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Simple Church 06 MOVEMENT: Removing Congestion

“Congestion is very frustrating,” and everyone in ATLA said amen! Whether congestion comes in the form of traffic, head or chest preasures, or other forms congestion is the last thing you want to experience in your life. According to R & E congestion is a real problem for many churches as well; “many churches people are stuck in the same place spiritually. And there is no intentional process to move them.”

This chapter is dedicated to overcoming the problems of congestion by enabling movement in churches lives. R & E start the chapter off by making the point that transformation and movement rather than congestion is God’s plan for his people, after all just look at Moses’ own experience with the glory of God fading from him in comparison to the average believers promise that the Holy Spirit will never fade nor his glory in their lives but only increase. R & E don’t pull punches in this chapter, “stagnant believers are the anti-thesis of God’s plan.”

So what is our part in transformation and movement, simple – place yourself in the right place to be transformed by God. Remember, movement is the sequential steps in the process that causes people to move to greater areas of commitment. What’s your part as a church leader in this important concept of movement? “…to place people in the pathway of God’s transforming power. Your part is to design a process that partners with the transforming process revealed in Scripture.” In order to do this we need to get over our congestion, just as doctors prescribe medicine for patients and drivers use the gps to get around traffic, R & E offer you and I five remedies to congestion in the churches life: 1) Strategic Programming; 2) Sequential Programming ; 3) Intentional Movement; 4) Clear Next Step; and 5) New Members Class

  1. Strategic Programming – Simple church leaders abhor programs for the sake of just programming or church traditions. Programs are tools to place people in God’s pathways and if they’re not functioning that way they need to be ditched. So how do we start being intentional in this area as leaders? Begin with your clearly defined process. Choose one program for each phase of your process. Design each program for a specific aspect of the process. Place the programs in sequential order.
  2. Sequential Programming – Programs must be placed along your ministry process, and they also must be placed in sequential order.” What’s the idea behind this? Sequence produces movement and sequential programs means programs that produce movement. How do you get here? Order the sequences of your programs to reflect your process. Designate a clear entry-point to your process. Identify the next levels of programming.
  3. Intentional Movement – R & E use a very colorful person to illustrate how important intentional movement is, who do they use? If you guessed Johnny Lechner you were correct (you know the guy who took 12years to complete his college degree, talk about a movement problem!@#$%*). Simple churches avoid the Lechner syndrome, but how do they avoid it? In four ways: they create short-term steps to move people through each program in the process; they capitalize on relationships being the force in that movement and so they make relationally-driven programs; they consider the “now what?” question of the process – ie now that we’re here where do we go next and what do we do now; and lastly they connect people to groups. Why do they do this, because when people are sticking to people in a church they tend to stick to the church as well.
  4. Clear Next Step – Small steps are vital to intentional movement but those small steps can only be mae if the next step in the process is clear to both the people and the leaders. For R & E the most important people this affects is new Christians because they have a great potential to impact non-Christians and welcome them into the community.
  5. New Members Class – There is an orientation for almost everything these days.” Eric, one of our books author, found out just how true this is when he went in to exchange his glasses for contacts. They wanted him to take a special class, he refused and to this day he wears glasses. Rather than just having people fill out a card to be members R & E say new members classes are vital because its the place where the simple process and purpose of the church is ingrained in them in their first moments in the community. How do R & E envision new members classes working? They teach the simple process, and they ask for commitment to the process. To be a member means a clear idea of the process of the church and a commitment to it.

R & E close off this chapter by pointing not at Moses but at Jesus, particularly at Jesus’ pattern of discipleship in the gospel of Luke. They suggest Jesus had three distinct phases to his discipling ministry: calling (Luke 5-6), building (Luke 7-8), and sending (Luke 9). “These three phases are sequential and are designed to move the disciples toward greater levels of commitment…Jesus called, built, and sent His disciples. He strategically and sequentially placed them in a position to move to greater levels of commitment and growth. His discipleship process was simple. It was not stagnant or congested. It had movement. Take the prescription...”