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Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples Hardcover – June 1, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 152 customer reviews

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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 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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805443908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805443905
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Miller on September 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Well, it would be awfully ironic if the book wasn't easy to understand. Fortunately, the authors do with the book exactly what they are calling leaders to do with their churches. They outline a simple structure for streamlining churches and letting loose the baggage that slows churches down.

The process is...simple (sorry to repeat). Churches should seek clarity, alignment, movement, and focus. Clarity is the singleness of purpose, stated in a single phrase. Movement is making sure there is a process of spiritual development that runs through the ministries of the church that fulfills the purpose. Alignment is the process of making sure that all the ministries of the church cannel people through a similar movement to fulfill the purpose. And focus is the challenging process of saying "no" to everything that distracts the church from its purpose. The authors have decided on this clear process as a saving grace to churches, repeat it fluidly, and walk the reader through all four steps.

The theory is based on a study of a number of churches that were considered thriving and many that were not. The authors say that their data shows highly significant difference between thriving churches that simplified and complex churches that did not.

The only part of this book, or the genre, that ought to give the reader pause is that the authors presume that ministry requires a strategic process through which people are funneled on the way to spiritual growth. While that is the reality of modern, institutional church management, it seems to overrule the fluid and organic (if not disorganized) ministry of Jesus and the disciples while co-opting their names.
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Format: Hardcover
Evangelical ecclesiology and theology of community has been wanting for a long time and this book offers a great perspective on one of the biggest problems of the local church (and modern society in general), complexity. We simply want too much. Our lives are complicated and full and so is the life of the church.

Rainer and Geiger raise a good point, we have become mediocre at many things and not skilled at a few as a church. The book begins with the story of a pastor who is trying to be everything to everyone and is scrambling from meeting to meeting try to be a model for everyone else in the church. Later the authors contrast two churchs, one that is program based and one that is simple. One is about trying to be all things to all people and the other about making disciples. The simple church is more geared toward having the people within the church grow in Christ rather than having the church grow in numbers. A good thesis.

Overall, I found the book refreshing and having a good perspective but some nagging questions remained after I read it. First, it seems to make church a kind of process, a disciple factory of sorts where the job of the leadership of the church is to process Christians from the point of being saved to maturity. Second, it doesn't really define how this process is done, it take a kind of "build it and they will come" approach common in evangelical church planning. Third, church in the NT seems to be a creation of God , a family that is already formed with intimate connections through relationship (as Bonhoeffer said, "we don't create church, we simply acknowledge it). This book doesn't really address that aspect of the body.

I still find myself recommending this book but encouraging readers not to stop here.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I hesitate to give this book two stars because I actually enjoyed reading it. The writers seem to genuinely care about the Church and following Christ, which made it a joy to read. I also enjoyed the statistics and clear research they put into this work.

The book will be great for mega-church leaders who whose churches are chock full of programs that don't flow together in a unified focus. They will be able to use this material to develop a clear vision, and orient everything in the Church around that vision. But therein lies my main issue with this book: it's based on a current Church model I believe to be faulty.

This book operates on the understanding that Churches are program-oriented, which is assumed to be a good thing. I would argue that we have segregated the Church by age and interests (youth group, singles etc.), whereas the Church of our Lord is to be a family who knows each other and brings groups of all ages and interests into meaningful, personal fellowship. Perhaps God never intended for Churches to be as big as we have made them? Families ought to be together, not splintered into interest groups, regardless of an aligned focus and vision. A godly family may have programs, but it's oriented around relationships between God and each other more than anything else. Church is meant to be a body and a family, not a programmed institution.

In the research a major aspect of what they consider a "vibrant and healthy" Church is one that is growing numerically. I would argue Biblically that sometimes the opposite may be true, that one should be concerned when people are flocking to a Church. At the cross Jesus had no followers who stayed with Him. Did He fail?
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