US Megapastor Perry Noble has spoken out against Christian authors and musicians who have distanced themselves from the Church.
Noble, the founder and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina, attended by around 32,000 people, wrote in a blog:
"Over the past five years or so it has become quite popular for Christian musicians and authors to make the claim that they do not need church, nor do they see it as important or essential to their lives.
"Often they can be seen on social media taking a shot at pastors who talk about the number of people who attend one of their church services or celebrate what God may be doing in their church as far as salvations, baptisms or other things that I believe Scripture calls us to celebrate."
Nobel condemns this as "incredibly hypocritical", noting that many artists rely on churches to promote and sell their work. He also adds that it is "sad" to celebrate "a temporary place on a list that one day will not matter", such as music charts or bestselling lists, "but then frown upon churches when they celebrate when people come from death to life".
"Remember when you speak about the church you are talking about the ONLY THING on the planet that Jesus Himself began (Matthew 16:18), HE sits at the HEAD of the church (Colossians 1:18and Ephesians 1:22) and it is THROUGH the church HE wants to REACH THE WORLD (Ephesians 3:10)," he says.
"I really do hope and pray that any artist that would call themselves a Christian would love, appreciate and support what Jesus loves - HIS CHURCH. She's beautiful, she's breathtaking and she is the hope of the world.
"The Church will be here long after our books and worship albums can no longer be found," he finishes.
It is unclear who Noble was alluding to, although bestselling author and speaker Donald Miller published a controversial blog earlier this year in which he admitted that he rarely attends church, saying that he finds services "somewhat long and difficult to get through".
"I used to feel guilty about this but to be honest, I experience an intimacy with God I consider strong and healthy," he wrote. "It's just that I don't experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service.
"So, do I attend church? Not often, to be honest...it's not how I learn."
In response to this post, Miller says that he received an immediate "backlash", prompting him to write a follow-up blog to explain his thoughts more clearly.
"Many people thought the blog was saying people shouldn't go to church or that I had something against church. None of that is true," he asserted.
"And yet, most of the influential Christian leaders I know (who are not pastors) do not attend church. Perhaps it's something we should talk about in an open, safe environment."
Miller concluded his second blog with the assertion that whatever our individual beliefs: "I can't control you, you can't control me, and none of us are going to control Jesus. He's going to do what He wants, and what He wants is to love the world through us, both inside and outside the church."
He also told Relevant Magazine in a live Q&A that he regretted expressing his views in such a way that could be easily misinterpreted, but stood by his belief that a conversation should be opened up about 'doing' church differently.
"I guess what I'm saying is I'm willing to consider other models - as messy as they might be and as flawed as they might be," he said.
Many of Noble's thousands of Twitter followers have praised his critique. However, others have indicated that there are bigger questions to be asked, indicating that the thoughts of those like Miller are valid, and should be explored in greater depth. "Perhaps it would've been more helpful to explore WHY they're not connected to a church instead of widening the gap," suggested singer-songwriter Rebekah Gilbert.