You Asked: Simplicity
Question: We've been talking a lot as a church about "simplifying" — the most difficult question we wrestle with is when someone says, "we need X ministry – to single moms or new moms or alcoholics or divorce recovery etc etc" We feel like we're in a no-win situation because if we say, "no" we sound like we don't care about single moms or we don't love the poor or what have you. And if we say, we don't have the resources, the person pushes back with, "well, I can serve there and I can recruit people to help me etc etc"?? Any ways you could help us communicate with people – I'd love a phrase or two to use in addition to any thoughts you have on the subject??? Thanks! Jason
Great question Jason! A few years ago, we made the decision to simplify our entire approach to ministry at The Orchard. It was a tough decision, but one that we haven’t looked back on since!
Simplifying involves two things: 1) Making the decision to simplify and 2) Being committed to STAYING simple. Both involve the need to be very, very clear about what God has called your church to be and do.
Here are a few thoughts about simplicity….
- We are unapologetically focused on doing a few things we know we can be great at.
I typically tell people that there are about five or six things that we
are committed to doing very, very well and anything above that should
probably be considered a “bonus.” We try to be very clear about this
with people from day one because we know that there are people who are
looking for a church that can do a great job at meeting every need for
every segment of every member of their family. And the bottom line
is……we’re just not going to do a very good job at that. Which
means, that The Orchard is not going to be the right church for
everyone. And that’s ok!
- I have never seen an unchurched woman get upset that we don’t have a women’s ministry. Selah.
- Being simple is costly…..but in a good way.
We know that being “simple” has cost us. But that’s ok. Because in my
opinion, the greater cost is ending up with a church full of consumers
who think that church is all about them and meeting all of their
- Being simple provides a greater degree of equity – all the
way around. (Volunteer equity, giving equity, asking equity, etc….) Less truly is more! When people aren’t being asked to give to “special
projects” twelve times a year or be at the church three or four times a
week, it builds equity! And as a result, people end up being more
committed to a few things instead of getting burned out and giving
their half-arsed leftovers to a million things.
- Being simple is a lot easier when you talk openly about it and help people understand why it’s important!
The bottom line is that simplicity MAKES SENSE! And when you take the
time to explain and cast vision for WHY it’s important, people will
respect that! I constantly hear from people how much they appreciate
and respect our commitment to simplicity! In fact, there are people
who use our “simplicity” as a “selling point” in inviting their
unchurched friends to The Orchard. It’s amazing!
- It’s awfully hard to empower people to live missionally when they are expected to be in church four or five times a week.
Listen….a lot of ministry ideas that people have are actually awesome ideas that could turn into incredible opportunities to reach out and love our community!
I recently had a woman in our church share her desire to start a reading program for disadvantaged children in our local community. She didn’t share this with me hoping that the church would assume responsibility by starting it, funding it, promoting it, staffing it. Instead, she shared the idea because she simply needed someone to empower and encourage her to go for it! I love that! And ultimately, that’s one of the ways that our churches can truly become irreplaceable in our communities.
Do you have a question about transition/change/leadership/ministry? Shoot 'em to me at scott (AT) orchardvalleyonline (DOT) com.