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Simple Church 05 CLARITY: STARTING WITH A MINISTRY BLUEPRINT

Some of us are more inclined toward having a philosophy behind the structure we implement to encourage and mature worship and discipleship in our churches, while others among us are much more in the moment – take the hill before us – type of leaders. Both have their places, I’m more of a philosophical/atmospheric type of leader. R & G open this chapter by saying whether we’re a in the moment person or a philosophical person we all are builders…yes, builders. And what do builders use to build, blueprints. Being a builder in Gods house is serious business, it requires care to what your building and why 1 Cor. 3:14. Simply put “A good builder doesn’t just wing it. He begins with a clear plan, a clear design…Clarity is the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people.” R & G spend the rest of this chapter giving you and I five keys to clarity: 1) Define; 2) Illustrate; 3) Measure; 4) Discuss; and 5) Increase Understanding.

1. Define: [I won’t be posting the figures from R & G’s book, but just to let you know every chapter is filled with statistical measurements between complex and simple churches, buy the book to see them] “Without definition, people are uncertain about how the church is making disciples. Without definition, people are clueless about how the church is designed to bring people toward spiritual maturity.” Pastors must start asking themselves and their leadership teams, How’s are how doing? How can they answer this question effectively? R & G say they must:

  • Determine what kind of disciple you wish to produce in your church.
  • Describe your purpose as a process.
  • Decide ho each weekly program is part of the process. “Your programs say what is important to you; therefore, you must define how each program is used to produce the kinds of disciples God has called you to make.Programs must work for your process, not the other way around.

2. Illustrate: Blueprints are visual types of information, they can be seen and acted upon, so to must your purpose and process be. Get Visual, i.e. present the purpose/process to your people personally in a way that they can internalize it and own it. [This is basic good business philosophy type exhortations]. Curiously, R & G ground this need to be visual by pointing at the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. R & G say that visual illustrations could be as simple as a baseball diamond where people move from one plate to the next [Rick Warren’s illustration, I believe].

  • The illustration should be reflective of your process.
  • The illustration should show progression.
  • The illustration should help simplify.

3. Measure: R & G give a good illustration why measurement is important at the beginning of their section here, just like people don’t care about pre-season games because they don’t count neither do they care about churches programs that aren’t measured. “For people to internalize the simple how in your church, you have to evaluate it. The cliche is true: what gets evaluated, gets done.

  • Learn to view your numbers horizontally and not just vertically. [ie how are your people plugging into your sequintial concerns like worship on Sunday, small groups in the week, and mercy & mission on the weekend?]
  • Measure attendance at each level/stage in your process.

4. Discuss:For the simple process to become woven into the identity of the church, it must be discussed. Frequently. Not just during the launch. Clarity is not realized without consistency.” Discussion starts among the leaders, they must lead in it, but it can’t end there. The Simple Church idea must be an ongoing conversation, which means the process toward becoming simple takes time. R & G say don’t try and make up for lost time and rush into it otherwise not everyone will be part of the discussion.

  • View everything through the lens of your simple process.
  • Surface the process in meetings.
  • Test it on the leaders.
  • Brainstorm new ways to communicate it.

5. Increase Understanding: Vibrant churches know that their people get the ‘how’ and ‘why’, and they monitor them on their process of getting it constantly. On the other hand complex churches are aware and frustrated that their people don’t get the ‘how’ or the ‘why’, and they constantly feel the weight of being in tow different ministry dreams than their people. Understanding is contagious, “When people understand the process, they are also able to bring others through it.” Do you get what R & G are saying, the more your people understand the more your job of helping people understand gets ‘simple’. PREACH IT, GLORY! AMEN! 🙂

  • Articulate the process corporately.
  • Share the process interpersonally.
  • Live the process personally.

R & G close the chapter with an illustration from their experience on the Ocoee with a river guide named Tripp [I’ve had him as a guide on that very river, he is Awesome! Big resonation points here for me]. They say as leaders we can be travel agents leading people to a destination far away with little to no existential grasp on the journey, or we can be Tripp who’s passionate about every bend on the river, every rock that we bump along the way and has years and years of stories about taking others down it. Which would you want to be? Which are you being? What does the Lord require of us?

Afterthoughts:

You have to at least appreciate business type motivational, leadership journal style literature to read R & G’s chapters with joy. Their scriptural texting feels more like an aside point than the driving point of their work, and I for one am fine with that. I don’t feel we have to give theological prolegomena to all we deal with or suggest. But at some point part of measuring what we’re building is comparing it to scriptures witness of the emerging ecclesiologies of the Apostles day – notice I said ecclesiologies, not ecclesiology. We don’t have to repeat Acts, but we do have to be in subjection to what is normative and in thoughtful improvisation to what is descriptive.

These things aside the more I read through their book the more I appreciate their vision for a Simple Church. Here’s a website of a church that’s gone the Simple route. Its called 12 Stones, you have to check out their video shorts for each sequential piece of their process, very well done. Even the aesthetic in the church is minimal or simple. These guys are closeby so at some point I’m looking forward to a visit. [Rick, loving the church man!]