“Inside Out” on Family Life : What can the Church do to reach the “Nones” and the “Dones”?
Some churchgoers are walking away. Others you might expect to come aren’t entering. Author and speaker Michelle Van Loon talks about the “Dones” and the “Nones,” and how to we can “spur one another on to good deeds” even outside a church worship service.
“We are definitely in a time of great change and shift,” says author and speaker Michelle Van Loon. “When we talk about people that are ‘Dones’ we’re talking about people that once were active in church and they hit the exit door and never came back. When we talk about ‘Nones’ we may be including people that are done with church. We may also be including in that category people that have never been closely affiliated with the church, regular attenders, or members.”
While labels like these help us understand trends, Van Loon counsels us not to use them as reasons to give up on people.
“It’s tempting to be able to use a category name to kind of assign meaning. But we know, and we know from the example of Jesus, that that is always a terrible idea,” she says. “He could see a naked madman running around the tombs, and He could say, ‘This person needs deliverance.’ Not, ‘This person needs exclusion.’ Or He could see a woman grabbing the hem of His garment who’d been excluded from the faith community because of her illness, and He responded differently.”
The difference between what the Church can be and will be, and how people within it sometimes behave, is a reason some “Dones” give for leaving. It’s not usually the Jesus that we meet in the pages of Scripture or in prayer that has burned a person out or burned a person, in general,” she says. “It’s often His people behaving badly.”
“No church can go to places where people are not wanting to attend a church service. But all of us are scattered into the world to be the Church,” she says.
Michelle Van Loon is the author of seven books and has been writing about changes in the culture and the Church. Martha Manikas-Foster hosts “Inside Out”, one of our Wednesday news features which explores how living our faith from the inside out engages the world. Archives are available on FamilyLife.org/newspodcasts.