Simple Church – Chapter 4

Chapter 4 gives us 3 examples of simple churches and how they do things.

The first is Immanuel Baptist Church in Glasgow, Kentucky.  The second is Christ Fellowship in Miami.  Third is Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta.  Each of these is examined in light of their Clarity, Movement, Alignment, and Focus.

It was interesting to read about churches with successful processes.  It is encouraging to think that they were able to be successful so we can too.  The more I read this book the more I am getting the fever to try to implement SIMPLE at my church.  I mentioned to my pastor on Wednesday how this book is challenging my thinking on how church should be done.  I even suggested that he read the book and told him that I would loan him mine once I am done.

IS GOD REALLY SOVEREIGN?

The question of God’s sovereignty is at the heart of all theology. The importance, or lack thereof, we place on it will influence every aspect of our theology. In most cases it seems that people make either God’s sovereignty or God’s love in the primary position of their theology. Calvinists will usually make God’s sovereignty primary while Arminians usually make God’s love primary.

Billy over at Classical Arminianism wrote a post answering this question. It is a good explanation of how classical Arminians look at the issue. I don’t agree with most of Billy’s conclusions but I respect his perspective and his passion for what he believes. I have no problem calling him a brother in Christ.

Read Billy’s post and let me know what you think.

James Dobson Has Endorsed Mike Huckabee

This is good news but I wonder if it is too late.  If Dobson had made this endorsement a month ago I think we would have a very different outlook as to who would win the republican nomination.  Click here and here to read the story.

Go Wayne Grudem!

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7056448707523449803&pr=goog-sl

What Our Country Needs To Get Back On The Right Track Politically

reagan-25a.jpg

Simple Church – Chapter 3

Chapter 3 starts with the following quote:

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

This chapter discusses the need to give the church an extreme makeover.  The authors say that some churches need only some tweaking while others need to be completely redesigned.  The purpose of the redesign is to create a process which will allow the member to grow in spiritual maturity. They define a simple church as “a congregation designed around a straight-forward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.”

Next the authors describe the research project that led to the writing of this book.  They wanted to find if there was a relationship between being simple and being effective.  They identified four key elements of simple churches and built their survey to test for these elements.  The key elements are: clarity, movement, alignment, and focus.

They defined clarity as “the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people.”  Movement is “the sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment.”  Alignment is “the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process.”  Focus is “the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process.”  Each of these is discussed in relation to how they fit together in a simple church.

The chapter ends with the example of Hezekiah as “a revolutionary for simple.”  It is explained how he brought God’s people back to the Lord.  It discusses how some of the things he did were easy and agreed to by everybody and how some of the things he did were not embraced by everyone.  Sometimes change is hard.

People are creatures of habit and we don’t like change in most instances.  In order for people to accept change they must understand why it is necessary.  Understanding must precede acceptance and commitment to the changes.  If we want to change our churches, we must first educate the people as to why.  Then we have to stay the course during the rough ride that is likely to follow.  Is it worth it?

I Don’t Vote For RINO’s

RINO = Republican In Name Only

I have been in a dilemma ever since Fred Thompson dropped out of the Presidential Race.  I have made it clear that I think he was the only true conservative in the race….but he is no longer in the race…..so who do I vote for now.

My second choice is Mike Huckabee but I do have a few doubts about him but he is someone I could trust.  That is big for me.  Now the problem…I don’t think Huckabee can win at this point.

That leaves Romney or McCain.  Romney reminds me of a used car salesman.  There is something about him that I just don’t trust.  After all, you don’t get elected in Massachusetts as a true conservative.  I know he could have changed but what was his motivation…did he decide he was wrong previously or that being conservative would be better for his presidential bid?

McCain is a RINO (see above).  He is a democrat in republican clothing.  He and Hillary are basically the same….but she is more honest (imagine that) because she does not try to hide who see is as much as he does.  I will not vote for McCain.  Dr. Dobson agrees.  The problem is that McCain seems to have all the momentum at the moment.

So I have a dilemma….vote for someone that I could support but who has no chance of winning or vote against a RINO.  What to do?  What to do?  At this point, I am leaning toward voting against McCain which means that I would vote for Romney.  What are you going to do?  What do you recommend I do?

Simple Church – Chapter 2

In this chapter, the authors discuss two churches that they did some consulting for.  This is not a made up scenario, these are actual churches that the authors spent time examining and they are sharing their findings, in detail.  One church was an example of a simple church and the other was an example of a complex church.  The churches were of similar size and circumstances.

The complex church was a typical church.  It had many staff and many programs.  There were many activities for the members and visitors to participate in.  The problem was that the programs and activities did not function together.  They were all completely independent of each other.  Each program / ministry actually had it own mission statement and they were not part of a larger cohesive statement.  As a result, the staff and programs were actually competing against each other and very little had been accomplished in the last 5 years.  There was no discernible spiritual growth among the members.

The simple church was in stark contrast to the complex church.  It has one mission statement which also served as the process to accomplish the mission of the church.  It was used to help evaluate what is being done and how effective it is.  They have only 3 primary programs.  The programs are designed to help members grow spiritually.  It is a process that has been internalized by all staff.  The church is vibrant and growing.  The church moves people from the worship service to small groups and then to ministry teams.  They are able to evaluate their effectiveness in assisting the spiritual growth of their people by the numbers in each group.  One interesting thing was that the prospective members were told in the new member’s class that they should not join the church if they are not planning to serve.  Now that is bold…but I am envious.

Unfortunately, my church is very close to the complex church.  While reading this chapter, it was almost like they were talking about my church.   I want my church to be the simple church.  As I continue to read, I anticipate that my pastor will wish that I had not purchased this book or he will embrace some of what the book says.  I am hoping for the later.

Simple Church – Chapter 1

The chapter starts with a description of a pastor who is so caught up in the details of his day to day tasks that he feels smothered. He is stressed because he is not able to do the things he feels he should be doing. As a result, his ministry is suffering, his family is suffering and he is feeling guilty.

The authors say

in the midst of complexity, people want to find complicity. They long for it, seek it, pay for it, even dream of it. Simple is in. Simple works. People respond to simple.

They cite Apple, Google, Southwest Airlines, and Papa John’s as corporations that have taken simple and made it successful. They also cite graphic designers, interior designers, and marketing professionals who have discovered that simple is the best model for their efforts. They then go on to list some things that they are not suggesting in this book. They are not 1) “suggesting that the simple approach to ministry is a change in doctrine or conviction“, 2) “saying that churches should become simple because it is in style or culturally hip“, 3) “saying that churches should have a simple process just for pragmatic reasons“, and 4) “claiming that a simple church design is easy“.

Next the authors discuss how Jesus simplified things for believers. Under the Jewish system there were 613 laws that everyone had to observe. Jesus came and summarized them into two. He said we were to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind” and we were to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Jesus said that all the Jewish laws were summed up and dependent on these two. Then, and now, Jesus simplified things for His people.

The chapter ends with a discussion of how being simple requires leaders to see the whole picture not just the parts. They said “To have a simple church, leaders must ensure that everything their church does fits together to produce life change.” That is the hard part, we get so caught up in the day-to-day activities that we can forget to look at the big picture. But, it is vital for the process. If we can’t take the time to look at the big picture we will never be able to evaluate how thing fit together.

I have been excited at the start of this book. It is an easy read so far. It seems to be addressing an issue that I anticipate will help me and my church. I hope to be able to pass this book along to my pastor after I have finished it. I will admit that the idea of simplifying was not the way I would have suggested anyone proceed at church before I heard of this book.

Simple Church

I have decided to try to blog through Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. I have seen other people do this on their blog and I thought I would give it a try. I chose this book because it was one that has been recommended to me by my friend Brett. Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

My plan is to write a post for each chapter. Here is the Table of Contents:

Part 1: Simple Revolution

Chapter 1: The Simple Revolution Has Begun

Chapter 2: The Simple (and Not-So-Simple) Church in Action

Chapter 3: Simple Church: An Extreme Makeover

Chapter 4: Three Simple Stories

Part 2: Becoming A Simple Church

Chapter 5: Clarity: Starting With A Ministry Blueprint

Chapter 6: Movement: Removing Congestion

Chapter 7: Alignment: Maximizing the Energy of Everyone

Chapter 8: Focus: Saying No to Almost Everything

Chapter 9: Becoming Simple

Appendix A: Research Design Methodology

Appendix B: Frequently Asked Questions

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