My father used to like reading the old Rube Goldberg cartoons that showed simple tasks being done in the most complex ways. Perhaps it was because my father was raised in a mechanical, industrial society.
As we move into a digital society with its binary foundation, we seem to be rediscovering the beauty of simplicity. The fancy fonts of a decade ago give way to the functional print of the new millennium. The “boom boxes” of the 80’s with all their knobs and buttons and equalizer switches are replaced by the simple, intuitive design of the iPod. The homepage of Google with its uncluttered design replaces pull-down menus and pop-up guides.
The same may be true for congregations that seek to be in mission in the 21st century. Functional simplicity, authenticity and missional focus are the key words for today’s congregations. The KISS principle, in this case, “Keep it Simple and Spiritual” seems to be the theme of the day. The idea of “Simple Church” sees a radical expression in the new monastic movements and house church movements, but the KISS principle applies to more traditional congregations as well. Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger spelled it out a couple of years ago in a book entitled Simple Church. They describe a process consisting of four key values:
- Clarity: Do leaders and members understand the purpose and mission for which we exist ?
- Movement: What is the process for developing disciples ?
- Alignment: Are all your programs in line with and supportive of your purpose and mission?
- Focus: Are you willing to stop doing things that do not fit your mission? Do new programs fit your mission?
It all boils down to what Stephen R. Covey set forth as a management principle: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” That means keeping everyone focused on the main thing and sometimes getting rid of that which is not the main thing.
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