Scott Hodge


My Non-Simple Post About Simplicity…

Jun 13, 2007

(Warning: My ADD is flyin’ HIGH this morning…)

One of the things we place a high value on at The Orchard is simplicity.  In fact, there are about five or six things that we promise we will do very well and anything beyond that is pretty much "bonus." 

So we don’t have a lot of the "programs" that a lot of other churches have.  Not because they’re "bad" or ineffective for them, but because we would rather focus on doing a few things well over doing a lot of things poorly.  

But one of the things we’ve learned is that simplicity is not automatic.  It doesn’t "just happen."  No, in fact, it’s really just the opposite!  Most of the time, chaos and complexity are what’s automatic.  Which means that we have to be very intentional about keeping it simple. 

Here are a few things that we’ve had to learn to become really good at in order to keep things simple:

Saying "NO" to a lot of "good" or even "great" ideas while at the same time encouraging and empowering people in the dreams God has given them.

Sometimes it can be easy to write someone off and just say "no" to their idea – but when we can either help them direct their passion and excitement into an area that fits into our strategy OR encourage and empower them to go for it OUTSIDE of the church, that’s awesome!

I believe that as a missionally focused church, we need to help people feel empowered to run full steam ahead with those ideas and dreams that God has planted in their hearts – while also reminding them that those ideas don’t always need to be a "church sponsored" program. 

In fact, many times, those ideas will go much further into the community and their neighborhoods, etc… when they are NOT a "church" sponsored event or program. 

(On a side note: You really begin to see the heart of a church when every great idea has to carry the church’s name on it…  Ouch.) 

Asking a lot of questions when a new idea is being considered as a "church event or program.

Questions like:

  1. WHY are we considering doing it?
  2.  HOW does this help us accomplish our mission (How does it fit into our strategy)?
  3. WHO will own and lead it?
  4. HOW will this affect the equity of our volunteers?  (Giving equity and serving equity are essentials to consider…)

Speaking very often and very clearly about our vision and mission as a church. 

The clearer we are about what we believe God is calling us to do, the fewer ideas we find ourselves having to say "no" to.  Clear vision and strategy gives everyone something to fall back on and measure new ideas against. 

Here’s what’s important to remember…  This is not about "controlling" people’s dreams or ideas.  This is about keeping ourselves as a church (organizationally) focused on the handful of things we know we will be able to do well. (Which in turn, will continually raise our effectiveness and free us to help empower others to fulfill the specific mission that God has called them to accomplish in their lives.)

When it comes to individual dreams and passions, we need to be constantly empowering and encouraging people to dream big and take big risks to further God’s mission in this earth.  And the most effective environment for those dreams and passions to flourish – is often times OUTSIDE of the church walls.

Anyway…  I’d love to hear YOUR ideas/thoughts on this. 

How do you keep things simple in your environment?  Or is simple NOT necessarily what you are going for?  How do you empower people to fulfill God’s mission in their lives?

8 Responses to “My Non-Simple Post About Simplicity…”

  1. This is probably the best/most important blog post I’ve read you write…
    I’m going to print this out and give it some of my key leadership to help them understand some of what we’ve been talking about (simplicity) in my ministry area…
    Thanks for wording what I’ve been thinking and couldn’t have worded so well… and if I were a volunteer at your church this would really help me to see your heart and what you’re looking for as the church grows and moves forward.

  2. Chris Baker says:

    Thanks Scott for sharing this.
    Been really dealing with this on a personal level as well. I’m not in any sort of leadership at church or have the option of moving a church in this direction. But its so often true, I see it first hand. We settle for the “Lets do everything” attitude but it doesn’t really define the church and what there about, or even where they want to go. I think often times we need to make this a priority in our lives as well. To often do we get wrapped up in all the extra stuff of life. Some things are unavoidable of course. Once again thanks for sharing. I found this quote over at – “Mediocrity” – “It takes a lot less time and most people won’t notice the difference until it’s too late.” (This is under the picture of the leaning tower of Pisa”. As funny as this is…its so true. We settle for second best, the mediocrity – personally, and as a church. Its great to see you have this vision and desire to be Simple, and strive to be Excellent.

  3. Scott Jones says:

    This is such great stuff, thanks Scott. It is easy in ministry to start focusing on programming and coordination that we can easily lose sight of the mission, reaching people. I have been the king of complexity and this is such a reminder to simplify and stay focused on the people.
    A thought that I had after reading this is; why do we work so hard to move away form simplicity? I believe one reason we complicate the mission is for self-gratification and to gain recognition, I am so guilty of this. Simplicity could defend our motives and prevent the mission from being over taken by our self-centered nature and desires to succeed.
    Maybe not good ones, but they are my thoughts.

  4. Doug says:

    Simplicity is one of the things that I love most about The Orchard.
    Early in my ministry experience, I was taught “see the need, meet the need”, and also that if I had an idea for a “program” that obviously God was placing this idea on my heart to lead it. As a people pleaser, it didn’t take me long to get “burned out” and start hurting people in the process.
    My white “simple” wrist band is still on the gear shift of my truck………

  5. michael says:

    Complexity is often synomous with mediocrity.
    I think clarity and consistency are related, and when someone (me) is struggling, I like to to determine what they are getting from God’s word.
    What is the basic theme of your devotion right now and how does that move into your daily life.
    We need one single thought to keep in focus and maintain movement forward.

  6. allen says:

    One thing I like to do is combine good things into fewer organizational structures. If someone has a new idea, I make sure to think about whether that idea represents a whole new ministry or is it really a subset of another ministry?
    One example… instead of having small groups AND women’s ministry AND men’s ministry, let’s just have small groups. Women or men from a small group (or from several small groups) can get together for study, fun, or service without having to build separate organizations around adults AND women AND men.

  7. Joni Ruhs says:

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!!!
    I used to think my church should have this ministry for me and that ministry for me and blah blah blah. My entire social structure became all church people. Not neighbors or outside interests. Kind of territorial. I’ve seen the light!!!!! How cool is it to get to utilize an outside ministry or program that is already in place and led well to develop community across the body of Christ. It then becomes less about the church you attend and more about Jesus don’t you think?

  8. Billy Chia says:

    Is it even possible to do things “outside the Church?” It seems good to remind people that if they do it the Church is doing it because they are the Church. Things can and should be done outside the church. You don’t need the seal of approval from the church to be the Church.

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