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]