One of the values I try to stay focused on and consistently implement is simplicity—in life and in the work I’m called to do.
I read a book a number of years ago titled “Simple Church” by Eric Geiger and Thom Rainer. Simplicity was a need then and is still a need today. With the speed our culture is traveling, the need to keep everything from becoming over-complicated, overwhelming and complex is greater than ever.
I love 2 Timothy 2:14 in The Message,
“Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s People.”
With just about anything in life that one would like to become good at, there are not 20 basic essentials, but just a few—and they need to be communicated and repeated over and over to God’s people, in God’s church and to the leaders in God’s church.
I recently read this:
“All of the great masters of history strip away all the layers of complexity from their days. Simplify. Streamline everything.” Robin Sharma
I would like to propose three things to focus on for 1) a local church, 2) the small groups in that church and 3) the leaders in that church.
Let’s call this 3 X 3’s
A local Church
1. Disciple the people you have
2. Reach the people you don’t have
3. Develop leaders to help you with 1 and 2
For the sake of simplicity and clarity of focus I truly believe that these are the three primary responsibilities for any local church. Whether you have 20, 200 or 2000 people in your church, the first primary focus needs to be on discipling them (Matthew 28:18-20). In order to do that you need two things:
- A clear and concise definition of what a disciple is. What are the characteristics of a New Testament disciple? Does the church you are a part of have this? Does everyone know what it is and are they being regularly reminded of this?
- Continue to ask the question—What are we doing to develop those kinds of people and how would we know if we are truly being successful in helping them become His disciples, as opposed to keeping them busy with various church activities?
Secondly is to equip and mobilize these growing disciples to share the good news with the people in their world.
Thirdly is to identify, develop and deploy leaders to help the pastors and staff do the discipling and evangelizing.
Can we not declutter the multiplicity of stuff going on in the average Christian church and simply stay focused on these three things?
- Leader Development
The small groups in a local church
1. Reach in-Fellowship
2. Reach up-Discipleship
3. Reach out-Evangelism
Having been a Christian for 62 years, in vocational ministry for 53 and served in 18 different churches over these years, I’m more convinced than ever that small groups, community groups, home groups, cell groups, house churches—whatever you call them—Is the key to being and doing what Jesus has asked us.
Again for the sake of simplicity a small group in a local church has three primary tasks:
My experience has led me to understand that the churches which have these groups generally focus too much on fellowship while neglecting discipleship and evangelism. They become “holy huddles” focusing on each other but neglecting the needy people they rub shoulders with every day and not continuing to grow as discipleship by way of a specific set of spiritual disciplines.
So, ask yourself about the small group you hopefully are a part of. Is growing as disciples and reaching lost people a regular part of your group? Or has it drifted into the proverbial “holy huddle.”
The leaders in a local church
For simplicity’s sake, leaders in local churches have three primary responsibilities:
To lead the people who are looking to them for leadership, to develop them to be their best in both their walk and work for Jesus and to deeply and genuinely care for them. I’m not saying the leader only has 3 responsibilities, but rather that he/she only has three primary responsibilities with those looking to them for leadership. I truly believe that most every thing a leader does falls into one of these three buckets.
Repeat these basic essentials over and over: To God’s churches, to God’s people and to God’s leaders!