My church is starting a new series this coming Sunday on ‘The Simple Church’ that has me more than a little nervous. I believe (but has not been verified yet) that it is based on the book, ‘Simple Church‘ by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger. Pastor will preach 4 messages each Sunday morning over the month of July. Evening services will not be held. In its place, we will divide into small groups and discuss the morning message.
So what has me on edge?
The fact that this book appears to be yet another in a long line of titles focused on stimulating healthy church growth. The most famous book in this genre is Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Church.’ I have seen firsthand the carnage this type of man-manufactured methodology creates in churches that have implemented it. My concerns are well documented elsewhere on this blog.
I’m not casting any judgments just yet, because I have found little information about it in the blogosphere or elsewhere on the web. I do know one Christian book site has it listed as the current #1 bestseller.
From Amazon’s site I am able to glean the basic premise. Churches have become cluttered and clogged with an overabundance of programs. These programs serve to distract the church from its primary purpose – to make disciples. The authors idea is to simplify the church by eliminating all unnecessary programs and establishing only those programs that helps the church reach its goal of discipling people.
Ok, it sounds fairly solid on the surface, but my concerns begin with their choice of role models for building a sound church. They use secular corporate organizations like Google and Papa John’s as the template for establishing simplicity. Once again the church is likened to a corporate business. The book is essentially establishing a process for moving believers into spiritual maturity in the same way I suppose as a business person works his way up the corporate ladder.
Warning: Rant Ahead!
I must get this out:
THE CHURCH IS NOT A BUSINESS!!
A PASTOR IS NOT A CEO!
THE STAFF ARE NOT EMPLOYEES!
THE MEMBERS\ATTENDERS ARE NOT CUSTOMERS!
NO SINGLE PROCESS CAN MOVE BELIEVERS INTO SPIRITUAL MATURITY – only the Grace of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through sound biblical preaching and teaching can accomplish this.
Sorry for yelling… but I’m sick to the point of vomiting with all the literature out there trying to seduce the church into embracing the world’s ways to conduct its own business (pun intended).
Perhaps I’ve become too cynical -so much so that I cannot be even-handed with this book. But I did find a review of it on Sharper Iron that I must admit had a positive outlook on the book as a whole, but let me post some of the concerns the reviewer had with it:
‘The book also seems to downplay the importance of Bible preaching and right doctrine. I recognize that early in the book the authors touch on this topic by saying, “Thom has written several books on the primacy of sound, biblical, and orthodox doctrine in growing churches” (pp. 14-15). As one reads through the book, he discovers that the focus is process-oriented and could conceivably work regardless of what a church preaches or teaches.
I found another feature to be disconcerting. As demonstrated through the churches highlighted throughout the book, there seems to be a general assumption that the main service(s) of the church are to be viewed as the way to attract visitors rather than to prepare saints. I realize that even fundamental churches disagree as to the nature of the Sunday morning service; but in every case, the process moved from the main service as a gateway to small groups or to ministry/service groups without asking whether the worship service should be the gateway for visitors to begin the process of spiritual maturity.’ – From a review of ‘Simple Church’ from ‘Sharper Iron.’
This all sounds very ‘seeker sensitive’ to me and that is frightening. Seeker churches downplay doctrine and biblical preaching by gearing Sunday morning services to accommodate their felt needs.
Is this where our church is heading? I pray to God not.
I need information. If anybody out there has read the book, please give me your impressions. If your church or one you know has implemented its methodologies, please give me your insights. If you stumble across some more info on the net, please send me a link.
What I’ve read so far has not encouraged me much, but maybe I’m just paranoid. I can use all the information I can find to get a firm grip on the situation. I am going to talk with the pastor and hopefully he will let me borrow a copy to read.
Thank you in advance for your help!