You may be familiar with the Pew Research reports that demonstrate the rise of the “nones” in America. The “nones” comprise 1/5th of the U.S. population that have no church affiliation; it includes 1/3 of adults under the age of 30. But are you familiar with the “Dones”?
The “Dones” are those who say they are, in effect, “done with the organized Church.” Group Publishing’s Thom Schultz calls the Dones a group of once-dedicated church members who have decided to stop going to church. According to a Univ. of Northern Colorado study, many of the people involved in the study have not abandoned their faith but will likely never return to church. “The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play,” Schultz said. “They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.” (Huffington Post 1/27/15)
As I write in Gospel Justice, joining together to provide help and hope for those oppressed by legal injustice, the Dones perceive church as being a place that is about “just us” not “justice”. As Pastor Tim Keller argues in his book Generous Justice,
“When a city perceives a church as existing strictly and only for itself and its own members, the preaching of that church will not resonate with outsiders. But if neighbors see church members loving their city through astonishing sacrificial deeds of compassion, they will be much more open to the church’s message. Deeds of mercy and justice should be done out of love, not simply as a means to the end of evangelism. And yet there is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than by doing justice.”
Doing justice demonstrates love and destroys barriers in a community. A church that exist only to build itself up will not change a community. When the church is more interested in just us than justice, then its preaching will not resonate with outsiders.
The world is coming apart and the church can either point to all that is wrong in the world, or it can roll up its sleeves and get out of its walls, move into the community, and make a difference. One way to do that is to meet some of the deepest needs of the most vulnerable in a community through legal services. As neighbors face financial challenges from unfair loans, interest rates and predatory schemes, they need help. As the elderly are exploited and immigrants live in fear. As ex-offenders try to turn their lives around only to find no work because of a past record, lack of driver’s license or other legal issue. Housing, employment, family and other issues abound right outside the doors of the church (inside as well). What an opportunity for the church to stand in this gap and demonstrate justice and mercy to people in need.
This ministry appeals to the “nones” and the “dones”. It provides practical help while living out the gospel. And it’s not hard to start. Invite us to your city to present a three hour conference to train and equip your people to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly in your community. We have incredible opportunity to be relevant to communities in need. Let’s work together as we
Go and Do Likewise!