Dear Dones – Here Are 10 Terrible Reasons to Walk Away From Church

Some of the most common reasons you might think you’re “Done” with the church are not reasons to walk away from church.


The “Dones.” It’s a term sociologists and researchers use to describe the people who walk away from church and identify as those who are done with church. The Dones were once part of a church, but have become disillusioned for a variety of reasons and have decided to be spiritual without the help of a local congregation. And the Dones are growing in number.

I’m a Pastor, and I’ve seen the church from every angle. I’ve been a church kid, a kid whose family left the church, and a young adult who found my way back to the church. I’ve been the Pastor of smaller, more traditional churches, on staff at a megachurch, and a planter of a new church unlike any other I’ve ever been part of. And there have been, in my twenty years of ministry, quite a few Sunday nights when I’ve felt the desire to be Done again.

But I’m here. And I’m committed. And I’ll share why, but first, I want to address some of the most common reasons you might think you’re Done with the church.

“The Church Is So Judgmental”

Guilty. The church in America has had a history of perpetuating an us-versus-them mentality toward people who don’t seem to fit in. We’ve been legalistic. We’ve focused on external appearances when God cares about the heart. We’ve rejected people over some sins and not others. And we’ve given the impression that God is displeased with people who can’t keep their lives in near-perfect order.

And we’ve been terribly wrong. The church needs to own this. We need to change this. And to turn the ship around and become a grace-based, love-filled, purpose-driven body once again, we need you.

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Brandon Cox is Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding, and social media. He and his wife, Angie, live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.


  1. Some of these points are affecting most churches in my community

  2. The church is the love of Jesus’ life…. Be humble enough to see the church as us and not them… Excellent perspective! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Interesting perspective and points well taken however, not all “Dones” are done with church but just may be getting started. If you haven’t already, I would suggest a peak at the research completed by Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope through Group Publishing. Their book, “Church Refugees” and latest research, “Exodus of the Religious Dones” provides critical insights into what may appear as exciting for the church as it is challenging. You will realize that many Dones (former church attenders including more of them church leaders) are removing themselves from the institutional noise not bitter but, instead burdened with passion to get beyond the church clutter and chaos and back into community in creating more inviting and innovative space(s) for conversation. In many cases, Dones are birthing new Kingdom work through a new church community that may look and feel different (and probably will) from the old.
    Many Dones are certainly not leaving the church or are even considering it but rather exploring new opportunities as part of His church to reach those who would never head to the “steeple” for whatever reason including the ones mentioned above.
    I love Jesus, His bride (the Church) and the opportunity to share the Gospel in new places and spaces being created as God leads us TOGETHER as His church forward.
    I am “done” but, certainly not finished!

  4. I think it would be useful if you defined what you mean when you use the word “church”. That one word can be, and often is, used to define a whole range of concepts.

    There are many brothers and sisters who consider themselves ‘done’ with man-made religious institutions, but who see themselves as very much a part of the church that Jesus said he would build.

  5. I do not think this is the biggest reason. My heart longs for a church that I can call home. But my spirit needs to know that the Holy Spirit is given free reign. I am a Spirit filled Christian that only learned about who I am in Christ when my husband was kicked out of church for getting too excited and elated during praise and worship. Apparently the Holy Spirit is so weak that my husband took all the attention from the Holy Spirit. No it is about people not focusing on God, but rather on the people. It is people who’s spirit is asleep or almost dead. It is about some partial truths being preached but not the whole truth. It is about giving a feel good sermon to keep the people happy instead of telling it like it is. It is about people setting the agenda not God. It is about me, myself and I and not God. I long for a place where the presence of God is everyone’s deepest deepest desire. Then I will know that I found the church that I can call home, until then I am done with church, but not done with the body of Christ.

  6. I think the problem lies in how we define church. If church is every organization that identifies by that name regardless of the fruit it bears, then this article might make sense. We know that’s not the case. An organization that is not producing the fruit of mature, reproducing disciples of Christ is a counterfeit and should not be called a Christian church at all. This article would better be titled “True Christians are Done with Fake Churches for Legitimate Reasons.” Here is a book relevant for today Come join the discussion

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