Links to resources I shared:
- Key Research Findings on the Dones
- Martin Luther's "Evangelical Order"
- Toolbox Booklet (additional Toolbox resources here.)
- Toolbox Bookmark
Content from my Poster
Nurturing Home-Based, Lay-Led, Faith Communities For Discipleship, Mission,
and Outreach to the “Dones”
The standard model for faith community centers on gathering a large group weekly for worship led by professional clergy.
This model entails high costs financially and in time and effort, even just to maintain the weekly gathering.
Moreover, the main gathering supports a culture where the few are equipped to serve the many, and the primary experience of “community” is a large group.
These and related issues are leading to an “exodus” of people who are “Done with church but not with faith.” (Packard & Hope, 2015)
A model that speaks to the needs and desires of the Dones can be found in Luther’s “Evangelical Order.”
This model describes a multi-family, home-based, lay-led house church.
”Missional Community” is a contemporary term used for such an expression, clarifying the importance of the community having a clear, outward mission.
In addition to its appeal to the Dones, a Missional Community model is also likely to be:
· More conducive to substantive relationships;
· More effective in the relational work of discipleship;
· More accessible for people new to faith community life.
Developing this kind of faith community calls for equipping everyday people to nurture and share faith with each other. This must not be clergy dependent, but be done in ways that everyday people can learn, practice, and teach to others.
Accordingly, I have been exploring what it’s like to be discipled, and to disciple others in this way, collecting and developing simple tools for this core equipping work.
This kind of community also calls for becoming more comfortable with being in a home setting for gathering the community. Learning rhythms and practices that make it feel natural and conducive to building relationships and sharing faith.
Accordingly, I have been gathering people in my own home for faith community more routinely in recent years.
With encouragement from the leadership at St. Stephen’s, I have begun to do relational networking to meet people who may, like the Dones that Packard describes, be yearning for a different way to experience faith community.
Meet the Dones
People who are “done with church but not with faith.”
· Perhaps 30-40 million people.
· Were highly active in their church.
· Didn’t want to leave; felt compelled to go in order to preserve their faith.
· They wanted community; an extended spiritual family of care with shared life and substantive intimacy.
· They wanted spiritual conversation that invited exploration, not doctrinal teaching that squelched it.
· They wanted to be able to affect the life of the church.
· They wanted meaningful engagement with the world.
· They felt stifled by church structure.
Missional Communities: Some Typical Features
· About the size of an extended family.
· Meets in homes.
· Gathers 2-3 times a month.
· Pursues a balanced emphasis on worship, fellowship and outward mission.
· Selects and pursues its own missional focus.
Group Size Illustration (From Breen et al., Leading Missional Communities.)