The Vanishing Evangelical

March 22, 2014

Calvin Miller speaking to
Baptist General Convention of Missouri
I recently read The Vanishing Evangelical: Saving the Church from Its Own Success by Restoring What Really Matters by Calvin Miller. Having heard Miller speak a few times, including at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri (now known as Churchnet), I was excited to read this book. Miller, who died before the book's publication, devoted his life to preaching and teaching - and he did so in a manner that embraced the artistic and avoided the slick fads. This book reads like Miller's parting gift to evangelicals. A stern love letter, he spends much of the book critiquing problems that are leading to the decline of evangelicals in hopes of helping evangelicals find a new way forward. At times, Miller took the tone of a feisty, grumpy old man. However, I enjoyed that style and often felt like he rightly unloaded. Miller correctly noted the problem of viewing the situation as a pendulum that will naturally swing back as he explained pendulums never actually go back to the same place. Thus, he urged evangelicals to not assume everything will eventually be okay. Although I do not agree with all of his complaints about the contemporary church scene in the U.S., his overall arguments are well made. This is an important book that all evangelical pastors and church leaders should read. We need to think carefully about many of his critiques so we can avoid vanishing.

 

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