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Simple Church 09 BECOMING SIMPLE

More children in America recognize the depiction of Ronald McDonald than they do Jesus Christ. Granted who can’t remember a guy with a bright red fro, and Jesus face changes depending which ethnic group or artist portrays him, but still the reality of this isn’t pleasant. The reality is we’re living in a Post-Christian culture and becoming Simple takes place within this context. The Kingdom of McDonald’s is expanding and the presence of the church is shrinking. R&G say its time to change or die, their gloves were off in this closing chapter! Roughly 600,000 people have heart bypasses a year and only a very few of those do the right things after the surgery to stay healthy, many pass away because they refuse to change. R&G say the same is true of pastors and churches, change is difficult and while many people can recognize the need to change, few take on the challenge. According the Tom Peters a leadership expert, “It is easier to kill an organization than it is to change it.”

For those that do take on the challenge to change they face an additional challenge, just how to go about bringing change to bear upon their community. R&G say the different approaches to implementing change all have their strengths and weaknesses, “Now/later. Fast/slow. Sweeping/incremental change.” Pastor Rush nows this to be true, he found his inspiration and confirmation for change in Malachi 1. [The factious pastor they began the book out with, they conclude it will as well.]

One thing R&G said in this section I’d have to disagree with, they said God hates mediocrity…really guys? I’d say God loves dramatic irony – Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Jesus – and relishes in using mediocrity to out wit our plans or assumptions. He Kingdom is a mediocre Kingdom… Think about it. This aside R&G close out the book with some practical instructions on how to begin the process toward Becoming Simple.

  1. Design a Simple Process (Clarity) “You must first design a simple ministry process for your church – on paper. This design is not about changing any programs or structures. Not yet. During this step, you are simply exploring what a process for discipleship would look like at your church.” R&G say discuss first what discipleship is and then how it happens.
  2. Place Your Programs Along the Process (Movement) At this point you don’t remove any programs, but may have to change their focus to align them to your purpose/process. Remember your first program is the entry point into your process, as you move along in the programs more and more commitment is required.
  3. Unite All Ministries Around the Process (Alignment) Involve your leaders as much as possible in step two because it will help you all be aligned around the process.
  4. Begin to Eliminate Things Outside the Process (Focus) This is perhaps the most difficult part of being Simple, Focus. People appreciate simplicity but they don’t appreciate losing their cherished programs and/or traditions. But some things will need to be eliminated. Wisdom is required here, in bushels…

Appendix A: RESEARCH DESIGN METHODOLOGY

To be honest the research figures were the lest exciting or interesting part of R&G’s books because there were no real surprises in them. So let me briefly say they had three steps to their research: 1) survey development; 2) sample identification; and 3) data collection.

Appendix B: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This may be a good chapter to read before your start reading the book because it will answer some rebuttals and hanging questions you have as you move through their book. Here are the questions they ask;

Q: Are you suggesting that a simple church design will cause a church to be vibrant?

Q: Aren’t there other factors related to the vitality of a local church?

Q: How did you choose the parameters for each strata?

Q: Why did you choose worship attendance as a measure of the growth of the church?

Q: Who completed the survey for each church?

Q: Were all major denominations included in the study?

Q: Did you limit the study to churches in the United States?

Q: How did you reduce the impact of your bias?

Q: Do you have any concerns about how church leaders will respond to the challenge?

Q: I am not the senior pastor. What can I do?