The Body of Christ

Donald Miller’s Troubling View of the Church

Recently, Donald Miller wrote a very troubling post on why he rarely attends church as a way of finding intimacy with God. For me personally, this post was a real blow to the gut. In response, I spoke about his post on my radio show. The following are my thoughts on what’s wrong with such a self-centered view of church attendance. I know this might seem like a strong response, but this is one of the strongest examples of what is deeply broken in the current church critique dialogue. (Also feel free to read my follow up post to this broadcast, On Donald Miller, Protestant Popes and Reform)

The Body of Christ

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28 Responses to Donald Miller’s Troubling View of the Church

  1. Dan Behrens (@danieljbehrens) February 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    You’ve done a good job here. I’ve read Miller’s blog and I feel you do a good job in treating the subject. In fact, you raise a good many troubling considerations, and in doing so are actually quite fair to Miller. I feel God is very clear with me a Christian in that obedience and submission is very important branch to sit on. To cut off that branch is a tragic scene. Love you Doug.

    • fairlyspiritual February 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      Thanks Dan. I’ve received some positive emails from various pastors who see the foundational problems with this kind of view of the church.

  2. Sarah Siegand February 4, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Doug, I think you are right on. And I can tell, judging by the comments on DM’s post, your concern is not isolated. Thanks for speaking truth and for caring about the impact of our choices concerning Christian community on broken people. Really glad you shared this.

    • fairlyspiritual February 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

      Thank you Sarah, I greatly respect Donald Miller, but I think this post represents a really important discussion we need to have concerning why we gather in a church body.

  3. Todd February 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    “When did the church become a place for US. It’s a place for Christ.” – It’s an awesome moment when previously broken people who have been healed by the love of God begin to reach out to other people and encourage/walk with them in their faith. For me this is one of the great things about church. Thank you for sharing your thoughts they are spot on.

  4. Christin February 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    Thanks for talking candidly about this.

  5. Serena Wastman February 4, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    Yup…there’s something very anti-church going on in our culture. I used to agree with it, until I explored Scriptures deeper and can see that there’s something very, very vital about Christ-community. “Upon this rock I will build My CHURCH and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!” – per Jesus. We gotta quit disparaging His beautiful bride!

  6. muzychuk5 February 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    It is really good, and it is a current issue. It reminds me what Paul said, that you have many teachers, but not a parent. So, it seems like they want to be “freelancers,” but don’t want to actually serve people on the daily basis. Like parents.

  7. Georgia Nielsen February 4, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Thank you for your response to Donald Miller’s blog.
    I was a part of a small but growing home church. After a particularly painful and heart wrenching church split I decided that I could enjoy the presence of God on my own, which I did for several years. I still prayed and read my Bible faithfully. I met with friends on occasion and we prayed together and discussed some aspect of what God was showing us. Yet, I needed more. I could not escape Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some…”
    I know some would say I was ‘assembling’ with my one or two friends once in a while, but my heart knew better and my spirit cried out for more. Slowly, and with a listening heart, I searched and attended a couple of churches. Eventually the Holy Spirit led me to Evergreen Foursquare Church. I found a deep joy and peace there. Now I can bask in God’s presence as I join in corporate praise and singing. During the teaching/preaching, I am challenged in ways I could not be on my own. I have found an ability to give back and to grow in ways that were not possible alone.
    I realized that I am not my own. I was bought with a price. We all were.

    • fairlyspiritual February 4, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

      What a great response! Thank you.

    • Rod Carlson February 5, 2014 at 3:27 am #

      Doug,
      I once heard a pastor share his perspective on Hebrews 10:25. Having grown up in a charismatic/pentecostal church environment, and being saved from a terrible life of sin and debauchery at the age of six…I, along with many others, have heard this passage preached as the basis for ‘going to church,’ or ‘connecting as a devoted part of the fellowship.’ Well, this fellow brought a new facet to this scripture when he stated, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” could also refer to resistance to the Holy Spirit’s desire to “assemble us (as Kingdom building blocks) together into His spiritual temple, as would a skillful builder use his available materials to erect a sound and useful structure.”

      This also plays to Ephesians 2:19-22, which in the NLT says, “Now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people, You are members of God’s family…we are His HOUSE, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.”

      Let me be clear: I am a huge believer in the value and necessity of regularly being together for corporate worship, fellowship, encouragement, instruction…but the ‘assembling’ of ourselves isn’t just about being in one place. It also speaks to our willingness to obey what God tells us to do as he takes the myriad of giftings He has given His kids (1 Peter 4:10-11) and ‘assembles’ us into an authentic representation of His idea of what it means to be the church. For some years now, I have seldom heard a better title for a book on what it means to be the church than Jim Hayford’s “Contending for the Authentic.” I’d like to think I’m succeeding, to at least a measurable degree.

      • fairlyspiritual February 5, 2014 at 3:49 am #

        I agree! You are very much a part of that authentic community.

  8. Marcus N Melina Delacruz February 5, 2014 at 1:50 am #

    Good Day Doug
    I really enjoyed your response to Mr. Miller’s article. I pray that he graciously receive what you’ve have to say. Most of all I enjoyed how you responded in a tone of respect and gentleness. Hopefully, that alone will appeal to his senses.

    Be Blessed,
    Pastor Marcus
    http://www.theriverh2o.com

  9. Candace February 5, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    Doug, I just listened to your response to Donald Miller’s blog post. So many great points made, the last 10 minutes were very profound words you shared about basically church is not a spectator sport, but one of engagement into the body of Christ. I also appreciate what you said about worship, I can’t imagine NOT feeling intimacy with the Lord while praising him in worship.
    Lastly, loved your statement about church not being there to serve our feelings or that it should be easy and feel good, I observe that is a huge issue in the church today…so many are consumers of church services, small groups, etc. and not necessarily to participate. Thank you for speaking the truth and reality of what it is and what it can be. Well done!

    • fairlyspiritual February 5, 2014 at 3:17 am #

      Thank you for taking the time to listen. This has really struck a nerve with many! Your words of encouragement are appreciated.

      • Candace February 5, 2014 at 3:35 am #

        What you shared is confirmation in my heart for what I have been feeling in my spirit about things too. Thanks again!

  10. Russell Korets February 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Reblogged this on A Pastor's Blog; by Russell Korets and commented:
    This radio segment is really making an impact in many Christian circles. Thanks Pastor Doug Bursch! It was much needed. Listen, when you get a chance.

    • fairlyspiritual February 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

      Thank you Russell! I have scene tremendous traction on this issue. This is not a simplistic argument between churchy and non-churchy people….It is an issue of our love for the Bride of Christ and a willingness to gather in sacred, open to all who are hungry, community.

  11. Chris February 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    As a preacher and lover of the Church I really appreciate your thoughts. I have been on the side of Donald and even resigned a great youth ministry because of my disillusionment with the organized church. However I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t start a new version down the street. This is my family, warts and all. I have to stay and help. Hopefully others will stay and help clean me up as well. Lord knows I carry a lot of baggage from my religious history.

    • fairlyspiritual February 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      Thanks for your reply and thoughts. I have no problem with people reforming and cleaning up the church….just don’t want people to abandon the bride. We need Donald Miller in the church and he needs the church as well.

  12. SeanEM February 8, 2014 at 4:46 am #

    I like how you were nice about it, but anything less than complete acceptance of the way he worships is hateful and pointless. Not everyone was made for cookie-cutter churches, and as much as churches have become more business like, I have no problem supporting anyone in leaving them. While I do personally believe that everyone should have a Home Base (a church they go to when they are lost or need a moral [or morale] boost, I still truly believe that any church unwilling to let go of their members is nothing but a cult. Then again, he did not specifically state that he wouldn’t ever go to church again.

    Wise men take time to think. When the modern church clogs your thoughts, it becomes difficult to tell which parts are bad and which parts are good. Taking time away is just as important as the time you spend inside. Even Jesus spent time alone with God and (according to most doctrines) Jesus IS God. So let him post about the reality of having a different mind than others, I’m sure it will encourage many to have a personal relationship with God and after a time he will come online once more to offer wisdom that people still inside the bubble could only dream of.

    Honestly, I loved that post. He was so damned honest I nearly threw up. Or is that the cold talking…

    • fairlyspiritual February 8, 2014 at 5:08 am #

      Thank you for some really good thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to listen and comment. All the best to you and your faith journey.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. If You Knew My Story | Creative Leadership - February 6, 2014

    […] and chooses to irregularly attend. Though I still disagree with his opinions whole heartedly, (http://fairlyspiritual.org/2014/02/04/donald-millers-troubling-view-of-the-church/) I have a respect for why he thinks that way. He has a story that shapes the way he thinks, feels, […]

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