Those of you reading this, and who have been following me for some time, know that I like to simplify ideas and concepts so they are easy to understand and easy to apply. I have said that if you like to take simple things and make them complicated, run for political office. If, on the other hand, you like to take complicated things and make them simple, you can become an effective leader. Admittedly, at times, I can over simplify. But if I had my choice (which I do) I’d rather over simplify than over complicate important concepts.

Leaders like to take things and put them on the lower shelf within reach of all—over-simplify, not over-complicate.

I read on “Google” that the US Marines operate to a large extent with what they call “The Rule of Three.” Here’s this

interesting rule as quoted from “Google”:


“In terms of organizational structure, the “Rule of Three” means a corporal has a three-person fire team; a sergeant has a squad of three fire teams; a lieutenant and a staff sergeant have a platoon of three squads; and so on, up to generals.

The functional version of the rule dictates that a Marine should limit his or her attention to three tasks or goals. When applied to strategizing, the rule prescribes boiling a world of infinite possibilities down to three courses of action. Anything more and a Marine can become over-extended and confused. The Marines experimented with a rule of four and found that effectiveness plummeted.”

Think Trinity here!

So, for the sake of simplicity, I would like to say that in a local church the leadership should be focusing on and giving time and attention to only THREE things.

  • Train leaders
  • Disciple the people they do have
  • Reach the people they don’t have

That’s it. Everything being done should fit into one of these THREE.

Every program and every activity should focus on one or more of these THREE. If it’s not addressing one of these THREE, perhaps consideration should be given to discontinuing it.

Now, taking simplicity one step further, There are THREE things within each of the THREE:

Train leaders

  • Lead them—by setting a clear target for all to focus on
  • Develop them—by investing in them as you teach, model and coach
  • Care for them—as you get to deeply know them, provide what they need and by creating a safe environment that helps them thrive and be their best

I believe that everything true leaders do in the Bible, in the business world, in sports and in the church falls into the THREE of lead, develop and care. Stop and think about it! As a leader, you are trying to take people from “here” (where they currently are) to “there” (where they could and should be). As you lead them to “there,” you intentionally invest in them and genuinely care for them. That’s it!

Disciple the people you do have

  • To love Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind
  • To love their brothers and sisters in the Christian family
  • To love those who don’t yet know Jesus 

Reach the people you don’t have

  • Pray for unchurched people who don’t yet know Jesus
  • Serve unchurched people who don’t yet know Jesus
  • Invite unchurched people  who don’t yet know Jesus. Invite them into your circle of friends and into your normal activities and to a church function when the time is right.

You love the people you don’t have  by praying, serving and inviting them.

See Matthew 22:37-39 where Jesus boils everything down to loving God and loving people. There are two kinds of people: Those who know Jesus and those who don’t yet know him. Hence, we have THREE!  Is there anything more important and more fundamental and easy to remember than loving God, loving his people and loving those far from him?

My experience has led me to believe that many local churches have too many things going on and are over-complicating what they are trying to do and offer people. Let’s clear the clutter and focus on just THREE things that people can understand and do!

There’ s a book, Simple Church which offers very practical ideas on how to do that.

My fellow Christian leader may I encourage you to take a long and evaluative  look at what you are currently doing. Is it too complicated? Are there too many things to think about? Is it too difficult to communicate to others? Simplify things. Focus on only THREE things and watch what happens.