Where Have All the People Gone?

Even those who would like to can no longer ignore the amount of people who are leaving religious institutions even as they continue to explore an ever-deepening engagement with Jesus and are growing in their desire to serve his purpose in the world. They are call the "nones", because they don't identify with any particular religious grouping, and Christian organizations and seminaries are trying to figure out how to win them back, or at least hold on to the ones they have. It makes for an interesting discussion. After looking at comments from previous podcasts, Wayne wades into the discussion of what some call "nones' and others call "free rangers" and how we might have a better conversation that helps us flow more easily with what God is doing in our world.

Podcast Links:
The Pew Research Center's, Nones On the Rise
Face to face with Real Nones
Time Magazine's, Preach Like Your Faith Depends On It
Mark Labberton's Interview
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  1. Wayne, thanks for this podcast! Reminded me of a conversation with a friend whe we asked the question of our then institutional leader, “why do we feel the need to try and make Jesus more attractive than he already is?”. Once I found real relationship with Jesus no amount of marketing could possibly make Him any better!
    May you and your family have a blessed Easter celebrating our risen Christ and our new LIFE in Him!

  2. Hi, I just turned 20yrs old and I am not drawn to going to the building/club. But, I am drawn to Papa and learning to live in His love! The space I am now, is that I am more at peace and know how loved I am! And it is glories!!!

    My heart if overfilled with His love and I desire to serve and walk alongside others, showing Papa’s neverending love for us!
    I am Papa’s daughter and I belong to Him!!!

    It was funny, last sunday I went to the building/club that my Dad is pastoring at. I went because afterwards we were going to spend the afternoon at a one of the family’s from the building/club and have a bit of a birthday party for me. The funny part was that when we just got there and I was talking with one of the older lady’s and she asked, if my parents had dragged me there! And I replied, that I came because we were going to have a birthday party afterwards! : )

    I’m just not into the once a week, little chatting, then music, then the sermon, then music, then little chatting! If that was what families did every week. Boy, that would be soo boring and soo tiring! Who would willingly want to do that!

    Because I am continuing to realize how loved I am, I desire to serve others and do lots of volunteering! The neat thing is that, it’s getting harder for others to try to suck me into doing the things that they want me to do! I’m thinking. Nope, the wind isn’t blowing in that direction for me!
    I follow the wind where ever it flows! : )

    Thank you, Wayne for sharing your life and how much Papa loves you! It was hearing how much Papa loved us, was what started to feed a desire in me, to have a deeper relationship with Him!


  3. You nailed it on this one, Wayne, particularly about the nones, some of whom are still in the Church. I count myself as one. I served as an elder and prior to that grew up in the Church, so I’m well-acquainted with its machinations. I still attend, having found a church that is theologically open. But I attend worship and the pastor’s mid-week study and that’s about it. I find myself still loving God but definitely turned off by the Church and going through the motions. If it weren’t for relatives whose lectures I would have to endure, I wouldn’t even have gone to this church after leaving the last one. But I’ve come to learn that some people just don’t get that sometimes people need a break — not from God, but from the institution and that everything can be okay but space is needed to process all that has occurred. To me, where the rubber meets the road is when it’s just you and Jesus minus all the accouterments–even if that includes the Church. However, some see the Church as a necessary part of the spiritual life and can’t imagine someone stepping outside of it. It just shows how much we’ve intertwined the two in a way that they were never meant to be intertwined.

  4. I just thought of this, with to do with being around people of the world!

    “We aren’t called to be likeable. We are called to be irresistible”.

    So that when we are rested in Papa’s lap of love, people can’t help, but want to be around us!

    : )

  5. Wayne, As always, I enjoy the content of the podcast, but you lost me at the end. I think you should have stopped the tape at 40:53. The sermon wrap up started at 40:54 for me. Everything prior to that was just good, honest expression of your story. When you can’t find someone to get on the phone or in the studio to make it an actual conversation, your story is as good as any but in any case, no resolution is ever necessary for me.

    “And even people who don’t have that conversation yet, because they just don’t know people where they live, to have it with yet, they hunger for it. And they are not, not having it because they have decided ‘I’m too good and I don’t need it”. They just haven’t found it yet. And I’m even okay with that” (END)

  6. Haa,nones, i prefer mass Exodus (if we must label) love the direction of these podcasts

  7. In addition to free range maybe we could call it home on the range 🙂 because whenever and wherever we are when we are with Jesus and Father we are home.

  8. I’ve been listening to your podcasts for about 3 years after reading “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.” I grew up in a Christian home. My father was in the army so everywhere we moved we found Christians from various denominations to fellowship with. I grew up believing that the church is people who know Jesus. After I got married, my husband and I went to a COGIC (Church of God In Christ) ministry for 3 years and then to a non-denominational church for over 20 years. I have always questioned why do we have to go to so many services. It became a lifeless routine for me. I just wanted to know the love of the Father and Jesus. I had many other questions. We left our last “church” almost 4 months ago. In short, we asked the Pastor a question in a letter, had a meeting with him that didn’t go well and we left. It was hard to leave but I have no regrets. We have visited other church services and we would like to join a healthy fellowship but right now I don’t feel a need to join another fellowship. I feel peace in my heart and feel free. Thanks, Wayne, for your podcasts. When I listen to them, my heart says, amen.

  9. I’m commenting on what Bev said. When Jesus lead me out of the church He told me to keep my mouth shut. That was a shock because in the church we were pressured to witness! witness! witness!
    Keeping my mouth shut was incredibly difficult at first but became easier as I found myself more and more alone. As time has gone by I have learnt to share only what I hear Him saying. I am not always successful at that but spend a lot of time praying that He will guard my tongue and it has become more natural to listen for His prompts before I speak. I relate to Wayne’s comment of not bashing a person to death with all that I know. Gently listening to people and listening to Jesus is what I hope to offer people

  10. Jesus seems to have been talking to me about the old man and the new man so I related to Joni’s quote.
    “I still think, and this is from Dan Stone. When we hear a grace message and we “hear” license that is our old programming the “old man” doing the hearing. But the Joni that is “loved” and lives loved and is a new creation she “hears” freedom. “
    The new man hears that freedom is to listen to Jesus and obey Him not a freedom to follow our Self.
    I also said oh yes to her comments on loneliness. I must admit that I sometimes wondered where I went wrong when I have no fellowship. My fellowship is with Jesus. Is fellowship with the body only for some people? Jesus led me out of the church 20 years ago.

  11. Something that hasn’t been mentioned here yet but seems to feed off the previous podcast is the issue of mammon. I was listening to a previous mammon podcast from some time ago and something that you said, Wayne, jumped out at me: if you are being fed by the institution to a significant extent, you need to feed into the instituition in kind. But you added the disclaimer, don’t confuse your giving to the institution as the same as giving to God.

    I think what you have is a spiritual confusion within the institution: a battle between those institutions that are struggling to survive that are actually feeding people spiritually, but are getting little or nothing financially in return, versus those institutions that are thriving financially (i.e., the megachurches), but may not be feeding people spiritually. It results in both types of congregations wanting. The logical and inevitable result is the growth of the ‘nones’, or ‘free-rangers’.

    What Jesus said about wealth and riches is seemingly coming to fruition in the institution, which has become monetarily rich, but spiritually, poor.

  12. Where have all the people gone? My prayer is that everyone’s journey leads to finding the Father HIMSELF and know what He is really like and what Jesus has really accomplished. Some of my most trying church experiences were when I became so miserable from becoming fearful of God that it drove me away and to discovering what He really is like.

    Here is a YouTube link to a teaching by a guy that talks about how churches can take the Wonder away from how wonderful our Father is. I have been really in awe about Him after listening to this. There are many helpful words in this about God’s love for us and how religion can take us away from what the Heart of the Father really is.

    Wayne’s book He Loves Me has also helped take me from a painful place of confusion about God to a journey of meeting the Father and finding a life of rest in His incredible love.

    It is not being a none, as if you have nothing when not in an institution – this is about finding … EVERYTHING He is. He truly is Wonderful!

  13. I am most definitely not a ‘none’. On my census form I ticked Christian but for denomination I put ‘no church’. I don’t know what they made of that. I have a very real relationship with Jesus.
    This morning I went to a non-Christian women’s coffee group. I was blessed by the connections I am making with these women. I have no idea what Father is doing but I feel sure that is where I am meant to be. For years I dreamed of Christian fellowship but now I see that that is not where He wants me. I saw Him at work when the woman I needed to talk too came in and sat beside me.

  14. My wife and I would be termed young “NONEs.” We are in our early thirties, have two young children and share similar upbringings in very conservative homes, i.e. church-three-times-a-week, serving as Sunday school teachers/music ministers/youth leaders/you-name-it. In the last seven years Abba has invited us to seek Him outside what I call “Church Inc.,” and we have experienced first-hand the efforts of Company men and women of various denominational franchises trying to win back our business.

    I laughed aloud when I heard you discuss your local newspaper advertisements for the various Easter services in your community. Helicopters dropping Easter eggs indeed—My generation and the one following must have its Cross-branded gadgets, holy noise, Christian concerts and “wholesome fun” or what-have-you. Afraid that it’s losing the NONEs to secularism, Church Inc., turns to the secular gimmickry and secular corporate structure to prove it is relevant.

    And there’s the problem.

    Abba did not ask me to seek “relevant.” He asked me to seek His face and then gave the “light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” He did not ask me to commit to a denominational franchise of the Company for a decent pension and an eternal insurance policy, but sent Jesus, who left his Father to be united with His Bride and make us One. What a profound mystery (speaking of Christ and the Church), but oh how we miss the wonder of it all when instead we refashion the mystery as “Why are the young and NONEs” leaving and what can we do to make them like us?”

    Constantly rebranding to prove its relevance proves that Church Inc., is not secure in the identity as the beautiful Beloved of her Christ, if indeed it was ever the Beloved. Instead, it must make itself up as something flashy, edgy, and thematic in order to capture the attention of the wayward younger masses, those of us who are misguided “NONEs” and try to fob itself off relevant.

    Yet the Company cannot offer me Jesus, and therefore it cannot offer me Life. The Body—the two or three who gather in His name and in whose midst He exists—that is Life.

  15. Wayne,

    Thanks for another great podcast, and thanks for the further clarification in the opening segment of this podcast about my question concerning the Yuck factor. I once again do apologize for the way my first comment came across on that post. Thank you for being consistently gracious and patient in your replies.

    I must admit I had a “Yuck Factor” experience just now… I got an email from a well-known pastor who asked me to promote something of his on my website… and this email informed me that he was recently voted by the New York Times as one of the most influential people on Twitter, and that he has “sold-out worship events.” … Sold-out worship events? Influential on Twitter? Ah well… it made me smile as I realized, “This is the Yuck Factor Wayne might have been referring to. I am not going to condemn or judge this pastor for what he is doing, but it is not the way I want to minister to others, and I don’t want to participate in what he is asking me to do.

    So anyway, thanks again!

  16. Good message. You mentioned jesus “inclusiveness” – the fact that his arms were open enough to embrace anyne wh needed His love. No doctrinal or organizational membership test. When you mentioned Jesus openess to all i recalled an old saying, “He drew a circle to shut me out, i drew a bigger one to take him in.”

    good Podcast

  17. Hello Wayne. Thanks for this, and for the God Journey. I have never done this before, but my wife and I have been listening in on and off for six years or so. We have lost count on the number of times that we have found ourselves saying “Oh yes!” to these conversations. Like many of your listeners I come from a family completely bound by the “organisation” My Dad and both brothers are all pastors. The conversation you had with the Pastor whose daughter “came clean” is a conversation that i would live to have with my family, but they all treat the fact that we don’t go to a building any more ( two years now) as a non-subject. So many times we have been able to identify with the letters you read out Wayne, and we pray for the day when we find like-minded folk where we are.We are still feeling very much alone in this as we have no-one that we relate to socially that shares our stance. However it is really thrilling to be reminded that we are not alone even though most of you are, across the pond (We’re from a little town called Chesham on the outskirts of London), we do feel there is a community here, albeit a virtual one at present. I don’t know why I’ve chosen this particular podcast to post this but it does follow an evening where I was at a pub with some mates that I’ve known for years, all Christians, all fed up with the institution, but no inclination to leave it, and me feeling so alone in this, and really finding it hard to love them where they are. your bit in there was really what i needed. I really liked all the comments here too.
    I think what we’ve come to realise it that it’s a long haul, but God is with us in it. But it is good to know that even if you’re nowhere near us geographically, that there are so many of you who feel the same. Love to you all.

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