Read Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller Online


This is a book for pacesetters -- church leaders who desire to help their churches break free of the things that turn them in on themselves and keep them from being outward-looking and outward-moving communities of Jesus Christ. The ingrown church is a common phenomenon. It is the "norm" for contemporary evangelical and Protestant churches. But ingrownness is a pathology.This is a book for pacesetters -- church leaders who desire to help their churches break free of the things that turn them in on themselves and keep them from being outward-looking and outward-moving communities of Jesus Christ. The ingrown church is a common phenomenon. It is the "norm" for contemporary evangelical and Protestant churches. But ingrownness is a pathology. It can destroy the vital spiritual health of a church. It must, therefore, be combated with the norms of Scripture. And that is why this book was written. Outgrowing the Ingrown Church is a masterful mix of biblical principle, objective analysis, and personal experience. It traces the author's own growing awareness of the problem of ingrownness in his calling as a pastor, seminary professor, and evangelist/missionary. In his own discovery of the power and presence of God he discovered the tendency of the church to live by its own power and resources. This is a book written to help change churches by changing the individuals who read it. It offers one an unparalleled challenge to be evaluated, revitalized, and then used by God for the work of ministry. Thus it is a book not merely for pastors, but for the whole body of Christ. "I have never been as excited about any book concerning church growth as when I read this book . . . . (His biblical) principles, if followed, transform individual lives and then lead to a movement within a church to change the whole congregation," writes John Guest in the foreword....

Title : Outgrowing the Ingrown Church
Author :
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ISBN : 0025986284114
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Outgrowing the Ingrown Church Reviews

  • Johnmark Battaglia
    2019-01-01 08:44

    OUTGROWING THE INGROWN CHURCH Outgrowing the Ingrown Church is a book for church leaders who are willing to do whatever it takes to see their church thrive in devotion to Christ and his mission. Like many pastors and lay leaders, Miller once reached a point where he was burnt out on the church. After pouring his life into his church for many years he became disgusted with the apparent apathy and love of comfort saturating the church culture. He was particularly discouraged over the lack of fruit and effective witness in his own church. Full of cynicism and despair, Miller resigned his pastorate. Soon after however, he began to be convicted that the primary failure was on his part, not on the part of the church (21). Miller began an extended season of repentance, surrender, and Bible study on the outpouring of the Spirit. In the midst of this time Miller discovered that the power of the Spirit in the life of the believer is connected to ongoing, daily belief in the gospel (23). This truth revolutionized his life, leadership, and his ministry. Miller returned to the pastorate with fresh vision and went on to not only successfully plant and pastor several churches, but also establish the mission agency, World Harvest Mission.Summary Outgrowing the Ingrown Church is intended to help the reader become a “pacesetter” for the rest of the church. “Pacesetters are people who motivate an ingrown church to outreach by setting the example of a renewed leadership, people of faith who know God’s will and are willing to make every sacrifice in order to fulfill it” (15). Miller is right in observing that many churches have become immobilized by unbelief. In surrendering to “comfortable religion” these churches have lost touch with the Risen Christ. Miller argues that the majority of local American congregations say “no” to God’s will by simply ignoring it (16). Too often it has become the norm for churches to regularly renew their member’s sense of well being without ever pushing them toward an encounter with the Living God (22). Miller summarizes the threat to the modern congregation as “…its tendency to despair and defeat because it has redirected its faith toward its past or human resources, rather than to the promises of God with their focus on the power of the Spirit to revive us” (24). Furthermore, he suggests that ingrown churches typically share the following characteristics: 1. Tunnel vision that limits potential ministries to those that can be accomplished by thevisible, human resources at hand. 2. A shared sense of group superiority that tends to exaggerate the positive qualities thatthey possess.3. Extreme sensitivity to negative human opinion.4. A shared desire to be seen as “nice.”5. A Christian “soap opera culture” characterized by gossip and series of endlessly repeatedconversations.6. Confusion about leadership roles within the church.7. Misdirected purpose that focuses on survival rather than growth through conversion ofthe lost. (29-36)Miller’s antidote to the sickness of the ingrown church is the pacesetter–a leader who moves ahead of the pack and sets the example that gets others moving. The pacesetter is a person of faith, empowered by the Spirit, willing to make any sacrifice to fulfill God’s mission. Such an individual, Miller argues, can be used by God to bring new life to a stagnant congregation. Pacesetters are the key to church transformation. Critical Evaluation Miller’s pacesetter concept is presented in the first chapter and then the remainder of the book explores how someone fulfilling the pacesetter role should view various aspects of church life. Issues of missionary motive and identity are covered before visiting practical issues like preaching, service, and small groups. One of the more intriguing aspects of the book was reading a Presbyterian pastor and teacher passionately proclaiming the need for Spirit-empowerment. Miller writes about how his turning point came when he recognized “Christ’s willingness to give the Holy Spirit on an ongoing basis to us now, as we in our weakness claim the promises in prayer” (24). The filling of the Spirit is seen to be directly tied to Christ’s mission. Miller focuses on the fact that Christ has become ‘a life-giving Spirit’ (1 Cor. 15:45), a glorified Christ imparting ‘rivers of living water’ (John 7:37-39), ‘an abounding spring of life’ (John 4:10), and an abiding missionary presence ‘to the very end of the age’ (Matt. 28:20) (55-56). To experience renewal and empowerment Miller advises that a church must “…direct their faith toward the promises of God with their focus on the power of the Spirit to revive us” (24). Such a robust view of Spirit’s empowering presence is rare in most evangelical books on church growth. Obviously Pentecostal or Charismatic authors will rarely neglect the theme of Spirit-empowerment, but too often it seems that church growth books heavily focus on human effort while merely giving lip service to the role of the Spirit. Miller passionately presents the need for the presence and power of the Spirit, but at times his approach can seem overly simplistic. Miller testifies that he experienced a dramatic filling and renewal of the Spirit in the midst of a multi-month sabbatical in Spain. One is encouraged by his testimony but ultimately only the Spirit can decide when and where to bring renewal, whether individual or corporate. At the risk of being cynical, one can ponder whether more leaders might not experience Spirit-empowerment and renewal if they too were afforded the opportunity for an extended season of rest, study, and prayer in a foreign country far removed from the demands of ministry and daily life. Along these lines, Miller’s testimony and personal experience might lead some to become impatient or discouraged if they do not experience the same results from their own pacesetting efforts in their local church. To be fair Miller shares both successes and failures, but he doe not devote much attention to the topic of perseverance. He does however provide the leader with four practical steps to renewal:1. Develop an openness to God’s vision for the local church.2. Work to develop an honesty about your sins and weaknesses that leads to change.3. Personalize your relationship with Christ (and be motivated by Christ’s glory).4. Commit yourself to express God’s glory in every part of your life and service. (72-77) Interestingly enough, these practical steps resemble those given by Pentecostal or Charismatic churches to those who desire to be baptized (or filled) with the Holy Spirit. Once again, this may seem somewhat surprising considering Miller’s role not only as a Presbyterian pastor, but also his additional role of professor at a conservative Presbyterian seminary. Another interesting aspect of Miller’s book is his emphasis on small groups. Currently small groups dominate the landscape of the evangelical church, but that was not the case when Miller was writing. Most of Miller’s ministry was done in a time when the congregation was encouraged to meet mid-week at the church for a service or prayer meeting. Yet as Miller began to explore effective programs for mission in the local church, he went back to Whitefield and Wesley and discovered the effectiveness of their small groups. For Wesley in particular small group were an effective way not only to disciple believers, but to mobilize those believers for outreach. Miller cites Wesley’s belief that no Christian should be allowed to think of himself or herself as “a passive observer, a non-worker in the harvest” (165). He recalls how Wesley effectively used “cell ministry” to renew the life-strength and witness of multitudes of people who were poorly paid, poorly housed, and poorly fed (166). For church leaders who feel like they are pulling teeth just to get their members to show up on Sunday, this approach may sound too good to be true! However, Miller follows in Wesley’s footsteps by asserting that small groups can be used to renew the faith of contemporary believers and mobilize them for service and witness. The reader cannot help but wonder to what degree Miller’s “rediscovery” of small groups has contributed to their current prevalence in American churches. Conclusion It is hard to imagine a church leader reading Outgrowing the Ingrown Church without being challenged and encouraged. Miller not only paints a picture of what gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered, mission-focused ministry might look, he also casts a compelling vision for how one individual can be used by God to bring about change in a local church. He avoids making the pacesetter role sound like a bed of roses but he also shows why fulfilling this role is worth the cost. Reading this book left me with an increased dissatisfaction for just doing church “like normal.” Instead, as I finished the book I found myself hungry to experience the love and presence of Christ in a way that might compels me to take greater risks for the sake of his mission and also help others do the same.

  • Dave Westerveld
    2019-01-04 06:07

    While keeping in mind that there are some leanings and influences that come out in this book which I suspect I would have disagreements with when fleshed out in more detail, I have to say that this book has really stimulated my thinking in a lot of ways. If we want to be a part of church that isn't a navel gazing church, it's not knowing the things to do that are so hard, it's actually getting down the business of living a life of faith that isn't scared to take some risks for the sake of showing love to others.

  • Cgensheer
    2019-01-01 07:07

    If you’re thinking about this book, don’t. Just get it and Thank me later!Great book! I wished I had read this before so many other books on church leadership and structure. Seriously, might be the best, short book on the subject. I also see where Keller and others have been influenced by one as unassuming as Miller.

  • Brian Whited
    2018-12-19 08:00

    Jack Miller is writing a book to inform pastors on how they can reorient a dying or stagnating church outward and instead toward the world. Many churches have become so focused on themselves, that they have failed to realize that the world is in need of solid churches that will win people to Christ. Jack’s main proposal for this change comes through the motivation of pacesetters or people in the church that will lead the church congregation with strong leadership, faith, and sacrifice. The main goal is for these leaders to encourage others in the church to follow their lead, eventually leading to a whole church that is healthy and vibrant. As always, Jack uses principles from the bible along with his own experience of both successes and failures to convey this message. Jack’s book is very informative and an enjoyable read. He provides a healthy mix of biblical principle and personal experience. His critique of the ingrown church is very true and his solution to the problem is viable. His addition of questions and action steps at the end of each chapter are also valuable. Quote“In running back and forth you run from your duty given you by God, to make your faith powerful, so when the call comes you can go out and say to them, ‘Yes, he is dead, but you will see him again in Heaven. Yes, you suffer, but you must love your pain because it is Christ’s pain.’ When on Sunday morning then, when we go before their faces, we must walk up not worn out with misery but full of Christ, hot”—he clenches his hairy fists—“with Christ, on fire: burn them with the forces of our belief. That is why they come. Why else would they pay us?” p.126, 127

  • Bo Cogbill
    2018-12-31 11:48

    I have so much disdain for church growth books that it took me years to read this, even though it had been recommended by several men I trust. At times this wreaked of one - complete with catchy phrases, idealistic stories of great men of faith presented as the standard for evangelism and four-step methods for growing your numbers. Ugh. That being said, the gospel was held in high regard, and the atoning work of Christ was central, and that always leaves plenty of room for repentance, for pastors and parishioners alike, even if your church isn't "ingrown;" for that alone, this book is a worthwhile read.

  • Lisa
    2018-12-24 13:47

    This book is intended for pastors and church leadership but is a great read for anyone in an American church. He calls an ingrown church a "membership club" for those believers with the right spiritual credentials. How true this analogy is! The author did not come at this as one who was passing judgement on the church but rather as one who made these mistakes himself, became convicted of his errant thinking, and sought God's wisdom to change. He lays out some very practical ways to shift focus with examples from his own life and ministry that provide relevant illustrations. This book has invigorated me with a hope for how God can use the church in His world.

  • Joe Cassada
    2019-01-05 08:52

    While I would not agree with Miller on many things he teaches via his Sonship program, this book is saturated with a biblical view of sin and justification. Miller writes with refreshing humility and passion. This book is what I would call a "pushing the reset button" book - a helpful and well written reminder of what the mission of the church is, and how pastors can recover it for their local congregation.Buy the book just for his recommended reading list featured at the end of every chapter.

  • David
    2019-01-06 07:59

    This is a helpful and practical book regarding pacesetting leadership in developing a Church ministry which is actively pursuing the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I highly recommend this book, and have studied it with the leadership of the Church I am serving.

  • Gregory
    2018-12-23 08:06

    This was a fantastic book--will be painful reading for many pastors and church members, but Miller shares inspiring stories and practical wisdom for breaking out of the "ingrown" and "inward-looking" church.

  • Matt/Sharon
    2019-01-03 06:05

    Very helpful, practical and challenging. We who often say that we believe in the Holy Spirit and the power of God function in ministry as though He doesn't exisit. This book exposes that tendency in us and gives the solution for the problem as well.

  • John
    2018-12-30 12:45

    Very dated. Felt like I was in the middle of all the exciting church discussions in the 80's. But some helpful, practical, and inspiring advice and stories throughout.

  • Ryan
    2019-01-15 08:08

    This is a great, thought-provoking book. Miller is a bit repetitive as an author, but he is persuasive, passionate, and Scriptural.

  • Steve Hemmeke
    2019-01-16 10:03

    Diagnosis: excellent. Prognosis: okay

  • Seth Channell
    2019-01-07 12:44

    So much truth! This book will challenge you and give you hope.

  • Matt Moran
    2019-01-04 08:59

    VERY 1980s, but there is still much here that is timeless.A call to repentance and faith that God is able and that the Great Commission is for us today.

  • Mark
    2018-12-19 07:48

    Believe the power of the gospel and be a gospel-driven church

  • Duke Revard
    2018-12-28 10:56

    In my Top #3 on Practical Ecclesiology. Great insights here.