Yes, I confess that I have an iPhone, iPad, and I’m typing this post on a MacBook Pro. But this post isn’t about choosing Apple over Android or Microsoft. It’s about the value of simplicity in ministry. It’s about bringing order to complexity in the church.
I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It’s about bringing order to complexity.
~ Jony Ive
Moving people along in their spiritual journeys is complex. People are all over the spectrum in their spiritual progress and everyone connects with God in different ways. So what are church leaders to do?
For many churches, the answer is to add programs and ministries. Churches offer multiple programs in an effort to meet the spiritual needs of their congregation. Many have a ministry for young adults, median adults, seasoned adults, nearly weds, newlyweds, and those who wish they were no longer wed. They offer programs for short people, tall people, and slightly overweight people. I’m not saying these things are bad. The problem is that one church can’t do everything (no matter how hard they try). The more a church tries to do, the less impact each ministry has. In other words, their programs become a mile wide and an inch deep. Instead of simplifying the problem, we’ve actually complicated the solution.
As Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger said in their book, Simple Church:
“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.”
Like Apple’s announcement of iOS 7; churches need to find beauty, clarity, and efficiency through simplicity by bringing order to the complexity of helping people grow spiritually.
Process for Simplifying Ministry
What we need is a simple and strategic process that moves people on their spiritual journey. According to Rainer and Geiger, there are four critical elements to designing a ministry process that brings order to complexity.
1. Clarity – Designing a Simple Process. The process must be clear enough to be easily communicated and understood. The church leadership and the people need to know how the church is structured to move people toward spiritual growth.
2. Movement – Place Key Programs Along the Process. Movement is about creating sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment. Your process must be designed to move a person from being spectator to a participant. Movement is how someone goes from one level of commitment to a greater level of commitment.
3. Alignment – Unite All Ministries Around the Process. Every department in your church needs to be aligned around the same overarching process. When a church is fully aligned, all the ministries are operating from the same ministry blueprint. Leaders must insist that each staff member and each ministry embrace and execute their simple ministry process.
4. Focus – Begin to Eliminate Things Outside the Process. Focus is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside the lines of the simple ministry process. It requires saying “yes” to the best and “no” to everything else. Without focus, the church becomes cluttered despite its process.
Imagine what could happen in your church is you used clarity, movement, alignment, and focus to bring order to the complexity of helping people grow spiritually.