Highlights from Outgrowing the Ingrown Church

outgrowing the ingrown church - book coverLast week I finished Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller. In this book, Miller describes how God worked in both his life and the life of his church, waking them up from apathy towards the unchurched in his community, and inspiring them to be constantly seeking opportunities to serve the lost. Miller’s goals in this book are twofold: 1. To identify and remedy the common causes that keep churches only looking inward, and 2. To inspire and encourage pastors and church leaders into becoming pacesetters in their congregations, starting a renewed focus on the Great Commission.

Instead of writing a normal book review for Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, I thought I would share some of the more impactful (and quite candid!) quotes from this fine book. The quotes below cover the substance of the book, giving you an idea of Miller’s core arguments; but do not skip out on buying this extremely valuable book—especially if you are a church leader concerned about mobilizing your congregation into engaging the community.

On personal motives for evangelism:

  • “Have you ever down a single thing because you love Jesus? Or stopped doing anything because you love Him?” (18)
  • “It is the privilege and duty of each believer to become God’s zealous pacesetter in bringing the lost to Christ by every means available.” (57)
  • “The glory of God is the difference between what we would naturally be or do and what we are enabled to do by God’s grace” (69)

On the role of pastor as pacesetter:

  • “Pacesetters are people who motivate an ingrown church to outreach by setting the example of a renewed leadership… They are the ones God uses to overcome and dismantle the barriers every congregation erects around itself to guarantee its own comfort and security.” (15)
  • “The preacher should see preaching much more as a declaration of war, a conflict in which well-disciplined words march as to war to bring the hearers to surrender to Jesus Christ. We need to use the pulpit as a battle station.” (124)
  • “Preach Christ with a burning faith, hot enough to get people to listen and catch fire themselves.” (133)

On the settledness and comfort of an ingrown church:

  • “We have surrendered our hearts to the familiar forms of our religious life and found comfort of soul, not in knowing God, but in knowing that our worship practices are firmly settled and nothing unpredictable will happen Sunday morning.” (19)
  • “The unity is essentially that of the comfortable, private club determined to protect its institutional values and privileges.” (36)

On how introversion spiritually affects an ingrown church:

  • “The introverted church reflected members’ unbelieving resistance to the will of the King, as expressed by His missionary mandate.” (28)
  • “The sad truth is that one negative critic with a loud voice who speaks from within the inner circle of the ingrown church usurps the role of Christ, wielding the power to make or break programs… Whatever the opposition takes, we will discover that an ingrown church has given in for so long to intimidation that its fears have obscured vital contact with the promises of God. As a result, fear casts out love for ”a world that is falling apart,“ a world that desperately needs a community of love.” (31)
  • “Where this distortion of purpose prevails, the danger is that eventually the church will make its own life, programs, and traditions into its object of worship. The church will give to itself the honor that belongs to God alone.” (36)
  • “There is simply not enough zeal for Christ working in their hearts to compel them to open their homes to the unchurched… Members assume that they are much more welcoming than they actually are.” (82)

On the role of the church

  • “The entire church is a ”sent church,“ a commissioned body that is itself involved in the harvesting task.” (53)
  • “The commissioned church is hospitable. It aggressively and joyfully seeks out the unchurched, laboring to welcome them into the church as members of the body of Christ. Its leaders self-consciously reject a ”Christian clubhouse“ atmosphere and devote themselves to developing in the congregation an open face to the community and the world beyond.” (81)
  • “A willingness to reach out with the gospel to the ”unwashed“ is the mark of a transformed heart and life.” (145)

Hopefully these quotes give you an idea of what Outgrowing the Ingrown Church is like. Again, I highly recommend this book to any pastor or church leader looking to kickstart their congregation into seeking and serving those far from Christ.

Brandon Schmidt

I am Brandon Schmidt: writer, husband, father, brother, reader, and laugher.

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