Why Donald Miller Should Worship God by Singing

Donald Miller caused a ripple in the Christian blogosphere with his post I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere. He claims the reason he does not often attend Sunday worship is because he is a kinesthetic learner – he learns by doing.

Contrary to Miller’s claims, he should attend Sunday worship because he is a kinesthetic learner and in spite of this excuse. Let’s explore why.

Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learners are people who learn best by, as Wikipedia states, “carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration.” Among the studies cited on Wikipedia, it seems there is no hard evidence that teaching geared to the specific learning styles of hearing, seeing, or doing, are the best environment for those types of learners to learn. Rather, a mixture of the various types of teaching seems to yield the best results.

Nonetheless, let’s examine Miller’s claims on their own grounds and in light of the Bible.

Churches Worship Corporately

First, it is clear historically that the church gathered together in corporate worship. There is evidence in various sections of Scripture the church gathered together  (1 Cor. 11:18), worshiped God by singing together (Eph. 5:19), shared the Lord’s Supper together (1 Cor. 11:20), suffered and rejoiced together (1 Cor. 12:26), and are even encouraged not to neglect coming together (Heb. 10:25). The church is even ordered with officers who have real tasks and responsibilities (1 Tim. 3:1, Phil. 1:1, 1 Pt. 5:1).

The Scripture citations given point out that the early church gathered together corporately for worship. In fact, if someone is not involved in a local church, most of the above cannot be biblically fulfilled. A community does not truly commune without fellowship. For example, I live in a community, a neighborhood with a name separated from the other neighborhoods around, but I do not fellowship with all of my neighbors. That is, we are a community that does not truly commune. So how much more can a Christian community exist without true spiritual fellowship?

Miller’s Kinesthetic Reasoning

Donald Miller reasons that he does not often attend church because “it’s not how I learn.” Remember, he states in his post that he is a  kinesthetic learner, that he learns by doing. However, he learns by teaching and his “guess is because teaching is a kinesthetic discipline rather than an auditory discipline.” He states that he does not “experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service.” And does not “learn much about God hearing a sermon and I don’t connect with him by singing songs to him.”

Ironically, Miller claims to learn by doing rather than by seeing or hearing. Yet, he was able to write an almost 4,000 word follow-up response to the blog post addressed here. While writing his response may have been an act of doing, reading the replies was an act of seeing. In the same way that seeing the replies requires reading them, why can’t he actively listen during a worship service from all that is heard?

Recall, the title of Miller’s post is I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere. It is difficult to grasp his reasoning for why he does not worship through song because, ironically, singing is doing! The act of singing, like teaching, is an auditory discipline. When we Christians sing in praise to God, we are active or else we are not singing.

No One Lives Kinesthetically

Can you imagine giving the excuse to your boss, friends, or spouse that the reason you don’t listen to them well or spend much time with them is because you are a kinesthetic learner? What kind of relationships would we have given that we all probably differ in our learning styles? Can you imagine explaining to your spouse that you are a kinesthetic learner so you will only be able to listen to them about once a month? That you understand your spouse needs you, but he or she just doesn’t communicate the right way for you?

Husbands, I dare you to try using the kinesthetic excuse with your wife!

I don’t think any of us would use the kinesthetic excuse with our spouse, so how much more should those of us who are part of the bridge of Christ – the church – use such an excuse?

Christians, my encouragement is to not let your “learning style” dictate your faithfulness to the church as given in God’s word. My advice is not to follow Miller’s reasoning for not often attending worship service. And hopefully he will have a change of heart. Christians seem to have enough trouble laying down their lives for one another; we don’t need another excuse not to.

Finally, if we Christians are to love God with every part of our being (Matt. 22:37) and love Him above everyone else (Lk. 14:26), including ourselves, then God’s way of worshiping Him takes precedent over our own desires and feelings. In fact, we are to take every thought captive to obey Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

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