Relevant interviewed author, Donald Miller, about his blog post, I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Worship Elsewhere. Relevant said:
There are several topics that are known to ignite controversy in many Christian circles, and one of those is church attendance. A few weeks ago, author and Storyline founder Donald Miller found this out the hard way. His blog post confessing that he doesn’t feel that he connects very well to God in the setting of a Sunday morning church service quickly went viral, drawing criticism, some rebuttals and plenty of questions.
A friend of mine calls these times in our lives seasons. Miller talked about worship, and that he worships through work. A writer is always working. His writing is worship. I understand his words. When I read the so-called controversial blog, I found it to be as he explained in the Relevant interview, about how different people learn. I, too, do not like the lecture format. I learn better by doing, and worship better when I am writing, hiking, running, or reading.
But work can hinder, too. It can be a shield to actual worship. Miller’s unconventional view of church reminds me that church isn’t about worship; it’s about fellowship. Stovall Weems of The God-First Life: Uncomplicate Your Life, God’s Way says, “If we want to experience the benefits of community, we have to invest in the communities we belong to. It’s a two-way street. I find that people can get so disappointed because the church was not “there for them” in their moment of crisis. But if we are not investing in others within the community, we won’t be in a position to reap the benefits of the community in your time of need.” Hence, attending church is an easy way of getting involved in community. But don’t restrict yourselves to just your church. Community is your neighborhood, other churches, missionary churches, etc. When I looked at Miller’s website, I find he’s not against church.
And I have a reason for still attending church. I can’t worship through music. Sitting in a pew or chairs, facing forward in a lecture-format is still not stimulating, and corporate prayer for longer than ten minutes makes my mind wander. However, its the people who have influenced me through church that make attending church worthwhile. The people who pray for me and who keep me accountable are invaluable. Many positive influences came through relations in church. Lots of expository sermons brought me to know the Christ I love, but in church, I have encountered people who are judgmental and hurtful. It’s the risk of going anywhere that a large group of people gather in intimate community.
The only way to avoid hurt is to avoid people. According to the Bible, we are not to leave from gathering together as believers. But what Miller said about wishing he had not written the blog really made me wish, that as believers, we were more sensitive. The only people who can rebuke a man for not attending church are the people who know them. They are the people privy to what is going on in their hearts. The rest of us should gentle our responses, and pray for those who do not have a church home. A large, home-church movement is out there, and while I do not agree with a home-church, I am glad, at least, the people without a church gather with a group of believers during the week. But I will not stop attending church. What church looks like for me may be different, but I still believe church matters. Church is also not a building, as a friend recently reminded me, but a body.
So please pray for those who do not have a church they feel they can call home. Pray for those hurt by church and pray for those who have trouble finding community in church. Help them realize that what we sow into community, we will reap.
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