An Alternative Theory on the Dones

We’re told Generation Z, more than any other generation in a long time, is focused on doing good in the world. They just don’t do it in the church.


We’re told Senior Adults, more than another other generation before them, are healthier, wealthier, and eager to stay engaged in the world around them. They just don’t do it in the church.

We see friends fight community hunger, sex-trafficking, illness, and water issues through a variety of non-profits—many they’ve started themselves. They just don’t do it in the church.

Through social media, ease of travel, and the digital empowerment of the individual, people are making a difference in all kinds of ways in all kinds of places. They just aren’t making that difference in and through church.

After a long discussion about the “Nones,” researchers have discovered another category of people leaving the church—the “Dones.” While the Nones are those who claim no religious faith at all, the Dones are those who still claim faith in Christ, but are no longer engaged in the life of local church. They’re DONE. The Dones tell researchers they’re just done with church. They say there’s too much bureaucracy, too much judgment and/or hypocrisy. A lot of the time, these individuals were deeply involved in their church, but after their kids graduated high school or after one of the couple retired, they started doing other things on the weekends.

But going to church is not one of them.

I have a theory. Yes, I know. Everyone has a theory. Church is out of touch. Church is too this or too that, but I think all of these other theories are wrong. Here’s my theory.

I think a lot of people stop coming to church because we never ask them to do anything great. We never call them to a vision that will demand everything from them. We never tell them to sell everything they have and go follow Jesus. We never tell them to head to the far reaches of the world and carry their casket with them because we don’t expect them to come back. We never tell them to leave everything and everyone they love to go start a church in some third world inner city slum.

We simply ask them to come to church and sit quietly. We ask them to give their money, sing reverently, but sit quietly.

Most of us want more, not less, from our faith, and if church can’t help us get there, we’ll get that “more we need” from somewhere else.

No one wants to come to church and sit.

Why would they? It’s just more comfortable sitting at home.

Some Things Just Don’t Matter

Here’s a little secret nobody tells you until you get older: most things don’t matter. All the things you can’t live without—shoes, cars, electronics, houses, and tickets to the next “game of century”—just end up being things you have to sell later or take to Goodwill.


The other stuff like hairstyles, which side of the den your chair is on, which drawer the silverware is in, and who controls the remote are things everyone fights about when they’re younger, but when you get older, they just don’t matter.

If something doesn’t matter, don’t make it matter. Roll with it. If your wife wants to move your chair to the other side of the den, no big deal. It doesn’t matter! These aren’t the things you talk about when you get old. Trust me, I’m not old yet, but I’m getting there (I’ll be 60 next month), and all of those battles I thought I had to win mean nothing…absolutely nothing now.

But I can tell you about how my boys’ hair smelled when they were babies. I can tell you how beautiful my wife looked on the days our sons got married. I can remember the quirky way Jeannie looks at life that always makes me laugh.

I can remember how she believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Those are some of the things that matter. The rest? Well it just doesn’t. What’s more, it won’t ever matter.

I wish someone had told me this earlier. Maybe they did, and I just didn’t hear it. I guess that’s why I’m taking the chance on talking to you about this. Life is short. Don’t waste a minute of it on things that don’t matter.

Learn to relish those things that do matter. I pray you’ll have the wisdom to know the difference between the things that do matter and those that don’t.

What My Granddaughter is Teaching Me about Evangelism

My friends warned me. “Once you hold that little girl,” they said, “your whole world will change.” I guess I believed them…sort of. In reality, I had no idea what would happen to me the first moments I held my granddaughter.


My whole world changed. From that moment on, everything became about Mackenzie. How is she? What’s she doing? Send me a picture! Got a video? I have videos of Mackenzie eating, waving her arms, sitting in a chair, laughing, crying, dancing, and singing. I even have videos of Mackenzie doing nothing at all. I am simply fascinated by all things Mackenzie!

Here’s something else I’ve discovered. No matter where the conversation begins—world peace, terrorism, the economy, politics—I can bring the dialogue around to a place where showing you a picture of Mackenzie is the next natural thing to do. I can turn any conversation into a conversation about my granddaughter. It’s the most natural thing to do.

Which made me start thinking about evangelism. Now, hang on for just a moment. I know saying the “E word” sends everyone running for the hills—believers and non-believers alike. Believers run because they don’t want to be part of a time-consuming, guilt-based, ineffective outreach to their friends. Unbelievers run because every time a church has an evangelistic emphasis, they feel like they have targets on their backs.

What happened to evangelism? Well, this is where my granddaughter comes in. Though she’s only a one-year-old, Mackenzie has become the fascination of my life. I love sitting on the floor with her watching her figure things out. I love watching her crawl up the stairs all by herself and the careful attention she gives each one of her stuffed animals. The more I’m around her, the easier it is to tell other people about her.

There…did you see it? The more I’m around Mackenzie, the easier it is to talk about her.

This why I think evangelism is so hard for most people. They aren’t around Jesus enough to have anything to say about Him. Sure, Christians believe in prayer, but it’s been years since most Christians have had a conversation with Jesus. It’s been longer than that since most of us were studying the Word—really studying—not just reading slowly. No wonder we can’t think of anything to say about Jesus. It’s been so long since we’ve talked to Him.

The most common mistake we make about evangelism is we believe it’s outwardly focused. Evangelism means going OUT and finding people who don’t know about Jesus. We’ll do this for a few days, and then we’ll wear out because we’re trying to go out in our own strength.

Evangelism’s first move is inward; it’s deeper. The more we get to know Christ, the more we learn of Him, and the more we grow to love Him, the easier it is to find things to say about Him.

Evangelism isn’t the outward movement of Christians, but the outward flowing of Christ in us and through us to the world around us. The more we’re around Jesus, the easier it is to talk about Him.

The first move of evangelism is not out, but in. Not away, but closer. Evangelism is the natural overflow of the Spirit’s work within us. The closer you get to Christ, the more people you’ll reach.

It’s simple. The more you’re around Jesus, the easier it will be to talk about Him. Mackenzie taught me that.