As 2008 draws to a close, I am frantically reading books in order to attain my goal of reading 100 titles in a year. I'm going to make it (I have a plan).
I've also been overjoyed to discover that some of the books I've been reading in December have been some of the most thought-provoking, especially in the area of theology, ecclesiology, or eschatology (I love using big fancy seminary words). Hence, I enjoyed reading, and actually gained much from, Thom Rainer's and Eric Geiger's book, Simple Church.
Essentially, they point out that congregations grow when there is a simplicity of focus, expectation and programs. The more complex a congregation is (most congregations) the more difficult it is for the congregation to grow (in size, giving, mission, or ministry). They also discovered that the larger the congregation is, the more likely it is to be a simple church, and churches that are growing, are very likely simple in their design and makeup.
I think I serve a simple church (at least I hope we are). We aren't trying to do everything (simple), don't layer people with hundreds of meetings (simple), don't have hundreds of programs (simple) and we don't make hundreds of announcements in worship about the hundreds of programs we expect people to get involved in (simple). We are using the KISS principle: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.
We do FPU, a few Bible studies, women's groups, teens and children...all small groups, and that's about it. Our worship is simple and concise. And we don't have more than 20 missions that we support, so people can easily understand what we are trying to do locally or in the world with a single glance. People can also easily enter into Calvary, take a new member class and make a profession of faith. Then they can get involved in a group (that's important) and they can learn to find a place of service (that's important). SIMPLE.
And I think that's why Calvary is still dynamic. People are not overwhelmed. And people have enough complications in their work, their families and their pace, they simply don't want complexity in their walk with God. SIMPLE.
I liked this book very much and I plan to reread it every year!