Book Review: "Simple Church"

Essential Principles   I. Define your Ministry Process. Ask the right questions! 1. This is much more than a strategy, but it is clarifying what kind of disciple you want to produce. 2. Define how each ministry goes together to produce mature disciples. 3. Develop Simple Discipleship Process. The plan must be to form a strategy that clears the clutter from being unified towards the same goals.   II. 4 Important Characteristics 1. Clarity: Starting with a ministry blueprint. Explain in detail the what the definition and actions of a disciple that the church wants to produce. Clarity is defined as “the ability of the process to be communicated and understood by the people.” 2. Movement: Place your key programs along the process. This is the important “how” of the process. People must see the action steps that must be taken to fulfill the main idea of developing followers of Christ. 3. Alignment: Unite all ministries around the process. The church staff and leaders must be unified and heading in the same direction. All of this is imperative for the mission to become a reality. It is important to keep articulating the process so it becomes a part of the DNA of the church. 4. Focus: Begin to eliminate things outside the process. It is important that churches become wise at saying “no” to things that are good, but to say “yes” to the best things. This is part of the process that can cause conflict due to changes. It is important that churches make decisions based upon focus upon the gospel over tradition.

VII. Strengths 1. Eric Geiger and Thom Rainer did an excellent job of displaying real-time statistics of churches. It was a fresh look at churches who were living out the Simple church principles and some who were not. 2. It is written in a way that gives the reader hope that the church can stay headed in the right direction. 3. It is easy to understand and backed with quality statistics and real life stories. 4. The aspects of defining a disciple rather than just counting attendees. 5. Eric Geiger and Thom Rainer handled the details and the vision with balance.

VIII. Weaknesses 1. It seems that at times the authors can focus more upon the “process” than the Holy Spirit. 2. The research was not as broad as it could have been in different demographics. 3. The examples of secular businesses as comparison for the church. The Early Church would have been more effective to focus upon in detail rather than “Papa Johns.” 4. It is a church model. As much as the authors continue to say it is not a model, it does give four main characteristics to follow and so forth.

Personal Assessment

Simple Church is not about being easy but creating a plan to keep the church focused upon God’s mission of redeeming mankind. The book suggests that church health does not just come from attendance but in a climb towards Christ-likeness through the steps of the church. Although it is never easy, the author gives a clear and compelling look at becoming simple in the process. Simple Church is refreshing looks at the church going back to a focused experience upon helping people grow in their relationship with God.

The first key to the four main principles of Simple church is to clarify. Not just to clarify an idea of discipleship, but to explain in detail what the blueprint is for developing disciples. Simple church says, "To have a simple church, you must design a simple discipleship process.  This process must be clear.  It must move people toward maturity.  It must be integrated fully into your church, and you must get rid of the clutter around it" (26). The church is to explain and make a priority to clarify the goal of discipleship. Illustrate the process visually by a metaphor showing progression. Not only is it important to communicate correctly, the staff should be unified. "People follow leadership, and if leadership is not moving in the same direction, then people are scattered" (169).

A topic that stood out to me was that churches have become cluttered through numerous programs with a vague vision. This quote explains further, "Many of our churches have become cluttered. So cluttered that people have a difficult time encountering the simple and powerful message of Christ. So cluttered that many people are busy doing church instead of being the church." The authors also explained ministry “schizophrenia.” I believe that this book is revolutionary in helping leaders sum up their main mission for the church. The principles of helping people grow in their walk with God must be at the center of all decisions. If a program is moving away from this principle, it needs to be cut. The priority must be the gospel and people growing into a relationship with God.

Lastly, Simple Church is an effective and precise book. It is useful for helping churches and leaders hone in on the importance of a discipleship process. Although this book is not the “Bible” on church strategy, it can be useful in helping build a cohesive and understandable pattern of discipleship in any church. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will continue to use it as a resource in ministry for a lifetime.