Simple Church, Part 2

Simple Church: Return to God’s Process for Making Disciples
(Rainer and Geiger)

This is a very easy to read and understand assessment of the church in America. The authors provide research to support the assertion that church in America has become complex; leaving a simple strategy that attracts people and moves them into deeper levels of commitment to Christ and the community.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hofmann

The church is in need of an extreme makeover. The authors propose four simple keys to developing a simple strategy: clarity, movement, alignment and focus.

Defining a Simple Church – a simple church is defined as “a congregation designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.” Let’s look at this definition.

  1. Designed means that it is not carelessly thrown together but rather it is thought-out, structured and designed with care and prayer.
  2. Around means that all programs and ministries revolve around something. They are not intended to just fill a calendar, but rather they revolve around the stated and publicized core values (mission) of the church.
  3. Straightforward means that it is not confusing, but rather easy to grasp. The leaders know it and congregation understands it. The process is intentionally kept simple.
  4. Strategic means that all programs are tied in to the purpose or vision of the church. It is designed to impact people’s lives.
  5. Moves people means that the process moves people to greater commitment to Christ and His church. Perhaps this movement will attract people through worship services and then move people toward small group experiences, then in time, move them toward Christian service.
  6. Through the stages of spiritual growth is really the goal of the whole process. God changes lives and people are conformed to the image of Christ.

The church is designed to partner with God in moving people through stages of spiritual growth; to structure the church around a process of spiritual transformation. The authors suggest that the church in America today needs an “extreme makeover;” a new design for church ministry.

Clarity:
This is the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people. Basically, the people get it. Their purpose is easy to recall and quote. It is communicated through the pastor, the staff, church leaders and each specialized ministry.

Movement:
This is the sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment. The hand-off is extremely important, much like the relay race in the Olympics; if the baton is dropped, the team will not win.

Alignment:
This is the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process. All are moving in the same direction, operating from the same blueprint. No one program is completing for the constituency. There is a tendency to drift from alignment. Like in tires, the church needs a realignment at times.

Focus:
This is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process. It requires saying “yes” to some things and “no” to all others. Focus is the element that gives power and energy to clarity.

Hezekiah and Makeovers:
Second Kings 18:1-12 records the reforms of King Hezekiah. He removed one of the sacred items that turned into an object of worship. Remember the bronze snake on the pole (Numbers 21:6-8)? The once relevant item turned into an idol. This was likely an unpopular decision, but it was the right thing to do.

“Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” — Jesus, Matthew 16:18

The Theology of Gates:
The gates of hell are powerless to contain the movement of the gospel. Gates are also defensive, not offensive. Think about who is on the attack. The church always has the ball, or is always at bat. Victory is guaranteed, we know who wins at the end.

Fringe Benefits of a Simple Church:
Increased morale (by defining the Great Commission in the form of a simple disciple-making process), Urgency (ever increasing urgency to see people move through the process rather than just see conversions), Spiritual Growth (people becoming proactive in their own development, commitments to small groups and inviting friends), Conversions (greater commitment to Christ leads people to share their faith), Stewardship (eliminating programs that did not align with the process), Unity (becoming a closer family by agreeing on the process and consolidating efforts).

Sample Simplicity of Other Churches:

  1. Emmanuel Baptist in Glasgow Kentucky – “Connecting, Growing, Serving”
  2. Christ Fellowship in Miami – “Connect to God, others, ministry and the lost”
  3. Northpoint Community near Atlanta – they seek to move people from the “foyer to the kitchen.”
    1. The foyer is the entry point of the fellowship (perhaps large group worship).
    2. The living room is where relationships are built (perhaps a special event experience offered at strategic times).
    3. The kitchen is where the most intimate conversations occur (small group with accountability).
Spread the Community, Faith, Love

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