Amidst my stack of books about church and church planting, I know I have one called Simple Church. I can’t remember if I’ve read it or not. But its title provokes an idea of what I’d think its premise might be – let’s keep things simple stupid. And yet they also say the devil is in the details. I feel caught so often in-between.
I recently wrote out a list of what we do as a church to invest in our members. Here it is: expositional preaching, CityGroups, Lyceum, VBS, women’s conference, men’s conference, children’s church, youth group, CityKids interns, nursery, marriage conference, bringing in speakers, individual counseling, marriage counseling, crisis counseling, paying for counseling for people, investing in staff and sending them to places for training, leadership training, deacon training, session meetings, regular communication via phone or email, pursuing members, organizing events, writing explanations and papers, men’s breakfast, various women’s ministry events, freeing up money for people to try things they’d like to do, deacons and their ministry, stewarding The City, interviewing new members, Financial Peace, the Finance Team, creating devotions for Lent and Advent, creating a children’s catechism booklet, managing personal conflict, special services at the church, ministry to the wider church through denominational and city-wide efforts, and I’m sure I could come up with more.
For a small, young, growing church that seems like quite a few things. Is it enough? Is it too much?
It’s not simple, that’s for sure. Everyone is complicated. Everyone has needs. I’m complicated. I have needs. I get lost. I’m prone to wander away from the one I love too.
But in the spirit of Simple Church (or what I imagine it might be about), here is how I’d make things simple.
What do we do?
Worship – We want to be a people of worship. We express this in our worship service, where we gather each week. This is a time of mourning, celebration, reflection, friendship, outreach and joy. I truly love our worship service and think we do an exceptional job of this. We also want everyone to walk with God each and every day through the spiritual disciplines.
[It’s not simple to manage parking, where people sit, the music, the sound system, the power point slides, the collection of the offering, the bread and wine ready for everyone, the sermon prepared, the CityVision speaker, the CityKids children’s church, the nursery downstairs, the announcements that need to be made.]
CityGroups – We want to be a people who gathers together each week to walk together in discussion, real life authenticity, outreach and friendship. This is an essential component to being a real church together throughout the week and not just on Sunday. This is a way we show practical love and care for each other in times of need. Worship and CityGroups are ways we pursue spiritual formation with each other.
[It’s not simple to recruit, plan, lead, organize and evaluate CityGroups. There are a lot of moving parts for this like curriculum, what do do about kids and babysitters, location changes, small CityGroups and large ones, and more.]
Service, Events and Parties – We think living a full life means we gather to serve, rejoice and laugh together. One of our strategies to do this is to try to be a people with regular and whole-hearted celebrations. This is one of our ways we try to love the city and are able to both participate with others and invite others to participate with us. We try to have different opportunities for these events so we might be able to catch someone who wasn’t interested in some of the others.
[It’s not simple to pull these off. If you’ve planned parties you know there is a lot of work to be done in order to make a party run well so everyone has a good time. Service projects always take up front work to coordinate. Our events and conferences always involve hours and hours of planning and then follow up work.]
Maybe I’m totally missing it. Maybe I need to read the book!