At The Orchard we have done away with much of the traditional church such as buildings, people sitting in pews passively listening to sermons, committees, etc. We still worship, study the Bible, pray together, and meet together. But our church model is a house church model that allows people to participate, ask questions, give insights, share needs, etc. After being in the traditional church all my life and pastoring in the traditional church for nearly 30 years I wouldn’t go back. It’s great to see people growing in their faith, reaching out to others, and ministering to one another on a weekly basis. One of the reasons why The Orchard has chosen this model is for the very reasons that are given below from an article from the Evangelical Free Church news. We believe it is a better way to disciple, minister to one another, and reach out to many people in our community that are the “Dones” and the “Nones.” The “Nones” are those that have no idea what faith in Christ is. So much of our energy is dedicated to getting the message out to friends and neighbors. The “Dones” are those that have been burned by the traditional church or burned out by the traditional church. If you are a “Done” you should come and check us out. By the end of the evening you will already have begun to connect with other believers in a significant way.
“Church Refugees. The book by this title written by Josh Packard and Asheigh Hope (Group, 2015) has the subtitle, ‘Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith.’ The authors interviewed 100 people who could be said to be Dones, those who have been actively involved in their church but have decided to leave it. The people interviewed were supposedly diverse according to age, gender, economic level, and on a scale of religious fundamentalism. The only exception was that 92% were Caucasian.
According to the authors, the Dones are those who have given up on the institutional church because they see it as being too judgmental on non-doctrinal issues, too bureaucratic, not listening to or not allowing discussion regarding direction of the church, lacking in authentic relationships and community, and not truly effective in serving their communities. Although these are all issues we need to be aware of and need to avoid or change, it was difficult in determining if these were equally true in mainline Protestant and evangelical churches or in churches of all sizes.
The authors did indicate that societal movement away from trusting authority and institutions (including the church) is having and will continue to have an increasing impact. The authors further pointed out that these Dones were not leaving their faith but rather choosing to either go it alone or to live it out in a different context such as an informal, missionally minded small group. But the majority of those interviewed would re-engage in a church if they found one sympathetic to the above concerns.
The authors offered four strategies to encourage the Dones to re-engage:
1. Invite participation, within limits, view people as partners in ministry;
2. Undermine bureaucracy, review the purpose and effectiveness of positions, committees, programs, and activities;
3. Be truly relational, foster authentic relationships and community; and
4. Impact your community, focus on real needs not what is expedient for the church.”