C. John Miller’s Outgrowing the Ingrown Church: Book Review

Outgrowing Ingrown ChurchMiller, John C. Outgrowing the Ingrown Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986, 1999.

Where’s the focus of your church? A church’s gaze matters. Is your church an inwardly or outwardly focused church? The focus of your church ultimately ends up shaping the character, identity, and mission of the church.

Identity shapes mission (42). This is essential. If we are the redeemed, accepted, and separated people of God then we are created for a purpose. Who we are shapes what we do. Our missionary (outward) mandate flows out of our missionary identity. We are a commissioned people (52) empowered by a “commissioning Spirit” (56). We must become a praying, welcoming, hospitable people. We need to have an intentionally outward focused face toward the world (91).

What’s greatly lacking in the church today is faith (57). Faith in who God has called us to be, faith in what God has called us to do, and faith in how God has empowered us to do it. We need to recover our faith in God, the power of his Gospel, and the missionary task he has assigned to us. Church leaders must become pacesetters (109), setting the agenda through faithful proclamation of Scripture and through their own lives. We are at war and our lives must reflect such war time mentality.

While a bit dated, Miller’s book remains a helpful and needed call back to a big God. It’s a call to renewed faith. Our gaze of faith will shape our future. We will either pursue risk or we will rust (175). We will either look outwardly, faithfully living out God’s missionary mandate or we will turn inwardly calcifying into irrelevance.

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