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Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples Paperback – June, 2011

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Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples + Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field (The Convergence eBook Series) + The Externally Focused Church
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books; Upd Rep edition (June 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805447997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805447996
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thom S. Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the largest Christian resource companies in the world. He is also a best-selling author and leading expert in the field of church research. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons and three grandchildren and live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Eric Geiger serves as executive pastor of Christ Fellowship, a large and growing multicultural church comprised of more than seventy nationalities near Miami, Florida. He and his wife, Kaye, have one daughter, Eden.

More About the Author

Thom S. Rainer (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Transformational Church, Essential Church, and Simple Church.

Customer Reviews

Very well written and easy to understand.
Dan Davis
This book has helped to focus and clarify our discipleship process as a church.
Michael Kirkman
I recommend to read the book if you are a church leader.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Philip Thompson on May 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The writers have arrived at a thesis which is fitting for the title of their book. In this book they will argue that healthy churches are churches that clearly understand their purpose of making disciples and then intentionally move their people through a simple process designed to accomplish that goal (ix). Almost immediately the reader is discouraged from looking at this thesis as a new set of programs or new agenda items that need to be done (3). The reader is instead urged to see that the solution for healthy churches and growing disciples is found in simplicity of mission.

In the first section of the book, the writers start by making the case for simplicity (3-27), and then show what a simple church looks like when contrasted with a cluttered church (29-56). Nearly every aspect of the administration of the church looks different. In probably the most important chapter of the book, the writers lay out a definition of a simple church (60-62) and then provide the four points of groundwork for the simple church process and the second section of the book (70-78). But before diving into the research, the writers provide the reader with three real-life examples of simple churches in action (83-105).

In the second section of the book, the four stages of a simple and healthy church are discussed in depth. The first stage is clarity. The church needs clarity on what its mission really is. The second stage is movement. The church needs to continually be handing people off to keep them engaged in discipleship. The third stage is alignment. The church needs to bring unity from the diversity of the Body. The fourth and final stage is focus. The church needs to run everything through its philosophical and guiding process.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lubinus on June 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Organizations are constantly pulled to become more complex. Churches normally grow in complexity over time as they add programs at a faster rate than they drop them. Ranier and Geiger's research behind "Simple Church" shows that churches which resist the pull to become complex are usually healthier and grow faster than those that become complex.

The authors explain that the genius of a simple church is to clarify and combine its purpose and process of making disciples. For example, a church that is centered around loving God, loving people, and serving the world is one that leads its people along a process of making disciples that has programs built around: loving God (beginning with large group worship), loving people (participating in a small group for community) and serving the world (joining a ministry team). A simple church will have a clear and simple expectation for which events or meetings that members should attend each week.

In order to become a simple church the authors suggest examining four elements: clarity, movement, alignment, and focus. A church should clearly identify the stages of spiritual growth (clarity) and move people along the process of discipleship (movement), make sure each ministry contributes to this process (alignment) or is eliminated (focus).
I recommend reading "Simple Church" as a reminder to church leadership to resist the pull toward organizational complexity and align the church's ministry structure around the process of making disciples.
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40 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Rupricht on October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. There are a number of places that prompted thoughts and notes, and there were some genuinely good points made along the way. But taken as a whole I couldn't help but feel that the end product of the kind of simplification suggested here would be just that: a product. While the concept sounds great - simplify! - the whole process left me feeling what a souless franchise this would create - highly efficient, growing numerically (according to the data), and possessing a vibrancy of the type one expects from large crowds - but reminiscent of a dozen other bland franchised concepts.

The authors seem to be well intentioned, and their enthusiasm for their hypothesis is commendable, if expected. But it smacks a little of "fad" in the way Wagner's Church Growth craze did in the 80s.

To be fair, there are some good practical points made throughout, but honestly, I sat there thinking: "someone had to write a book about this?!" Most of it is just common sense of the type that was around when preachers could preacher, pastors actually pastored, and evangelists evangelized. [e.g. "Leaders should outline the simple process but then allow ministry leaders to implement with freedom and creativity," p175]. Mindblowing! Somebody write that down!

The real issue for me, however, is the inescapable emphasis on moving people through the production line of church that all this ultimately leads to. Perhaps that's a little harsh given that the authors would describe their production line as discipleship, a process that all of us are truly after.
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