Scott Hodge


You Asked: Simplicity

Oct 29, 2008

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….

  1.  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!

  2.  I have never seen an unchurched woman get upset that we don’t have a women’s ministry.


  3. 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

  4. 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. 

  5. 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!

  6. It’s awfully hard to empower people to live missionally when they are expected to be in church four or five times a week. 
So…….instead of starting or joining a church softball league or some other church program, why not pop the bubble and get out in the community and be a part of one that already exists? 

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.

10 Responses to “You Asked: Simplicity”

  1. This is an awesome resource for any church leader. Thanks for laying it out.
    And it makes me even more pumped about Related Leaders next week!

  2. forwarding to my lead paz. @tspencer
    great stuff.

  3. Learning to say no, is the hardest, yet most valuable lesson and church leader will ever learn. I’ve never regretted saying no with no was the right answer, I’ve always regretted saying yes, when I knew no was the right answer.

  4. Joni Ruhs says:

    Been in both situations–simple and convoluted. Simple is better. Its true, its true, its all true!

  5. Really good stuff. Thanks for your advice and wisdom.

  6. Chad Payne says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for sharing this excellent insight. Forwarding it to our leadership right now. You rock!

  7. Paul Carlson says:

    Great stuff, Scott! Thanks so much for this – I really appreciate your ministry. Rock on.

  8. Amy Paul says:

    A couple of my friends and I were just talking about this exact issue as it relates to a church we’ve recently become involved with. I passed your post along to them…good stuff. Thanks!

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