Book Review: Simple Church

I must confess, I am not as widely read as I would like to be. I prefer the axiom “Learners are Leaders” over “Readers are Leaders” because as a 31 yr old church planter with 3 daughters under the age of 4 1⁄2 much of my time is not spent sitting beside a serene stream soaking up the latest “How-To Church” book. I love Jesus. I love my family. I love my church. I love my community. These things tend to take much and most of my time and attention.

However, there are a handful of books that have been helpful in church planting. “Simple Church”, by Thom S. Rainer & Eric Geiger is one of them. We planted Coastline Calvary Chapel in Destin, FL in April of 2010; from 2010 until February 2013, I served as the Executive Pastor of Coastline CC in Gulf Breeze during the week and commuted to Destin to teach a small fellowship on the weekends (a 60min drive). As you can imagine the probability for complexity was high… & simplicity was a friend we longed to be introduced to; and God used “Simple Church” to help.

As Rainer & Geiger would put it (pg 67-68), “A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. The leadership 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).”

CLARITY –> MOVEMENT –> ALIGNMENT –> FOCUS

Purpose/process –> People/process –> Prioritized Program –> Prioritized Planning

As a homebuilder begins a design, it starts with CLARITY of the project, then he must set up sequential steps so the project flows smoothly (MOVEMENT), he then strategically places resources and contractors around the design process (ALIGNMENT); finally he stays FOCUSED on the project until it’s accomplished.

Coastline Calvary Chapel exists to GLORIFY God by making disciples who LOVE, CONNECT, & live on MISSION. Our values, purpose, process, program, plan, mission, & vision are defined in this statement.

We have CLARITY that the church is to GLORIFY God. The leadership seeks to MOVE the church through a process of discipleship as we gather in a large group on Sunday to LOVE & worship God; as we gather in small groups to CONNECT together, & as we scatter throughout the community we seek to live on MISSION with Christ in the world. All that we do stays ALIGNED with this process and helps us stay FOCUSED on the Great Commandment and Great Commission. Our process is just as important as our purpose because the process helps it all fit together.

It’s not the Bible, there’s only one book that God inspired, but “Simple Church” has been a helpful resource. I hope & pray it can be helpful to you and the church of JESUS that He has called you to plant and pastor.

Neil Spencer

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