Simple Church

November 10, 2011

In the beginning of 2011 we announced that the church leadership was going to begin a yearlong process of evaluating how Community Bible Church (hereafter CBC) functioned. I called it “The Year of the Church” and took our text from First Timothy 3:15. “…so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

Starting in January and ending right before Easter, I preached through the book of First Timothy, which I consider to be a policy manual for the local church. This sermon series was titled “Life in the Father’s Household.” You can listen to it here

In our board meetings we began the time consuming and slow moving conversation about how we do things, why we do them, how should we do them and can we do them better. Progress has been snail pace at best. However my sermon series on Sanctification came as a result as was the just completed membership class. This is a conversation that will continue on into 2012.

One of the things we did as a deacon board was read a book together. This Saturday morning we are meeting to begin our discussion of it and hopefully eventually our implementation.
I am going to be sharing my thoughts about the book on my blog. You are welcome to follow along. I hope you do. This is the first installment. More will be forthcoming.

Simple Church: Returning to God’s process for making disciples
© 2011 by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger
Published by B&H Publishing Group
281 pages

This book was originally published in 2006. This paperback edition has been updated with a new final chapter on what the authors have learned since the book was first released.

Many churches have “business meetings.” If the church was really a business what business is it in? If the business had a product, what would the product be? The church is in the disciple making business. Our product is a disciple. We want fully functioning followers of Christ. These followers or disciples aren’t made, they are grown. They are produced by spiritual transformation, or in other words the process of progressive sanctification. The church is to be assisting people in their spiritual growth.

The authors define a simple church as “a congregation designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth” (p. 186).

In this book the authors are encouraging us to design a process for discipleship. The key word of this book is “process.” Simple only comes into play because a complicated or complex process does not produce the desired result. The book follows the old adage “keep it simple stupid.”

To have a simple church, leaders must ensure that everything their church does fits together to produce life change. They must design a simple process that pulls everything together, a simple process that moves people toward spiritual maturity (p. 26).

Only God is the producer of growth. The church is one of His tools in this growth process. The church is to move people toward spiritual maturity.

The authors have varied ministry experience, including pastoring and teaching. They are also researchers. This book is based upon their research of “vibrant” churches compared to churches that are struggling. Churches without a process or with a complicated process for making disciples are floundering (p. 14).

Simple churches have realized this. Because they are consumed with the call to make disciples, they have implemented a simple design for church ministry. They have designed a simple process to reach and mature people. Thus, these churches are getting people’s attention and commitment (p. 15).

Many churches know what they should be doing but struggle with the how. There is not a clear process in place that streamlines the ministry and keeps everybody on the same page (p.22).

There is a big difference between simple and easy. Simple is basic, uncomplicated and fundamental. Easy is effortless. Ministry will never be easy (p. 16).

As church members and especially leaders, can we clearly articulate how someone at CBC moves from being a new Christian to becoming a mature follow of Christ? Do we have a process? Is it simple enough to be understood and communicated?

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One Response to “Simple Church”

  1. Jacki Manley Says:

    This is great dad! I’ve actually read this book for college. Not my favorite in the world, but definitely agree with its thesis. Love you:)


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