Learning From the “Dones”
Who are the Dones? They are the “dechurched”—Christians that no longer go to church. Once the most active members of their own congregations, 2.7 million Christians leave the church each year.
In their upcoming book, Church Refugees, sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope submit that one of the best strategies in reversing the trend of people leaving the church is for churches to prevent them from leaving in the first place. Easier said than done? Thom Schultz, founder of Group Publishing, recently wrote that churches need to spend more time listening to long-time church members before they leave. He said that we need to ask them questions, such as:
- Why are you a part of this church?
- What keeps you here?
- Have you ever contemplated stepping away from church? Why or why not?
- How would you describe your relationship with God right now?
- How has your relationship with God changed over the past few years?
- What effect, if any, has our church had on your relationship with God?
- What would need to change here to help you grow more toward Jesus’ call to love God and love others?
These are insightful questions that we should continually ask. It is our role, as churches—and individual Christians—to listen intently to those with whom we are in relationship. There is much we can learn from them. We should never stop discipling and guiding others in the faith.