Simple Church by Thom Rainer: The Full Book Review

Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples
Authors: Thom S. Rainer & Eric Geiger
Lowest Price: Amazon
Published: 2011 by B&H Publishing Group
Available Formats: Hardback, Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Read Customer Reviews: Here

What Is Simple Church About?

From Google’s uncluttered homepage to the clean design of Apple products, simple ideas are changing the world.

In Simple Church, authors Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger share their conclusions based on the case studies of 400 North American churches that their discipleship processes are often far too complicated and show an easier, more effective way of making disciples.

The book is centred around these four points:

  • Clarity
  • Movement
  • Alignment
  • Focus

Thom Rainer looks closely at each idea and shows you why it’s time to simplify and how to start.

My Take On Simple Church

I found this book so helpful and refreshing.

As pastors and church leaders, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking busyness = effectiveness but this is not necessarily the case.

Have you ever felt a constant demand on your time to be involved in church activities?

At one point I was out every night of the week with home groups, drama groups, prayer meetings, men’s breakfasts, outreach groups, worship practice, leaders meeting, youth meetings and so on and so on…

This book really says that we must fight for simplicity and that simple is good.

The basic idea of this book is for the leaders to evaluate every program in the church and its fruit.

If it is not contributing towards the vision of the church (IE. make disciples) then it’s cut.

It is the job of the pastors and ministry leaders to clarify the church vision and make sure everything they do is moving them towards accomplishing that. 

This is easier said than done!

Rainer and Geiger’s research behind Simple Church shows that churches which resist the pull to become complicated and busy are usually healthier and grow faster than those that do too much.

According to ‘Simple Church’, growing churches do these four things:

  1. Design a simple disciple-making process,
  2. Organize key programs to accomplish this
  3. Unite all ministries around the process
  4. Eliminate everything else.

It might seem harsh to cut a much-loved program but if a tree is not producing enough fruit then it needs pruning.

Everyone will benefit in the longer term.

In my opinion, this book has replaced ‘The Purpose Driven Church’ by Rick Warren (read my review).

Although a great book and I still use it as a reference 20 years on, that book was anything BUT simple! 21 points for this and 39 processes for this and 15 classifications of this…

This book is not like that…

My Rating

Simple Church Review: The Bottom Line

I recommend reading Simple Church as a reminder to church leadership to resist the pull toward organizational complexity and align the church’s ministry structure around the process of making disciples.

Churches with a clear disciple-making process are vibrant and growing. 

Warning: Read with caution. This book is not just another church methodology book, it will challenge you to reconsider how you lead your church.

The challenge in this book: are you making a busy group of people or disciples of Jesus?

The Bible is clear that disciples, not busyness are the goal.

Don’t worry, this book does not give you yet one more thing to do…

I applied, this book will make your lives easier as you focus your efforts on your discipleship process meaning you work smarter instead of harder and get more done, making the most of your time and resources.

It’s truly a great read and ideal for a leadership discussion.

You can buy Simple Church or read other pastors’ reviews here.

I’d love to hear from other church leaders on this one.

Have you already read the book? What did you think?

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