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simple church

Doing a quick Kindle read of a recommended book, Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. 

Getting some good thoughts from this, and of course, Kindle allows me to underline, and then cut and paste from my clippings text file.  

About halfway through here are some key highlights:

Study findings: "There is a highly significant relationship between a simple church design and the growth and vitality of a local church."

Sadly, most churches miss this truth. They are not simple. They have not designed a simple process for discipleship. They have not structured their church around the process of spiritual transformation. And they are making little impact. 

To have a simple church, you must design a simple discipleship process. This process must be clear. It must move people toward maturity. It must be integrated fully into your church, and you must get rid of the clutter around it.

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).


Clarity is the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people. 

Before the process can be clear to the people in the church, it must first be clear to the leaders.

Church leaders must define more than the purpose (the what); they must also define the process (the how).

People cannot embrace the ambiguous.

Determine what kind of disciple you wish to produce in your church. What do you want the people to be?


Movement is the sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment. Movement is about flow. It is about assimilation.

"The irony is that we have actually grown numerically and spiritually by doing fewer programs and special events, choosing instead to focus our attention on moving people with various levels of commitment to deeper levels of commitment."

Learn to view your numbers horizontally and not vertically... Most church leaders would look at the total number of people in a particular program, such as the total number of adults in small groups. That is looking vertically. It is looking at programs to see if they are successful. Viewing your numbers horizontally is different. Someone who views numbers horizontally would... see that a certain percentage of adults moved from a worship service to small groups and then to ministry teams. The horizontal viewer would think of ways to move more people across the chart. Sideways.

For people to take your ministry process seriously, it has to be measured. For people to internalize the simple how in your church, you have to evaluate it. The cliché is true: what gets evaluated, gets done. We asked church leaders if they have a system in place to evaluate if people are progressing through their process.


Alignment is the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process. Alignment to the process means that all ministry departments submit and attach themselves to the same overarching process... Without alignment, the church can be a multitude of subministries. In this case each ministry has its own leaders who are only passionate about their specific ministry. They rarely identify with the entire church but are deeply committed to their own philosophy of ministry.

Our research indicates that simple churches practice alignment. They intentionally fight the drift into misalignment. They insist that each staff member and each ministry embrace and execute their simple ministry process.

...alignment fosters unity. People are not fighting over the same space, resources, and leaders. Each ministry complements the others. The goal of each department is to move people [through the process]. ...this process is so simple that it can be explained in a few minutes on a napkin. Each department understands the process and is committed to it.

Decide how each weekly program is part of the process.


Focus is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process. Focus most often means saying "no." Focus requires saying "yes" to the best and "no" to everything else.

Programs were made for man, not man for programs. If the goal is to keep certain things going, the church is in trouble. The end result must always be about people. Programs should only be tools.

What was once a good thing became an idol. It got in the way of their worship of God. The tool for worship became the object of worship. In many churches the original tools for life change have created too much clutter. Instead of uniting, they divide focus. The programs have become ends in themselves. 

...if you want the necessary to stand out, you have to get rid of the unnecessary.

The extra programs are what business consultants refer to as nonvalue-adding work. They did not add value to the process. The extra programs actually competed with the process because people were less likely to plug into a small group and a ministry. People only have so much available time, and the leaders decided to free up time slots for people to be able to connect to the essential programs in the process. In order to bring greater focus, even popular programs were altered or eliminated... 

View everything through the lens of your simple process. 


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