Steps to Designing the "Simple Church"

Thom Rainer

Following is my outline of the main points of the last section of the book Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger where they describe the steps to becoming a simple church.

A. Design a simple process (CLARITY)

  1. Design a simple ministry process for your church on paper – do not build your process (first) around any existing ministries.
  2. Study about discipleship in the Bible and narrow your definition down to a few key points. Disciples at our church are: ________________, _______________, ______________, and ___________________. The fewer the points the better.
  3. Place them in sequential order to identify HOW people progress through spiritual transformation. Place them according to different levels of commitment. The first step should be the first level of commitment.
  4. Describe your definition of discipleship in process terms. Fill in the blanks to the following statement: People become mature disciples at our church by _______________, __________________, ________________, ___________.

B. Place your key programs along the process (MOVEMENT)

  1. Choose one churchwide program for each phase of your simple process.
  2. Be sure each program in the procsess is designed to meet that specific aspect of discipleship effectively
  3. The first program is the entry point in your process.
  4. The following programs should require greater levels of commitment.
  5. Fill in the blanks: _______________ (program), ________________(program), ___________(program), ______________(program).

C. Unite all ministries around the process (ALIGNMENT)

  1. Align each ministry around the same process. Each age-specific ministry uses the same words to describe the process.
  2. The more you involve the leaders of the ministries to design the process, the easier it will be to unite them around it.

D. Begin to eliminate things outside the process (FOCUS)

  1. Change is REALLY felt here
  2. Some people will struggle with abandoning other programs to focus solely on the ministry process God has given your church.
  3. Consistently discuss the simple process
  4. Eliminate programs and events that do not fit. They are a distraction and prohibit your church from enjoying the benefits of a simple church.


The first step is Clarity. Clarity involves defining, illustrating, measuring, discussing and increasing understanding of THE PROCESS. Following is an outline of the chapter on clarity.

CLARITY: starting with a ministry BLUEPRINT

A. Define the process

  1. Decide what kind of disciple you wish to produce
  2. Describe your purpose in sequential order
  3. Decide how each weekly program is part of the process

B. Illustrate the process – choose/design a visual illustration for the process with creative people

  1. Your illustration should reflect your process
  2. Your illustration should show progression
  3. Your illustration should help simplify

C. Measure the process – what gets measured/evaluated gets done

  1. Learn to view your numbers horizontally, not vertically
  2. Measure attendance at each (age)level/stage in your process

D. Discuss the process – keep the conversation going about the process, talk with the leadership of the church consistently about the process

  1. View everything through the lens of the simple process
  2. Bring up the process in meetings
  3. Test the leaders on it
  4. Brainstorm new ways to communicate it

E. Increase Understanding of the process – when people understand the process, they are able to embrace it personally; when the understand the process, they are also able to bring others through it

  1. Articulate the process corporately – speak about it to the church as a whole
  2. Share the process interpersonally – speak about it with other people at meals, meetings, etc
  3. Live the process personally – you must be in a small group, you must be in a ministry group, you must share the good news personally


Example of the simple process of discipleship and corresponding programs:

  1. Love God – worship services
  2. Love people – small groups
  3. Serve the world – ministry groups
  4. Share the news – personal evangelism

Categories: Church planting, Missional church

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