually, CM had apparently considered this for a long while before it happened. That tough decision was not made abruptly. He simply said, “I’m done, I’ve had enough.”
CM belongs to a growing number of so called ex-members. They are also described as the de-churched. For some, they had not actually abandoned their faith. They just joined others with no religious affiliations. They joined the group regularly now called the ‘Dones’.
What did they mean when they say they are done? What did “they had enough” mean? Were they just tired? Bored? Will they return? Do they simply want to be left alone?
Questions abound. Answers, however, are few. We, perhaps, may only guess. The strange thing is, many of those remaining in church simply let them be. Few take the initiative to find out or to show care. Perhaps they think that it was the job of the pastors or elders.
Research that was done on the ‘Dones’ suggests that most would not return. In fact, the findings suggest too that churches would probably spend more time in not losing more to the ‘Dones’ than to try to bring them back.
One thing is clear: they are real people, people with feelings and needs. They need care and attention. Too often we take too much time in organising and ensuring that things are done properly instead of listening to and understanding the cries and needs of people in church.
Here are some questions we may ask ourselves to prevent the next person from joining the ‘Dones’:
1. Why are you a part of the church?
2. What keeps you here?
3. Have you ever considered leaving the church?
4. How would you describe your relationship with God now?
5. How has your relationship with God changed in the past few years?
6. What has our church contributed to your relationship with God?
7. What would need to change here in ORPC in order to help you grow closer to God and to love others?
There is never a better time to listen. I counselled a pastor who left, not just the ministry but the church completely. He was done. Perhaps the next person is the one seated next to you at last Sunday’s worship service. Do you remember him/her? Have you ever asked about his/her growth in the Lord or how he/she is doing in his/her life? Do you care enough to care before the next person becomes a ‘Done’?