C. John (Jack) Miller was born on December 18, 1928 in Gold Beach, Oregon. While he is known for The Sonship Course, Jack also influenced a generation of leaders in his roles as a pastor, church planter, scholar, and missionary leader in the United States and abroad. Christian historian D. Clair Davis, his close friend and colleague at Westminster Theological Seminary, described Jack as “A missionary statesman.”
Jack graduated from Westminster in 1965 and then served as an associate professor at his alma mater for sixteen years. In 1973, Jack planted New Life Church in Glenside, Pennsylvania. New Life’s unprecedented growth became a catalyst for an entire network of related church plants in both the United States and around the world. While pastoring New Life Church, Jack traveled to war-torn Uganda as a missionary just after dictator Idi Amin, the “Butcher of Uganda,” was deposed. There, he helped pioneer the Presbyterian Church in Uganda. Ultimately, this missionary work would lead to the formation of World Harvest Mission (now SERGE), a global missions organization that now supports over 300 missionaries in twelves countries around the world. Jack authored several books including Repentance, Evangelism and Your Church, Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, Come Back, Barbara, The Heart of a Servant Leader, Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless, and A Faith Worth Sharing.
Jack died on April 8, 1996 in Malaga, Spain. He is survived by his wife Rose Marie, and five children: Roseann, Ruth Lyn, Paul, Barbara, and Keren.
For more info, consider purchasing Jack’s biography, Cheer Up!
Joni Eareckson Tada
“When people see my wheelchair, and ask about my smile; when they wonder how I’m able to couple a strict orthodoxy with an infectious joy in Jesus, I often parrot a principle I learned years ago from Jack Miller who said, ‘Cheer up, the Spirit of Jesus is at work in your weakness.’ Jack helped me see that you could be a stalwart Calvinist and, at the same time, praise the Lord like a happy Pentecostal… even in the middle of pain and quadriplegia. Sound like a strange mix? In this remarkable book by Michael Graham, you’ll see how joyful zeal and sturdy doctrine should always reside together. I give this wonderful work on the life and teachings of Jack Miller a double thumbs-up!”
“Mike Graham has engaged in an epic journey of research into the historical events and personal experiences of Jack Miller to capture the spirit of the man, the era of the church, and the grace of God that made this jar of clay such a vessel of influence for the advance of the glories of the gospel.”
“An important early chronicle of a 20th-century Christian leader whose spiritual influence far exceeds his name recognition. Michael Graham has given us a solid overview of Jack Miller’s personal story and institutional impact.”
Dan B. Allender
“My first encounter with Jack Miller was terrifying. I discovered him with my best friend, Tremper Longman III, after convocation as first-year seminary students. He was surrounded by a gaggle of enraptured students. I grabbed Tremper and told him we had to flee because I knew Jack was dangerous and crazy. After four decades, Jack still troubles and terrifies me as he invites me to live with the wild, bold love of Jesus. Michael Graham brilliantly unfolds the beauty and brokenness of Jack’s life with tenderness and scholarly care. I know Jack far better, but far more, I know the Jesus Jack followed with even greater joy. If you didn’t know Jack Miller, you are about to meet one of the most amazing persons of the 20th Century.”
D. Clair Davis
“Jack’s godly personal love will never be forgotten, but he is also important historically. John Calvin taught us to know God and ourselves, with those two complementing each other. What good is truth without personal application, and the other way around too? When in the Lutheran world preaching became abstract and impersonal, then the Pietists came along. They told us that preachers should spend more time in preparing sermon application, and that prayer and counsel to each other in small groups was just as important as going to church. Pietism could become ‘radical’ though and minimize the Word. Regrettably that’s all that many history books remember about them.
Westminster Seminary was founded in reaction against liberalism in the Presbyterian Church, when religious social interests were crowding out careful attention to the Word. So maintaining God’s truth was highest on its agenda. Once its practical theology professor was inaugurated by being told be sure to remember that practical theology is practical THEOLOGY. Understandably, personal application had became suspicious. But Jack had learned the hard way the necessity of grasping the personal love of Jesus, otherwise how could vital ministry ever be done? He learned that in Europe, in harder places for the gospel than at home. In that he teamed with Harvie Conn, who learned that in Korea.
So now with Jack at our side we’re blessed by being back with Calvin, knowing ourselves and how much we need our Jesus. Westminster’s focus on Truth will always be foundational, but we grew and grew personally in our faith, as Jack helped us see in our hearts our own Jesus. PTL!“
“My wife and I were deeply impacted in a lifechanging way by Jack Miller at a Sonship week in 1995. Our strong commitment to the doctrines of grace became a deep experience of the gospel of grace that transformed our marriage and ministry. I personally experienced that transforming grace again in a fresh way as I read Cheer Up! Michael Graham has written a profound biography that brings to life the power of the Spirit in the life of a sinner saved by grace who never stopped preaching the gospel to himself. Graham weaves the tapestry of Jack’s life together in a way that illuminates the reformed theological landscape over 45 years while also showing Miller’s significant impact on many leaders and institutions including the seminary where I have served in various positions for over twenty years. I highly recommend Cheer Up! It elaborates Jack’s commitment to the inseparable connection of renewal and discipleship with missions and evangelism in a way that makes Cheer Up! a valuable resource for personal growth and ministry renewal.“
“Jack Miller was one of the most unusual personalities I have ever met. He took me in as an intern in his church, he and Rosemarie had me into their living room to discuss life-changing ideas with fellow students, he performed our wedding, in short, he was a tremendous mentor. This biography tells his story “warts and all” and it is my hope it will remind God’s people of the leaders he has provided for us, and our need to emulate them, without either lionizing them or belittling their contributions.”
“Spurgeon called tears wept in intercession, “liquid prayers.” As I read “Cheer Up! The Life, Teaching, and Ministry of C. John “Jack” Miller” I believe I prayed quite a few “liquid prayers.” Michael, you have portrayed the incisive mind, the expansive insight, the ferocious faith, the relentless repentance, the adoring delight in Jesus, the consuming love for Scripture and the tireless gospel proclamation that marked Jack Miller with compelling literary force. I wept in repentance as I watched over Jack’s shoulder once again.
You helped me follow his ministry of dependence on Holy Spirit for grace and the holy fear I felt when I was his student came rushing back. His life, when I sat under his preaching and teaching, unmasked my spiritual mediocrity with his winsome life of love and service. Your account of his life unmasked me once again.
Servants of Jesus, like Dr. Miller who welcome truly being made like their Master tend to make the less faithful follower of Jesus experience compelling fascination with their words and their way that is fused to a piercing and convicting Godly fear. For both the Savior and one’s sin simply must be faced in the presence of one like Dr. Miller. Such was the case when I was attending New Life Church and such was the case as I began and finished this book.
I am so thankful to have read this book. Reading it hurt like heaven! Which to my foolish perception, could seem worse than hell. Because, heaven wants me to change and hell hopes I never do. The earnest Christ centered mirth of the New Heaven and the New Earth marked the man C. John Miller. It marks this book as well.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”
“I’m am a cynical old preacher and quite wary of books about great Christians. That’s because I don’t believe that there are any “great Christians”… only great sinners used a great Savior. Cheer Up is different, honest, comprehensive and wonderful! Jack Miller was my friend and I loved him. My life was changed by knowing Jack, not because of Jack but because he understood the essence of the Christian faith and always pointed me to Jesus. I rise up and call Michael Graham blessed for writing this book as I do Jack Miller about whom Michael writes. But I mostly rise up and am overwhelmed with the great Savior both of them love. And you will “rise up and call me blessed” for having commended this book to you. Read it, be “cheered up,” and give it to everyone you know!”
From fellow missionaries, whom he deeply influenced, I came to appreciate and admire Jack Miller. Hurray, that those of us who didn’t know him personally can now get to know him and how God used him from Michael Graham’s book, Cheer Up! Now, both those who imbibed his teaching and we who didn’t sit under his ministry can do so. Thank God for enabling Michael Graham to enable us to more deeply know, appreciate, and be strengthened by the Millers and the lives of the Lord’s servants whom Jack discipled. Finally we get to know more of the depth of this man I haven’t yet met…but am looking forward to doing so in our Father’s House … even more so, after taking in Jack’s story!”
Dennis E. Johnson
“Michael Graham’s Cheer Up! The Life and Ministry of Jack Miller is a vivid and accurate portrait of a professor/pastor/evangelist/repentant sinner whose heart was captivated by God’s grace in Christ and the powerful presence of his Spirit. I think of Jack as the humblest, boldest follower of Jesus whom I have ever met. His transparency about himself and his utter confidence in Jesus challenged cautious, self-protective Christians (including seminary students like me) to risk admitting (instead of hiding) our weaknesses and actually “living by faith” in God. I’m glad that, through Pastor Graham’s research, especially his interviews with those close to Jack, many others can now meet this extraordinary, controversial trophy and ambassador of divine grace.”
“God used Jack Miller to change so many people’s lives, including mine. Mike Graham has done an excellent job of capturing what made Jack so special, to so many people: Jack believed himself to be someone who was in desperate need of the good news of the gospel and who also believed that God was delighted in showering grace on desperate sinners. This emphasis on God’s love for broken people spilled over into the way Jack loved others, including those who were still far from knowing Christ. Ultimately it became the driving force for founding Serge—knowing Christ in order to make Christ known. More than anything else this dynamic of God’s grace renewing our hearts and sending us out to live missionally in a broken world has been Jack’s legacy at Serge. It is still the heartbeat of our organization to this day. I’m thankful that Mike has made this story available to a wider audience.”
“Michael Graham’s book sets forth well the Jack Miller I remember. That Jack Miller was a wonderful model to me of God’s grace, and he we a great source of humble wisdom. I hope that many more people can get to know Jack Miller, and through him, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“The writings of Jack Miller have had a profound impact both on my personal spiritual walk and my ministry as a pastor. He’s shaped me as a father. Going far beyond strategies for church growth and effective preaching, Jack Miller gets at the heart of our calling as believers-to walk as beloved sons and daughters of the King. This book tells the story of Jack’s life and ministry, and it’s a wonderful read for anyone desiring to dwell in those secret place of the Most High.”