Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples
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Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  1,444 ratings  ·  161 reviews
The simple revolution is here. From the iPod design to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world.

Multi-awarded #1 national bestseller Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. Based on case studies of 400 American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by B&H Books (first published May 31st 2006)
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While I appreciate the concept of the book, it is self-defeating in its length. The heart of the message of Simple Church is to clarify, move, align, and focus on what discipleship at your church looks like. This book could have been a pamphlet.

I read the whole first chapter. I skipped a few sentences in the 2nd chapter. I skipped paragraphs in the 3rd. And I only read bold headlines for the rest of the book.

It was dry and exhaustive. Most of the sentences were written (I guess) in a way to driv...more
Do we need another stat-filled book offering churches another way to organize themselves in order to maximize their effectiveness, reach more people, heighten fellowship, stir excitement, encourage evangelism, and all the rest? It would be nice if we had no use for such works; but the fact is, we do. Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger have collaborated to bring to us a work that is by no means earth-shattering, yet is somehow hitting a note that many of us miss. I’m not a big fan of the Church Growth...more
PM Richard
Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger’s book attempts to persuade the reader to contemplate church as “simple.” With the plethora of mission, vision, and strategic statements, the church leadership as well as the average parishioner can easily get lost in various messages in the church. Appealing to Apple Computer’s simplistic approach, Rainer and Geiger share that “simple” is not only “in,” they also show that this approach is effective. With research from various churches Rainer and Geiger propose that...more
This book reaches the right conclusions (mostly) but instead of getting there from a biblical/exegetical basis, they do so on the basis of extensive research. This is interesting as a secondary source but I'd suggest starting with "The Trellis and the Vine" first. Frankly, I didn't really enjoy this. I'd rather be motivated to follow a discipleship pattern from Scripture than research. It feels like this is the evangelical answer to Jim Collins "Good to Great". The problem is that the church is...more
The premise of this book is sound, and certainly one that all church leaders (clergy and laypeople alike) need to hear . . . that for your church to be healthy, it needs to be specifically and consciously organized around a simple process that moves people further and further along their walk with God.

Support for the premise is, again and again, shown in the empirical results of the authors' research. While the results aren't always as immediately persuasive as the text implies, simple, process-...more
This book could have been a fourth as long and still just as effective because the message is very simple; every church should give some thought to a clearly defined and Christ-centered process of discipleship. When a person comes into the church as a newcomer/guest, they should be able to figure out where the entry point into the church family is. At our church this first step is attending the worship service in order to "come and see" God at work. Whatever the next few steps are (small groups,...more
Micah Lugg
Although the book is not exegetically based, it does provide some extremely helpful observations on the success of disciple-making churches today.

The basic premise is that if you want to create a disciple-making culture in your church, then you need to simplify the process. If you do this, there is the potential, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for it to catch like wildfire. Most of the holdup in many churches in America stems from the complexity and isolation of the ministries within a c...more
the idea is simple enough, and there wasn't much profound here. But it's one of those books where you're just so glad that someone else is actually saying what you've always kinda thought.

The whole idea is that complex, cluttered churches are less effective (demonstrated through research) than simple churches.

The concept is so alluring, so exciting, that the church can be VERY effective while at the same time being VERY simple... but I found the actual application to be kind of deflating. They t...more
Blech! Yuck! I did NOT like this book. I am reading it because our pastor experienced an epiphany as a result of reading it and has made a lot of changes in our church, running rough-shod over existing structure and programming. This book is one of the current church-as-business genre, where strategies for growth are posited as ways to build the church. But where is God in all of this? If we were really living the way He wants us to, and trusting in Him for results, we'd see far more things happ...more
This is a great book! It's not all the time that you can read a "churchy" book and find processes and concepts that you start applying to work and home as well! Lots of interesting data and lots of personal stories from two guys who really seem to understand the simple message Jesus brought -
Love God | Love People | Serve the World

Read it and give it to everyone on staff, leadership or ministry in your church... then be patient when it takes a while to make it all come together!
Rainer and Geiger conducted a study on church health... this is their book about that study. The sum of the study: less is more when it comes to church programs. There are some good nuggets in here, but the book as a whole is weakened by the lack of theological insight Rainer and Geiger bring to the table. For them health and growth are synonymous. I wouldn't argue growth is a helpful indicator of health, but it's certainly not the only indicator, and all growth isn't good growth.
Read with caution. This book will not just be another church leader or methodology book, it will challenge you to reconsider how and what you do at churches period. 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. Great read, great for leadership discussion.
David Gregg
A good book to read for pastors or church planters in institutional churches. It is a good book for solid organizational wisdom, if you're into that kind of thing. ;) It applies to non-profits and businesses.
Jeni Enjaian
It's hard to review a book directed at an audience of which you are not really a part. I think this book is directed more towards church leaders. I am not one.
That being said...
The dense text (including copious graphs in the later chapters) do not jive with the books title and premise/theme of "simple" or "simple is best." The authors also fill most of the text with anecdotes (like sermon illustrations) that overstay their welcome with length and appropriateness to the main point. It also is no...more
This book revolutionized my view of church ministry! Loved it! A must for every pastor!
Jason Johnson
Fantastic! A definite must-read.
I read this book every couple of years just to remind myself that when it comes to being an effective church, less is more.

Some of my favorite thoughts are:

"Simple is in. People are hungry for simple because the world has become much more complex."

"There is a big difference between simple and easy. Simple is basic, uncomplicated, and fundamental. Easy is effortless."

"Jesus has the ability to take the complex and make it simple."

"Many of our churches have become cluttered. So cluttered that peop...more
Mike Becher
Fantastic book on creating a sustainable approach to ministry in any church. Most of the reviews that criticize the book make me chuckle a little (ok... a lot). It seems that most people accuse the authors of missing a deeper point, or not using scriptural references enough. Another major accusation is that they seem to suggest that a "simple approach" trumps the work of the Holy Spirit. Let me cure your fears going into this (if you have any) by saying that there were specific things that the a...more
A key paragraph of the book summarizes the intent of the authors,

“A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it. The process flows logically (movement) and it’s implemented in each area of the church (alignment). The church abandons everything that is not in the process (flow).”

I am not particularly drawn to...more
Peter Coleman
“Does it fall within the domain of prescription for the first-person subject to analyze the relationship of similitude of the second-person object to a period of solar illumination occurring during a season between a solstice and the autumnal equinox?” In the linguistic sense of referential meaning, that sentence is poetry. It asks nothing different in referential meaning than Shakespeare’s line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” The second line, however, has a certain elegance and beaut...more
Chris Mclain
Rainer and Geiger have conducted research on and put on paper what so many of us in ministry have known to be true for years: Most churches are trying to do far too much and are doing almost none of it well in the process. They advocate for simplicity for 250 pages. Honestly, I picked it up in the first few chapters, and certainly the second half of the book was superfluous in some ways. My biggest criticism of the work is it's repetitiveness. Simple, simple, simple, I get it.

But there is anoth...more
Not so much a review, but some noted I jotted down as I read.

Problems in the church today:
• Churches look like Mr. potato head – ministries attached here and there in an awkward way. (p.183).
• Churches have breadth (many programs) but no depth. Super sized churches. Fast food spirituality. (p. 199)
• Too many programs lead to mediocrity. (p. 208).
• Church leadership tends towards extremes: micromanagement or neglect. (p. 175)
• Churches start out unified and simple, but quickly experience miss...more
Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger���s book attempts to persuade the reader to contemplate church as ���simple.��� With the plethora of mission, vision, and strategic statements, the church leadership as well as the average parishioner can easily get lost in various messages in the church. Appealing to Apple Computer���s simplistic approach, Rainer and Geiger share that ���simple��� is not only ���in,��� they also show that this approach is effective. With research from various churches Rainer and Geig...more
Steve Miller
The overall information of the book is good. Churches should keep things simple. The authors produce empirical data to back up their claims. I found the metric for evaluating a healthy church particularly helpful.

I struggled with the semantics. In one case, the authors say that they want to see "movement" from one level of commitment to another. The starting place for this movement is Sunday morning. They want to see people move into small groups. But such movement implies that people move out o...more
These guys have some good principles from which to work. It is a worthwile read. I borrowed it from one of my three "goodreads" friends because a local church seems to have bought into it and is using it to justify some changes they are making. I wanted to see what it was about.

The authors want us to focus on the process of making disciples, establish a three or four step process, and build everything around that process. They push for everything the church does to be a part of that "simple" pro...more
Elliot Lund
I think every forward looking church leader—myself included—longs for the clarity, movement, alignment, and focus that this book talks about. I would love to work at a place like "Cross Church". At times while reading I found myself wanting to get up and pace around, yelling "yes, yes!" because it was so invigorating to see a roadmap outlined between a point 'A' that I'm so familiar with and a point 'B' that I'd be so excited to reach.

I was left with a few burning question as I closed the book t...more
If you are reading or looking to read this book, you are either part of a church leadership team, part of a congregation where some of the strategies posited by the authors are being implemented or you are in seminary. I know that is somewhat narrow and not entirely accurate, but the focus of this book leads to those types of audiences being interested in the material.
The authors have done statistical work to back up their position that a "simple church" is more likely to be a growing church. Th...more
The great irony of this book, is that it is not written in a simple manner. It over-communicates the research data and fails to give good tangible examples in the “application” portion of the book. The first half of the book is definitely worth a read. Many churches are doing too much in this day and age. Attenders might be suffering from overload and burnout. The Simple Church model allows for a streamlined process that can improve moral, and clarity of vision.

The book is definitely an easy, bu...more
Greg Wilson
This book was originally published in 2006. This paperback edition has been updated with a new final chapter on what the authors have learned since the book was first released.

Many churches have “business meetings.” If the church was really a business what business is it in? If the business had a product, what would the product be? The church is in the disciple making business. Our product is a disciple. We want fully functioning followers of Christ. These followers or disciples aren’t made, the...more
Enjoyed this look at simplifying the church. Some of my favorite quotes include:
Are the people in his church being transformed? Is his church making real disciples, the kind of disciples Jesus made?
the overprogrammed & busy church is the norm. The simple church is the exception, ... that should not be the case
Like the homes on the television show, many churches need an extreme makeover.
In general, churches that are vibrant and growing are simple. The vibrant churches are much more simple tha...more
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Is your church implementing "simple"? 2 17 Apr 06, 2012 03:08PM  
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Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In a...more
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