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

Donald Miller

I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all.

I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s true. I was finally able to admit this recently when I attended a church service that had, perhaps, the most talented worship team I’ve ever heard. I loved the music. But I loved it more for the music than the worship. As far as connecting with God goes, I wasn’t feeling much of anything.

I used to feel guilty about this but to be honest, I experience an intimacy with God I consider strong and healthy.

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.

*Photo Credit: Oleh Slobodeniuk, Creative Commons

*Photo Credit: Oleh Slobodeniuk, Creative Commons

I’m fine with this, though. I’ve studied psychology and education reform long enough to know a traditional lecture isn’t for everybody. There’s an entire demographic of people who have to learn by doing, not by hearing. So you can lecture to them all day and they’re simply not going to get it.

Research suggest there are three learning styles, auditory (hearing) visual (seeing) and kinesthetic (doing) and I’m a kinesthetic learner. Of course churches have all kinds of ways for you to engage God including many kinesthetic opportunities including mission trips and so forth, but if you want to attend a “service” every Sunday, you best be an auditory learner. There’s not much out there for kinesthetic or visual learners.

Interestingly, I learn a great deal by teaching, which is interesting to me.

I learn by doing the very thing I don’t learn by hearing! My guess is because teaching is a kinesthetic discipline rather than an auditory discipline. But that’s a side note. Here’s the real question:

How do I find intimacy with God if not through a traditional church model?

The answer came to me recently and it was a freeing revelation. I connect with God by working. I literally feel an intimacy with God when I build my company. I know it sounds crazy, but I believe God gave me my mission and my team and I feel closest to him when I’ve got my hand on the plow. It’s thrilling and I couldn’t be more grateful he’s given me an outlet through which I can both serve and connect with him.

My friend Bob Goff says when we study somebody without getting to know them, it’s called stalking. Bob says Jesus is getting creeped out that we keep stalking him. He’d like us to bond with him in the doing.

So, do I attend church? Not often, to be honest.

Like I said, it’s not how I learn.

But I also believe the church is all around us, not to be confined by a specific tribe. (tweet this)

I’m fine with where I’ve landed and finally experiencing some forward momentum in my faith. I worship God every day through my work. It’s a blast.

So are you an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner? And if visual or kinesthetic, how do you connect with God?

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller has been telling his story for more than a decade, now he wants to help you tell yours. He’s helped over 1,000 companies clarify their message through the StoryBrand Workshops. For an introduction to what he’s doing now, check out the 5 Minute Marketing Makeover.

  • dmoneytrue

    I am running into the same problem and thank you for this article. I too seem to connect to the Lord by serving him and I’m finding church is not much more than a Salvation Christainity 101 type of gospel. it has gotten so bad that I am turning to YouTube to get the deeper meaning of the gospel. I kinda had the revelation tonight if I’m going to go to a Salvation type of church I need to be serving in it or go find another church where discipleship is mixed with salvation Christianity.

  • Carri

    After reading this I came away with a few thoughts: Worship songs in
    today’s Church are so shallow and repetitive, it’s no wonder why
    Christians can’t worship in Church. The Heart cannot rejoice in what
    the mind cannot comprehend.Or the mind will tune out when it’s not given any thing worth pondering. Songs today are all about “US”. Man centered and subjective. We’ve lost the art of singing objective truth songs. But there are great theologically rich worship songs out there! Worship leaders have to search for them (they usually are not the popular ones being sung) But they DO stir the heart to worship. Only truth can stir our hearts.

    Secondly: Many men in pulpits today do not belong there. There is an evident lack of the teaching gift and once again, it’s no wonder why Christians are bored at Church. My advice is to find a strong Bible teaching church that also values theology in their worship in song.

    Thirdly: Church is NOT all about us. We are not to be consumers
    but givers. The scriptures tell us to NOT forsake the assembling of the
    saints for good reason. We each have a purpose within the local church
    and we unconsciously further the Kingdom of God when we regularly attend church. There’s something powerful in the unity of numbers as we corporately gather with other like minded believers. We need to base all of our behavior on what the Bible says not on what we feel.

    • c jones

      I have to disagree with with regularly attending church. If I’m not mistaken, you’re referring to Hebrews 10:24-25 about not neglecting to meet together. I don’t think anyone here is saying that we shouldn’t be connected with other believers, just that I don’t think that verse is necessarily saying that we have to do that in a church atmosphere (aka the environment that the modern day church has become). If I choose to meet with a group of Christian friends in our own time and I get more out of that than going to church Sunday morning, I think I’ve fulfilled Hebrews 10:24-25 just fine.

      Yes, there is a synergy gained when believers gather together, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that the bigger the group the better. It just needs to be a group. I think the size, formality, location, meeting time, etc. of that group is as unique as the individuals and their interests, desires, and gifts that make it up.

      • Tobias Marx

        I totally agree. There isn’t really any direction in the bible to the way the Christian (protesysant) church has evolved and does there services. Yes, all the verses mentioned before suggest community, togetherness, in short life together. But that can and should have many ways. I have to admit, I have grown rather “anti-traditional-church” , as I feel it’s is often empty and bot perusing Jesus.

    • R B

      Louisie: I think it’s hilarious that you start you post with two very opinionated comments about the church “Worship songs are so shallow and repetitive” and “Many men in pulpits today do not belong there” and then you follow it up with “The Church Is NOT all about us – we are not to be consumers, but givers.” So your first two statements, totally and COMPLETELY contradict the last one!

      Your first two statements are totally and completely “consumeristic” – as if both the music and the message have to suit YOU or they are not valid. The great thing about Churches in America is that they are EVERYWHERE! Don’t like loud worship music? Great – go to a church that still sings hymns. Don’t like a long “sermon”? Great – go to a church that follows a liturgy, and maybe only has a 20 minute message. Don’t want to go to church at ALL? GREAT – you don’t have to. Jesus didn’t attend church – what we think of as “church” today, didn’t even exist prior to the first century. What we think of as “church”- which we very stupidly call the “Sabbath’ was two completely different things in 1st Century Jerusalem. Early believers still celebrated the Jewish Sabbath (a day of REST) on the last day of the week: Sundown on Friday to Sundown on Saturday. On the FIRST day of the week (Sunday) they began to spontaneously gather to worship. So if we REALLY wanted to follow the pattern set by the “Church” that sprang up directly from the ministry of Jesus, we would all REST on Sunday (take a whole, entire day to do WHATEVER WE WANTED) and then on Monday evening, gather together for a BRIEF worship service before heading home after work.

      • ifni

        Hi RB, I’ve been reading through the comments here and followed your discussion with others with interest. I think it is exceptionally sad that your experience of church has been so pain-filled. Clearly it’s not God’s desire for his children to cause hurt towards each other. Instead we are the Bride of Christ, commanded to love one another in unity and think of each other as better (or more valuable) than ourselves.

        With that in mind, I don’t think it does us well to throw the Sunday church model out the window because we’ve been hurt. I think hurting Christians are a big wake-up call to the rest of the church that maybe in some congregations we are doing poorly at loving one another and need to take a long hard look at ourselves. And for hurting Christians I think the challenge is to see that our pain does not define our theology or practice. This means holding in tension the twin truths that yes we have been hurt, but also that the Church is God’s chosen vessel to reach the world. If we think the Church is broken then we should be loving it back to health. If we can’t find a context to do that in (as in, find a gathering where we feel safe and can exercise our gifts for the blessing of ourselves and others) then we should still honour the Church with our prayers, with our words and with our attitudes. Tearing it down with vitriol, in my opinion, adds nothing helpful and contravenes scriptural instruction.

        • ifni

          Also, i think that after having read through your posts here it is extremely unfair to (wrongly) criticise Lousie as either contradictory or opinionated when your posts are so aggressive, sharp-tongued and yes, contradictory.

        • R B

          Okay, the problem is that there is the Institution of Church – meaning the groups of people that DIVIDE themselves based on the location they worship, what they feel it means to be a “Christian,” how “Christians” are supposed to act, think and behave etc, etc, etc, and then there is what Christ called “the Church,” meaning the Bride or the Body of Christ.

          Never, ever forget that it was the leaders of the INSTITUTIONAL church in Jesus’ day that had him crucified. Why? Because he was undermining THEIR power and THIER authority – because he was teaching people to think and reason for themselves, rather than blindly follow their religious leaders. The exact same thing he wants from us today.

          The Institutional Church is and always has been broken, and the answer is not to “love it back into health” the answer is for it to DIE once and for all – and we are moving towards that now, just has we have been for the last 2,000 years.

          I don’t “honor” a church any more than I pledge allegiance to a flag or a government, any more than I would bow down and worship a president, king or other earthly authority. The Church is not a BUILDING, it is not a group of buildings, it is not a group of people that meet on a specific day in a specific location – especially because people believe they “own” buildings (they do not) and they think that gives them rights to decide who is welcome and who is not, and how people who are welcome are supposed to act think and behave. “Churches” in America are where people go when they want to play God.

          THE CHURCH, the Bride of Christ is a living, breathing entity, BILLIONS of believers throughout time AND space that are all joined together by the power of the Holy Spirit – NOT by man’s rules and regulations and determinations of who is “in” and who is “out.”

      • Lousie

        There is NO contradiction in what I’m saying at all. I speak from over 30 years of ministry experience and from truthfully discerning the Western Church today. You have an opinion, I have an opinion. Unfortunately, yours is based on your own subjective “feelings and experience” and you’ve lost sight of the BIG picture and scripture. It sounds like you have a problem with authority. You can’t swing to extremes because someone may have hurt you. You must be obedient to scripture. You can’t throw out the baby with the bath water. There will always be bad people in good places. And yes Jesus DID go to church. He went into the Temple regularly as was His custom. That was church in His day. The Church is God’s idea and the model for structure is also clearly spelled out in scripture. You can’t hijack the Church concept and do whatever you want your way. The example in Leviticus warns us of worship our way and not God’s way.
        Lev. 10:1-2 1 “Now
        Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and
        after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange
        fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.…”
        The Devil is very subtle and uses any wrong doing in a Church setting to turn us against The Church and ultimately God. Be aware of his schemes! Once he can get you isolated and away from God’s will for you, he has you! You were not made to live the Christian life alone. You were made for community; the Church, in all it’s imperfections. Please find another church that teaches the Word and where the leadership is humble.

        • R B

          Wow, see – that right there. Perfect example of what is wrong with the Church. More often than not it’s nothing but a pissing contest, as you have clearly evidenced here. You start off presenting what you clearly think of as being very impressive credentials that should make it patently obvious that YOUR opinion is clearly and infinitely far more valuable than mine is. And if that’s not enough, you chalk my opinion up to “subjective feelings and experiences” as if I haven’t spent a single moment studying the Bible – OR multiple churches.

          For your information, however (not that you asked, you just simply assumed) I spent 10 years of my life traveling all over the entire country in a traveling Christian theater ministry, performing in churches of almost every denomination AND staying in the homes of church members. My understanding of the state of the American church comes from having been IN hundreds and hundreds of churches all across the country over a 10 year period and not just “in” the churches themselves, but actually STAYING in the homes of church people.

          And this right here is what Churches in buildings that owned ore rented by the church become – pissing contest to determine who’s interpretation of the Bible is the “most” valid – with whoever presents the best credentials or comes across the most “authoritative,” winning.

          And I have no problem with authority whatsoever. I am simply first, foremost and above all else under the authority of GOD and not man, because I am ACCOUNTABLE to God for my own actions. It’s like this: if you pay my bills, then I am accountable to you for my actions. If I live under your roof, then I am obligated to abide by your rules. If you pay me to do a job, I am accountable to you for how I do that job.

          In a strange irony, I am FREE from the law because I FOLLOW the law. Right now I am not accountable to anyone because I am not dependent on anyone. But the REAL reason I am not accountable to anyone is because I am not in violation of any laws, rules or regulations – religious or otherwise.

          I go to church. When I am at church, I dress, act and behave appropriately. I don’t wear a bikini to church, I don’t stand up in the middle of service and shout, scream or disrupt the service in any way. Therefore I have no need to have anyone hold me accountable to adhere to something I am not in violation of.

          I don’t need anyone to hold me to financial accountability because I pay my bills and manage my finances appropriately. I don’t need someone (clearly) to hold me accountable to working because I get my work done on time, for which I get paid, at which time I pay my bills. Accountability is only a necessity when you are in VIOLATION of something.

          As long as you obey the law, you are not accountable -no one tracks you or hounds you or pays the slightest bit of attention to what you are doing – because you are obeying the law. If I BREAK the law, however, there will be consequences, and if necessary, I lower or higher degree of accountability based on what the offense is. If it is a serious violation, like murder, I might be removed from society entirely for a time, before being put on parole – enforced accountability. If it is of a less serious nature, I might get probation, where I have to check in with a probation officer, who monitors certain things about my lifestyle. When you break laws you lose your freedom – I am free, because I am in violation of no laws.

          And where do you find that Jesus went to the temple “regularly.” And I don’t mean just ONE verse. The disciples were with Jesus for three years – if he had gone to temple every week, I”m pretty sure they would have written about that. You have a lot of opinions, but not a lot of scripture to back it up, aside from one really weird random (rather violent) passage from Leviticus. Seems to me, that – like a lot of people in churches that call themselves Christians – you have a rather disturbed viewpoint of what should happen to people who don’t fall into line with what YOU think “Christians” should be doing. Lots of fire and brimstone, and consuming and pain and damnation. And then you wonder why people really aren’t all that fond of church.

          If people were REALLY finding the love of Christ in churches, do you REALLY think we would have so many debates about why people REALLY don’t want to be there? People FLOCKED to Jesus – he had to literally sail out to the middle of the sea just to get some “me time” – if Churches were really teaching what JESUS was teaching do you REALLY think you would have to GUILT people into going to church?

          How about you spend less time preaching to everyone to go to church, and spend a little more time figuring out why they don’t WANT to – they WANTED to listed to Jesus, but they clearly DON’T want to listen to what most pastors today are preaching. Why do you think that might be?

  • Samantha Butler

    Hey, Donald. My name is Samantha and I’m not replying to this post for any reason but to engage in dialogue, and because I believe dialogue is crucial to the Christian community. This is not a rant, I promise!

    That said, I am a little unsettled with the conclusion you come to in your article. Your personal choice to not attend church is up to you, but I’m not sold on the route you took to get there and I feel it might be detrimental to other people that fill the same blanks in as you. People like me!

    The reason is, my husband and I are kinaesthetic learners, too. In University, I had to bring pipe cleaners (or Facebook games) with me in order to survive through a lecture: I needed to be “doing” so what they were saying would soak in and I wouldn’t flunk out.

    And like you, we’re business people, too. We run a company and we feel like God connects with us and through us when we do our business with our clients. It’s exhilarating. We’re blessed to have that. I’d even venture to say that we get a strong sense of community from our business – even though it’s a staff of 2, we meet thousands of people along the way.

    But. Although we get more out of the “doing” (whether inside or outside a church context) than the listening or the singing, we still believe that it is crucial to the lifeblood of Christianity as a whole – and more importantly, of our personal faiths and to our family – to be intensely connected in a church. So much so that when we skip a Sunday, people call to see where we were at. The kind of connected that scares introverts like me but holds me to accountability when things start to slip, or that catches me when I fall.

    From my understanding, the Bible is very clear that intentional community is important. And I know, you mention that you do receive community outside of the church building. But I think that having friends that love and serve Jesus, while important, is different than having a weekly intentional gathering – even if it’s just a weekly intentional gathering near a hole in the ground in sub saharan Africa, or in my church’s case, in an old movie theatre in rural Ontario. Friends that love and serve Jesus can come and go, and they aren’t held to any standard that says they will always be there no matter what, in the way an intentional church community is. Friends can be accidental, not intentional; they can be cliquey and closed off; and they may not be open to inviting new people in, and to me that’s where the issue lies.

    Hebrews 10:25 encourages people to “not neglect to meet together” and 1 Timothy 4:13 tells the church to be devoted to the public reading of scripture and to preaching and teaching. If you believe that the Bible is Holy-Spirit inspired, then you should believe God wants us to meet together and to be committed to public reading, preaching and teaching – not to see ourselves as exempt from it because it doesn’t fit with our primary learning styles. You say that if you want to go to a traditional service, “you best be an auditory learner”. But if I want to be a kinaesthetic do-er of the word (James 1:22), I need to follow through with what the rest of scripture tells us, which is to find intentional community that’s devoted to public reading and teaching of scripture. The things I “do” can support my church, my community and my city – and I can be more effective in doing them when working alongside a larger body.

    If the group of community you’re friends with does not neglect to meet together and read scripture publicly and then explain it, then you have a church.

    And one last point. This one’s from my husband. He noticed that your revelation was that you connect with God when you work – which we all agree is an incredible feeling. But what he thinks is that because you are so blessed to connect with God in this way every weekday, you really have something special to offer a church community on the weekend. There are so many people who only connect on Sundays, something we all agree is problematic. You are in a unique position to get to know and show a community of people how fun God can be in the every day. Even if you can’t remember the sermon afterwards, even if the music is only okay, you have a unique opportunity to know people intimately and show them what God shows you. This is bigger and more valuable than having a blog or writing great books. It’s biblical.

    My pastor Jeremy is currently writing a series called Why We Gather and he mentions this blog post in his series. You can read them here (http://www.jeremylittle.org) – when I read your name I thought that he might have misquoted or misunderstood your take on church gathering because from my understanding, Blue Like Jazz is a call to community. So here I am, responding to you and I hope you respond back! Let’s dialogue.

  • David Mason

    Hebrews 10:25 says to not neglect the meeting of the body, and the preceding verse says to stir one another to good deeds. We are also told to bear one another’s burdens, greet each other with love, worship and eat together, and pray for one another. Being a Christian is being a part of God’s family and being a member of Christ’s body. Walking with God is a group effort.

    • ceejay

      There are many many ways to meet with one another, and many group settings for Christians to spur one another to good deeds. Why do you assume that any believer not a member of a formal local church is isolating themselves?

      • David Mason

        I don’t think I assumed as much as you assume I assumed. What is your definition of a formal church?

      • Frank Turk

        Well, mostly because that’s what the New Testament says. That is actually what Heb 10 says. That’s what 1 John 3 and 4 says. That’s for 1 & 2 Corinthians says. That’s what the letter to Titus says.

        And that’s what Jesus says, btw. The utterly-vacant idea that you can be in the body of Christ by yourself and without accountability to others and without any boundary markers is an inept reading of History and the NT.

        • R B

          The Bible says “Where two or more are gathered together in my name, there i am also.” The Body of Christ is all around us – any time I am in the company of another believer, I am fellowshipping with the Body of Christ – that can be in a restaurant, at a bar, anywhere. By the way: please show me where in the Bible it talks about Jesus going to church every week. If Jesus didn’t think it was important enough to attend church every week – or begin the practice of “having” church every week, then I’m thinking it’s not nearly as important as you’r making it out to be.

          • cymruargie

            Luke 4:16 – So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

          • R B

            So, when Jesus went to his HOME TOWN, he followed the CUSTOM of going to the Synagogue on the sabbath. Just prior to this verse, he also spent 40 days in the wilderness – no mention of going to Synagogue on the sabbath during that time. It also says he taught in many Synagogues, which were not like churches today – they were the community gathering places. Synagogues in Jerusalem were much like local pubs in Ireland, just as much for gathering and gossiping as for worshipping. Again, Jesus went to Synagogue on the major holy days – he participated in MANY traditional Jewish customs, but he also frequently violated them, like picking corn and healing on the sabbath – both of which were prohibited by Jewish custom. The point is, there is “customary” and there is “Commanded by God.” It is “customary” for those who choose to (and many do) to worship together on the Sabbath. But it is a cultural tradition – a CUSTOM – not a commandment. It is available for those who wish to utilize it, but it is not COMMANDED by God.

    • stuckintree

      Like at the local brewpub over a good ale….

  • Ric Lippmann

    Donald, I wish I could meet you, and hang out with you. I love this. 21st century churchianity is so stuck in a rut, that everything revolves around people attending finely tuned and choreographed performances and motivational talk services…even the health of peoples connection to God is judged and assessed by how many services they attend, how much money they give, and how many “ministries” the are invested in.

    What a ridiculous unbiblical concept.

    Thankyou for your honest and transparent sharing.

    Never mind all the critique – most of them are, simply put, stuck in a rut!

    Of course there is a place for a community of believers to meet and fellowship and share and love and live, together. You never criticised that.

  • Peter Walters

    Donald while I do understand your point I hope you do find a place to plug in because I am sure you have gifts that would be a blessing to many in a local church and on the other end you would also benefit from the gifts of others.

    • Shane Bumgarner

      Don’t you think he already has / is? Isn’t ‘the church’ in the world?

      • Peter Walters


        I think it’s important for each believer to be a part of a Church Family. That may look different depending on the context but we are not meant to live our Christianity in isolation.

        • Shane Bumgarner

          I agree, but I’m assuming he has a place to plug in and a ‘church’ or small group of some sort to do it with.

          • Peter Walters

            I hope so, it’s hard to do the “one anothers” by yourself. My concern is that I see many people who see no value in the local church for a variety of reasons and many of which may be legitimate. However, with that said to steal a line from Bill Hybels “The local church is the hope of the world.”

        • Elly Zhilyak

          I hear this a lot, and although I agree with the sentiment, I think it comes from people that connect differently. If you’ve read Donald’s books you should also know that he’s an introvert, so he wouldn’t be in his prime state surrounded by a ton of people every Sunday.

          • Peter Walters

            Sure and that’s fine but while it may not be the major way a person may connect I this think being with a group of believers for teaching, worship fellowship etc is of utmost importance.

          • R B

            Well, Peter, if you think it’s of utmost importance, then by all means YOU should be in church every week. But just because it is of utmost importance to you doesn’t make it of utmost importance to everyone. This is why we have a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus – so HE can tell us where he wants us to go and what He wants us to do, and we don’t have to rely on people we’ve never met on the internet to tell us what Jesus wants. When we have a direct relationship with Him, he can tell us himself.

          • Peter Walters

            Why so harsh?

            “…so HE can tell us where he wants us to go and what He wants us to do,
            and we don’t have to rely on people we’ve never met on the internet to
            tell us what Jesus wants.”

          • R B

            Maybe because I worship ONE God and it’s not you. It never ceases to amaze me how people try to play God, and then get all offended when they get a strong reaction. You say things like ” we are not meant to live our Christianity in isolation.” and “being with a group of believers for teaching, worship fellowship etc is of utmost importance.” In reality, Jesus did not attend church every week nor did any of the disciples or ANY other “good Jews.” They attended temple on Holy days or Feast days – but that means they were what modern “Christians” would call “Chreasters” – people that only attend on Christmas and Easter. Jesus did not command people to come and listen to his teachings, they came voluntarily, and I have a Bible and the Holy Spirit, so I really don’t need some man with a piece of paper from some high and mighty Christian college to tell me what God wants from me – God is perfectly capable of doing that himself. If God wants me in Church, he will tell me (and he has). If I need to stay away from church for a while, he will tell me (and he has). The Bible also says “Go into all the WORLD and preach the Gospel” – not once does it say “Go into the Church and preach the gospel or “invite all your friends to church.” You are not God – Jesus, WAS God, and Jesus – the Son of God, did not invite his friends to church, he invited them into a relationship with Him. The Bible DOES say things like “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together” but it does NOT say “every week.” It also says “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also.” I am “harsh” because of how many people think that their opinion is gospel. It’s not – it’s just an opinion.

          • Peter Walters

            Am I wrong in thinking that the disciples would have been in Synagogue weekly? Are you willing to say that you stance is also “just an opinion”?

          • R B

            Where in the Bible do you find ANY direction/ commandment/ etc to gather together weekly in any form of “ritualized” service? I am a follower of Jesus not religion. Jesus has many teachings and commands, primarily, first and foremost among them is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, soul and mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” But I’m not finding ANY directions to gather together once a week with a massive group of people I don’t know, sing some songs and listen to a speaker on a day we call the “Sabbath.” In the first century, the Sabbath was actually what God intended/ commanded it be – a day of REST, and it took place from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. This thing that WE in the modern world call “church,” that we do on a day we call the Sabbath was a practice that sprang up organically, where believers began to gather together on the FIRST day of the week (what in our culture would be Monday) to start their week of worshipping together. But it was never a commandment, it was just something they did.

            But for many people, this actually VIOLATES what the Sabbath is supposed to mean – for many people (especially mothers and introverts) this ritual of “going to church” is ANYTHING but “restful.” People have a very long history of taking God’s commandments and making all kinds of rules and regulations AROUND them that God never intended. God said “take a day of rest” and the Jewish religious leaders promptly came up with about 100 different “rules” around what it did and did not mean to “rest.” Jesus picked corn on the Sabbath, because picking corn was never prohibited by God – God just said “one day out of every seven days, REST” but MAN decided they needed to make things a little clearer about what it meant exactly (for EVERYONE) to “rest.” And modern religious leaders have done this same thing with “church” – God said “gather together,” religious leaders decided that had to mean some formalized, ritualistic meeting where the elite controlled the agenda.

            And yes, absolutely, this is my OPINION, this is how i interpret scripture, this is how I live my life – but I am not trying to get others to do what I do simply because I think it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes I go to church, and when I do, I don’t try to make anyone else go with me. If a friend of mine who usually goes to church decides not to – for a week, or for 10 years – I don’t try to tell them they are “going against God’s will.” If I decide not to go to church for a time, I don’t try to make other people stop going to church. You have the right to decide what it right for YOU, you have the right to share with others what you do or do not do – you do not have the right to DECIDE for others what is right or wrong, or even more importantly, what GOD’S will for THEM is.

          • Peter Walters

            Do you think the disciples went to Synagogue weekly?

          • R B

            I actually have no idea if the disciples went to Synagogue weekly or not – nor do I think it matters. As Jews, they were not allowed to culturally do all kinds of things that GOD never actually prohibited, and were “compelled” to do all kinds of things that God never commanded. Like the Sabbath. What God actually said was “Every 7 days, take a day of rest” and immediately, all the religious elite had to jump in and decide for everyone what it MEANT to “rest.” Jesus both healed AND picked corn on the Sabbath, which were against Jewish “cultural” law, but had never actually been prohibited by God.

            As a good Jew, Paul did not eat bacon (meat from unclean animals) but GOD told him He WANTED him to eat meat – why? Because the prohibition Paul was following was a HUMAN prohibition, not GOD’S prohibition.

            So, it doesn’t matter if the disciples went to Synagogue or not, what matters is WHY they went (if they did). Was it because GOD commanded it or because CULTURE dictated it? Jews did all kinds of things God never commanded, and refused to do all kinds of things that God actually DID command they do! And they pressured each other to comply – just as Christians to this day. So even if Jesus own disciples went to synagogue every single day – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is: were they doing it because God commanded it or because culture dictated it. I am not in any way obligated to follow cultural dictations, only God’s commands. So when you can show me where GOD commands that I participate in this weekly ritualistic extravaganza American Christians call “church” then I will gladly comply.

          • Peter Walters

            Ok thanks for answering my question.

            How does disciple making work for you if church attendance (whether on a Sunday or small group or house church) is not of great importance?

          • R B

            The same way it did for Jesus. I spend time with people – I literally COMMUNE with people, I BREAK BREAD with people as opposed to that paltry little ritual people partake in on Sundays. I don’t know if I will EVER understand how the richness and fulness of sharing a meal and conversation with people (which is to LITERALLY “commune” with one another) got watered down into this pathetic little ritual, that seems to COMPLETELY miss the point of not only what Jesus meant, but what Jesus did – the ritual we think of as “communion” was a common practice at the end of a meal, or, in this case, the last SUPPER. It was a full MEAL,not a 30 second little ritual.

            Jesus literally COMMUNED with the disciples, he “broke bread” with them, he shared a MEAL with them – and then said “This do in remembrance of me.” I honestly don’t think he meant “take 30 seconds to chug back a little thimble full of grape juice and a microscopic piece of rice cake in remembrance of me.” I think he wanted us to COMMUNE together, to break bread together, to share a FULL meal together, because I’ve never seen people share a meal without sharing their hearts, souls, lives and minds -have you? I think these pathetic little rituals we create, completely and totally miss the true meaning and significance of what Jesus was REALLY teaching us to do. To BE together, to SHARE our lives and our hearts with each other – to use food and drink for what I believe God intended it to be for – as a means of drawing us together to celebrate life, to remember the fallen, to commemorate what we have lost.

            So, I spend time with people, I TALK to people, I COMMUNE with people. Sometimes, with some people, those conversations involve open discussions around God and Jesus and how He is moving in our lives. Other times, when people either don’t know Jesus or are of a different religion, or just aren’t comfortable talking openly about those things, those discussions just deal with life, and problems and heartache and joys and triumphs that are common to us both. With those people, I simply connect as a human, and not necessarily as a Christian. When/ if I feel led, I might share my Christian values, but usually in those situations, I just simply share my values without having to really talk about where they come from. I find often, even if we don’t share the same words for our faith, we share many if not most of the same values, visions, hopes, dreams and goals. We have far more in common than most Christians seem to want to believe we do.

            When I have a problem I talk to God – sometimes He brings someone to help me, and sometimes He just gives me what I need to work through it with Him alone. The Bible does say after all “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of GOD…” not “ask your pastor, priest, peer or really religious friend that seems to have all the answers.”

            God is my all in all – I want for nothing. Not community, not friends, not intimacy, not a boyfriend or any other kind of relationships. I live alone, I work from home, I have a cat and God for primary companionship – I want for NOTHING. My life is full. God provides EVERYTHING I need. How many people do you know with active, busy social lives, with calendars full of events and activities can honestly say they want for NOTHING relationally – they are completely full? I used to be that person – running, chasing, constantly trying to fill my life with things and people and events and activities. And then I lost my job, my car and as a result, almost all of my friends, and my busy, busy, busy social schedule and all my activities. I spent 4 years alone. The first two were hell. I am still alone, but now I want for nothing. I am full. I learned to let God fill my empty places. I learned when I had nothing BUT God to turn to.

            i spend far less time with far fewer people now, but the time I spend with people is significantly richer and more fulfilling – because I can rest, I can relax, I can listen, i can hear – I spend a lot of time alone, so when I am with people I GENUINELY enjoy being with them. I go to church because I want to now not because I have to – and when I can’t make it or don’t want to go, I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt, because I know God has not demanded that I attend church – even if Christian CULTURE does.

          • Peter Walters

            Did you have a bad church experience? All I said in the beginning was that I think regular church attendance is important and you have been very aggressive in our conversation.

          • R B

            I’ve had 30+ years of non-stop bad church experiences. It’s always easy to think you’re being very benign when you’re simply repeating a very commonly held belief – i.e. when you’re in the majority. Whether you know it or not, when you are in the majority, that gives you POWER – and it is a VERY commonly held belief in Christian circles that all Christians should go to church every week. Let me put it to you this way: if someone has been punched in the face 50 times, and you very lightly slap them in the face, what kind of reaction do you think you’re going to get? Do you think there is ANYONE in America that is completely unaware that the vast majority of people in church think EVERYONE should be in church?

            The problem is, that’s not actually a BIBLICAL teaching, it’s a CULTURALLY HELD BELIEF. But, just like religious Jews still to this day observe and protect the hundreds of sabbath “laws” they made up that were never part of God’s plan – and just can’t WAIT to jump on anyone that disregards them – so are modern day Christians about Church. Church should NOT be a place that you go simply because you feel guilty for NOT going – but then spend most of the time there wanting to scream or punch someone. the fervor with which Christians DOGMATICALLY stick to this view – and even worse – PRESS it on other people, is – quite frankly – OFFENSIVE.

            I don’t care how benign you think your comments are, how about this: how about you become one LESS person in the world trying to decide for everyone else what right and wrong is? If someone comes to you and says “I’m not sure if I should go to church or not” – feel free to have that discussion with them. But in a public forum like this, where no one really knows each other – it’s perfectly fine to say “I go to church because I think it’s an important part of my own spiritual growth” not “I think it’s important for EACH BELIEVER to be a part of a church family.” See, that’s not your call – it’s not even appropriate for you to say! “Each believer” has a RIGHT to decide for themselves what is and is not important! It’s fine for you to say “I think it’s important for ME to be a part of a church family, because I think being a part of a church family is an important part of the Christian walk.” That’s totally valid – you have a belief, you are free to hold it and express it, but NOT for OTHER PEOPLE! you have the right to make that decision FOR YOURSELF, you don’t have the RIGHT to decide what is and is not important for other people.

            See this is the whole “temple meat” thing Paul was talking about. If you don’t think it’s appropriate to eat the temple meat, don’t eat it – but DON’T go running around telling everyone else it’s not appropriate for them. If you want to get up at 4:00 am and pray because that enhances our spiritual life, by all means do so, but DON’T go running around telling everyone else that they aren’t really spiritual unless they get up when you do. The Holy Spirit is meant to be our convictor, not each other. “To everything there is a season” and that may mean there is are seasons of life to be in church, and there may be seasons to walk away. There may be seasons when we are allowed to drink and seasons where it’s not a wise idea. I know many parents give up alcohol when they have small children. Does this mean ALL parents need to stop drinking when they have children? No, it does not and should not.

            The point is, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to decide for yourself what is best for your own spiritual growth, but it is NOT appropriate for you or anyone else to even attempt to make those decisions for anyone else!

          • Peter Walters

            I’m sorry you have had such bad experiences and I know we will not agree on this subject. I stand by my opinion that I think all believers should be in fellowship with other Christians. It seems to me that consistently being with other believers for fellowship, teaching etc is a much better option than a life of inconsistently or independence.

          • R B

            Prov 13:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death.” Most people think their way is the right way, and most of what Man thinks is right is completely contrary to what God says. I am in fact completely dependent on God, but that also does in fact make me COMPLETELY independent of man. I no longer need man’s approval, man’s opinion, and I am no longer subject to man’s ideas of what is right and what is wrong. It’s called freedom – it’s the very thing Christ died to give me. I’m not only set free from my own sin, I’m also set free from yours – from man’s arrogant notion that he is the sole arbiter of God’s Will. But because of Christ’s death on the cross, I no longer need a middle man – I have direct contact with God Himself through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. I even have my very own Bible, which I can read and interpret all on my very own.

          • ifni

            Doesn’t separating yourself from other believers in the sense that no one else has a formal or community given position to speak into your life regularly, pastorally and with God-given authority and gifting actually make YOU “the sole arbiter of God’s Will”?

            How is it that you are able (as one person) to stay completely free of the corruption, misinterpretation or hard-heartedness that you accuse the entire Church as being unable to avoid? I would think that 50 Christians who meet together regularly with the intention encourage, lead, support and correct each other in a committed community (in my eyes this would fulfill all the hallmarks of what could be defined as a church) would be much better equipped to avoid all the pitfalls you outline here than one person alone. After all, you might argue that the Holy Spirit keeps you from all error but why does that apply only to you?

            If God has given us the body then surely it must be stronger than a single believer. Yes we can meet with friends or other believers and do these things ad-hoc but meeting regularly and with commitment to stick it out through the tough times and the uncomfortable exposure of our own imperfection is better still. That i would say qualifies as a church.

            As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:17-20, “If
            the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the
            whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

            We cannot be the whole body alone, we need each other or we are just one part, incomplete.

            Paul writes much more in that book about the body and how it functions cooperatively for the blessing of each other and the outside world. If this is not how our churches are operating then that is a grave indictment upon them. It is not, however, a mandate to abandon the body altogether.

          • ifni

            One other thing, how do you reconcile your view with the fact that all the Epistles are written to highly committed Christian communities who met regularly and were highly involved in each others lives, not because they were friends but because they were Christian family?

            Do you think it is possible to take the teachings directed to a community context (and the direction to live in one!) and live it out as a sole individual? That seems like Individualism to me.

          • R B

            Wow. I think you need to study your Biblical history a little bit more. First of all, the Bible was NOT written to “Christians” nor was it even written BY “Christians” -the phrase or term “Christian” did not even exist. The first century church called themselves “The people of the Way” (as in “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Second of all, they were not just involved in “each other’s” lives -they were deeply involved and invested in their COMMUNITIES meaning their TOWNS, ALL of it. Unlike churches today, they did NOT say “We take care of our own.” In fact, it was quite the opposite. Early believers ministered to EVERYONE, not just the people who believed as they believed, and when I say “ministered” I don’t mean “preached” – I mean they LITERALLY tended to their needs, and made sure everyone’s needs were met – NOT just the people in their “group.”

            I AM in fact both an individual AND a member of a larger body. I AM in fact responsible for my own actions and for accepting the consequences of my actions. I have a responsibility to stand against tyranny and injustice – even when that tyranny and injustice happens in a group of people that calls themselves a ‘church,’ as it all to often (unfortunately) does.

            One day, i will be called to stand before God and give an account of MY actions -not those of my church, my pastor, my small group or my “Christian” friends. So, it seems that if I will have to stand before God INDIVIDUALLY and give an INDIVIDUAL account of my own INDIVIDUAL actions, then shouldn’t I INDIVIDUALLY have the right/ responsibility of deciding what those actions are going to be, for MYSELF?

            You – like so many others – seem to feel that living in community is a CHOICE one makes, as if I have chosen to opt out of living in community, but it’s not a CHOICE. I live in a condo, where I have neighbors all around me – my choices affect them. I drive on roads every day with thousands of other drivers -my choices affect them, and their choices affect me, and I have to take that into account when I make my choices. I go to restaurants with hundreds of other diners, who’s choices affect me – and mine them. Why on earth do you think that I somehow live in some kind of bubble or vacuum that doesn’t in any way involve other PEOPLE? That is COMMUNITY – that is what it MEANS to live in COMMUNITY. It means to live in such a way as to recognize and acknowledge that your choices AFFECT other people, just as theirs do me! That IS community!

          • R B

            “Doesn’t separating yourself from other believers in the sense that no one else has a formal or community given position to speak into your life regularly, pastorally and with God-given authority and gifting actually make YOU “the sole arbiter of God’s Will”?

            Okay, 1.) Yes, absolutely. Which is exactly as it SHOULD be. I am in fact the SOLE arbiter of what God’s Will for MY life is. Just as you – ultimately – are the SOLE arbiter of what God’s will is for YOUR life. But I love how you have very cleverly and carefully worded this question, because I voluntarily listen to hundreds of hours of podcasts from multiple church leaders, including Andy Stanley, Erwin McManus and Rob Bell, just to name a few, not to mention all the books I read by “religious” authors.

            But that’s not really what you’re getting at. What you REALLY want to know, is do I recognize anyone’s authority to tell me what to do, and an obligation to DO it without question. The answer is NO. And the reason is that is the very thing Jesus died on a cross to set me FREE from. The moment Jesus gasped his last, the veil in the temple was rent in two – that means there were no more OBSTACLES between man and God. Soon after, we received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which means that I now have DIRECT communication with God. I no longer NEED an intermediary to tell me what the will of God is -God can tell me Himself.

            Sometimes God speaks to me directly, sometimes He sends people to speak to me, but He ALWAYS “backs up” the messages he sends people to deliver to me. So, maybe I’m not paying attention, or I’m heading down a path I know deep down is probably not a good one for me, and I’m very purposefully not listening to God (as we all do). And God may send someone with a very nice little 2×4 to smack me over the head and get my attention. And do you know how I know whether that is of God or not? I ASK Him, and if it is, He tells me. The 2×4 is never meant to tell me what to do and have me blindly obey it, the 2×4 is merely meant to be a wake up call to get me back in touch with GOD.

            Do you know why I don’t recognize anyone else’s “authority” in my life? Because no one else is going to pay the CONSEQUENCES of my actions! Right now, I don’t have a boyfriend, a husband OR any dependents, which means I don’t have to consult anyone in my home, when I make decisions about whatever I want to do in my home. No one supports me financially, which means I don’t have to consult ANY other human being before deciding how to spend my money. I work for myself and don’t have a boss, which means I don’t have to consult ANYONE when it comes to how I schedule my day or make decisions about what I want to do.

            Do I still have limitations and obligations? Of course! I do have work I need to do if I want to get paid and pay my bills. But ultimately, it’s even up to ME to decide how much I want to work, based on how much money I need to live, versus how much TIME I want to have to do other things. It’s up to ME to decide how much time I have to commit to a church or other groups and organizations -and how I want to divide that time. If I want to work on a certain committee at church, the committee or other church leadership has the right to decide they don’t want me on that committee but they DON’T have the right to simply assign me to a committee or demand that I participate in something, that I don’t feel led to participate in.

            What you’re really asking – whether you know it or not – is whether I recognize anyone else’s right to play God in my life, and the answer is no. I recognize ONE and only ONE God in my life and that God only took human form once, and that was about 2,000 years ago.

            Do you know the best place to pick up a disease? In the hospital. Do you understand that your question to me is like asking a person how I stay healthy if they never go to a hospital? It’s kind of a no-brainer. If you want to stay healthy, you spend as little time as possible around the places where diseases grow and spread the fastest. The 1st Century church met in small groups, but not in “cliques” the way we do small groups today. In other words, it was more like running water than a standing pool, with combinations and locations ever changing. I’m not sure why there’s this sense that people have to know each other deeply, closely and intimately for God to be able to move and work. Seems to me, just the opposite is true. If the Holy Spirit is at work in me, and the Holy Spirit is at work in you, then God will provide everything we need for intimate fellowship to happen, even if we’ve never met. I have had complete, random strangers walk up to me and knock my socks off with a word that there is no question is from God.

            And I am BOTH a whole body all by myself – I have my very own ears, eyes, mouth, hands and feet that *I* am personally responsible for all on my very own, AND I am a smaller part of a much larger body all at the same time. A body that is not made up of people in one building, one community, one city or one small group – those are ALSO still parts of the larger whole. I don’t need to meet with specific people on a weekly basis to be a part of that body I AM a part of that body, I cannot SEPARATE myself from that body -but I am also not responsible for that body, nor are you or another person, leader or group of leaders. That Body is GOD’S domain, and His alone – it is HIS to lead and rule as HE sees fit.

          • Peter Walters

            Here my thought:

            Ephesians 4:11-12

            11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

            1 Timothy 4:2

            2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.
            Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

            1 Peter 5:-3

            Care for the flock that
            God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.

            Acts 20:28

            “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood[a]—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.

            Acts 15:36

            After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.”

            It seems to me that the New Testament has the expectation that believers would bee meeting together regularly and not be independent of each other.

            When you say, “God is my all in all – I want for nothing. Not community, not friends,
            not intimacy, not a boyfriend or any other kind of relationships. I live
            alone, I work from home, I have a cat and God for primary companionship
            – I want for NOTHING.”

            That’s not really a value that I see championed in Scripture.

          • R B

            Okay, couple things: The problem with what we call “Church” in America is NOT what Jesus referred to as the Body (or Bride) of Christ. What
            Jesus is referring to (as are all the New Testament writers) is the ENTIRE body of ALL believers that has EVER lived. It is NOT the members of 1st
            Baptist Church, or the Evangelical Church in AMERICA. Therefore (Biblically speaking) “church” is not a place you GO, it’s something you ARE. And “service” in the Bible, is meant to a VERB not a noun – it’s something you DO, not something you ATTEND. So when you read the Bible and you put your own modern American interpretation on what those words mean, there’s already a problem.
            But, to “answer” your verses one by one:

            Eph 4:11, 12: Yes, God has given us different gifts to (as the NIV says) “to equip his people for WORKS of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Not to ATTEND “services”)

            Instead of focusing on whether I attend a church or not, do you think it might be more BIBLICALLY relevant to ask how many service organizations I work with, or what I do for homeless people, battered women or underprivileged children? Micah 6: 8 says: “And what does the LORD require
            of you? To act justly (or to DO justice) and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Again, nothing about going to a BUILDING once a week to participate in some kind of ritualistic gathering with a bunch of other people that may or may not actually be “believers.”

            SECOND Tim 4:2 (not First Timothy) (in the NIV) says: Preach the word; be prepared in season and
            out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” I’m not entirely sure where this “your people” came from in the version you shared – and I think that’s the problem. YOU don’t have any people! God has people, but YOU do not have people. This is exactly the problem with “Churches” as we view them in America –you start to think of something as YOURS that does NOT in fact belong to you!

            Even worse, is that what most churches ACTUALLY believe they exist for is to decide who is “in” and who is “out” – on what BASIS one is either sent to heaven or to hell. For some, it’s certain behaviors like drinking or sex outside of marriage. For others’ it’s that you have to be baptized in THEIR church, and for other’s it’s certain things like “accepting Jesus Christ as your savior” or “receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to be saved, Jesus DIDN’T say “accept me as your savior” – he said “Sell all you have, give it to the poor and THEN, come follow me.” But he DIDN’T tell the Samaritan woman at the well that HER path to salvation involved selling all she had and giving it to the poor. “Sin” is different for all of us, so our path to “salvation” is also going to be quite different. The problem with meeting in a building that is considered to be OWNED by a certain group of people, is that it makes them feel as if they have the RIGHT to decide who is “allowed” (or invited) to be there and who is not. That is not at ALL what Christ had in mind when he talks about the Bride of Christ, that is meant to be open to ALL who wish. Not just people who dress, act, behave and speak a certain way. Just as an example: what do you think would happen if you started dropping very loud f-bombs into conversation at a church? People who don’t conform to societal expectations are not INVITED to continue to participate in most churches. That’s a HUGE problem.

            Do I need to always be ready to give an answer? Yes, of course, but as 1 Pet 3:15 says “Always be
            prepared to give an answer to everyone who ASKS you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

            Do you not think there is a problem when PASTORS are EMPLOYEES of the church? How exactly are pastors REALLY supposed to “rebuke and correct” the ENTIRE body, when they know that if they teach a message that the “elite” within the body (those in a position of POWER) do not like, he will be FIRED? And then the church will simply choose a pastor who’s brand of gospel they like better. So who is REALLY running the church, God or people? Do you really think that’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to be?

            1 Peter 5:3 Again, context is everything, and this is where WHO this verse is written to is so important – and it’s written to the Elders. It’s not written to everyone, but those who are called to be LEADERS. And I think it’s important to note that as opposed to the translation you shared of the previous verse which referred to “YOUR people” (I don’t know what translation you are using, but I believe that’s a totally incorrect interpretation of that verse) THIS is much more in keeping with the overall message of the Bible: YOU don’t
            have anything, but EVERYTHING you have comes from God and ultimately belongs to

            So, care for the “flock” (group of people) that God has entrusted to you. Again, this is written to the elders or leaders of a town, village, “flock,” congregation (fill in the blank). Many people are in positions where the livelihood of others is in their care, and we need to guard that position
            wisely and judiciously. But once again, this has NOTHING to do with what we think of in America as being a “church” – if you on the board of directors of a company: this applies. If you are on a school board, or town council: this applies.

            All of this is merely reinforcing my point, which is that churches have the unfortunate habit
            of segregating rather than uniting. You begin to think of YOUR church as being YOUR people –so when you make decisions, you think of what benefits you, not what benefits all of the churches in the Body of Christ as a whole. You think of Baptists as being “your people” but not Methodists, Episcopalians or Seventh Day Adventists – none of whom are even YOUR people in the first place, but they are all GOD’S people!

            Acts 15:36 Let’s go back to the TOWNS we visited (not churches) and see how the new believers are doing.

            If there were ONE church in every town or community, that would be in keeping with what the 1st Century “church” was, but it’s NOT how
            things are in America! The whole POINT of the 1st Century Church was that it was like all the Methodists and Buddhists and Baptists and Jews ALL coming together and accepting Jesus as the one and only savior and worshiping
            TOGETHER! Can you even imagine the chaos? And THAT is what the 1st century church looked like! The Muslims still held to all their CULTURAL
            religious beliefs, like praying 5 times a day and not eating pork – and they still called God “Allah.” The Buddhists still meditated and used incense, the Catholics still took communion –and they all
            tried to inflict their religious beliefs on each other and Paul said “STOP”!! What’s important is JESUS – not who eats pork and who doesn’t, and who prays when and how and facing which direction – and let’s face it, isn’t that what we REALLY fight about the most? And that’s why we have so many DENOMINATIONS – all of which DIVIDE something that is meant to be UNITED! So what makes you think I am “obligated” to join a group of people that think that being a part of their group means I have to be against all the things they are against? What gives a group of people the right to decide whether or not everyone is allowed to drink alcohol or not – or what “taking communion” actually means, or WHO goes to heaven and who goes to hell, and what heaven and hell actually are? As if anyone really KNOWS any of those things in the first place?

            “God is my all in all – I want for nothing. Not community, not friends, not intimacy, not a
            boyfriend or any other kind of relationships. I live
            alone, I work from home, I have a cat and God for primary companionship- I want for NOTHING.”

            You don’t think that’s a value championed in scripture?

            Have you ever read this? (It seems to be a fairly famous passage in the Bible, I’m surprised you’ve
            never heard it)

            “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. HE [not my pastor] makes me lie down in green pastures, HE [not my community or small group] leads me beside quiet waters, HE refreshes my soul. [Not my boyfriend or my husband] HE guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. [Not my “Christian friends”] Even though I walk through the
            darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; YOUR rod and YOUR staff, they comfort me. [not the “disciplinary committee” of my local church] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love [not the love/worship/ adoration of my fellow Church members] will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”


          • Elly Zhilyak

            But you said you “think”, therefore that is just your opinion, or that’s what you think is true for yourself, and if so, then how can you know for sure that that is same feeling that another person feels?

          • Peter Walters

            Yes, it is my opinion and others are free to think differently from me.

        • Tobias Marx

          Being involved in a local church doesn’t equal being part of a local church, it doesn’t actually mean you are in community with The Churxh, it
          Only mean you simple attend. To be part of The Church can have
          many shapes and forms.

          • Peter Walters

            I agree that attending church is not the same as being part of the church and yes a church can have different forms. My point is I believe God has the expectation that we would be in fellowship with one another.

          • Tobias Marx

            I agree. Life Together!

        • R B

          The Bible does not say “go into the Church and preach the gospel” it says go OUT INTO THE WORLD and preach the gospel. Why is the Church so much more concerned with getting Christians into churches than it is getting the LOST into it’s churches?

          • ifni

            That’s very true – one of my great frustrations with many churches is that they are largely inwardly focused. I hope for the day that the Western church puts the majority of it’s time, resources and passion into reaching the unreached.

          • R B

            Ultimately, there are two kinds of churches and always have been – and what makes the difference has absolutely nothing to do with denomination or even religion at all for that matter. Churches are either led by God or led by man – and you can tell the difference by their fruit. In other words, churches that are led by God are – like God – capable of being “all things to all people.” There is a place for everyone, and everyone’s gifts all have EQUAL value within the body. Churches that are led by God are equally able to provide for the sick and the needy, reach the lost, mentor the young, disciple the mature – it all gets done. People are welcome and invited if they want to participate, and are equally welcome and invited to NOT take part – there’s no hard feelings either way. Churches led by God are full of people that recognize that the path looks slightly different for everyone, and there are many different seasons. There are times to serve, and times to be served – and both are equally valued.

            Churches that are led by man, however, always have agendas -one thing is always elevated as being more important than the other, one group of people is always “better” than the other. Men are “higher” or more important than women, being married is “better” than being single, and married couples are catered to while single people are shunned. Those are great churches to be in if you are married, but terrible churches for singles, and the reality is The Church needs both. In some churches extroverted tendencies are revered, and introverted tendencies are “punished” in some form or another, and there is always pressure to conform. If serving is valued above BEING served, then there is always pressure to give, give, give, do, do, do. But ultimately, who do you think is BEING served? Churches led by man are essentially socialist societies where the majority on the low end of the totem pole have the responsibility to serve the minority on the high end – and this can happen in ANY church of ANY size or ANY denomination.

            C.S Lewis famously said “Hell is the place where you are God” and I think a similar thing could be said of churches: The Church is hell when Man is in charge. To some degree ALL churches suffer from this, which is part of the problem. Churches tend to EITHER have loud worship music OR hymns, they EITHER have a liturgical service OR they have a modern “music, message, done” service. If the church REALLY looked and acted like what it’s supposed to, it would look and act a lot like a family in a car on a road trip: sometimes you listen to “the wheels on the bus go round and round”, sometimes you listen to the Beatles, sometimes you listen to NPR for, and sometimes you listen to Taylor Swift.

    • I think God is using his gifts just fine outside the church. (And I’m sure his gifts are carried inside the church as well, through small group studies etc.) don’t confine God to such a small box. He uses as he sees fit and sometimes it’s in the four walls, sometimes it’s outside them. When I can find a church that doesn’t see me as a resource to meet their needs but a person to love and be loved by, I’ll have finally found my home. Until then, comments like yours drive keep driving me away.

      • Peter Walters

        I am sorry that the churches you have been apart of have seen you as a resource and not someone to be part of a community. I know many people who have been hurt by church and that is sad.

        I agree that God uses His gifts both inside and outside of the church building. I’m not confining Him I’m just saying that I see many benefits to regular church attendance, which could be in the traditional “Sunday morning go to church”, a house church or small group meeting.

  • jaaigner

    Singing in a corporate worship service isn’t about connecting to God personally, it’s about being the church and responding together to God’s self-revelation. The “worship industry,” which is big, big business, makes a huge amount of money off of persuading everyone that worship is about cuddling up in god’s soft, roomy lap and telling him how nice he is and how comfortable he makes you feel.

    There’s nothing wrong with being emotionally stirred during sung responses in church, but there’s nothing wrong with not, either. The point is the discipline of participating and responding together.

    Other than that, I’m with you. The stuff most churches call “worship” today is just bizarre.



    I can relate to this…. Although sometimes music can inspire a spiritual shift that facilitates worship, I feel closer to God walking in the woods or surfing most of the time. Well written thanks for sharing.

  • ShawnR

    God is reflected in all things. He is not in everything; and that is where we have to be careful.

    Like others have posted, I find I connect with God being out and in community and less so standing, sitting, standing, and raising my hand.

  • Edmond Long

    worship is about celebration, not intimacy. how you find intimacy with God is not a substitute for congregational, celebratory worship.

  • Taryn

    Although you can glorify God through your work it is important to remember that Jesus is who connects us to God. Saying that a specific place or thing gets us “closer to God” is a sign of idolization. Jesus is who gets up closest to God because He sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts and died so that we may receive forgiveness. I am however, very glad to hear that you can glorify Him through your work but don’t let that excuse reading your Bible, praying, and seeking His people through the church. If there currently isn’t a group at your church that can reach out to people through the work that you do, make one! You may find that there are other children of God that want to get involved and glorify Him in a similar way that you do.

    • c jones

      I’ve heard the same thing before: “ask what interests you have and create a small group around it”. The problem I’ve run into is the church is not always open to your interests – and in the experience I’m talking about, the interest was biblical. I’ve found based on multiple church experiences that church is mostly about the “happy, soft” sides of God, like love and forgiveness. I’m part of a martial arts ministry and when I’ve asked churches if they want to make it available to their congregation, the response has been everything from “no” to ignoring my question. This has astounded me because in each case I presented Scripture showing how the martial arts ministry is biblical.

      One of our instructors happens to be a pastor also and he has told me that he’s had some of his greatest struggles inside the church and greatest ministry outside of it.

      All that to say, I’ve found that the church is not always accepting of all ideas, personalities, interests, and God-given gifts – even when they are reflections of who God is and are, therefore, biblical. I’ve found it’s better to work outside the church when it comes to the gifts God has given me and the work he has called me to.

  • latebloomer

    I think perhaps I connect with God by being creative. Sometimes I sing to him privately. I don’t like singing corporately because I feel I’m putting on a show because they tell me to. God works in mysterious ways not in christian cliches. 😉

    • c.s. latte

      love this… God works in mysterious ways not in christian cliches. 🙂

  • Reverand Disaffected

    I’ve just come across your posts, and to be honest, I don’t think you’re alone. Coming from across the pond, the reality of a church model based of 20-45 mins of sermon (depending on which denomination one attends) filled out to an hour and a half with singing, seems so pointless. I thought I was alone in being disaffected by current church practice. I’m glad that I’m not.

  • c jones

    Wow, it’s great to hear someone echo my feelings, too. For a long time I’ve been guilted into going to church because we’ve heard that’s what you’re suppossed to do.

    Recently, I’ve become so frustrated with going to church because it doesn’t feel natural for me to do. It feels forced and like swimming against the current. I finally decided that there’s no way God would put us on this earth to doing something that feels so obligatory and energy-draining. That was a revolutionary moment and I started thinking about what I’m drawn to naturally (what I’m interested in) and how I naturally and genuinely connect with God. I’ve found the answer is often being outside (walking the golf course near my house, especially) and being alone and quiet. So, no wonder I don’t like going to church – it’s inside, I’m not alone, and it’s not quiet lol!!!

    It’s been a challenging journey feeling comfortable with myself enough to go against the norm, not to mention trusting God as I at first felt like a blasphemer for choosing to not go to church, and getting others to understand my feelings. However, I honestly feel closer to God and happier without going attending the traditional, “song and sermon” church.

  • Tracy

    I can relate to this so much. I am struggling with church. i have no desire to go at all. I love a small group where we can sit around, pray for each other, study the bible and just nut out hard issues and daily issues around God. I like music but don’t connect to God that way. Also my health at the moment prevents me from committing to a lot of things so i love listening to people like Greg Boyd and N T Wright on line. I am fortunate also I have lots of Christians friends too. I do believe its important to meet together with other Christians, but how that looks I am sure can be varied. Also, with worship music, so much of it nowadays is more man focused that God focused. It’s become all about us and what God can do for us. I think it’s mean to be all about God and what we can do for Him and His Kingdom. 🙂

  • david W

    Brillant. True…. funny how when we are open we connect with God in unusual ways. For a long time the song that connected me with God was one by metallica (shows my generation/age). I find God far more marvelous and miraculous while in my orchard in awe of creations critters and life.

    PS didn’t know you blogged and loved Blue like Jazz. Know it is “old” but I reread it recently before giving to a co-worker. Still honest and powerful as always.

    • david W

      Re-reading the post (being a skim reader I tend to not always get it in the first pass). Find connecting to God in spaces that allow actions, meditations, quite, scriptures,art etc. Very fortunate to be on a team of very diverse people who year organise a public art sessions in our local cities gardens (world renown for their character). We set up each night after dark for a week leading up to easter and re-interpret the traditions of Stations of the Cross. By re-interpret taking the scriptures and applying it to our local New Zealand culture in our time. Even though I am on the team (we take responsibility for one station and help others as we can), so kind of get to see stuff before it goes on display, so loses some of its impact. Still its the highlight of my spiritual year. One or more stations bowels me over. We get a large range of installations. Ranging from interactive – candle lighting, carrying ice cubes, shooting paint guns, burying or throwing stones. Modern / fine art. Pottery, water movement and fountains, mechanical or moving art. This all done with great lighting and sound tracks.

      First time I attended 5 or more years ago it blew me away. Was like coming home for the first time. Something I would be comfortable promoting, being part of and inviting others to. Has opened up a whole new world, and it is great as my kids see me as being part of something bigger. Plus as the have aged they now get to help out.

      Without out this, I don’t know where I would be. I guess still wondering around feeling like a mis-fit and no doubt still have a large amount of baggage…

      PS photos which don’t do it justice can be found: http://www.stations.org.nz/about/images/

      • david W

        Just found some rather neat videos on the site as well. On a theological note, I find it interesting that the israelites were only called to the temple a couple of times a year, for feasts and celebration. Weekly or regular visits to the Synagogue were started once they went into exile.

  • Martin Rogerson

    I think that what many accept as the traditional model of church is facing more challenge that it ever has before, and people are wanting/feeling a need to try to do things differently. I don’t think it’s bad to try new things per se, however there are some essentials which I believe need to be carried on, because they are biblical.

    Over the years I myself have become jaded by meeting within a traditional church service, and have felt the pull to try different things. Over time, God has shaped my discontent and directed it, because asked him to do so. I told God I wasn’t happy, and that I did not know if my discontent was justified or not. There seemed to be so many problems: there was a radical change in sung worship, which I couldn’t understand; my church seemed to be full of hypocrites (which I counted myself a part of!); the preaching was a hit-or-miss with me; and others in the congregation did not seem friendly towards each other or outsiders. So there seemed to be many problems around me. I took to prayer about these issues, and it turned out that I was not alone in how I felt – I was surprised to see that our church leadership felt the same way about many of my concerns. But at the same time I had God telling me that I also had to change my attitude towards Him, other believers and myself.
    Consequently, I’m learning not to judge others or myself, repent of my sins while also allowing God to love me more, and having His grace come into my life in a more meaningful way.

    I am also learning to acknowledge that church hurts and we let each other down. And while that’s not okay and there is no perfect church, we DO still need each other, and sometimes have to stick at it beyond what we normally would at other things. It seems to me that it’s often only then that God jumps in and does something wonderful and unexpected. Because I think faith in Him is involved, and prayer through hard times. It shapes our characters as believers and can bring us closer together in unity.

    While I now also feel very much part of our congregation, I am now also in a new church plant in my local community. It is exciting, and has come within God’s good timing. It’s good to meet with a smaller, more local, intimate body of believers, who are eager to witness and get out there
    and use the faith we’ve been given to share Christ’s love with the world. But it’s definitely been a journey through hard times to get here, and the journey continues. We need to be there for each other and share the load in love. So let’s not give up on church, and see that it is actually a gift that God’s given us because He loves us and wants us to do well for His glory.

  • Erin B

    Wow, very encouraged by your courage in being honest about “church”. Someone recently asked me where I went to church and I explained that we were in a season of resting and not going anywhere. The sharp response she gave was, “I disagree with that.” Followed by “that’s a slippery slope”. I was shocked and hurt. (Later, I wondered… Slippery slope to where?- devil worship?!?).

    This person’s snap judgement confirmed what I feared other Christians would do- judge me, assume I was “back sliding”, assume my marriage was bad, etc., etc. This person knew nothing about me or my story- nothing about my relationship with Jesus. While I was hurt by this interaction, I was encouraged in two specific ways.

    1. God is crazy about me, not my church membership. He is my defender, not man.

    2. God is crazy about other people… Even the ones who don’t believe in Him, He made them and loves them and I get to love them too.

    I was convicted about the ways I have judged others on their own faith journeys. I am planning on saying sorry to some people I judged. Man was I sitting in the wrong seat!

    I think the “church”topic is a hot one for good reasons- change is coming. You are not alone in your feelings and experiences.

  • Ross Purdy

    I have not been to church since the mid 90’s. I have not missed it a whole lot either to be honest. When I did go, I enjoyed it but I knew something was wrong! After studying scripture I realized that what people were doing and calling church did not faintly resemble Scripture! Rather according to Frank Viola, it actually has most all of its roots in pagan worship practices (Pagan Christianity). I began my exodus and for the first 15 years my family participated in Home Church. I realized along with those I met with that we were just doing institutional church on a smaller scale and have since abandoned doing that as well. I have not looked back. I used to promote home church then but I have now come to understand that God is not completely frustrated by our ignorance in that He is quite able to use us in spite of our throwing objects in His way like institutional church (but He is frustrated). God knows how to work with us imperfect creatures and still manages to be powerful whether we are in man-made-New-Testament-contradicting institutions or not. And for some people, being in a “church” can help them grow, but only to a point and then they will hit a boxed ceiling beyond which they will not be able to blossom. They will need to break out of that box then in order to fully mature!

  • Kara Assid

    There are valid critiques being shared of the church, it’s un-spirituality and/or repetitive songs that don’t help us connect with God. We, people, are the church. We must ask OURSELVES how we are contributing to or ignoring these issues. We are the ones responsible!

  • Brian H

    I attend church because it makes my wife happy, and I do enjoy some of the sermons because they’re thought provoking…but I have to say that I dread the hymns. I don’t even like hearing them, much less singing along.

    Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert. Maybe it’s because the poor, innocent piano has just always been grating to my ears. Maybe it’s that I’m kind of a music snob to start with, and I’m more or less hearing the same song over and over. I just…can’t do hymns.

    I feel closest to God and most able to focus on prayer, scripture, etc. when I am either working on a project at home or enjoying the outdoors. It lets me clear my mind and somehow exertion just…seems to help. I relate to Thessalonians 4:11-12 quite a bit.

    I like seeing other people at church, and hearing a decent sermon, but it kind of ends there. At potluck, in the smaller study sessions…I just feel uncomfortable and tense and can’t focus on God at all.

  • owen

    A man proclaimed his great love and passion for math. He one day wanted to become a master mathematician and a teacher of math. However he decided to never attend his math classes or never wanted to practice math problems. He just didn’t feel like a mathematician when he was doing either of those things. He actually felt more like a mathematician when he was out fishing. Therefore he decided to fish more because that’s when he felt closer to math. Sure there might be some elements of math in fishing but fishing is primarily….fishing. Maybe this man is in fact not as passionate about math as he claims and in fact more passionate about fishing. Just a thought.

  • Brent Miller

    Don, we’ve been blessed by your writing and honesty. I went through a period of worshipping worship and I still get uptight if we are running behind on Sunday morning. My wife has always thought of the church as the Church. Her ideas on meeting were more from the heart with maybe a group of friends over dinner. Man, a lot of my fake walls came crashing in and still are and in the process I’ve pissed off lots of Christian friends, even pastors. As a family, we are growing closer to God, although we don’t make it to church every Sunday. It’s a battle to find a place where you feel comfortable. If I’m at a men’s Bible study and I say, “Hey guys, I’d like to be accountable to you for purity, I used to look at porn.” It would be nice to not face a ton of silence and then shallow conversation for the next few months.

    An older friend has come along side me, thank God, and reminded me that “meeting together” doesn’t mean cramming into a big church where everyone acts like everything is o.k. It’s more like a small group of people living together. We’re striving for that. Grace and peace, Brother.

  • Marissa Byrd

    Next blog: about mom and dad and what I inherited from them faith wise?

    Mr Miller
    I just want to say thank you for this post, this blog, and for “Blue Like Jazz”. Your thoughts and writings have influenced and changed my life in more ways than you will ever know! This post really struck me because I have spent the last few years questioning our idea of “church” and realizing how little I feel I gain from going to church. I just actually wrote my own blog post on it, and I know you read a LOT of blogs so maybe if you get a chance you can check it out! It is titled “I am a Millenial, and this is why I left the church.” I think it takes some of your ideas in thise post and your other follow up on and expounds on them. Thank you for the inspiration and hard work! Keep it up! I have two more of your books on their way in the mail! 🙂

  • Shane Bumgarner

    Wow. This resonates with me SO much.

  • Sally Warner

    I’m auditory and kinesthetic. As a music teacher, singer and sometimes a worship leader this is a good read for me. But let me correct a misconception. Auditory learners don’t learn by listening. They really process information by hearing themselves say it. (See “The Way They Learn” by Cynthia Tobias). They are the ones who need to discuss the sermon before it sinks in. They are the talkers. There is always a running conversation going on in their heads. They talk to themselves out loud a lot. And yes, singing is a primary learning tool for many of us because we are hearing ourselves speak words of praise about God. Singing is kinesthetic for me as well; I am physically involved, not sitting passively. I often don’t learn well listening to a sermon but taking notes (the conversation in my head) or doodling (moving) helps. Visual learners may be better at sermons because they visualize what they hear. I have trouble visualizing things. I have trouble learning by reading because of that. It is a slower process that requires me to hear the words in my head as I read and then work at visualizing what is described. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from reading my Bible or good books or articles. I just have to work a little harder at it. And discuss it. Like I am doing here. The point is, don’t stop using other modalities that are not your best. We all can learn with all of them. Some are just easier than others for us. Sometimes we must graciously join others and give them their time with what works best for them.

  • Lori Dixon

    We ARE the church. We don’t ‘go’ to one. Fellowship and worship comes in all shapes and sizes.
    But it’s important, even for introverts, to come together. Where two or more . . . .

  • Elly Zhilyak

    By doing, engaging with people. Engaging with strangers, and doing things out of my comfort zone.

  • Daniel Kush

    Yup. Enjoyed your thoughts and they seemed to echo my own sentiments over the last 5 years. However, the model(s) of worship you assume and argue against, namely the Soft-and-fuzzy-dark-room-with-killer-musicians-cool-guy-pastor and/or the Well-worn-hymnals-guy-lecturing-for-an-hour-grimness-once-a-month-communion, seem to betray a resident Protestantism. Well, at least a form of Protestantism sliced out of the last 150 years. And yes, I deplore those two modernly-archaic models of worship as well, in favor of a far more ancient model, namely a High-Church liturgy accompanied by vigorous singing in 4-part harmony (with men being encouraged to sing like MEN, not weenies), Pastoral call/corporate response, corporate kneeling and confession, absolution, solid expository preaching (for less than 20 minutes), and weekly celebration (CELEBRATION, get it…?) of the Lord’s Table with the entire service being less than an hour. An no, I’m not dreaming, heavily medicated, or have already entered into the eternal state. A service where children are baptized as infants, told that they are Christians as they grow up and are raised as part of the Church, and participate in the worship service each Sunday to the including of taking bread and wine. A church culture where “church” is just assumed as part of normal life, not parsed into obscurity via sacred/secular dichotomies, fueled by an American Evangelical Gnosticism which the Bible knows nothing about (Don’t get me started…) Oh, and I should also mention that I am a member of a church that recognizes that America is NOT the Church, as has been the popular sentiment for the last 200 years amongst Evangelical Spastic Christianity(Don’t get me started on that also…blasted Dispensationalism!) So, am I a Roman Catholic? Nope. And, I don’t blame you for not going to church regularly. You’d probably get more out of Catholic Church if you can get past the limp preaching and non-participatory singing of most RC churches. Or, if you happen to be in Southern California, you could peep Christchurch SCV, a member of the CREC, where I attend. If you happened to come by, I’ll make you some Italian food for lunch. Thx for reading and hang in there. Post tenebras lux.

    • R B

      Now see, your kind of church would be a HELL ON EARTH for me. And that is exactly the reason why we have so many different styles and formats of churches – because we all connect to God differently. Some go, some don’t, and that’s also okay. Instead of looking down our noses and criticizing people who don’t do church the way we do – or churches that don’t conduct their services the way we like church to be conducted – can’t we all just praise God that He has given us all something for everyone instead of being so critical and judgmental of all the people who don’t do things the way WE think they should be done?

      • Daniel Kush

        Huh. I’d be willing to bet that you would benefit from the form of worship we employ, notwithstanding your initial reaction to my description. I would maintain that a case could be made from the Bible that Yahweh has revealed, in general categories, how He ought to be worshiped.
        With regard to the “some go, some don’t and that’s okay” sentiment, this fruit is from the tree of lonely hyper-individualism that runs rampant in America. Or, I might say that it is a sentiment expressed by smoldering wicks who have been flogged for years in churches with excessively pious principles. After a while, the promise of a feast at church but the reality of a fast pretty much drives poor souls out the door in search of grace!
        And THAT, my brother, is a grief to the Shepherd. At least, as far as I know Him to feel about it.

        • R B

          I have friends that are runners, that think EVERYONE should run and that running is superior to all forms of exercise. And they have all kinds of articles and FB posts to prove it. I have friends that are body builders that think EVERYONE should be lifting weights, and that lifting weights is superior to all other forms of exercise, and they have all kinds of scientific articles and FB posts to prove it. I have friends that get up at 4:00 in the morning to read their Bibles and are dead set certain that EVERYONE should be getting up that early to read their Bible and pray. I think that worship/ religion/ Bible study is just like exercise, and you know what the BEST exercise is? Whatever you will do. And usually the thing you will do, is the thing you ENJOY!

          I’m not saying it’s “bad” to spend a season trying to run – who knows you might like it, and it might actually benefit you -but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to thrive being pushed to spend the rest of my life running as a form of exercise. Same thing with weightlifting. On the other hand, i KNOW that I love to swim – which I doubt my running and weight lifting friends do. So, swimming is an excellent form of exercise for me, because I ENJOY it – because God CREATED me to enjoy swimming. How God “ought” to be worshipped is with a grateful heart, and if I’m a natural born swimmer but I”m forced to spend my life “worshipping” through running, I’m not going to be to happy about that. In fact, I’m probably going to be angry at GOD about that! But the problem is not GOD, the problem is I”m listening to a bunch of yahoos that think that because running benefits them so much, it’s the best thing for ME. We need to just STOP trying to decide for everyone else what is BEST – if it works for you, great, if you want to share that with people, great – but just because it works for you, and brings you all kinds of benefits, does not make it BEST!

          Sorry guy, I know men like to turn EVERYTHING into a competition, and believe there is ONE best thing for EVERYONE – but it’s just not true. Your heaven is my hell, and that’s okay, because God gave us this nice big world, with all kinds of options, and lots of other people that like all the same stuff I do, and engage best in worship the same way I do and the same goes for you. Find what feeds you and be happy – and stop trying to shove your “happy food” down everyone else’s throat.

          • Daniel Kush

            Ok. But for the record, if we ever met in person, the only “happy food” I’d try to force on you would be my amazing carne asada tostadas. Or I might pull out the big guns with my marinara, antipasto salad, homemade bread, and big glasses of wine. Or ice cold beer, guacamole, and chips. And, I make an amazing chocolate cake that would convert anyone to my point of view, that is, if they could keep their eyes open after eating it! Pax.

          • R B

            Um, yeah, you wouldn’t have to do much “forcing” – that is food that is most definitely guaranteed to make me happy!

  • McRipster

    I wrote in my journal earlier today how I’m tired of momentary inspiration that often comes from worship, sermons, books … too often that inspiration fades, as you said, I rarely remember the sermon I heard last Sunday … I want the real thing, the Living Water that Jesus talked about.

  • I’m a visual learner. The story is good, but when the scripture is on the screen, or a photo that represents the message, or actually last Sunday when it was a list of 7 questions to ask yourself, pulled from the lesson … I actually took a picture of that slide with my smartphone because hearing it, I wouldn’t remember. But looking at the questions, and the scripture (ergo reading), was way better than the 15 minutes of music that I didn’t know and won’t remember. … It’s an important lesson: connect with and learn from God the way he made it best for you. He created the church body, not the church building. Though, let us not give up meeting with one another, eh?

  • B. L. Kawa

    Church proper is pretty lame. Probably the best benefit of “church” these days is drawing people out of the “Radical Individualism” so characteristic of our culture. I grow most and experience the sweetness of God most in work and in my “regular life”, but the discipline of joining a fellowshipping intentional community shows me that God’s mission is not me… it’s the whole world. But yeah. Like.

  • Daniel

    Not sure I’m quite on board here. Yes, everything we do should be an act of worship unto God and a song service is really not the end all be all to our worship (confession… I’m a worship leader who has constantly wrestled with the idea of how much emphasis we place on our song service. Singing as worship is certainly Biblical. However, much of our liturgy, from the most traditional to the extreme charismatic, is man made. Not that those practices are unbiblical, just certainly not sacred).

    Perhaps I misread, but the subtext of what I got said “don’t get anything out of going to church? Don’t go! It’s not really important anyway”

    For better or worse, the church is Christ’s bride. It was and still is God’s plan. When it’s lacking, broken or off course it needs reform, not abandonment.

  • Michelle Watt

    A favorite quote from Olympian, Eric Liddell: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” You are a producer. It seems clear God crafted and gifted you for it. So it makes complete sense to me that you would feel His pleasure doing just that – producing. Just as Eric felt it running. We get to discover these partnerships God made us for. I think God especially enjoys creating and dwelling with us with the presents He’s given us. He doesn’t gift and run. He places His presence with the presents – His very smile. I’m a visual and kinesthetic learner. I feel closest to God when I’m sharing my spiritual gifts, during outdoor walks with Him, in private prayer and worship, and when I’m among children. I loved this post – I think it will help a lot of people.

  • Erika

    This is really cool. I am also a kinesthetic learner, then visual, then auditory and teaching is definitely a great way for me to learn. But I am also a singer, and though the most auditory elements of music are not easy for me to grasp, some of my deepest and most cherished experiences have been singing or experiencing live performances. For me, singing is very physical. It’s hard work, easy play, interaction, memory, driven by both thought and feeling, and something I sometimes don’t even notice I’m doing. I’m glad to read that you’ve found great church with your team. That sounds great.

  • Jeff Eklund

    So I guess I’m getting old because this concept of bonding through Christ by building my company, taking a walk in the woods, etc. id what they used to call blasphemy. I’m sorry, I am not going to argue or convince anybody I am right. What I will do is isolate myself from this thinking by unfollowing, blocking, and not patronizing this type of thinking. Enjoy your new religion Don, next you may become your own god, who knows? I won’t know.

  • Nancy Kocur

    Baha’i Faith: Work & Service – The obligation to work
    Every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for work, especially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá’u’lláh a form of worship. It has not only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself, because it draws us nearer to God, and enables us to better grasp His purpose for us in this world. It is obvious, therefore, that the inheritance of wealth cannot make anyone immune from daily work.

    You hit the nail on the head, I totally relate! Experiencing the beauty of the world is what brings me closer to God. As a Baha’i, I give it my best at work, since that’s where most of the daylight hours are spent. When I came across the Baha’i Faith, the above quote really opened my eyes. Thanks and keep exploring! Nancy

  • Kim Nebel

    I pray when I’m swimming, and I worship God in the meadows, woods, and bits of beauty found in urban landscapes, and connect with Him in the looks and acts of kindness shared with fellow humans and sentient beings which move on four legs, and wings

  • Del Carter

    Hello Mr. Miller, I hope you’re still following this blog. I just came across it and see the many responses and wanted to share some, hopefully, non-repetitive thoughts. About what came to mind regarding why you don’t worship by singing. (I hope to keep it short, but forgive me in advance if I don’t…..Yikes)

    Your points on learning styles reminded me of a book I read called “The 5 love languages”, by Gary Chapman in which he discusses different ways people show and experience love. Some years after reading that book, I realized that my love style is also my method of choice when it comes to worshiping God. When you mentioned that you learn through doing, I wondered if this is also a love style for you, as well. In case you haven’t read the book, the 5 love languages are: Physical touch, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time and “Acts of Service”.

    Over the summer I spent some time studying what God says in the bible about worship. In that study I realized that what God says about worship is similar to the 5 love languages, (rather vice versa). My findings were:

    1. Acts of Service = Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 12:1
    2. Physical Touch or in this case/Affection = (Singing/Lifting our hands) Psalms 63:4; Psalms 119:48; Nehemiah 8:6
    3. Words of Affirmation = (Praise, speaking words of gratitude or singing of God’s Greatness etc.) Psalms 95: 1-6; Psalms 150; Psalms 34:1-4
    4. Gifts (in this case Sacrifices…tithing, giving, or things God would appreciate you doing, even when you don’t feel like it) = Hebrews 13:15-16; Romans 12:1; Ezekiel 20:40
    5. Quality Time: (this could be…Devotional / personal bible study/ prayer time, just listening, etc): Matthew 6:6

    “Acts of Service” and “Quality time” are my most dominate expressions of love towards others, how I feel loved by others, and my choice of worship style as well. I ended up breaking my study down in a few series and sharing in a relationship group on social media. I titled this portion “Don’t Feel Left Out”. And pointed out how some people will act out their worship to God, in order to be seen by people….especially in church service. I also used Martha and Mary to warn against feeling left out when people express there connections with God – whether real or faked. My goals were meant to enable people to connect with God in a genuine fashion without copying others.

    I realize now that people will expect you to copy their styles, as well. But, God wants us to worship him in truth – John 4:24. Our worship to God will be a waste of time if he doesn’t accept it….like with Cain and Able. One genuinely worshiped God, and the other focused on trying to out do that genuine worship, instead of focusing on his own relationship.

    Anyways, I wanted to share those thoughts because I’ve learned that I’m not as affectionate as others, and it used to cause me discomfort during the worship part of service. But, bne morning, (about a year or so ago), I woke and I felt deep in my spirit, God saying he received my praise as a form of affection. So, knowing He simply enjoys my praise and worship as affection, changed my perspective. Because I do love God. I simply sacrificed and show the affection – just as I would need to do if I found out my future spouse or one of my children felt loved through my expression of affection towards them. 🙂

    Finally, regarding your experience with attending church service – (not saying that this is your situation), but if your issue is only boredom…and there could be many reasons for that (outside of your learning style), maybe you just haven’t found the right church. God pointed me to a specific church house in which I am now worshiping Him both in acts of service and Praise and worship….they happen to be very big on both.

    Feel free to drop by one sunday, or technically, any day of the week without even leaving your home, at any hour of the day. The webcast will allow you to view/experience the previous sunday service including the worship music portion. And, if you enjoy it – you enjoy it, if you don’t – you don’t. I’m pretty certain God’s not mad at you. (*_*)


  • Michelle Freeman

    So glad I came upon this blog today! I’ve been dealing with the same struggles. I find during “worship time” it’s like attending a concert and watching others “soak in the whatever they are feeling up there” and me just swaying to the music waiting for the chorus to be over. I don’t mean to sound cynical but that’s just how I’m feeling. It’s been a struggle to attend every Sunday but find when I spend time with my kids and connect together, I feel God, I hear him, I feel at peace.

  • Nina McDonald

    Donald– your story resonated for me. I would like to offer a thought in addition to yours… You wrote:
    “There’s not much out there for kinesthetic or visual learners…” in “traditional” worship services.

    I’d like to suggest you might look at a different tradition.

    The evangelical tradition, or modern Protestant tradition, does NOT offer a visual and kinesthetic experience. However, the oldest Christian tradition, the Eastern Orthodox Church, offers both of those as well as, of course, an oral/aural experience as well.

    The Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy, is a very physical, beautiful experience.

    I found your article by reading Father Steve Damicks article here…. you may find it interesting. God bless you on your journey!http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxyandheterodoxy/2014/02/05/i-dont-worship-god-by-singing-so-why-bother-going-to-church/

  • Ryan

    I had to read this for a class and respond at a Christian University. My response may be a bit rash: My initial impression was one of contemplation. I feel like Donald’s conclusions about church and what he should do instead are seriously nonsensical. I understand he may have a hard time connecting to God through music. But you know what, me too. I seriously do not even sing half of the lyrics that are on the screen because they are not theologically sound or even worship really. Half of the time the songs are like this: “We want to fall in love with you”. This is not worship, it is more of a prayer. Adoration worship is ascribing praise to God. This conclusion is probably why he has a hard time connecting with God, our worship is shallow and half of the time is us just singing nice words to OURSELVES.

    Anyways, I think he has a really good challenge for us as the local church. We should not be so confined, and sometimes go outside of our teaching skills is good. Maybe implementing more of kinetic element to preaching is necessary for people like him. Although, his conclusions fail when put into a syllogistic form. Syllogisms are logically constructed arguments. For example, Donald’s argument was this. A: Most churches are sermon and worship based; Then B: I connect with God in a different way than that; Then Conclusion: Church really is not for me and I sometimes attend because I connect to God in a different way.

    I would like to point out that this is illogical. How can you learn if you have no heard, this is echoing Paul’s argument in Romans for preaching. People cannot know if they do not hear. So if you do not attend church you simply will not become discipled. I am sorry, but substituting work for worship and church is just dumb. I will not even try and step around egg shells in this regard. His argument is solely based of kinesthetic learning. If he has ever learned in a different way then he simply dismantles his own argument. The only way his argument can hold up is if he ONLY learns through kinesthetic style. And I can be sure that he learns in other ways. This is where his argument is logically flawed.

    This was his argument. It is completely flawed in many manners in context of Godly wisdom and Christian theology. Well I do give Donald some grace in the manner that our services are theologically and intellectually shallow (this may be why he is bored, it may not even be a kinetic thing).

    My main biblical point against his argument is going to delve from Hebrews. I will post an expert from Hebrews so I can digress into why this is essential to my argument.

    Hebrews 10:19-26: Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

    The whole excerpt is never addressing the individual believers, but the author of this text is addressing the body of Christ in this context. All of the verbs in this portion of scripture is telling us to do this together. We are called to be together, as a holy priesthood. “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 24-25 reads: “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”, we are to come together and to spur each other on to good deeds in Christ Jesus. We are to come together and encourage one another. I believe this is specifically talking about the gathering of believers, eklesia. We cannot forsake the gathering. Church is about bringing a piece of your King, church needs to change its mindset and attitude, but Donald does too.

  • Ryan

    Why was my comment deleted?

  • Nicolette Chinomona

    I just found this because I was searching for a answer to my problem, it’s not that I don’t like the people at church, I have had bad church experiences but we all get over that and get plugged back into the system and honestly like most people on this forum who say they still engage with other christians even though they don’t go to church, I can’t say that, because well I don’t usually have time to meet up with other christians due to work pressure, BUT I find going to church to be ritualistic and BORING AS HECK, like when I’m in church I’m so bored I’m dying to get out and run for the hills or look at my phone. I make myself go because I tell myself I’m developing discipline, but I realised yesterday that I was dreading church… like dreading it. So I decided that I wasn’t going to do and I wasn’t going to feel bad about it. Obviously now I have to find alternatives to meeting up with other believers- was thinking of going for prayer meetings at least. I know some people might say that I’m not serving if I am not going to church (which is true) I’ll have to find a way to serve God and the community while I figure this out, because I do have to figure it out. I think it’s unfair for people to try pressurize you into conforming with the happy sheep when you’re not happy… there are sheep who love church and organized religion, but I’m not happy and no matter how happy someone else is with their current solution, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right solution for everyone. Instead of helping people find their place in God’s family, the family often tries to make them look and think and feel like everyone else. I’m not going to church again until I figure this out, until I no longer dread it. Until I find the right place and that’s also going to happen when I spend time alone with God and we figure it out together, because at the end of the day Salvation is an issue between me and God, everyone else just supports- it’s kinda like how your marriage is between you and your spouse and your married friends support your marriage, but at the end of the day they can’t figure it out for you and tell you how to make your marriage work- because they aren’t you. Also God is different- you do all realize that right? That we don’t even have a complete understanding of all his thoughts and ways- that His thoughts are more than the grains of sand on a beach, so why do alot of people get one grain of sand, analyse it to death and then say that he wants us to be like that! how about the other grains of sand? If God was a uniform God we would all look, act and think the same way, but the diversity of God is displayed in the diversity of the billions of people he creates, none of them are the same or think the same way- so why should God?

  • Phil Siebert

    Just came across this discussion today. Thank you, Thank you RB. So refreshing to hear truth spoken by you and so sad to see the repeated barrage of what appears to be actually ‘anti-christ’ traditional church talk. Please do not be weary in doing well.

  • Missy Bodie

    I struggle with worship and singing. I dont do it. Singing that is. There is no connection for me and Jesus through musical worship. I find it an impediment to worship and just want it to end so that God and I can get closer. I am kinesthetic and visual so those are ways I love to get close to God. No music – just quiet and Him and me. I love to paint, feel texture or something in my hands when I am worshiping. Its really hard to be in church and feel this way as everyone else loves!!! the worship and seem to feel so close to Jesus through the singing and music.
    At times I have felt a freak. I want to stay in church – its only a little one and the music is only 30mins or so, Urgghh, but I colour in often or read my bible through it. Its really hard to be different. I dont really care what others may think about how I am in church – thats between me and God, but I do want to have a church family and be part of things. The lack of musical worship for me is a barrier.