by Rob Campbell
About six weeks ago prior to worship, I was quickly scanning our Sunday Celebration’s Opportunity Folder (“bulletin”). I felt overwhelmed. There were many opportunities– many great opportunities. Yet, my feeling of being overwhelmed was not a positive feeling. I longed to return to a more simple church, lifestyle and ministry. Yes, even a cell church can become complex, clunky, clanky, and— overwhelming. I’m on a journey to reclaim simplicity.
Al Ries writes in his book, Focal Point, that there are four things you can do to improve the quality of your life and work.
1. You can do more of certain things. You can do more of the things that are of greater value to you and bring you greater rewards and satisfaction.
2. You can do less of certain things. You can deliberately decide to reduce activities or behaviors that are not as helpful as other activities.
3. You can start to do things you are not doing at all today. You can make new choices, learn new skills, begin new projects and activities, or change the entire focus of your work or personal life.
4. You can stop doing certain things altogether. You can stand back and evaluate your life with new eyes. You can then decide to discontinue activities and behaviors that are no longer consistent with what you want and where you want to go.
Dave Browning in his book, Deliberate Simplicity (a great read, by the way!), comments on the four options above. He writes, “While the traditional church tends to choose doors 1 and 3, the Deliberately Simple church looks at what is behind doors 2 and 4. By doing less of certain things, and stopping other things altogether, energy and resources can be reinvested in the few things really worth doing.”
Pastor Wade Hodges once stated, “If becoming a part of a church places people in an environment that encourages them to live more frenetic lives than they were living before, then we are going about doing church the wrong way.”
Browning writes, “What is the simplest thing that could possibly work?” He suggests that we “jettison other elements even if they have traditionally been associated with progress.”
One more thought from Browning: “One of the questions that takes the church back to basics is, how would we do church if we didn’t have electricity? Your answer will undoubtedly push you back to the essence of the church and away from the artificiality of modernity.”
A parallel thought. My wife and I are buying a house for our university age daughter. Indeed, the mortgage industry is the antithesis of simplicity. I wonder if church life feels more like enduring the complexity of buying a new home, retrieving historical data, and appeasing the mortgage broker for our people than….say….loving God and others?? Weren’t our politicos pushing a one or two page closing document for the acquisition of a new house?
Shouldn’t church leaders contemplate “less can really mean more?”
‘Tis a gift to be simple. ‘Tis a gift to be free. ‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. [Shaker Hymn]
6 thoughts on “Less is More”
I especially like Browning’s comment, “â€œOne of the questions that takes the church back to basics is, how would we do church if we didnâ€™t have electricity?”
In a tech heavy portable church where I served, we did indeed have a “no electricity kit” folder in case it ever happened. It held about 5 acoustic friendly songs and a “no PowerPoint” sermon manuscript.
Gets you thinking about priorities…
Great thoughts! I keep thinking about the statement:
â€œIf becoming a part of a church places people in an environment that encourages them to live more frenetic lives than they were living before, then we are going about doing church the wrong way.â€
I made up a new term recently – I guess it reflects some of my journey. It’s called CHURCHIANITY. Just how much of it is really relevant and necessary to getting the MAIN THING done? How much of it is a distraction and deviation from the MAIN THING? The MAIN THING being loving God, loving one another and loving the lost. I like no.4 “You can stop doing certain things altogether. You can stand back and evaluate your life with new eyes. You can then decide to discontinue activities and behaviors that are no longer consistent with what you want and where you want to go.”
While preparing for my first trip to Malawi to teach pastors, I was told there would be no electricity in the tent where we would gather and that I should leave my laptop, projector, pop up screen, and even my cell phone in South Africa at the host’s home.
So, I prepared printed handouts and printed off my teaching slides. What amazed me was what freedom I had to speak without the distraction of clicking that next slide!
Doing church without electricity would certainly simplify things.
You hit right on it in this comment.
Can you ask youself a question(I am a Mortgage Broker) why are you buying a house for your daughter? Did you Mortgage Broker ask you that question?
Our Devil’s economy ran by very incompetent people intentionally complicate our lives by telling us too much or too little. I have been promoting very simple financial concept since 1996: pay tax-deductable simple interest on revolving lines of credit tied to prime rate making compounded interest on index-based insurance products to save for retirement & education.
Sales-driven price-shopping American economy created smiling order-takers in all sections of our economy distracting us from buidling the economy of Jesus Christ in our communities.
For 2 years woman was shopping for oil-change to save $5-10.Last time she did that she was told she needs to change breaks. She went to another mechanic who checked the breaks & said they are fine.
Another woman’s child was refered by her dentist to inexpensive(which turned out to be very expensivem afterwards) oral surgent. Now this child’s life is theretened.
We must stop the economy of the devil & start building the economy of Christ together now. Huge number of books & CDs & movies would not do it.
We already have a book of the books!!!
What would the apostle Paul have done without POWERPOINT!