Donald Miller, Church & Singing

February 9, 2014 | Get free updates of new posts here

The last few days there’s been a great discussion happening in blog world (yes, people still write and read blogs!) sparked by Donald Miller’s admission that he’s just not that in to church anymore.

I’m including links to these articles with quotes not because they are summaries of the entire post but because they highlight some of the points raised. All of these articles are worth reading in full.

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

It’s just that I don’t experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of sermons I actually remember. So to be brutally honest, I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon and I don’t connect with him by singing songs to him. So, like most men, a traditional church service can be somewhat long and difficult to get through.

There was then a follow-up post on his blog, answering some of the comments and questions he’d received since the original post.

Why I Don’t Go to Church Very Often, a Follow Up Blog

While I love the traditional church, I love it like a foundational part of my past, as though it were a University I’ve graduated from to join a much larger church those still in the University program are quite suspicious of.

Because this is the internet, responses were fast and furious. I didn’t come across any “An Open Letter to Donald Miller” posts but I am sure they’re out there.

Here are the responses I did find and read which I thought were worth sharing. Enjoy.

Why, unlike Donald Miller, I will never leave the church from Geoff Surratt

Unlike Donald Miller I will never leave, or graduate, from the local church. I don’t attend because I have to or because I am paid to, I attend because I believe God calls me to. I can’t speak to Miller’s thought process or church experience, we’ve never met. (Most of the influential Christian leaders I know, however, do attend church. We must know different leaders). I can only explain why I’ve come to a completely different conclusion about church.

Donald Miller and the Culture of Contemporary Worship by Mike Cosper

I realize I’m guilty of caricature here, as there are many, many churches that break this mold. But I think it’s fair to say this much: in the past, corporate worship was seen as an immersive formational experience, wherein the church calendar and liturgy slowly shapes Christians to live Kingdom-oriented lives in a fallen world; today, the gathering (shaped by revivalist sentiments and revolutionized by new technology) is meant to be a catalytic, emotional experience. We aim to be spectacular, rather than regular. We aim for instant gratification rather than slow, steady change.

The Church Needs You – What Donald Miller Got Wrong by Stephen Miller

God doesn’t need our songs. If we weren’t to sing to him, he would be no less glorious than he is. We can neither add to, nor detract from his magnificent worth with our rhythm and rhyme. So to think that corporate worship in song is simply for the benefit of a God who needs our songs reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of singing within the corporate gathering of church.

On Going To Church by Glenn Packiam

Why do we go to church?

This is the question at the bottom of all this musing, right? Miller speaks for many who see the hollow-ness of what the gathered church has become. I see it. You see it. So we ask, “Why go to church?” Immediately, someone is going to say, “We don’t go to church; we are the church!” There is, of course, something true about this statement. But it misses a very crucial point.


These are only a few responses and typical of the general discussion I’ve overheard on this topic. It’s one worth addressing and shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly.

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  • Reply Miranda Gray February 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I am becoming someone who doesn’t go to church. it is just that my current faith community is a reminder of so much that I am not. I don’t see my experience reflected in the crowd. I love sharing their faith journey but at times it seems the sharing is all one way.

    • Reply TLC February 26, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      Hi Miranda,

      That sounds lonely and alienating. 🙁 But even more than that, it sounds like you have something really unique to offer that congregation. The Body of Christ is diverse, and it’s beautiful in its diversity. Maybe you’re there to be the first of your kind, where others like you will be drawn, where you can collectively reflect the diversity of the Body alongside people who are very different from you! 🙂 One of the best things about different phases of life, preferences, and personalities, is that we get to learn from each other and benefit from our varying gifts. I’m sure you have much to offer, and much to receive. I hope you’ll stick around! Grace and peace to you tonight.

  • Reply Trevor Stinson February 18, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    This is a great roundup of posts. Thanks for providing this in the wake of all the responses that were written.

  • Reply Ryan Guerra March 19, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    It’s definitely an interesting concept, I can agree that some people may not get anything from church, however there are many churches that need someone there to server and fill a place so that church can more effectively reach the lost. Someone may of heard a tithing sermon over and over again, but the person next to him maybe hasn’t, and since he assist on our setup team that shows up every week to set up, the person who has never heard the sermon, can hear it. It’s a team effort and realizing that as much as we consume from the church, we also have awesome opportunities to give back. Thanks for sharing this stuff dude!

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