Don Miller: Who Should Lead the Church–Plumbers or Scholars?

The church in America is led by scholars. Essentially, the church is a robust school system created around a framework of lectures and discussions and study.

We assume this is the way it’s supposed to be because this is all we have ever known. I think the scholars have done a good job, but they’ve also recreated the church in their own image. Churches are essentially schools. They look like schools with lecture halls, classrooms, cafeterias, and each new church program is basically a teaching program.

The first disciples were not teachers; they were fishermen, tax collectors, and at least one was a zealot. We don’t know the occupation of the others, but Jesus did not charge educators with the great commission; he chose laborers. And those laborers took the gospel and created Christian communities that worked, that did things and met in homes and were active. They made speeches, for sure, but so do businessmen and politicians and leaders in any number of other professions. Educators make speeches and do little else, except study for their next lecture.

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I wonder what the first disciples would think if they could see our system of schools, our million lectures, our billion sub lectures, our curriculums, and our lesson plans. I think they’d be impressed, to be honest, but I also think they’d recognize a downside.

Church divisions are almost exclusively academic divisions. The reason I don’t understand my Lutheran neighbor is because a couple of  academics got into a fight hundreds of years ago. And the rest of the church followed them because, well, they were our leaders. So now we are divided under divisions caused by arguments a laboring leadership might never have noticed or cared about.

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Donald Miller
Don’s most recent book is called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and it’s about how the elements of a great story can help us understand the elements of a great life. That book also hit the New York Times Bestsellers List, and inspired corporations to work with Don to improve employee engagement in their corporate vision, and customer understanding of the corporations overall narrative. Don has appeared on a diversity of television programs including NPR’s Tavis Smiley and Fox News’ The Strategy Room and has spoken for a variety of venues including the Veritas Forum at Harvard and national corporate conferences for brands such as Chic-fil-a. Don lives and works in Portland, Oregon.