by Josh Packard
I’ve had some amazing opportunities these past few months to travel around and lead some workshops about Church Refugees, explain The Dechurched Project, and even introduce people to the soundtrack for the Dones that we produced. Nothing has been more gratifying, however, than the recent conversations I’ve been having.
Lately, I’ve been engaged in a number of discussions with people who are trying to figure out how to come alongside the work that Dones are doing in their communities and either become a part of what’s going on or try to figure out how to support them where they’re at. I’ve been stunned, frankly, at how genuine and honest these conversations are. There seems to be a very real understanding among the people I’m talking with that the Dones are not coming back to the Sunday morning “plop, pray, and pay”, but that their congregation can be better off and affected in a positive way by letting the Dones show them new ways that Christians of all kinds, inside and outside the institution, can be involved in their local communities.
Additionally, I’m seeing people who train pastors and ministers take seriously the idea that they are training people who might very well spend the bulk of their careers doing ministry outside of the institution by choice. They are thinking seriously about how to equip them for this task and how to help them discern this calling.
I don’t think being a Done will ever be easy, but I’ve been buoyed these past few months by seeing that, at the very least, it seems as though the coming years will be less lonely. There are people getting together to do important things in their communities, and I’ve seen a small but growing number of churches that are coming around to the idea of supporting these efforts. I find that to be encouraging, and I really believe that the most vibrant ministries of the future will be at the intersections of those inside and outside the institutional church.
We don’t know what the models for this engagement look like just yet, but they’re emerging as smart, honest, and well-intentioned people work together faithfully. When I sign books, I often write “God Makes ALL Things New.” It’s a nod to the idea that even the church, and even the Dones, are being made new through God. There is no model of Church that exists in perpetuity. I think we’re in the middle of exploring what these new forms are going to look like, and I’m excited to watch it unfold.