by Daniel L. Sonnenberg, Wilmington, NC
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)
- Design a simple ministry process for your church on paper – do not build your process (first) around any existing ministries.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Choose one churchwide program for each phase of your simple process.
- Be sure each program in the procsess is designed to meet that specific aspect of discipleship effectively
- The first program is the entry point in your process.
- The following programs should require greater levels of commitment.
- Fill in the blanks: _______________ (program), ________________(program), ___________(program), ______________(program).
C. Unite all ministries around the process (ALIGNMENT)
- Align each ministry around the same process. Each age-specific ministry uses the same words to describe the process.
- 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)
- Change is REALLY felt here
- Some people will struggle with abandoning other programs to focus solely on the ministry process God has given your church.
- Consistently discuss the simple process
- 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
- Decide what kind of disciple you wish to produce
- Describe your purpose in sequential order
- 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
- Your illustration should reflect your process
- Your illustration should show progression
- Your illustration should help simplify
C. Measure the process – what gets measured/evaluated gets done
- Learn to view your numbers horizontally, not vertically
- 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
- View everything through the lens of the simple process
- Bring up the process in meetings
- Test the leaders on it
- 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
- Articulate the process corporately – speak about it to the church as a whole
- Share the process interpersonally – speak about it with other people at meals, meetings, etc
- 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:
- Love God – worship services
- Love people – small groups
- Serve the world – ministry groups
- Share the news – personal evangelism
Josh Reich’s summary of the highlights of Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer.
Establishing a missional church means that you plant a church that’s part of the culture you’re seeking to reach.
Missional is the posture – the way in church we approach people in culture – but incarnational describes what’s actually happening.
We apply the pragmatic test to the work of a theologian. Does his theology motivate men to go into all the world and make disciples? Does it so undergird them that they, thus motivated, succeed in this primary purpose? Theology must stand the test of being known by its fruit.
In Acts 17, the apostle Paul did four things in his effort to be culturally relevant: (1) He understood the Athenians’ position on reality, (2) He understood the Athenians underlying spiritual interest, (3) He looked for positive points within their worldview, and (4) He encouraged them to find true fulfillment in Christ.
Mission is the mother of theology.
Culturally appropriate evangelism answers the actual questions being asked by a given culture rather than those questions the church believes the culture should ask.
Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, says that “Sunday morning is for communicating, not couseling. In fact – and to some this may sound unspiritual – I don’t think you can actually build a church on people who need counseling. When your church has grown and you have more resources, then those people can come back and be helped by the ministry you’ve built.”
The ten most frequent traits of impactful, emerging postmodern churches are: (1) Being unashamedly spiritual, (2) Promoting incarnational ministry, (3) Engaging in service, (4) Valuing experiential praise, (5) Preaching narrative expository messages, (6) Appreciating and participating in ancient patterns, (7) Visualizing worship, (8) Connecting with technology, (9) Living community, and (10) Leading by transparency and team.
For worship to promote evangelism, Sally Morgenthaler says it must include four elements: “nearness – an awareness of the presence of God; knowledge – worship that is centered on who Christ is; vulnerability – worship that involves opening up to God; and interaction – participating in the worship of God.”
George Gallup found that 70% of Americans say that the church is not meeting their needs. When asked what these needs were, there were six responses: (1) To believe life is meaningful and has purpose, (2) To have a sense of community and deeper relationships, (3) To be appreciated and respected, (4) To be listened to and heard, (5) To grow in faith, and (6) To receive practical help in developing a mature faith.
Church growth expert Win Arn lists 8 characteristics of an “incorporated member”: (1) New members should be able to list at least 7 new friends they have made in the church, (2) New members should be able to identify their spiritual gifts, (3) New members should be involved in at least one (preferably several) roles/tasks/ministries in the church, appropriate to their spiritual gifts, (4) New members should be actively involved in a small fellowship group, (5) New members should demonstrate a regular financial commitment to the church, (6) New members should personally understand and identify church goals, (7) New members should attend worship gatherings regularly, and (8) New members should identify unchurched friends and relatives and take specific steps to help them toward responsible church membership.
This appears to be a group that organizes work/service projects in the Wilmington area for those who would like to volunteer for four hours at a time.