Today’s smartphones are incredibly complex and powerful devices, but the best ones are also incredibly simple to use. This simple revolution, as Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger point out, has spread to many different segments of our contemporary world, including the church. After researching hundreds of churches, some stagnant, some declining, and some growing and thriving, the authors have drawn a distinction between two kinds of churches; those that follow the traditional program-driven, fill-the-calendar model, and those that have worked hard to streamline the process and the message for their people. Not surprisingly, the authors found that those churches who have embraced simplicity are also the churches that are growing and thriving.
After comparing and contrasting some traditional and simple churches, the authors put forth a the path toward simplicity and, in their estimation, thriving churches.
They determined that there are four key elements to simple, thriving churches:
- Clarity – Simple churches are amazingly clear and concise with their ministry vision. It is straightforward, easily remembered, and repeatedly said among the staff and congregation.
- Movement – Simple churches have a clear process to move people through in their discipleship plan. They want people to know where they’ve been, where they are, and where they are headed. There is synergy amongst the staff, with the goal of moving people along in their development.
- Alignment – Because simple churches have a clear vision and plan to move people through a process, the various parts and leaders of the church are working together rather than competing for resources within a local church. This maximizes everyone’s energy.
- Focus – Simple churches are radically committed to remaining simple. As organizations grow, there is pressure to lose focus and to take on more and more. Simple churches continue to come back to their vision, movement and alignment, staying focused on the goal and remaining simple.
My takeaway: This book will challenge anyone accustomed to either offering or being offered a ministry menu with a plethora of options to choose from. After all, if we look really busy we must be doing something right… right? Rather, this is a call to focus, to ruthlessly eliminate all that distracts us from the one thing we feel God has called us to as a church.