Seven Signs of an Introverted Church

In preparation for my sermon this coming Sunday, I pulled out C. John Miller’s Outgrowing the Ingrown Church (Zondervan, 1986).

Where do we find the repository of what Christ has commanded us? In the Scriptures. He tells us to go and make disciples. He told his disciples to make disciples. He told them to, under the power of the Spirit, reproduce Christians.

Maybe this is the reason why North American churches are dying—we are reproducing normal American citizens who strive for the normal American life who wish for normal jobs, normal marriages, normal kids, a normal retirement, etc, rather than Kingdom disciples.

In truth, every church reproduces what it holds to and cherishes most dearly. In order for churches to remain normal in the midst of the dying churches that perish all around them, they being looking inwardly in order to maintain. C. John Miller writes about how introverted churches operate:

Tunnel vision: when churches limit potential ministries of the church to those that can be accomplished by the visible, human resources at hand. Any vision that has God moving and working is not seen or ignored.

Shared sense of group superiority: We find one thing we do well or have done well and elevate it, then look at others who do not have this quality. It is done for fear of extinction. Churches who do this refer greatly to their storied history, their founders, former pastors, past times of glory.

Extreme sensitivity to negative human opinion: At the first sign of opposition, we shrivel up. And the more influence the opposition has, the stronger our sensitivity. This critical person with the loud voice and his influence begins to take on the role of Christ, wielding power to make or break programs.

Niceness: for fear of controversy, there is a desire to be nice and safe. No surprises, no problems, just comfort, safety, and security.

Confused leadership roles: Introverted churches do not want church officers or ministers to be pacesetters. It’s a fear of change, a fear of enthusiasm, a fear of breaking the routine. Keep the status quo. In unspoken words, they tell the pastor and ministers, “We will support you and love you, as long as you stay in bounds of our tradition.”

Misplaced vision: We don’t concern ourselves about growth but survival.

What does all this have to do with the Bible? The Bible shows God’s prophets, His apostles, and His Messiah going completely counter to this! The more we study and preach and apply the Scriptures, the less introverted we are personally and churchwide.

I fear we are more concerned about change that we are about Christ’s leadership. I fear too many of us get more fired up when our personal preferences aren’t met rather than we do over personal sin.

Another piece of the vision God has placed in me is that our members would love and study the Word of God and not simply love the Bible in theory but also in practice. Therefore, I must train my leaders by giving them tools to study the Word through observation, interpretation, and application. I must also model it through faithful expositional preaching which goes through the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:28) rather than simply giving life lesson principles to meet temporal needs. We must also offer special leadership training for our staff, deacons, Sunday School leaders, and other key areas of ministry at our church and have Boone’s Creek be a place for young ministers to intern so they may exercise their gifts.

Categories: Church Life | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Seven Signs of an Introverted Church

  1. bill

    My church has all 7 of these signs. That is really a bummer and I’ll tell you why. One by one they have been revealed to me as I stepped out of the comfort zone of my parish. Over the last 4 years God has shown me that the church has to move out of it’s seat and on to the streets and out into the world to spread the gospel. I have come up with new opportunities for growth that would reach our community, partner with other churches and become more involved in the world, sadly each time i face opposition. In 2007 & 2008 I went to Japan for short term missions trips. Upon my return the mission committee formulated a plan of attack to put a stop to such wasteful spending. My missional church has put a stop to mission trips. The 7 signs you have listed are dominating my church. It has been one battle after another with passive and confrontational agressiveness towards me and my wife. I am an elder and I also teach junior high sunday school, I chair the christian ed committee too. In each area I have tried to start up new outreaches. In each area I have been stopped. It is always my ultimate goal to spread the gospel in these outreach programs and this is what scares evryone. So I have a question…should I stay and fight or should i go and find a like minded church to attend?

  2. Miller was a gentle prophet. I read two of his books last year “Repentance and the 21st Century Man” and “A Faith Worth Sharing” I have the 2nd one on my top three books list for 2008. Here is the link if you want to check it out:


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