Dr. Rick Garner
According to Rainer & Geiger “A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people around through the stages of spiritual growth. The leaders and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it. The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment). The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus) (pgs.68-67). The first section of the book discusses the need for churches to simplify. Many churches have become cluttered in the sense that they have made it difficult for people to receive the simple but yet powerful message of Christ. So cluttered that many people are busy doing church instead of being church (pg.19). When churches are complex they tend to produce spiritual stagnation which causes people to remain stuck in the same place spiritually for years. It is not enough for a church to have a full calendar with endless programs, there must be a process in place that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. If we want to have churches that are alive, Rainer & Geiger advises leaders to step back, look at their church with fresh eyes and see the whole picture (pg.23). They must also understand what the church should be doing, why they should do it and how they can structure the church to carry out its purpose. As part of this examination process the church must look at the current programs and ministries implemented to determine what they contribute to the whole. Ultimately a simple church must design a simple discipleship process that is clear and moves people towards spiritual maturity. According to Rainer & Geiger simple church leaders are designers who design opportunities for spiritual growth. While complex church leaders are programmers who run ministry programs (pg.26). During their survey process it was determined that simple church leaders are expert designers who are not producers of spiritual growth and vitality which they believe is commanded by 1 Cor. 3:10. Rainer & Geiger consulted with two churches (Cross Church and First Church) to examine their programming, staff meetings, calendar, numbers, staffing decisions, new ideas and how they convey church announcements. Upon their findings Cross Church was a simple church because they centered everything in the ministry around their main focus, which was to lead people to love God, others and serve the world. On the other hand First Church was a very active church but there was no process in place that focused on an overarching theme or statement, they were missing the how. Churches that are vibrant and growing are simple, while complex churches struggle and are not alive. Rainer & Geiger’s paradigm consists of four steps that are required for a church to move from complex to simple. The first step is clarity (the blue print) which is to design a simple process that can be communicated and understood by the people. The authors point out that in order to get clarity the church needs to define its ministry process by ensuring the members understand how they will mature. They also need to illustrate it by using metaphors or visuals that bring clarity to the process. Churches must measure their process to see if the people are progressing. The process must be discussed frequently so the people can grasp it and there must be consistency with the discussion beyond the initial launch. Once the process has been defined, illustrated, and discussed it will lead to increased understanding which must continually be monitored (pg. 110-129). The second step is movement which is the sequential steps in the process that cause people to move to greater areas of commitment. Movement involves strategic programming, sequential programming, intentional movement, clear next step and new members class which...
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