Is it getting harder to enlist people for ministry at your church? Are volunteers stepping down from their engagement and connection? Perhaps they’re “done.”
The “Dones” have been described as those who are dissatisfied with the structure, social message, and politics of the institutional church. They’ve decided their spiritual lives are better off lived outside of organized religion.
In their book, Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith, Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope uncover four strategies churches can do to help the Dones re-engage with their church—without driving away those who currently attend.
- Invite participation—with limits. Identify key ways people can participate meaningfully with no barriers to entry. Give them some control over organizational resources, such as staff time and money, with little or no oversight. Trust your community.
- Undermine bureaucracy. Put timelines on some positions and committees so they dissolve when the timeline ends no matter how well or poorly things are going. Bureaucracy leads to unhealthy concentrations of power; this strategy helps to undo that.
- Be truly relational. Devote staff time and resources to knowing and supporting people rather than creating and maintaining programs. Do things with congregants rather than for congregants. Offering programs leads to a service-provider mentality wherein congregants feel the staff exists to serve them. Being in relationship with people means supporting their work and doing things with them as partners. It means working on other people’s ideas as if they were your own.
- Impact your community…and be impacted. Be involved locally at the grassroots level. Need and unfairness are everywhere. Work to be a change agent. Churches often try to do this as mission work or outreach that “we” do for “them.” Instead, allow the celebrations and struggles of your local community to change and shape your congregation.
These strategies may also impact the “almost done” people who are feeling burned out and discouraged. What is needed at your church to refresh the faithful who serve regularly?
[Portions excerpted from Church Refugees, Group.]