The last few days there’s been a great discussion happening in blog world (yes, people still write and read blogs!) sparked by Donald Miller’s admission that he’s just not that in to church anymore.
I’m including links to these articles with quotes not because they are summaries of the entire post but because they highlight some of the points raised. All of these articles are worth reading in full.
It’s just that I don’t experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of sermons I actually remember. So to be brutally honest, I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon and I don’t connect with him by singing songs to him. So, like most men, a traditional church service can be somewhat long and difficult to get through.
There was then a follow-up post on his blog, answering some of the comments and questions he’d received since the original post.
While I love the traditional church, I love it like a foundational part of my past, as though it were a University I’ve graduated from to join a much larger church those still in the University program are quite suspicious of.
Because this is the internet, responses were fast and furious. I didn’t come across any “An Open Letter to Donald Miller” posts but I am sure they’re out there.
Here are the responses I did find and read which I thought were worth sharing. Enjoy.
Why, unlike Donald Miller, I will never leave the church from Geoff Surratt
Unlike Donald Miller I will never leave, or graduate, from the local church. I don’t attend because I have to or because I am paid to, I attend because I believe God calls me to. I can’t speak to Miller’s thought process or church experience, we’ve never met. (Most of the influential Christian leaders I know, however, do attend church. We must know different leaders). I can only explain why I’ve come to a completely different conclusion about church.
Donald Miller and the Culture of Contemporary Worship by Mike Cosper
I realize I’m guilty of caricature here, as there are many, many churches that break this mold. But I think it’s fair to say this much: in the past, corporate worship was seen as an immersive formational experience, wherein the church calendar and liturgy slowly shapes Christians to live Kingdom-oriented lives in a fallen world; today, the gathering (shaped by revivalist sentiments and revolutionized by new technology) is meant to be a catalytic, emotional experience. We aim to be spectacular, rather than regular. We aim for instant gratification rather than slow, steady change.
The Church Needs You – What Donald Miller Got Wrong by Stephen Miller
God doesn’t need our songs. If we weren’t to sing to him, he would be no less glorious than he is. We can neither add to, nor detract from his magnificent worth with our rhythm and rhyme. So to think that corporate worship in song is simply for the benefit of a God who needs our songs reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of singing within the corporate gathering of church.
On Going To Church by Glenn Packiam
Why do we go to church?
This is the question at the bottom of all this musing, right? Miller speaks for many who see the hollow-ness of what the gathered church has become. I see it. You see it. So we ask, “Why go to church?” Immediately, someone is going to say, “We don’t go to church; we are the church!” There is, of course, something true about this statement. But it misses a very crucial point.
These are only a few responses and typical of the general discussion I’ve overheard on this topic. It’s one worth addressing and shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly.