Yesterday, I read a post by Donald Miller, who is an author that Ash and I greatly respect and who has had a profound impact on our life, directly through his writing. We also call Donald our "secret friend." (A secret friend is someone you know you'd be friends with if you had the opportunity to live everyday life together.) Donald's blog post was titled, 'Why I don't go to church,' and in the blog, he talked about some reasons why he doesn't attend a church service every Sunday morning. One of the reasons, because of the way Donald has been wired psychologically, he has a hard time getting something out of listening to an orator, of any kind for that matter, speak to him for an extended period of time. He's not an auditory learner. Miller also described how he doesn't personally connect with the Lord by singing to him.
I read his post yesterday. Today, I read the comments and responses to his blog. As you may (or may not) have guessed, Miller got trashed...by his Christian brothers and sisters.
Donald doesn't know me and he doesn't need me coming to his aid, but I wanted to state something. I agree with him and applaud him for his honesty in his writing. The hateful comments almost entirely summed up every problem I have with the church of America today. By Donald simply saying he doesn't enjoy Sunday morning services...
- Christians condemned him for being selfish, claiming that he should realize, even though he doesn't connect with Sunday morning, he should bring lost people to the services. Evangelism bro... My response: Do you think that Donald doesn't evangelize? Do you think that Sunday mornings are the only way to love on the lost? I'd argue that there is a HUGE percentage of people, that no matter how cool your church services are, they're never coming to that method of "church." And we better get creative in how we reach them if we truly want to reach them.
- Christians condemned him for not "worshiping" with other believers? Do you think that he doesn't worship with others? Is singing the only way to worship? Is it?! Is that really all we're going to be doing in Heaven one day like I grew up hearing? I personally love to sing to God, but I don't want to do that all time. The New Testament is clear-eating can be worship. Work can be worship. Playing with your kids can be worship-just like Sunday mornings can be worship. However, all of these can be "sacred cows" (idols). All of them...
- Christians condemned him for not wanting to sit under "preaching" and not wanting a local body of believers to hold him accountable. Do you think that Donald doesn't have brothers and sisters teaching him and holding him accountable? It may not look like the setting you learn in, but he is constantly learning from others' teaching, according to what he says in the rest of his writing. Do you think a Sunday morning service is the only way someone can be held accountable? A few years ago, I helped some close brothers and sisters in the faith open up a coffee/cupcake shop. Everyday, we, as Christians, met together. We encouraged each other. We held each other accountable. We taught each other in that business setting on a daily basis. We loved on atheists, agnostics, people whom I consistently invited to our Sunday morning church service, but for whatever reason, they never came. BUT they would come to our coffee shop. And guess what? We ministered to them! It felt missionary-like! I felt church-like! It felt like Jesus!
There's more I could say-the comments to Miller's blog made me sad.
Again, Donald Miller doesn't need my help. I usually never say anything about people's hateful comments, (and I may regret writing this), but we have to open our world up if we actually want to reach this world for the Kingdom of God. I love the Church. Personally, I love my local church. I love singing on Sunday mornings. I love churches who spend a lot of energy on making Sunday mornings as creative as possible. However, that doesn't mean everyone has to love it. I want to boast IN JESUS CHRIST! Everything outside of that, I'm learning to hold loosely. I didn't read those nasty comments to Donald's blog as brave people, standing up for their "faith." I smelled fear.
I'll leave you will Paul's words to the church of Galatia. I 'think' he may have felt the same way I felt after reading those mean comments: (Different context. Different issue. But possibly the same message can be applied today.)
Galations 6:11-18 (Message)
11-13 Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don’t keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!
14-16 For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!
17 Quite frankly, I don’t want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus.
18 May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes!
Here's Donald's blog that I was referring to: