The conversation around the relationship between those at midlife and the local church clicked into a higher gear last week with these two blog posts:
At Thom Schultz’s Holy Soup: The Rise Of The Dones. “After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all…The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn. Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done.” Though Schultz doesn’t specifically I.D. those at midlife and beyond in his post, the typical leaver in the “Done” category is someone who was for years committed to a local church and burned out or faded away; in other words, people at midlife. Again, the comments section in this post is perhaps even more instructive than the post itself.
At Wartburg Watch: The Consequences For The Church That Focuses On Youth While Ignoring Baby Boomers. This excellent post uses my column in the September print edition of Christianity Today as a jumping-off point to visit some stats and offer some important reflections about marginalizing older members. As of this writing, there are 172 comments on the Wartburg Watch post. The number may reflect the high level of engagement in the WW community, but I believe the topic itself drew strong opinion and debate. You may not have time to read all the comments, but they’re certainly worth a skim if you’re interested in this subject.
The comments following both posts echo the things I heard when I launched my own informal survey a year and a half ago asking those over 40 original about their relationship with their local church (click here for a summary), as well as some of the other writing I’ve done on the topic here and at Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. A version of my own experience with spiritual disorientation and a sense of disconnection from the doings at church seemed to be taking place in the lives of many of my age/life-stage peers. I discovered early on that looking for answers or remedies was a fruitless task, as this disconnect wasn’t a problem to be fixed by applying 7 Simple Steps, praying a prayer or swallowing hard and signing up for more [Read more]