Donald Miller and God Have Something In Common – They Have Both Been Frustrated With “Church”

Donald Miller recently posted some of his reasons why he doesn’t attend the church assembly much any more. With over 600 comments, many of them agreeing and resonating with Miller’s critique of the church and his reasons for not really wanting to be a part of what goes on there…it goes to show that Miller’s thoughts are the thoughts of many out there. I am sure some of you have felt that way at one time or another.

If you want to read what he said, here are links to his two posts:

I Don’t Worship God By Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere

Why I Don’t Go to Church Very Often, A Followup Blog

I have gotten to where I don’t really like to call people out individually. There can be a place for that but it has to be on a personal level where each person knows they love each other and the respect is reciprocal. I don’t know Donald Miller and I am not writing this to call him out so please don’t read this post that way.

I am writing this to look at one aspect of his perspective because it is shared by so many who may resonate with what Miller is saying but may not know what to do with it.

Donald Miller isn’t the only one who has had a hard time with “church”. In many ways God has too and the troubles start way back.

God made creation good, things fell apart and God decided to destroy the world. Instead he found a guy named Noah and through an act of grace God kept this whole humanity project rolling.

God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt but before they even get to the Red sea they are grumbling. God gives them food and water, they grumble. God provides everything they need…they grumble. God decides he has had enough with them and decides to wipe them out. Moses pleads with God and God relents.

There are more stories like these…sometimes God sent his people into exile in a foreign land, other times he sends oppressors to discipline them but at the end of the day…God keeps them around. Elijah thinks he’s the only one who “gets it” but God lets him in on a little secret – there are 7000 God has reserved who haven’t worshiped the idols (1 Kings 19:18).

Point being – God can be up to things that we just aren’t aware but that is no reason to abandon it. I am sure it is frustrating. It is frustrating to God, to Elijah and to us.The patience of God is a reminder to us to have that same patience because at the end of the day we are all flawed and those who hold the stones eventually get humbled enough to drop them. Dropping the stones doesn’t mean you give up on your vision for a better way. It means you reserve the right of carrying out punitive judgment to the Lord alone.

I am sure God gets sick of religious attempts to check boxes, contrived acts of penitence, abuses of fear and guilt by religious leaders to get their followers to “toe the line” and all the rest. But God still keeps us around. There are churches in the New Testament that I would have assumed God wouldn’t even want me or my family to attend but Paul keeps seeing them as Christ’s church. The list goes on…

If God can be this patient…why can’t we?

Last, I just have to say that for every 100 critics, there is a single person willing to do the work of casting and implementing a better (more godly and biblical) vision of how things need to be. Remember, this post isn’t about Donald (Donald has actually attempted to be that voice in many ways). This post is to all those who have little patience and who don’t see the church or congregational assembly as something fit to be redeemed. It is worth it and we know that because that is what God has showed us over and over again and I trust His judgment is better than my own.

3 Responses to Donald Miller and God Have Something In Common – They Have Both Been Frustrated With “Church”

  1. I tend to think that there are a large (and growing) number of people whose frustration with church is more about realizing that their spiritual giftings are not being utilized to the detriment of the entire local body.

    He did not call me out to not gather with other believers, on the contrary He has called me out so that in my gatherings with other believers He can do the work through the body (which is made up of all the parts).

    Scripture tells me that the Holy Spirit resides in every believer and that we are to minister to one another. I found that of the items on the checklist – approx. 60 one anothers, the traditional model of church did not lend itself conducive to most of these.

    So many of the objections towards Donald Miller are that he is not fulfilling Heb 10:25. I find it sad that so many cite this verse and seem to have not taken into account what the previous verse says, 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

    For some of us, sitting in a pew listening to a sermon and singing songs is really ineffective if one of our primary purposes of gathering is to encourage one another towards love and good works.

    If that model works for you, great. But how about a little grace towards others who have experienced a different model of church where every believer is vital to the body functioning properly.

  2. Thank you, Matt, for another thoughtful and insightful post.

  3. Mark says:

    Some of the issues are like the comparison of Google and Microsoft. One is seen as innovative and nimble while the other is resting on its laurels and is not seen an innovator or, if it did innovate, did not follow the ideas through to fruition. Too many ideas got stopped either by middle management or by Balmer & Gates. Many people wish that their church could be like Google by having young leadership, being innovative, being willing to let people contribute, being ahead of the curve, etc. If you look back, on the day Steve Balmer announced his retirement, Microsoft’s stock price went up significantly. So much for confidence in Mr. Balmer. I think that this scenario is repeated in many organizations far more often than we think.

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