Did Donald Miller Change My Mind about Church?

Last month I explained why I think Christian singles should go to church. About a month later Donald Miller wrote a few posts explaining the reasons he doesn’t go to church very often.

I will admit that after reading his posts I felt totally defeated. Here I am almost begging young women to get involved in a church and then there’s a hugely influential, culturally in-style author telling everyone that he rarely goes to church and explaining himself through a long list of reasons.

Now to be fair, he does say that this is his perspective and that he’s not saying that churches are bad or that no one should go to church. And I believe him. I actually agree with some of what he wrote. I, too, don’t connect to God through music. But I’m not a music person in any other area of my life either. Music has never been my thing. During church I sing, but for me it’s like the vegetables before the dessert. I’m really there for the message.

With my background being in education, learning styles are nothing new to me. One of the greatest keys to a child’s learning is understanding his style. My primary learning style is visual and then kinesthetic. So when I go to church I am prepared with my Bible, paper, and a pen. I approach the sermon like I’m going into a college lecture. Sure I probably look a little over-zealous to the people around me as I frantically write and flip the pages of my Bible, but I know my learning style, and if I don’t see it then I won’t learn it. Then I can’t teach it to further cement my learning.

I also don’t completely disagree with the idea of the church being everywhere. When people use the term “church” usually they are referring to a building where Christians meet. However, “the church” in the Bible is not a place but the group of brothers and sisters in Christ as a collective whole. All Believers make up the church. So I don’t necessarily think that “going to church” has to be in a church building with elders and deacons. I also agree that we are given the same authority as “priests in His kingdom” as any other person. Isn’t that why Jesus corrected the disciples when they complained that someone who wasn’t “one of them” was casting out demons in Jesus’s name (Mark 9:38-41)?

However, this is what I know and this is the reason my heart sank when I read Donald Miller’s posts:

In my world, from my experience, Christians are anemic for maturing, edifying, God-centered community.

This does not seem to be the case for Donald Miller, and quite frankly I am jealous that he has such a strong, “spiritually sound” community. I wish I did. But I don’t.

My world is filled with people in all places of maturity in their relationship with Jesus and with people who have no relationship with Jesus at all. If I did not intentionally meet together with other Believers, then I would starve and be unable to carry out the priestly duties God has assigned to me.  I think this is the case for most people.

For me, church – whether in a building with a sign out front that says “Church” or in a home or under a tin-roof in the middle of Africa – is my home-base. It’s where I go to get recharged and equipped, through the Holy Spirit in the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to do the work God’s called me to do. We are instructed to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25) – that is meeting together with other Christians. Meeting together should be intentional and deliberate.

To you, young women, I want to continue to encourage you to find a church where you can meet with other Believers. Yes, you can meet in your home with your Christian friends and this could be considered “church”. My only hesitancy is that it’s so important for you to be in a community with mature, growing Christians – people of all ages and with many different life experiences from which you can learn and grow – and a place where you can hear the Bible taught truthfully. Plus, being involved in a church isn’t just about you. It’s also about those who need you – those who need your story, your testimony, your life. It’s about serving others.

My fear is that you read the words of influential people, like Donald Miller, and you think that if it’s best for him then it must be best for me. Maybe, but maybe not. And from my experience probably not.

I often wonder if my twenties would have looked any different with a mature community of God-growing people around me. I think so.

Beth Moore said it best in a recent tweet. I’ll leave you with this.

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I’d love to know your thoughts! What do you think about church?


  1. says

    Church isn’t just about us. Even though we might not connect with God in song, there maybe someone in the congregation who needs to hear a roomful of people singing praises to God, because they themselves are in a place where they can’t. Likewise, even if I might be able to worship God at home, even if I might not *need* church what about the other people in the pews who need fellowship with me? If I am only concerned about my needs I’ve completely missed an opportunity to minister to others. Hmmmm, I might just turn this comment into a vlog. As a matter a fact I think I will. I thought the arguments in both of his blog posts were weak at best and a tad selfish.

    • says

      KM, I completely agree with you. It is a very selfish mindset, in my opinion. Church isn’t just about us. Actually, it has very little to do with us. Would love for you to share the link to your vlog here when you finish it. I’d love to see it. Thank you for your thoughts today.

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