Don Miller stirred up one hell of a storm by stating he doesn’t connect with God in a traditional church service setting and so, he doesn’t attend church regularly. I have very good friends of mine who don’t feel comfortable or connect in traditional church services. I’ve been in bible studies and home churches with them. They are great people who have challenged and help me grow in my faith. And I love and am extremely grateful for them.
Kevin Miller wrote a piece about how sad and how far Don Miller, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell have fallen. There were a couple points in Miller’s piece that bugged me more than others.
(Kevin)Miller has a problem with Don’s story about a communion experience he had with some friends of his.
As a movement, we treasure the individual getting right with God, the religious born-again experience, the innovative way to do mission. Sounds good, but when individual trumps communal, experience trumps received teaching, and innovation trumps the Great Tradition, you get exactly what we’ve all just lived through. It can go no other way. How else can you explain Don Miller’s nostalgic delight in do-it-myself Communion: “I remember pulling over on the side of the road with friends, climbing into an old abandoned building that we thought looked interesting and doing communion on a loading dock using hot chocolate and cookies. … It was a fantastic bonding moment between us but also between us and God.” The same soil that grows create-your-own sacraments feeds create-your-own moral teaching.”
Isn’t (Don) Miller’s experience with his friend, the essence of communion? Isn’t it a beautiful picture of what communion can be? That communion doesn’t have to be limited to inside church walls eating stale mini crackers and grape juice past its best by date. I’d take hot chocolate and cookies any Sunday morning. Communion is a meal of remembrance. Isn’t stopping, taking a moment to recognize God’s goodness, and celebrate what’s He’s done in your life , with whatever elements you have? Why should this beautiful expression of communion be frowned upon? How did we get from a communion that features hot chocolate and cookies to create-your-own morals? That’s quite a leap…
My other big issue was this statement…
“yet that Scripture was written by the church to the church for the church, so it must be read within the church.”
Uh… Say what? On certain levels I understand what Miller is trying to convey… But it’s a little offensive. I love my church. Our teaching team is phenomenal and I love them! But… Most of what God has shown me and taught me in the last year has not been in a sermon. It’s been in my own personal reading time. In fact the message with the most impact on my life in the last year was given by Don Miller. If the only place the scriptures are being read is the church… That’s a problem. And I know this isn’t what (Kevin) Miller meant, but it sure sounds like he’s suggesting that our spiritual fill of scripture should come from the church alone.
Why are we trying to define and limit what a church is and should look like?
The church is you and me. It meets in beautiful church buildings, movie theaters, coffee houses, bars, wineries, abandoned warehouses… Heck, have church on a baseball diamond (why not!). The church is Keveil Miller, and Donald Miller, and Rob Bell, and Joel Osteen, and the right wing gun owner, and the tree hugging democrat, and all of us who proclaim Christ as our Savior. We are the church. We need to work together and love each other. The world will know we belong to God by our love for one another (John 13:35). Shouldn’t we be focusing on our common ground and strive to work together to bring the love of God to everyone? Isn’t that what matters more?