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Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples Hardcover – June 1, 2006
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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 live in Nashville, Tennessee.
Eric Geiger serves as one of the Vice Presidents at LifeWay Christian Resources, leading the Resources Division. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including Creature of the Word and the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church.
Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.
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Here are some of the highlights from my reading:
"Churches with a simple process for reaching and maturing people are expanding the kingdom."
"Many of our churches have become cluttered. So cluttered that people have a difficult time encountering the simple and powerful message of Christ."
"Great amounts of activity do not produce life change. It only gives the impression that things are happening, that there is life."
"If the purpose is hazy, the process for making the purpose happen has not entered the picture."
"If the goal is to keep certain things going, the church is in trouble. The end result must always be about people. Programs should only be tools."
"The goal is to partner with God to move people through the stages of spiritual growth. Changed lives are the bottom line, the intended end result. Christ formed in people is the goal."
"The first group consisted of growing and healthy churches. These churches had grown 5 percent a year for three consecutive years. Few churches do that. Sadly, less than 2 percent of all churches in America experience that type of consistent growth."
"Some churches are not clear on a ministry process because they do not have one."
"Focus does not make church leaders popular."
"To be simple you have to eliminate the unnecessary. Most of the things you eliminate will be good things. They were started with a passionate leader and a perceived or real need."
"People will not live out something they cannot remember."
"When you are tired of talking about it, people will just be in the first stages of understanding."
"Sadly, in many churches people are stuck in the same place spiritually. And there is no intentional process to move them."
"You must begin with the process, not the programs... If the programs do not fit into your process, you need to eliminate them."
"Choose one program for each phase of your process... Multiple programs for each phase of the process divide attention and energy."
"Church leaders must avoid the two extremes of micromanagement and neglect. Micromanagement stifles creativity and hampers shared leadership. Neglect fosters complacency and leads to a fragmented team."
"One would think that the more programs and the more special events that are offered, the great the impact. Our research has confirmed that the opposite is true."
"The churches that experienced the highest percentages of growth were the churches that offered fewer programs."
"The majority of churches choose not to change. They would rather die. Tragically, in most churches, the pain of change is greater than the pain of ineffectiveness."
The book is dealing with the process of organizing the structure and programs of a church through a process that brings Christians to an end goal of transformation.
The Three Top Ideas of Greatest Benefit:
1. The best idea of the book is the foundational idea of "a simple church is a congregation designed around a straight-forward and strategic process that moves people through the states of spiritual growth. This book breaks the common model of church growth material. Often the material deals with adding programs and ministries to involve or attract more people. This book focuses on the alignment of the discipleship process.
2. The second best idea is that of movement. This is what makes this book special. As the book notes, too many churches are poor relay teams, there is little skill in developing ministries that build on one another. Usually programs are haphazardly put together with no "end goal" in sight.
3. The third best idea is that of elimination in a congregation. Most congregations seek to grow by adding to the available menu of programs and services of a congregation. Instead of "killing" a work, people seek to add to an existing work. This creates the problem of burn out in a transitioning congregation. Instead of adding, a congregation must eliminate the ineffective works to make room for the process of aligning a congregation.
The Three Ideas of Major disagreement:
1. This book is not for every size of church. It really does not speak to the smaller church context. The book will help a congregation to develop this process of movement and alignment, but it seems to be speaking to the program size church which is a congregation that has a lot of present ministries but a weak process. If this material is given too quickly to some small church leaders, it would be used as an excuse to stall some of the programs that a congregation is seeking to implement.
2. Once again this book's context is helping existing churches to develop a better model in ministry. The book should have spent some time in dealing with the competing forces for attention in a congregation. The process needs to take place, but there would be considerable debate in congregations concerning what are the core ministries.
3. Just a grip, this book coy too often. The authors try to be entertaining or funny, but sometimes just come off as corny. Most ministers reading this book are looking for help, not dumb comments.
The Recommendation of the Book:
I would recommend this book because of the breakthrough thought of clarity, movement, alignment, and focus. Congregations would be wise to follow this model.