By – Thom S. Rainer & Eric Geiger
In the movie Inception one of the character states that the only effective way to make an idea stick in someone’s head is for “the idea to be broken down in it’s simplest form… translated into an emotion.” The wisdom of that statement is evident in nearly every facet of our culture. With nearly no cognizance of our actions, we participate in the simplest forms of ideas and systems everyday, and we connect them to emotions. McDonald’s has it, and “you’re lovin’ it.” Wal-Mart has it, and you’re left reeling with all the rollback smiley faces. Apple most definitely has it, and just ask their cult following and the millions of impulse buyers that stand in 3 day lines at product releases how they feel about it. The corporate world has learned how to tap into it. People yearn for simplicity. People buy into simplicity.
Life is complex. There are so many relationship connections that must be managed and maintained; there’s pressure from all different directions. To perform – to improve – to motivate – to encourage – to educate – to make sure the trash gets to the curb every Thursday night. We yearn for simplicity. We buy paper planners and fancy Apple devices that we carry around with us every day because of the promise that it will make our lives ‘simpler.’
Even at church, we yearn for simplicity. We may not say it. We may not even know it consciously, but at the end of the day we’re looking for it and trying to obtain it. We know that something is wrong when we start feeling frustration or burnout. We know that something is wrong when we’re worried about position or title, and we lose our focus and purpose. We feel the loss of community and an overall heaviness when ministry becomes too complex.
In their book Simple Church, Rainer and Geiger break down exactly what it looks like for a church to embrace simplicity. Engaging in a statistical analysis, they discover that Simple Churches are growing & thriving churches. Churches that are overly complex with no real focus or process for making disciples are at best maintaining – at worst declining. The key, as the authors indicate, to becoming a “simple church,” is wrapped around a very clearly defined process of moving people from one stage of involvement to the next. This is accomplished through the utilization of four key principles:
“A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it. The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment). The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus).”
The process must be clear above all else. “Where there is ambiguity, there is often confusion.” If it’s left open to interpretation, the resulting movement will be sporadic and ineffective. A clear process causes movement. As Rainer & Geiger state, “A clearly defined process encourages people to progress through it because they know the expectation. Clear vision and expectation causes people to move. Just as with the body; however, if one leg gets on board with the movement slower than the other leg, a fall is likely to occur. There has to be alignment for the movement to be effective. If one body part is doing something else entirely, the whole body looks erratic. Once there is alignment to the movement, there can be no distractions. Focus is vital.
Simple Church will change your perspective on church. Purchase it online by clicking here