Are some churches too complicated? That is the question that was addressed and discussed in the book Simple Church written by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. According to the research they conducted among 400 evangelical churches- some were growing and vibrant churches and some were nongrowing and struggling churches- the answer was a resounding “yes!” To prove this point, throughout the book Rainer and Geiger juxtapose two churches (note: these are not the real church names but serve as examples): one is named First Church and is stagnant and not growing; the second is named Cross Church and is growing and vibrant. After examining both churches thoroughly by evaluating their statements, pastor, leaders, programming, staffing, calendar, numbers, new ideas, how they give announcements, and the overall experience on a Sunday, it was clear as to why one church was dragging and one church was thriving- one church was complicated and one church was simple. Throughout the book Rainer and Geiger layout the process and structure for how churches can put aside the complicated and congested way of doing things and adopt the simple process. This happens through churches having clarity, movement, alignment, and focus.
To lay a foundation for the direction of the book, Rainer and Geiger begin with the cultures seemingly new attraction to being simple. They use examples from modern day corporate giants like Google, Apple, Papa Johns, Southwest Airlines, along with vocations such as graphic designers, interior designers, and marketers to show how the world we live in is striving to regain being simple and dropping the complicated. Rainer and Geiger implore churches to follow suit and become simple. A simple church, according to the book, is described as “a congregation designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.”
The key word that Geiger and Rainer point out and expound on thoroughly is “designed”- that churches must have a designer (the pastor) and be strategically and purposely designed. With this in mind, they expand the definition of a simple church by adding the following: “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). Immediately, the authors point out three churches that have implemented and are leaders in the simple church revolution and as a result, are doing major damage to the gates of hell. This damage is a result of these churches having clarity as to what kind of disciple they want to raise up, where and how they want to move members through the discipleship process, alignment among the staff in regards to vision, and a focus that is fixed on the things that the church is passionate about.
In part 2 of Simple Church, Geiger and Rainer...