Friday, January 25, 2008


Last year I read three different books with a form of the word "simple" in the title. Hmmmmm, does that reveal something deeply significant about me or about that time in my life?

All three books deeply impacted me, though the theories are still a long ways from becoming practice to the degree I desire.

This week David sent our pastoral team a quote from The Orchard Church. It really resonated with me. So, here it is:

"One of the things we value here at The Orchard is simplicity. We don't just say that, we really DO keep things simple here.

So what does that look like for us?

Well it means that we pretty much stay focused on a handful of things we know we can do well and consider anything above that "bonus." For example, we don't have a lot of the "ministries" and "programs" that you'll find at most churches (i.e. men's ministry, women's ministry, classes out the whazoo, etc...) I'm certainly not saying that having these programs are bad or shouldn't be done in some churches - they're just something we've decided we're not going to do here at The Orchard.

Here are a few reasons why simplicity rules at The Orchard:

We'd rather keep people freed up throughout the week to engage missionally in the community around them and to gather in small groups. (Instead of keeping them inside the walls of the church three or four nights a week.)

We're not interested in having programs JUST to have programs. If we're going to offer a class, environment, etc... we want to make sure that it is a STEP TOWARDS something else. (See Seven Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley.) On a side note - the only people who WANT a gazillion programs are churched people. And that's not who we're trying to reach. I NEVER get asked by an unchurched person why we don't do women's ministry.

By keeping things simple, it allows us to maintain a good amount of "asking equity" from our volunteers. Since we don't have to maintain numerous programs and events throughout the month, it keeps our volunteers fresh and focused on what's most important. This is especially helpful when it comes to things like FUEL - our monthly leadership gathering. I'm convinced that the reason we don't have a problem getting our leaders to FUEL is because we aren't asking them to be at numerous other meetings throughout the month IN ADDITION to this one!

Keeping things simple allows us to pour a good amount of resources, time and energy into the things that we are most passionate about and consider to be missional priorities. So instead of doing a hundred different things poorly, we are able to do a handful of things very well. It communicates to EVERYONE what is most important.

Being simple helps clearly define what we will and will not do. This is beneficial all the way around! For example, because of this, staff meetings can stay focused on what they need to be focused on instead of wasting hours having conversations debating and going back and forth as to whether or not we should or shouldn't do a particular ministry or program. Does it mean we don't come up with new, innovative ideas? Of course not! But we don't add just to add. It's always strategic and directly tied to the mission - or else we don't waste time talking about it.

Now, with all that said, let me also say that keeping things simple is not always easy. It requires a lot of "NO's", tons of vision casting and lots of reminders as to WHY we value simplicity. It also requires a willingness to recognize that this is just one more reason why The Orchard isn't the right church for everyone. And that's ok!

How about you? What does simplicity look like for you?"


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