Sermon:  Introduction to Simplicity

Summary:  Our world and lives has become increasingly complex.  Complexity often looks 
good and impressive, especially in mega-churches with a full variety menu of options.  
However, complexity leads to ministry clutter, which often does not contribute directly to the 
mission of God.  In contrast, God's message of the Gospel remains a simple message with 
a simple process.  God likes simplicity, which is why Jesus preached a simple message with 
power and had a simple process that had power.  We need a simple and fully integrated 
process of discipleship that is clear and moves people toward spiritual maturity.  It is not 

Know:  God has not made discipleship and spiritual growth so complicated that we can only 
figure it out with a graduate theology degree, but has made it simple as demonstrated in the 
ministry of Christ.

Feel:  The desire to keep the discipleship process uncluttered and simple

Do:  Reflect on the current process of discipleship and identify areas of strength, weakness, 
and how simplicity can make the process better.

Text:  Mt 22:34-40

Scripture Reading:  Mt 11:28-30

1.  Complicated - Things work out better when can understand them
2.  New Series - Simplicity (Build on previous series)
	a.  Inspiration and info for this series;  
		- Partially from classes I have recently taken
		- Much of it from readings related to the class
	b.  Previous series dug into theological & biblical foundations of church
	c.  This series will attempt to simplify all of this into a practical process
3.  Goal of series - To have a simple process for life transformation and ministry
4.  Simplicity is needed.  Will look at why on several levels:

I.  On a practical level
	A.  More people, organizations, and companies are simple or are 
     	      moving towards simple
	B.  Examples:
		1.  Apple - They are pioneers of simple
			a.  Even their graphic design has moved to simple
				- Used to be multicolored apple
				- Now it is a single colored apple
			b.  IPod is an expression of simple
				- Portable music device
				- Simpler than cassette players, CD players, etc.
				- Outward design - Looks like ONE button, but has 4
				   touch points and a select button in the middle
				- More expensive, less performance than competitors, 
				  but outsells the competitors - SIMPLE
			c.  IMAC Computer - All components consolidated into one
				- Simple to assemble
				- No dizzying array of decisions
				- Something wrong, only one number to call since 
				  Apple makes the software
				- 1 decision, 1 box, 1 contact, 1 price - Simple
		2.  Southwest Airlines - Read an article about it being a Maverick 
		     company with a Maverick CEO
			a. It is one of the most simple airlines
			b. No assigned seats, just boarding groups based on arrival 
			    time - saves money and resources
			c. No hubs, planes fly shortest distance between 2 points
			d. Only one kind of airplane, cuts cost
		3.  PaPa John's - According to founder, John Schnatter, secret to 
		     success has been simplicity
			a.  From web site:  "At Papa John's we have a simple formula for success: 
			     Focus on one thing and try to do it better than anyone else. By keeping the 
			     Papa John's menu simple, we are able to focus on the quality of our product 
			     by using only superior-quality ingredients. Our commitment to quality can be 
			     seen in all of our ingredients, from our fresh (never frozen) water-purified traditional 
			     dough, to our vine-ripened fresh-packed tomato sauce (which goes from the vine 
			     to the can in an average of six hours), to our cheese made with 100% mozzarella 
			     and many other premium ingredients. Click on the links at the top of the page to find 
			     out more about our Better Ingredients. Better Pizza." 
			b.  It is now the 3rd largest Pizza franchise in the U.S.
		4.  And there are other examples
			a.  In Art - Simple is more powerful
			b.  In movies - Simple if done right makes a greater impact
			c.  Winston Churchill's speeches and quotations
	C.  One we are all probably familiar with - Popular search engine - Google
		1.  It looks very different than the others - lot of white space - simple
		2.  Yet it is the most popular
			a.  Most recent statistic I could find - Google as 59% of 
			     market share of search engines
			b.  Yahoo has 28% and MSN has 5%
		3.  Marissa Mayer - Director of consumer web products, 
		     responsible for web site's look at feel 
			a.  Believes in simplicity
			b.  Defends against those who would clutter up front page
			c.  Calls self "gatekeeper," says no to many, many people
			d.  "Google has the functionality of a really complicated Swiss Army knife, 
			      but the home page is our way of approaching it closed. It's simple, it's 
			      elegant, you can slip it in your pocket, but it's got the great doodad when you 
			      need it. A lot of our competitors are like a Swiss Army knife open--and that 
			     can be intimidating and occasionally harmful."
				- "The Beauty of Simplicity" by Linda Tichler
	D.  So on a practical level, simplicity works well

II.  On a Religious Level
	A.  Thom Rainer research over 400 conservative, Bible-believing churches
		1.  Compared growing vibrant to nongrowing struggling ones
		2.  Vibrant growing churches had a simple discipleship process
		3.  Complex churches were struggling and anemic
			a.  Either had no process or a complicated process
				- Larger menu of various programs
				- Ministry leaders and members did not know how a 
				   program fit (was integrated) into the big picture
				- Each program was "vertical," it was not integrated 
				   into an overarching process of discipleship
				- This disconnect is what creates the complexity
			b.  Some are very busy and over-programmed, full calendar
			c.  Seemed short on resources
				- Often had trouble getting volunteers
				- Leadership meetings often had calendar wars 
				  because so much was going on
				- Same volunteers pulled different directions by the 
				   various programs which were not integrated
			d.  Little conversion growth and life-transformation 
				- Same divorce rate inside church as outside
				- Same stress related problems
				- Same problems with character issues
				- In other words, people in the church not a whole lot 
				   different than people outside the church
	B.  Examples of simple churches which were vibrant:
		1.  Glasgow, Kentucky transitioned to simple - Rural Bible Belt
			a.  Clarity of Process - "Connecting, Growing, Serving"
			b.  Movement - Integrated from one stage to the next
				- Sunday morning worship - "connecting believers"
				- Adult Bible Fellowship - Growing believers -
				- Smaller Ministry Groups - Serving Believers
			c.  Alignment - Primary ministries are age specific
				- Each group uses the same process
				- Includes a connect program, grow, and serve
			d.  Focus - Focus all energies on the process
				- Focus also means NOT doing what does not fit
				- "The irony is that we have actually grown numerically and 
				    spiritually by doing fewer programs and special events, 
				   choosing instead to focus our attention on moving people 
				    with various levels of commitment to deeper levels of 
			e.  Benefits
				- Explosive growth (not incremental growth)
				- Increased Morale - Came from defining the Great 
				   Commission as a process that all understand
				- Increased Urgency - To move people through the 
				   process to maturity and ministry, not just conversion
				- Spiritual Growth - Process shows people what the 
				  next step is, result is people have become proactive 
				  in their development
				- Increased conversions, about 40 a year
				- Stewardship - Financial situation improved through 
				  eliminating programs that do not contribute to the 
				- Strengthened unity - Natural result of well 
				   understood and practiced process
		2.  Church in Miami - Outside Bible belt, city, in multi-cultural area
			a.  Clarity 
				-  4 things - "Intimate relationship with God, 
					Community with Others, 
					Serving nonbelievers, 
					Influencing nonbelievers. "
				- Formed a statement:  "Connect with God, others, ministry, & the lost"
				- Process takes center stage at leadership meetings
				- Preached with clarity and conviction from pulpit
				- It is on printed material, like the bulletin
			b. Movement - Process reflected in weekly programming
				- Organized programs around the process, and put 
				  them in sequential order around it
					1) Connect to God - Weekend worship service
					2) Connect to Others - Small Groups
					3) Connect to Ministry - Ministry Teams
					4) Connect to the Lost - Not a program, but a 
					     relational lifestyle, it is people.
				- People are challenged to do these
				- Expectation communicated clearly at new member's 
			c.  Alignment
				- Children's Middle School, High School, and Young 
				   Adult all have the same process
				- Age appropriate activities for each
			d.  Focus - 
				- Was Difficult, eliminated programs that did not fit to 
				   maximize the impact of the process…
				- Because did not add value to the process
				- Because they actually COMPETED with the 
				   process - people didn't have time to do it all
				- Over 2 yr period, Evening worship eliminated
				- Home groups, Sunday school, Wednesday night discipleship 
				  groups combined into ONE small group strategy - Made it 
				  easier for people to move through the process, challenged 
				  to come to one worship service and one small group a week
		3.  A Church in Alpharetta, GA - Began as a simple church
			a.  Founding minister began with a commitment to simplicity
			b.  Believes that ministry naturally drifts towards the complex 
			     and that complexity dilutes your impact
			c.  Clarity - Call it "Foyer to the Kitchen"
				- Foyer is where welcome guests in a home (Worship)
				- Living Room - Relationships are built (Group Link)
				- Kitchen - Where most intimate conversations occur - 
				   deepest level of commitment (Small Groups)
			d.  Movement
				- Resist the word, "program" and uses words like  
				   "steps" or "environments" instead
				- This communicates movement
				- Members challenged to bring others through the 
				   same process
			e.  Alignment - Every department has the same goal, to 
			      move to the kitchen
			f.  Focus 
				- Do everything well because they have chosen only 
				   to do a few things
				- Refuse to add programs or events that distract from 
				   the process
				- Commitment to stay simple
	C.  What these churches had in common was a commitment to simplicity
		1.  Leaders knew the process and could communicate it
			a.  Found that leaders were not all-star gifted people
			b.  More important that they agreed with the simple process
			c.  Leaders had shared understanding of the simple process
			d.  Leaders motivate people to move through the process
		2.  Congregation knew the process and could communicate it
			a.  From they day they became a part of the congregation
			b.  They know, participate in, and believe in the process
			c.  Can communicate and encourage others to move through 
			     the process
		3.  Results
			a.  Explosive growth, most of it conversion growth
			b.  Ongoing process of transforming lives
	D.  So on a religious level, it delivers a greater impact

III.  On a Biblical Level
	A.  Greatest person who ever lives knows simple - Jesus
		1.  Go deeper than just "it works"
		2.  Is there a biblical basis?  Yes, in the life of Christ…
	B.  Look at what Jesus did
		1.  Simplified a complex religious landscape
			a.  Cluttered with Sadducees, Pharisess, Herodians, Zealots, 
			     Essenes, and the Am-Ha-Aretz (everyone else)
			b.  A complex religious system 
				- Identified 613 laws
				- Chose number 613 because it was the number of 
				   letters in the Ten Commandments
				- Divide into 248 Affirmative Commands, 365 negative
				- Then there was the tradition of the scribes - Needed 
				   a PhD. in law for this
			c.  The system of Christ (context - Jews trying to trap Jesus)
				- First the Pharisee's disciples and Herodians, then 
				  Sadducees, and now a scribe/lawyer
				- Q:  What is the greatest commandment?
				- No long commentary, traditions, hair-splitting, etc.
			d. (Mt 22:37-40) Simplified the Law! 
				- Didn't lower the standard
				- Captured the essence and spirit of the law 
				- Summed up 613 commands into TWO!
		2.  Cleared out religious clutter in the temple - Mk 11:15f
			a.  I don't know if we can truly appreciate the "atmosphere"
				1) Visitor might say, "Wow, look at this place!"
				2)  Temple has grown into a HUGE complex of 										      porches, courts, rooms, multiple entrances
				3) The temple is overlaid with gold - Impressive
				4) All kinds of activity going on in the temple precinct
					- Filled with people doing various things
					- Buying, selling, money trading, animals
					- It was a "hub" in the city
			b.  Jesus was angry when he saw what was happening
				1) John said he made a scourge, or whip
				2) He overturned tables and drove people out
				3) Picture the scene
			c.  All kinds of "clutter" 
				1) Exploitation, Mk 11:17 - Jesus called den of thieves
					- People needed temple money to buy 
					   approved animals to offer
					- Merchants jacked up prices 
				2)  Marketplace
					- Jn 2:16 - Said "Stop making my Father's 
					  house a place of business"
					- Originally this was done on the outside
					- New Testament times, it moved into the 
					   temple precinct
					- It would be like turning the church building 
					   into a Mall, yet still a church
				3)  Shortcut
					- Shortest route from point A to point B often 
					  through the temple precinct
					- Mk 11:16 - He would not allow any vessel 
					  "through" the temple
					- Imagine him standing there with his whip
			d.  Why such an extreme reaction?
				1) All of this clutter obscured God's "house of prayer"
				2) Compare this to the "simple" tabernacle made 
				     according to God's instructions
				3) The Temple "complex" was enlarged by Herod, not 
				     because God said to
				4) Impressive to the human eye, but only clutter in God's eyes
	C.  The result of religious clutter, Mt 23 - Beautiful Coffins
		1.  Jesus confronted the religious leaders with the complex array of 
		     religious rules and traditions
			a.  Religious leaders involved in all kinds of religious activity
				- They earned title "Rabbi" which means "great one"
				- They said long prayers
				- They traveled great distances to make converts
				- They tithed EVERYTHING accurately
			b.  They earned PhD's in Jewish religion
			c.  They looked good, they looked sharp to people
			d.  They outshined the common people
		2.  Jesus said they were like whitewashed tombs
			a.  Looked good on the outside
			b.  But it was empty and devoid of life on the inside
			c.  What they needed was inner transformation
			d.  Religious clutter not substitute for real transformation
	D.  Never let religious clutter substitute for transformation and ministry
		1.  We can be involved in all kinds of activity
			a.  Activity does not necessarily mean Ministry is happening
			b.  Activity does not meant Life Transformation is happening
		2.  If activity is not part of the purpose and process, it is clutter
		3.  Mt 11:28-30 - His yoke is easy and his burden is light
			a.  He didn't make it so hard that you need a graduate 
			     theology degree to figure it out
			b.  Christianity not for scholars, theologians, but for all

1.  K.I.S.S.
	a.  Have sent the power of simplicity in business
	b.  Have seen simplicity at work in churches
	c.  Have seen Jesus himself demonstrate the power of simplicity 
2.  When our process is simple, it maximizes our resources
	a.  If process is complex, dilutes resources and minimizes effectiveness
	b.  If process is simple, it concentrates our resources and maximize 
3.  Interesting - Simplicity is considered a classical spiritual discipline
	a.  Clutter in a person's life competes with spiritual growth
	b.  Simplicity focuses and maximized transformation and personal growth
4. So, simplicity is a matter of stewardship - Being good managers of God's 
	a.  Will find we are not short on resources
	b.  God provides what we need, we need to learn to manage it wisely
5.  Not saying huge problem with clutter & overabundance of unproductive 
	a.  But, path of least resistance in ministry and church is to complexity
	b.  Tempting to move toward complexity and clutter
	c.  Clutter and complexity look impressive, but counterproductive in the 
  	     long run
	d.  Need to start with the simple process and build ministries around the 
6.  Goals
	a.  Avoid wasting resources on clutter
	b.  Shared understanding of overall process of spiritual growth and 
		- It will move people toward greater levels of commitment
		- It will promote real life transformation
	c.  All ministries will fit into the process
	d.  What is involved in simple:
		- Clarity - A clear understanding of the process
		- Movement - Transitioning people through the process
		- Alignment - Building ministries around the process
		- Focus - Eliminating what does not fit into the process
7.  Simple Gospel (invitation)

Small Group Notes:  Introduction to Simplicity

Summary:  Our world and lives has become increasingly complex.  Complexity often looks 
good and impressive, especially in mega-churches with a full variety menu of options.  
However, complexity leads to ministry clutter, which often does not contribute directly to the 
mission of God.  In contrast, God's message of the Gospel remains a simple message with 
a simple process.  God likes simplicity, which is why Jesus preached a simple message with 
power and had a simple process that had power.  We need a simple and fully integrated 
process of discipleship that is clear and moves people toward spiritual maturity.  It is not 

- How have you seen people respond positively to simple?

 (Mt 11:28-30; 22:37-40)

1.  How did Jesus simplify the law that many scribes and Pharisees made so complex?  How 
did this affect the religious elite?  How did it affect the common person?  

2.  Thought question:  Why did Jesus simplify things?


3.  Why is it so hard to see the big picture in ministry?

4.  What do you think is required to design a process for church ministry

5.  Describe the concept of a "process."  Why is this important in ministry?

6.  How can a ministry process help eliminate clutter?  Promote Unity?  Maximize effectiveness?


7.  Is our church simple or complex?  Why?

8.  Do we have a simple ministry process?  If so, is it clear?  Does it move people toward greater 
levels of commitment?

9.  Is our process (if we have one) implemented in all areas of ministry in every department?  Are 
we all aligned around the same process?

10.  Reflect on ways that a simple, clear process and alignment to it might aid us in our mission.

(Pray that God moves us toward a shared understanding of both our mission and the process 
of carrying out the mission)