Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples

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The simple revolution has begun. From the design of the iPod to the uncluttered Google home page, simple ideas are changing the world.

Simple Church clearly calls for Christians to return to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required, so to speak.

Based on case studies of four hundred American churches, authors Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove that the process for making disciples has quite often become too complex. Simple churches are thriving, and they are doing so by taking these four ideas to heart: Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus.

Each idea is examined here, simply showing why it is time to simplify.

Customer Reviews:

  • A very interesting book
    I'm very pleased with this book. Reading is easy and very understandable.
    I think this work will be a great help in church....more info
  • Occam's razor
    This book had a lot of good to say about the streamlining of the church-growing process, However, in my opinion, the authors would have been better served in saving the statistical info for endnotes at the end of each chapter or used the data as part of their appendices at the end of the book. Their endeavoring to weave the info into the body of the hypotheses they were presenting made the reading process more difficult and less streamlined.

    Since their stated goal was to make things simple, they should have followed Occam's Razor, which suggests that the simplest solution presented in the simplest manner possible is most likely to be the best solution to any given problem....more info
  • Thought provoking
    Simple church causes one to stop, think and pray. Good for all of us to do....more info
  • Simple Church is the real deal!
    A book that gets to the heart of vibrant church growth, both physical and spiritual. This book looks at the "transformation of people" process, not church programs....more info
  • Evangelist ministers, deacons, & bishops should read this book.
    I am persuaded that God has again, by means of this book, provided a great service to His servants in the Church.

    "The purpose" is re-emphasized and the process for achieving the "Great Commission" is clearly laid-out for any and all who wish to serve the Lord.

    Even while I am convinced that all believing "church leaders" will benefit from this book, I am more convinced that this book should be in the hands of the "laity", i.e. the vast numbers of individual members of the body of Christ who evangelize at the water cooler or the construction site food catering trucks, but only when they know their purpose.
    Please also read this essay by Dr. Rick Warren ([...]), which coincides with the Rainer/Geiger findings in Simple Church.

    The leaders are not the power of Christ's Church; rather it is the vast army of committed volunteers who understand a "Simple" message with an understandable goal, which is preached from the Simple Church that Jesus established on Pentecost some years ago.
    The power is not in the Pastors, the power is the Holy Spirit within the hearts of those who believe that Jesus can and will save.
    ...more info
  • Great Book
    If you work in church life and you want to impact the lives of those around you as a church you must read this book!!...more info
  • A "must-read" for all pastors and church staff members
    Have you ever been to a church that has so many mission statements, purposes and visions that it feels like the congregation doesn't know whether it's coming or going? Have you ever opened a church bulletin and felt overwhelmed by the smorgasboard of events and options? Have you ever been to a church where there has been a ton of activity yet no tangible growth?

    If so, know that you're not alone. What you're experiencing and seeing is happening in all too many churches around the country. Fortunately, according to church consultant Thom S. Rainer and pastor Eric Geiger, there is a better way --- and it's found in the journey toward simplicity. In SIMPLE CHURCH: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples, Rainer and Geiger reveal stunning new research that suggests the most vibrant, growing churches in our country usually take the simplest approaches to ministry. This book is a call for Christian leaders to return to the simple methods of Jesus. No nine-step plans. No multi-level outreach strategies. No slick, shiny marketing plan required. Promise.

    Instead, the authors believe that a simple church is designed around a clear, strategic process that helps people move through various stages of spiritual growth. The leaders, staff and members are all clear about the process and committed to making it happen. The process flows logically; it is easy to understand and can be implemented in every area of the church. Anything that does not fall into this progression is eliminated. Hence, the simplicity. So how does that play out in an actual church?

    Throughout the book, Rainer and Geiger look at real churches that have adopted this philosophy and what it looks like within a congregation. Immanuel Baptist Church in Glaslow, Kentucky, centers its community on connecting, growing, serving. As people visit the church, they are introduced to this concept, which is true not only for their spiritual life but also for their relationship to the church. They are invited to get connected with God and fellow members. As they do so, they are to move on to the next stage --- growing --- in the depth of their relationship with God and others.

    Then it's time to progress to the third area, serving, by getting involved and making a difference. While the church is vibrant and growing, the real focus for leaders and members is moving people along in the progression. The model is simple but highly effective. As Rainer and Geiger show, it is modeled in some of the largest, most successful churches in the country, including Northpoint Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, led by Andy Stanley.

    While the book is clearly based on research, one of its weaknesses is the layout of the data presented (clearly not the authors' fault). Most of the tables are not titled on top; instead they are labeled in the lower portion, which is difficult to understand, and the importance or meaning of the study is often lost. Hopefully, the publisher will be certain that reprints make the information and data more accessible to the reader.

    Overall, SIMPLE CHURCH is a must-read for all pastors and church staff members. Expect to hear buzz about this book for years to come.

    --- Reviewed by Margaret Oines

    ...more info
  • simple product review
    even if you don't agree with everything in the book, it is thought-provoking and challenging to those in church leadership. it appears to be a paradox in many ways--more work equals more results is what we've come to know and expect. the writers challenge us to do concentrated work--few things done better equals better results....more info
  • Break Through Thought on Organization
    Main Idea of the Text:

    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....more info
  • Good for discussion
    Great for church leaders to read and discuss. There are some really good ideas here, but also some tough questions that need to be asked of the authors' theories. Rather than taking a pragmatic approach to church, I would suggest a biblical approach, even if it's not all that "simple."...more info
  • A Great Perspective on an Important Topic
    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. Classics such Bonoeffer's Life Together and current books like Randy Frazee's The Connecting Church are worth reading. Also, I like Julie Gorman's Community That is Christian, especially her focus on small group development.

    In short, I don't know if doing church simply is enough but it's certainly a good start. ...more info
  • Simple Church
    I have used this book with a group of 12 leaders of our church. We read one chapter a week and discuss it for about half an hour. It has opend up the eyes of this group concerning real church work. I would recommend this for a church of any size with any size of leadership....more info
  • Excellent example of making things simple
    Simple church not only explained clearly how necessary it is to simplify our way of doing church,or more precisely making disciples, the book was a very good example of doing this. The demonstrated and illustrated in a straightforward way and the process suggested was very simple to follow and easy to apply. Great job! ...more info
  • Five Star Book
    This book comes along side the vision i have had for years, but this book puts the research along with the nuts and bolts to make it happen.
    great book that i will read over and over - i am purchasing a copy for all my staff to read as well....more info
  • Thought-provoking
    Based on actual research data, the authors present a model for ministry and program design and follow-through which emphasizes simplicity, consistency, and follow-through. The key elements in the authors' words are: clarity/movement/alignment/focus...more info
  • Back to basics
    I have not finished the book, but it makes so much sense. Some church's try to do it all and spend so much time going in different directions. Simple Church brings everyone together and actualy does what God mandates. What a concept, do what the bible preaches....more info
  • Good for discipleship and Church Growth
    This is an excellent book that tells pastors and church leaders to keep it simple, rather than complex and this book tells you how. The basic premise of this book is that simple sells and that keeping it simple and maintaining focus is the best method of discipleship and church growth. If you have been trying to write long vision statements or missions statement or purpose statement and have come away frustrated, then this book is for you....more info
  • Not a Bad Book - Just Nothing New
    The content of this book is "fine", but not overly impressive. The title "Simple Church", also describes the content, but only too well. The information is just that, too simple. Almost everything that is said in this book can be found in other books that are much better.

    I would suggest reading 7 Practices of Effective Ministry and Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley. These are much better reads and much more practical for church ministry....more info
  • Less is MORE
    Great book! It hit me right where our church is. We have grown nearly twenty-fold in seven years and I found that our church had taken on "clutter" and complexity that diffused energy. As a direct result of this book we are revamping ministries and have written a new mission statement - one that our people might actually remember!...more info
  • Best book I've seen on how to do "church"
    This book very "simply" and concisely lays out some problems within many of today's churches and offers real solutions on how to get back to what the church is biblically called to be. Based on a study of successful and not so successful churches, the authors conclude that churches should throw out those distracting and ineffective activities that use up limited resources and compete with real discipleship making. Instead, a church should focus on bringing people into community with God and each other, helping them reach spiritual maturity. Then send them out into the kingdom to serve God and to serve others. The book presents a simple 3 step process - evangelize, disciple, serve. The second part of the book backs up its ideas with several interesting case studies....more info
  • Simple, but could be simpler
    I think this book will help many traditional North American churches to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple (to borrow from Neil Cole). But as a former pastor who has recently begun to enjoy the simplicity of a network of microchurches that has no paid staff, no building to maintain or enlarge, and yet enough time to be a small army of disciple-makers, I find Rainer & Geiger more complex than is necessary. If you like simple, you might like simpler even better! ...more info
  • Excellent -but felt slightly cheated
    Excellent book, but really this should have been an article, or perhaps one chapter of a book. There's not really enough material to be a book....more info


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