Scott Hodge

Blog

Simplicity.

Jan 24, 2008
22 Comments

Zz7aed948f

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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 half-a**ed, we are able to do a handful of things very well.  It communicates to EVERYONE what is most important.
  5. 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? 


22 Responses to “Simplicity.”

  1. Charles says:

    So Scott – if a woman comes up and says she wants to start a woman’s ministry – I don’t know, maybe a Beth Moore video class or something – do you tell her “no?” Or what about the couple that wants to start a ministry to the homeless?
    I was always taught that if you had a passionate leader that wanted to start something, and it was their ministry, then it was a green light…
    How does that work for you guys?

  2. Scott,
    I love this post. I think to many churches get lost in the Wal-Mart mentality. They have to offer something for everyone all the time. That is such a draining thing to do. I agree keeping the vision simple so it helps on the will and wonts decisions.
    I feel like you see to many churches that are “Jack of all trades and Kings of none”. That is why we need every type of church. So they can use their vision and calling to reach their missions field they may not fit another churches missions field.
    Loved the post!

  3. metromom says:

    I think this is really good and I definitely value simplicity in my own personal and church life. It’s something that is hard to accomplish in our city but I think its really worth the effort.
    That being said, I wanted to comment on the fact in my opinion our goal is to get “unchurched” people to become “churched” right? You’re right, I’ve never had an unchurched person ask why we weren’t doing a basket weaving life group, BUT I have had a person who was previously unchurched and is now growing and excited about their journey and what they have to offer desire a bible study or women’s group etc. And I don’t necessarily think thats a bad thing that they are looking for more…While our target is unchurched our heart is to transform them into people who love church, church like God designed it…and yes, I believe he designed it to be simple.

  4. Marlow says:

    can you say “breath of fresh air.”
    good stuff for sure.
    one question. how do you disciple folks? do you trust it to be organic?

  5. Read Scott says:

    For us, simplicity involves careful pruning. We’re in a slight transition from program driven to purpose driven. (I know. We’re late.) Our primary task organizationally is to prune ministries that are anchors and not sails. It’s tough, but we’re seeing promise.

  6. Art says:

    This really strikes a chord with me. Our evening activities that keep people at church have gotten out of hand. Here is our week:
    Sunday AM and PM Services (PM different service than AM)
    Monday PM – OFF
    Tuesday PM – Men’s Group (Every week)
    Wednesday PM – Women’s Group (Every week)
    Thursday PM – All Church Bible study and prayer (Every week)
    Friday PM – Praise Team practice (most every week)
    Saturday PM – OFF
    WAAAAAYYYYY too much stuff going on. We need to simplify now before the pastor (me!) loses his mind – and everyone quits the church.

  7. sam says:

    Hey Scott…
    Great post…clear, concise and on-the-money.
    Sam

  8. Thanks for the insight Scott. This is a good reminder and it comes at exactly the right time for some of what we’re working through right not. I hope you don’t mind but I posted some of these thoughts on my blog (I gave you credit!)

  9. ryanbush says:

    Purity of heart is to will one thing.
    - Kierkegaard

  10. OH, OH, OH my…how I envy you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…I hear you singing the wonderful sound of simplicity…I only hear the irritating noise of “complication” at our church – God bless bro!

  11. Joni says:

    In 2001 I realized I didn’t know my neighbors’ names(we had been there 3 years!) and had no credibility to invite them to church. The only time I saw them was getting in and out of my car to go to a ministry meeting: Monday, Tuesday, possibly Wednesday, Sunday. Constantly uptight. Yes, don’t they want to be like me and go to church? I learned a lot from my unbelieving neighbors about just hanging out. Thanks for keeping it simple. I love this place!

  12. Dave Lewis says:

    Scott,
    You hit the nail on the head with this one. I am currently doing a sermon series on how to have a summit experience with the Living God.Summit is and acrostic which spells out how each of us can have this experience and what it will look like in our daily lives. The “S” in summit is Simplify. Like you, I have seen too many churches get bogged down with with programs and committees. We need to streamline our focus as a church and free our people so they can be in the community reaching out to their neighbors and friends and leading them to Christ.In this series,I am also trying to encourage our own people to keep it simple in their own lives and not get bogged down with over-committing themselves. There are so many worthy community activities we can be involved in. However, we only have so much time in a day, in a week, etc. Therefore, by exercising godly wisdom and discernment, we can choose those activities that will maximize our effectiveness and not become overwhelmed and stressed out.
    P.I.C.
    Dave

  13. This is great stuff, Scott. I like it.
    One question – what do you guys offer for the growth of your people?
    I’m not saying this to act like I think you’re doing anything wrong – but I’m sure a lot of people who read this blog would like to know how you guys help people that are farther along in their spiritual journey.
    This is especially relevant since Bill Hybels & Willow Creek just released their huge study “Reveal” on what ministries have (or have not) been effective. They confirmed that within the Willow Creek Association, non-believers, seekers and new believers were ministered sufficiently…
    ..BUT the people that were more spiritually mature were being almost completely overlooked. That’s why only ‘churched’ people ever seem to ask for programs – not because they’re simply ‘churched’, but because they’re looking for spiritual growth.
    I’m sure several of your readers would like to hear about the Orchard’s method for growing stronger, self-sufficient believers – while doing it with intentionality and simplicity instead of just adding a bunch of programs like most churches do.

  14. Doug says:

    Hey Isaac!
    As a member or The Orchard AND a longtime believer, I’m curious to know what your definition of growth might be.
    My definition of growth is “to learn more about the character of God, and how best to become more like him. His desires becoming my own”.
    I’ve “grown” more in the last 2 years at The Orchard than I have in the previous 25 years of Christianity.

  15. Ryan says:

    Great post, makes me wonder if we are doing to much, just spinning our wheels?? Thanks for the insight.

  16. Nate Elarton says:

    We read Simple Church a couple years ago and really moved to simplification. Gravity has pulled us back toward the busy. Thanks for the post and the reminder.

  17. Mark Waltz says:

    Great post, Scott. To those wondering about helping the growing Christ-follower to continue to grow or step up to leading a ministry: 1) There’s plenty already happening in the focused mission of a church that is clear in their endeavor to reach people with the love of Christ. Often people need a personal invite to leverage their passion for what we’re already doing. 2) I’m always great with empowering the church (volunteers/members) to be the 24/7 church God calls us to be – and go for it. On their own… they don’t necessarily need funding, promotion and organized structure from the church to impact the community. 3) I’m not convinced that Willow’s REVEAL study suggests they aren’t doing enough for longer-term Christians. I think teaching people to own their journey and that growth happens in relationships, serving, personal study, etc. is the key role the church needs to play in their lives.
    Keep saying “no”, Scott, so you can keep saying “yes” to your focused mission.
    Good stuff.
    Mark Waltz

  18. michael says:

    great post. one of the biggest dangers in ministry is to think that we should do MORE Of something that’s good. That may be the very thing that waters it down and render it useless. I’m convinced if we just tried to live out the truths we learned in one sermon, we wouldn’t need to add two more to the schedule.

  19. Big Chris says:

    “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger is a great tool to help ministry leaders work through this process with data to back up the desire to remain (or become) simple. I found it to be a great read, and it spurred a ton of thoughts for how I look at doing church.
    Big Chris

  20. chad payne says:

    Great Posts of the Week

    I have come across some great blog entries in recent days. Check them out: Scott Hodge’s post on Simplicity. This is exactly what I have been trying to articulate for months about where we should be in terms of ministry

  21. Adam Lehman says:

    Scott great post. Not only is simplicity effective, i think it is an appropriate posture when one looks at God’s greatness and our place at his feet. He doesn’t ask us to come up with complicated/complex systems to come to him, he just asks that we come.
    When church/ministries/people begin to declutter their lives – as I’ve been working to do over the past year – it allows for more use of grace when approaching situations and others.
    keep it up

Leave a Reply

  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Vimeo
  • Flickr

Subscribe

instagram2.001instagram2.001

Top Posts

Supporters