Steve Bremner

Author, Podcaster & Writing Coach

Done with Church: Now What? | PodcastThis post is a 8 min read

Done with Church - Now What

This week on the podcast I have a very interesting conversation with Dan Dailey. As usually happens in internet land, I came across a blog post He wrote, wrote a response to it, he found it, and we became social media friends.

To bring yourself up to speed, he wrote a blog post called Regarding the Done with Church Buzz.  A few months later when it was getting heavily shared on Facebook thanks to Wayne Jacobsen, I wrote my own Regarding the Done with Church Buzz in response to his.

4:20Dan shares his background and how he wound up ‘leaving the institution’ and becoming a ‘done’.

Practically born in a church pew, Dan comes from a long line of pastors and ministers on both sides of the family which takes us to about a year ago. By age 35, Dan doesn’t think he missed any two Sunday services in a row over a span of twenty years, and led worship and served as an elder, would preach in his fellowship on many occasions. Two or three years ago, his younger self would have had some serious problems with what he shares with us today.

So how did Dan get to this point?

Most often times I get accused of having left the church because I was hurt or something bad happened to me, and I am quick to point out that that is not the case. Dan tells me, no, for him that IS actually the case. There was hurt involved. The hurt caused the questioning process, but not necessarily an overnight decision born out of frustration and disillusionment to draw a line in the sand and no longer ever attend a service. Dan found himself investigating the Scriptures about the role of an elder in order to help find answers to questions he was having, and discovered there wasn’t really a lot of answer as many would suppose. This led to a snowball of other questions, like tithing. In fact, one detrimental study in particular came when preparing a sermon on tithing and finding the opposite of what he was going to teach and had to bow out.

From here, Dan started realizing over the course of 8 months that he wasn’t going to be able to stay any longer. From there, it reached what he calls the inevitable outcome of institutions:

“For any institution at all to exist, its members all need to agree on at least one core thing: that the institution must exist.”

If an institution functions in such a way that stifles or refuses to allow any questioning of its existence to take place, Dan tells us this gets the hairs on the back of his neck to stand up. There’s nothing about us getting together that should stifle any kinds of questions from being asked.

16:17 – We discuss the 80/20 rule, or the clergy/laity, leader/attendee divide.

In this part of the discussion we talk about pastors/leaders who know this system is flawed but feel stuck, and others who are in the done movement who are ex-pastors, and not just those who were in the “80%”.  Dan explains his conviction that just by the fact something is institutional, it automatically leads to the head making itself known. So, the 80/20 divide is inevitable and rarely, if ever, leads to a fully functioning Body of believers where each and every believer are able to participate and not just those on the leadership/worship platform.

Done with Church

24:30: The benefits of an underground church or one with its 501c3 status was revoked.

At this point we discuss what would it be like in a post-Christian world where the government revoked all the churches’ tax exempt statuses, and would that really affect those of us who are a part of organic systems that meet in homes and don’t have such tax exemptions. The underground movement in China, for example, seems to not be affecting the Church’s growth.

38:56: We discuss church assets and how much money and resource is under the control of the Church.

Dan discusses how only 5% of money that comes into the religious institution actually winds up going into things that Jesus would call “ministry”. If Jesus were to come and be the new senior pastor at your church, would he manage the funds the way they’re being used? This made me think of how when Jesus first visited the temple in Jerusalem (ref. Matthew 21 & Mark 11) he took a look around, saw what was going down and kicked out the money changers and the people who had turned it all into a business. In Matthew’s account it says immediately after that, then the sick and the crippled entered.

We discuss if something similar would happen and many outcasts or those who would never darken the door step of a church would be able or willing to come to our organic church after Jesus had paid a visit and set things in order.

“If Jesus were to come and be the new senior pastor at your church, would he manage the funds the way they’re being used?”

In this section Dan also describes the life-on-life he’s experiencing now with other believers and how there’s no “plan” other than a set time and place, but there’s no one in charge.

45:17 – I ask Dan how he answers people who use the billy club of Hebrews 10:25 on him.

At this point, it’s obviously worth discussing what does he do with Hebrews 10:25 when people tell him he’s in disobedience to this Scripture when he neglects to attend services and stare at the back of someone else’s head:

  • We read so much into that based on assumptions we make regarding what we are already doing.
  • This passage was not talking about weekly pew warming.
  • Love the people around you, wherever you happen to be. It’s simple.
  • We forget that in these days the believers were under intense persecution and maybe afraid of being identified with a heavily persecuted sect. In fact, the entire book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who, under the pressure, were basically reverting back to Judaism.
  • Dan brought up a great point here that you don’t need to order people to get together and meet with other people if you have something in common with them, especially if it’s central to your identity.

57:10 – The role of elders and leaders in the life of the sheep.

Is the Church supposed to have a caste system? In this part of the discussion we got discussing ‘covering’ and the idea that everybody needs to be under one or else we’ll fall away or be open to attack unless we are properly submitted to ‘elders’ or leaders or pastors above us.

60:38 – The fuzzy area of defining “home church”, “house church” and “organic church”, which all mean different things to different people.

Dan brings up a good point that sometimes house churches are more institutionalized than larger churches are. Instead of having wooden pews, we have folding chairs and couches. We take everything there is to make note of in a large institutional church and miniaturized it into someone’s house.

What if instead of asking ourselves HOW do we meet, big or small, house or building with a steeple on it, how efficient are we at spreading the Kingdom of God where we’re at?

Do you love your neighbor?

There are a lot of things that pose as community and relationships but really aren’t either of those things. 

Links:

73:13 – Understanding Our identity in Christ.

Through all of this experience, Dan saw how much his identity was wrapped up in what he did in terms of church services. We never say we do things to earn God’s favor, but Dan realized how much this played a part in his life. In this section of the conversation Dan shares some more personal stories about what the immediate aftermath was like when he stopped fellowshipping in the traditional sense and became a “done”. 

What if I told you you don't "attend" church. You ARE the Church.

In this chat we further explore the unavoidable and unintended consequences of the steam roller of institutional ministry. Make sure to listen to this part and take note of how Dan described a lot of what goes on today as “golden calf ministry”. When the people of Israel got tired of waiting for Moses up on the mountain receive the tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them, they formed their own golden calf. What’s interesting is they didn’t say “let’s worship this instead of God”, they said “this is the God who brought us out of Egypt!” They mixed their idolatry with the reality of who God is, and came up with something completely foreign.

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Thank you so much, and I look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Fire On Your Head.

About Steve Bremner

Steve the coffee drinker is a Canadian missionary to Peru, who is called to raise up disciples who flow in the power of the Holy Spirit within a missional community named Oikos. If you like Steve's blog, you'll also like his Kindle books. Note: this post may have contained affiliate links of which the author receives a small commission if you purchase something recommended in the post.

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