I love you Donald Miller.
I love your Blue Jazzy writing and have incorporated your books into many a small group community and watched people's hearts and imaginations set ablaze by your story and your insight.
But man, THIS stings.
It's chock full with your awesomeness but do people really need more ammo on why not to be part of church? Sunday morning is already just so beautifully sleep-in-able.
I remember the first time I ever heard you speak…you and your pastor from Imago Dei, who had been instrumental in your spiritual journey, sat (both of you with similar figures at the time) on stools laughing and sharing your shared stories. It inspired me, as a fresh new church leader, to be in the lives of people in my city who might one day, who knows, write their own Million Miles. Local church and your pastor were so entwined in your authorship and journey that when you were you invited to speak in front of thousands, you had him take the stage with you. Beautiful. Inspiring.
I believe in the Church. The Church being people.
Super flawed, but coming together to not only know God via community and learn from each other, but to beautifully combine our generations, experiences and lives to make something LOCAL and representative of who Jesus called us to be in the very towns/cities/villages and places in which we dwell. Compassion incarnate. In numbers. In diversity.
If I read one more christian leader post a blog or statement about the top 10 reasons they left the church or why they don't "attend it" when they know FULL WELL how freaking tough it is to lead a community of faith, i'm going to stinking cry. or something. have we not better things to do with our energies? that goes for all the former church staff/pastor authors who write books to sell to the church on how to be a better church or church leader yet continue to bash it's value. or not actually be a living breathing part of a church. they just go from gig to gig hired to lead worship or speak at it but don't have one to call home.
church isn't about sunday morning. it's about serving each other and knowing God better and being more than we can be in our own living room or mountain top hike. there are moments for that. but there are moments for caring for the single mom, celebrating the birth and life of those in our community and sharing with each other. i will take bullets for it. If I can find the time I'll try write blog posts and a book on all the reasons you SHOULD give The Church a chance. Whether it's out of style or antiquated, and although super-screwed up at times, it is one of the things for which I'm most grateful and am giving my life to further. Why? I have watched my friends be transformed by the love and power and beauty in it.
yes, i've also, like you, watched people be destroyed by it…
but do we stop falling in love because divorce exists? hell no.
And I know that I can do more to further a Kingdom of love by being part of a Church community than by not. Being a part, not attending. Don't throw stones at educating children and not expect teachers to be infuriated. Same with continually trashing being part of THE CHURCH with those who are leading it. And planting it. And hoping to help it thrive. not cool. If you are a person of faith with influence, do something awesome with it instead of discouraging people from being part of something in their community that could do good, bring and help restore hope and deliver God to them in the form of song, in encouragement, in flesh and blood face to face conversation and presence.
Although I am not denominational, I believe in The Church. I believe in People. I believe in local. I believe that when we gather and serve and sing and pray and give and learn TOGETHER we are stronger and more meaningful. And deeper. And a million great things I could bullet point in a blog or book. So if you spend all day writing or blogging, how about you bullet point those precious amazing things rather than discouraging people from it? and continually criticizing it? authors/speakers/bloggers/WL's: if you are willing to make your living off the church's $, bookings & readership, be sensitive to the people giving their lives to help make it possible for them to have a Church community to call home. I'd love to be passive and thumbs-up these blogs/statements/books people keep sending me, but i can't help but feel completely frustrated by them. Let's be known by what we're for not what we're against. Shall we? Much of this thought process began when some of my very favorite Pastors and teachers left the local church for consulting, conference circuits, blogging and authoring. Although all beautiful things, they were such amazing local church examples in my life that I felt saddened that they’d give it up for giving their two cents on church leadership while no longer leading it. What a loss to their cities. To their communities. I fear many an opportunity has been squandered for the lure of The National Stage.
A friend of mine who was formerly a church pastor and church planter asked me, "how long does someone need to stay in local church as a pastor or leader before moving on to other things"? I don't know. That's not the point. But if by other things you mean moving on completely from being a part of The Church then I hope that day never comes for you. Because if you have or have had influence, people will follow your lead.
I love that Dr. Oz still does heart surgeries even though he's moved on to be a TV show host.
He's still in it. Neck deep in it. I want to ask him heart surgery questions because he still has a scalpel in his hand. I bet his fellow surgeons of NYC are thrilled that a surgeon of Oz's caliber hasn't left "the game" and that more people are still alive because TV wasn't more important. I speculate.
I choose to embrace her (The Church) in all she lacks because it’s not Sunday morning and steeples that are holy but rather the collection of people together in community doing something greater that is very very holy. And amazing. And messy. If you've led it or experienced good in it (The Church), don't kick it while it's down. Help it up, brother and sister.
Sarah Bessey (who might be my new favorite blogger) wrote THIS on not giving up on The Church. and it's amazing. and you should read it right now.