Organizations are constantly pulled to become more complex. Churches normally grow in complexity over time as they add programs at a faster rate than they drop them. Ranier and Geiger’s research behind Simple Church shows that churches which resist the pull to become complex are usually healthier and grow faster than those that become complex.
The authors explain that the genius of a simple church is to clarify and combine its purpose and process of making disciples. For example, a church that is centered around loving God, loving people, and serving the world is one that leads its people along a process of making disciples and has programs built around: loving God (beginning with large group worship), loving people (participating in a small group for community) and serving the world (joining a ministry team). A simple church will have a clear and simple expectation for which events or meetings members should attend each week.
In order to become a simple church the authors suggest examining four elements: clarity, movement, alignment, and focus. A church should clearly identify the stages of spiritual growth (clarity), move people along the process of discipleship (movement), and make sure each ministry contributes to this process (alignment) or ultimately be eliminated (focus).
I recommend reading Simple Church as a reminder for church leadership to resist the pull toward organizational complexity and align the church’s ministry structure around the process of making disciples.