Church Refugees: Why are a growing number of people DONE with church but not their faith?

First we heard about the “Nones,” those who on the religion affiliation question of a survey would go to the bottom of the list and check “None.” They are now the fasting growing religious category in North America.

Now we are discovering there is another growing group of which we need to be aware, the “Dones.” These are folks who were once very active in church but have left. They are “done” with church.  Why have they left? Where are they going? Is there any hope of getting them back? How can we keep others from following them out the doors of our churches? Do they have anything to teach us?

Dr. Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope recently completed a major study of the “Dechurched” in America and has published his findings in “Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith.” Northwest District invites all pastors and laity in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference to join us for a workshop with Dr. Packard, Tuesday, May 24, from 9:30 to 3:30 at First UMC, 420 Saylor Street, Schuylkill Haven. You do not want to miss what this professor of sociology at Northern Colorado University has to share.

Along with Josh we will have a panel of practitioners who have been experimenting with some innovative ways of reaching out to those outside the church and more fully engaging those still within the church.

You will meet Mitch Marcello from the Acts Network of First UMC, Williamsport, PA. He has over 100 people now engaged in worshipping affinity groups.  Each of the ten groups have come together over a shared interest (kayaking, hiking, film making, cooking, etc) and now worship together, study and pray together, provide pastoral care to one another, and engage in service with their community.

You will learn about Perking Point from the Rev. Jennifer Williams, executive pastor of Crosspoint UMC in Hummelstown, PA. One of their “campuses” is a coffee shop in a strip mall. In that “un-church-like” setting they are meeting and building relationships people who never darken the door of a church.

The Rev. Dr. Patrick Vaughn is the unlikely preacher of “”, a web site that offers a weekly video “the unlikely minute” creating an online community of people with spiritual questions and a desire to be in dialog. Patrick is also co-pastor of Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church outside Wilmington, DE, home of PerMission, a fresh strategy to connect church members with the needs of their community.

This event, for both clergy and laity, will give you the opportunity to hear the research, learn the principles, and be inspired by some examples of moving your members (and perhaps yourself!) in meaningful ways beyond the walls in genuine engagement with the community around you.

Participants in this workshop will receive .4 CEU’s.

The $20 registration fee covers the cost of your lunch and a portion of the costs of the event.

To register go to

Registration deadline is May 17, 2016.