Shortly after I stepped down as pastor this year, I came across an illuminating and deeply convicting book by C. John (“Jack”) Miller that addressed so many of the issues in my church—and in so many churches like ours.
The book is entitled Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, and though it is a little dated (1986), it gets at the heart of the problem that many American churches are facing—an unhealthy self-centeredness that undermines the missionary impulse of Christ’s church. While the whole book is worth reading, the opening section (“Where Missionary Life Begins”) was most helpful for me. In those two chapters, Miller outlines the deadly symptoms of the ingrown church. The rest of the book aims at remedying that introversion through means of fresh faith, radical repentance, and active, prayerful, outward ministry.
Let me lay out some of the symptoms of the ingrown church. If they look similar to what you’ve experienced in your church, pick up this little book and begin to work through it with the leaders in your church. Continue reading