An important blog post
Done with ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’. This is the title of a great blog post this week by Thom Schultz, founder of Group Publishing, in which he talks about a new book by sociologist, Josh Packard… Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith. In his blog (see below), Thom explains that a growing number of strong Christians, even leaders, are leaving traditional churches because they are frustrated by the lack of opportunity for genuine participation.
The only problem with Thom’s blog post (IMO) is that he primarily gives examples of traditional churches who are merely tweaking (my word) their worship service to include things like 10 minutes of discussion after the sermon, etc. As you might imagine 🙂 , I responded in the comment section of his blog. See below for what I wrote. I was surprised and appreciative when Thom emailed me back and invited me to be part of a panel at their Conference (Future of the Church Summit) this fall. See below for what he wrote.
All of this is relevant to us in the LK10 Community because our primary assignment from the Lord is the DONES. In fact, our Church 101 Course is specifically designed to address their deep (and I would say “God created”) longing for genuinely participatory church. Please consider sending this post on to any DONES you know whether they have left traditional church or not.
My thought… Very encouraging to see these kinds of conversations beginning to develop!
People are leaving their churches because they feel excluded. Excluded from participating in the communication of the message.
This is one of the unanticipated findings in sociologist Josh Packard’s research on the Dones–formerly active church members who have walked away from all institutional religion. These are people who have heard countless sermons. They tend to be quite biblically literate. But they grew weary, very weary, of sitting in pews, feeling muzzled, while the person on stage monopolizes every word.
In his new book Church Refugees, Packard describes Liam who left his lifelong church because he “wanted dialogue as opposed to lecture.” Rather than only passively listen to the pastor’s take on matters of faith, Liam wanted to participate somehow. He had questions. But the one-way communication format at his church would not allow for any interchange. “It was all authority and hierarchy,” he said. “And that was the final straw in getting us to leave.”
Liam, like many others in Packard’s research, found their spiritual growth stunted without the opportunity to engage in the conversation. Jill, another of Packard’s interviewees, said, “It’s in relationships and conversations that I find God.”
Many current church leaders would say their churches accommodate conversation and give-and-take in small groups and classes. They just prohibit it during the main Sunday services. “That’s my time to do all the talking,” a pastor told me. But it’s during this prime time when people want to engage.
In soon-to-be-released follow-up research, Packard found that 53 percent of the Dones agreed with the statement, “I didn’t like the lecture style of preaching.” (By the way, this new study also reveals the same sentiment in millions of current church members who say they’re about to join the Dones.)
Many church leaders can’t even imagine a sermon time that would accommodate congregational interaction. Even though Jesus frequently involved people in his teachings, and the early church likely involved everyone regularly, the current rendition of weekly church services is stuck in monologue mode.
Moving from monologue to dialogue… Read the rest of Thom’s blog
My response to Thom’s blog
I think you have accurately identified the perspective of the growing number of the “dones”. (“We want to participate!”) However, the solutions you share are only about tweaking the traditional church model. While this is a small step in the right direction, it is the growing house church movement that truly allows for significant participation in church.