Tag Archive: donald miller


stopchurch

so about a week ago, Blue Like Jazz author ‘Donald Miller’ blogged about why ‘I don’t worship God by Singing, I connect with Him elsewhere’ and the internet went wild – Burn the Witch! Okay not quite, although Don did tweet a little later, ‘Blogged about not going to church today. More shame and guilt @replies than I’ve ever received on twitter. I feel immense forgiveness.’

He followed this one up with one titled, ‘Why I don’t go to church very often, a follow up blog.’ and once again people went nuts.

i feel like i have some idea of what Don was trying to say and i definitely agreed with him on some stuff and so responded with this of my own:

I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t die so you could meet in a building

and the internet went absolutely… well ‘as you were’ [i’m not a very big internet rippler]…

but then anyone who is anyone [and many who are not] had an opinion and most of them were writing blog posts on it and the topic gained a lot of airplay which is not the worst of things – hopefully people have been listening to each other and at least trying to hear what everyone else is saying and hopefully God will be moving our hearts towards a better and more effective understanding of what church is and what it is meant to be…

WHY YOU SHOULD STOP GOING TO CHURCH

well, firstly you shouldn’t! [stop going to church i mean] that’s not what i am saying. i don’t think that’s what Don was saying. and while some people took a moment to listen and then responded to what they heard, i think the majority of people got an idea in their head and then responded to that. which was largely unhelpful.

if you know me to any level of depth you will know that i am a champion of the church. in fact if you ask me what my passion is in life, i will describe it this way: i am passionate about seeing the church live out who we say we are and who we are supposed to be.

i am thoroughly convinced that the church is God’s idea and plan and method of transforming this world, BUT i am not convinced that that needs to take place on a sunday at a particular building.

and i don’t want to spend this whole post trying to speak on behalf of Donald Miller, because i can’t, but my impression was that he was saying the same thing on this point – i am not trying to get people to stop meeting and ‘doing church’ on sundays… what i am trying to suggest is that maybe church or the church is a little bit bigger than that.

IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME

my tag team buddy, Sean Du Toit, who studies Greek and reads commentaries for fun, had this to say:

I think you’ve missed something significant by making the word “church” a synonym for “people of God”. The word ἐκκλησία means ‘assembly’, or ‘gathering’. In the Greek Lexicon, Louw-Nida describe the term this way: “The term ἐκκλησία was in common usage for several hundred years before the Christian era and was used to refer to an assembly of persons constituted by well- defined membership… For the NT it is important to understand the meaning of ἐκκλησία as ‘an assembly of God’s people.’ In the rendering of ἐκκλησία a translator must beware of using a term which refers primarily to a building rather than to a congregation of believers. In many contexts ἐκκλησία may be readily rendered as ‘gathering of believers’ or ‘group of those who trust in Christ.’”

And more, which you can read in the comments section in my first blog on this.

however, this and many other comments addressed to Don or myself seems to insinuate/assume or imply that i was suggesting that Christ followers don’t need to gather. and that is completely not true – there is no community without communing and i believe strongly in community. what i keep saying is that maybe the gathering doesn’t have to necessarily be on a Sunday in a church building. it can be [and good for those who do that and are part of that – like i am, i am part of a church congregation that meets on a Sunday – this whole discourse is not me trying to get out of doing that] but it can also be other types of gathering which will need to be intentional but which perhaps can take place at a meal table, breaking actual bread and drinking wine and being closer perhaps to what Jesus meant when He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me?’ 

the other side of this whole conversation for me is the mission of the church, which includes things like:

[1] Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind and your neighbour as yourself. Also love your enemy and bless them.

[2] Forgiving everyone who has wronged you and even interrupting worship if necessary to go and make right with a brother who has sinned against you.

[3] Making disciples and baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything Jesus taught us

[4] Reaching out to the least of these, in particular widows and orphans

oh, and [5] Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me and [6] be known by the Love we have for each other and be one in Christ.

Now i know Sunday congregations that are barely living out the mission of the church – in fact there are many where people come and are entertained and pretty much watch or maybe participate in a performance and then return home largely unchanged and expect that other people will do the above things which is after all why they put their money in the collection plate anyways.

I also know groups of people in different guises who do not attend a Sunday congregation necessarily but who love God and are completely living out the mission of the church in community and who are growing and being led and wrestling with scripture and serving those around them and worshipping God through art and spoken word and music and dance.

According to the majority of the internet buzz, we are saying that the first group is more “Church” than the second group.

What i am wondering is, when both groups stand before Jesus one day, which one will He identify as His bride? 

The Parable of the Two Sons [Matthew 21]

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 ” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

being church

Those who said they were the thing vs. Those who were the thing? Would love to hear your thoughts…

I’ve heard from my buddy Sean so far… what things do YOU think define church as this thing we are needing to be part of?

[in case it wasn’t clear enough, i want to state that i am NOT telling you to leave church – just to understand a wider definition for it that may be larger than the idea you have in mind – there needs to be a combination of people gathering together – in some way, place, form – but also people living out the Jesus-followingness of being a Christian – has to be both!]

[Looking at the question, ‘Did you go to church today?’]

[If you had to choose between looking like church or acting like church]

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Twitter has been making me a little mad lately.

Angry mad, that is, not chop up all the vegetables and throw them in the bath tub and declare it ‘Salad Bath day’ mad… and sad mad as well – somewhere in between the two.

And by Twitter i don’t mean the whole of Twitter, and i do mean Facebook to a lesser extent as well, but christians on the various social networking sites, especially the Twitterer.

And not all christians on Twitter, thankfully. In fact, i can probably divide it into two camps [and this post in my mind originally contained a bunch of names of people but i think i will leave half of them out, so as not to become that which i am railing against – use the ‘test and see if this is me and if it is take it on and if it’s not don’t’ approach if you read this] and this is somewhat generalised but i think largely true, and of late seemingly worsely so.

THE FIGHTERS AND THE LOVERS

now i have been in the first camp for the majority of my life, i think, and so i am trying to keep my mind on that, while at the same time being able to critique why it has been frustrating me so much lately – but those who more often than not seem to be picking fights with people or issues [although the issues tend to be linked quite closely to people more often than not] and these might be people and issues that are deserving of having fights picked with them, but i think there comes a point when all you are doing seems to be picking fights and take a breather and smell a flower or celebrate something good for a change. not to say these people don’t do that, but the overwhelming nature of some of their voices has seemed more belligerent and fighty of late.

in the midst of all the fightiness and arguing and point-making and name-and-shaming [which, as i’m saying, i feel definitely has its place] on Twitter, i am hit by huge big breaths of fresh air – and this is where i will mention names – Eugene Cho [@eugenecho]talking about One Day’s Wages and the work they are continuing to do in the disaster areas of the Philippines,  Donald Miller [@donaldmiller] who is currently on honeymoon and tweeting out some gems he prepared beforehand but often sharing exciting stories from the Storyline blog he helps put together, Mike Pilavachi [@mikepilav] who generally shares exciting things about exciting kingdom happenings that he gets to be involved with all of the time, whoever is tweeting for Pope Francis [@pontifex] which tend to be inspirational Jesus-focused messages and calls to live like Him, and the Tim Keller Wisdom [@dailykeller] tweets which are often inspiring quotes or scripture verses. as well as anyone who shares C.S.Lewis quotes.

and in the middle of that, on her own planet [and what a fun planet it is] is Jamie Wright [@JamieTheVWM] who bounces between completely serious and mouth-wateringly-sarcastic and vulnerable and crazy and inspiring and fun… so often fresh air in the midst of the fresh air.

light

MORE LIGHT, LESS DARKNESS BASHING

i do believe there is a time to take on the darkness [slavery, woman’s rights, human-trafficking, racism] and maybe there is a case for some people feeling the need to do that more often than not [there are certainly some Old Testament prophets who didn’t get their fair share of the friendly messages to deliver] but i do believe that it is a lot more helpful and inspiring and all-around-fun to shine the light more often and more regularly and with more intensity than taking on the darkness.

so when you need to take on the darkness, by all means do so… but if there is ever a choice, rather shine some light. 

you see, light drives away the darkness simply by being light [not by any active drivingness on its part] and Jesus called us to be light [not hidden light, displayed light]

also i don’t know too much how people are swayed by Twitter fights and Facebook wall arguments and i imagine the watching world does not take away the hugest declaration of ‘You shall be known by the love you have one for another’ from a lot of what has been going on of late.

the responsibility is so huge when you have a huge following as people are strongly influenced by the how as well as the what.

may we be faithful in every aspect of our online presence and may we be surrounded by people who love us well who we invite to call us on stuff when we get it wrong.

thank you to all of you who are drawing people towards Jesus and a Jesus-following life through your efforts, whether it be light-shining or darkness-taking-on.

together for the kingdom. but let us always ‘err’ on the side of Love.

[how about you? who do you follow on Twitter who brings life and light to your day? please leave their name and Twitter handle in the comments section]

aw crap, i had this all ready and waiting for Father’s day and then i forgot to post it… think of it as my birthday, that the party stretches to at least a week before and after and enjoy this and pass it on to any dad’s you might know…

I really loved Louis C.K. as Lesley Knope’s awkward copy boyfriend in Parks and Recreation.

I loved him in his standup comedy about how we take the wonder of flying for granted [plus telephones and being a dad!]

And then Donald Miller recommended this clip via his Twitter account yesterday which is a more subtly funny, more just hardcore look at being a bad father, but a good bad father:

Married? Single? Other?

My friend Jess is a beautiful, single blonde girl who has been a missionary in Italy for 10 years and is the same age as me. One day, an Italian woman, let’s call her Mamma Carmen, came up to her with a little charm necklace that had a picture of a saint on it.

“What’s this?” asked Jess.
(Cue in accent of Italian mama who doesn’t speak much English)
“A necklace for you. A picture of Saint Anthony. “
“Who is Saint Anthony?”
“Is-a- the patron saint of lost-a things.”
“And what have I lost, Mama Carmen?”
“Oh, you know sveetie. “
“No I don’t know. What is that I have lost?”
“You lost-a your husband.”
“Mama Carmen, isn’t that usually the saint you pray to for a lost sock or car keys-things like that?”
“Yes, but not for you. For you, pray to him for husband. More important than sock.”

Mama Carmen’s Formula:

“Lost Husband + Praying to Patron Saint of Lost Things + Ten Hail Marys= 1 wedding, 5 socks, 2 spoons, and 1 bracelet you thought you gave to your friend Jill.”

I had my own formula concocting conversation with a ministry leader of mine a few years back. Let’s call her Emily. The conversation looked like this:

“Kate, do you remember our babysitter Joann? Well, she went through a season of really struggling with being single like you are going through. She cried and battled and finally brought her burden to the Lord. She let go.

Two weeks later, she met her husband. And he looks just like Ryan Gosling. “

I said,”Emily, I am really happy for Joann. But she is twenty freaking years old.”

“So? What does that have to do with anything?”

I respected and loved this leader, but I just couldn’t brush the comment off this time.

I said “I have had a decade longer than her of wrestling with God over this issue. In all my wrestling, I have had several seasons where I have been content as a single person, embracing the thought of God as my husband. But often, those seasons fade, and I’m struggling again. It is a cycle that happens. I don’t think God laughs at my cycles of frustration. I think he understands. I think He wants to meet me there. “

Emily continued to argue with me, saying that I just needed to let go, insinuating that it was my own fault that I was still single.

I said, “Em, please understand me here. If you had a friend who was not getting pregnant or who was having multiple miscarriages, someone who had been struggling with barrenness for fifteen years, would you say to her ‘If you just trusted the Lord more with your barrenness, he would give you a baby?’ You would never say that! You recognize how much she is mourning that loss, and so you careful with her words. You don’t want to hurt her even more by making her feel like it might be her own fault.

Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.”

I know that sounds pretty heavy, but it is how many of us feel at times.

In the very thick book of popular theology that is not actually in the Bible, a book I like to call “First Assumptions” , we have this formula:

“Not letting go=being single.
Letting go= being married. “

Most singles I have talked to have had this formula given to them in one way or another. Many of them dozens of times. Almost every time I mention writing my book on singleness, single people give me some kind of version of this story.

Most of us, when we first heard this formula as a young person, grabbed our journal and bible and went to a quiet place. We turned our sweet young faces to heaven with tears in our eyes and said “Lord, I let go. I give my husband to you.”

Do you know why we were saying this? Because we wanted a husband. And according to the formula, if you wanted a husband, you had to let go of him first. So we were letting go of him in order to get him.

Quite ironic, isn’t it?

But as years passed, when that formula didn’t work, we started cringing when someone told us we just needed to let go. We couldn’t put our finger on why it irked something deep inside of us, but it did.

I have a theory about why it frustrates us so much. At the root of this formula is the idea that all single people have done something wrong and all married people have done something right. Married people, I know you probably never meant to make us feel that way, but it is the nature of that formula.

It kind of reminds me of the story of Job. Here is the formula we can get out of his story.

“Tragically losing everything+wife that is pissed+hideous boils all over your body+annoying friends telling you that you must have done something wrong to deserve this+being totally frustrated and not getting why you’re going through this+God’s booming voice telling us humans that we don’t know nothing and He doesn’t fit in our formulas and boxes+ praising God even through horrible circumstances and singing “Blessed Be Your Name” = even more stuff than you had before.”

Sound familiar? (Except for the boils part, hopefully.) That story is one of the oldest in the bible. One of it’s lessons? Don’t make formulas. Meet Him, wrestle with Him, praise Him even when you don’t understand, but never, ever, put Him in a box.

As Donald Miller said, “As much as we want to believe we can fix out lives in about as many steps as it takes to make a peanut-butter sandwich, I don’t believe we can.”

My married friend Becca, who is incredibly dear to me, explained to me that married people don’t often have bad motives in their formula making. She said that when human beings don’t understand something, they make formulas. They want to feel like they are giving their friend some control over the situation. They even make their own life journeys into formulas. Sometimes we singles cling to the formulas given to us because we want some control over the situation as well.

I really appreciate that we had this conversation because it reminded me that married people are not the enemy. They love us.

But out of love, I want our married friends to understand why these formulas are so hard for us to hear.

These formulas makes us feel like our being single has nothing to do with God’s will or our choices or the enemy or any other theory you have on why hard things happen.

It has to do with our lack.

We already struggle with feeling like we lack when we wonder why we haven’t been chosen. Please don’t cut that wound deeper.

This formula also makes us feel like our not being married has to do with our relationship with the Lord, which evidently is wanting.

For most of us, our relationship with the Lord is the most sacred one that we have. Please, please, don’t criticize that relationship as well. Don’t tear down the one relationship where we feel loved and accepted. Even if you mean well, just don’t do it.

I think a good rule of thumb for both parties is to do less formula making and pat- answering and do more listening. Listening to what the Lord has to say, and listening to each others journeys with compassion.

Restrain yourselves from formulas. But don’t restrain yourselves from giving each other a hug. We probably both need one.

Be encouraged that we all have our own journey, and that all of our journeys our valid.

[Kate Hurley writes a blog called ‘The Sexy Celibate’ which you can read here. Among other things she is a singer, songwriter, worship leader, writer, and teacher and has contributed worship to Enter the Worship Circle. I also encourage you to head over to her website and sample some of her music.]

[To read the Singleness story of my friend Kate Sherry, click here]

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