‘Simple Church’ is not another model. We’ve had numerous models, many of which are on the shelf. Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger, in the book entitled “Simple Church,” write: “Ironically people are hungry for simple because the world has become much more complex…in the midst of complexity, people want to find simplicity.”
Doing church ‘simple’ is difficult, partly because so many of us have years of experience in program-heavy churches where leaders often end up ‘fighting’ over space (facility & calendar), resources (people & finances), and ‘air time’ to promote the good things going on. Good and servant-hearted Christians can burn out and even become disillusioned from the constant pressure of “there’s so much to do and the church needs workers!”
Ideally, ‘Simple Church’ is:
➢ Focused and streamlined – In church life it can easily be that there are not enough volunteers to fill all the leadership and ministry positions necessary to run the ‘machine’ of an over-programmed church. ‘Simple church’ does not mean we are not busy, but it should mean uncluttered and balanced. It should mean we are busy advancing our focused priorities.
➢ More about relationships than programs – Obviously some structure and programming is necessary, but church environments can become places where people become more focused on DOING church rather than growing at BEING the church. Obviously being will result in meaningful and purposeful doing but the top priority is being, which speaks of the priority of relationships – with God and others.
➢ Being willing to say “No” to good things – This is not easy, but is sometimes necessary in order to experience the best things. Otherwise, before we know it we’re running the ‘machine’ again! The more we add to church program options, the more we contribute to the diluting of our resources, focus, and effectiveness.
➢ Not easy – As a matter of fact it may take more effort to stay ‘simple’ and focused as the church moves forward with a desire to have increased impact and effectiveness! (Rainer & Geiger: “There is a big difference between simple and easy. Simple is basic, uncomplicated, and fundamental. Easy is effortless.”)
➢ Sustainable (with fewer Christian casualties) – Regarding church programming, you’ve probably heard someone say something like: “We’ve got to do something… the need is so great!” Many churches/leaders, motivated by a genuine desire to reach people (or by a sense of obligation to “be all things to all people”), eventually act in response to a stated “need.” The reality is that there will never be an end to the needs. Every church body has the opportunity and the responsibility to decide whether to try to meet every need that exists or to be more focused, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, and endeavor to do fewer things with the goal of maximum impact, by God’s grace. We believe this approach to be more sustainable.
In our calling to help people grow as Christ-followers, we must not equate great amounts of activity with life change, necessarily. Spiritual transformation happens as we focus prayer and energy toward the mission God has put before us. Our God-given mission is worded this way: “ECC is committed, in simplicity, to knowing God, loving people and serving the world.” Our aim, by God’s grace and enablement, is to be as effective as possible at seeing people come to personal faith in Jesus Christ and grow deep in their walk with Him in community with other Christ-followers!