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

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  2,176 ratings  ·  200 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
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
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
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-
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.
This book revolutionized my view of church ministry! Loved it! A must for every pastor!
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
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
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
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
The gist of the Process Design Survey results has been assimilated in such a way that Rainer and Geiger were able to deduce the element common in every healthy church. They call this a “ministry process” (91). This process is what the weight of the book is centered around. A better explanation of what a ministry process is, and a succinct summary of the entire book’s thesis, can be found in chapter three.
A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people
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.
Rob O'Lynn
I am a simple guy and I prefer to lead from a simple fashion. Therefore I loved Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. Their research is solid and covered a spectrum of congregation dynamics. And while some of the statistical findings may go over the reader's head, the practical applications that came from the findings does not. This is useful stuff that can take a stagnant, struggling congregation and transform it into a growing, thriving congregation. Will the process be easy? Absolutel ...more
Cliff Harrison
Although this book is about restructuring churches to make them less complicated and easier for people to navigate its premise can work for any business.

The book has many poor reviews, but I don't think they are all warranted.

The book speaks about keeping it simple. Rather we are organizing a church, business or our private lives.

As we progress in time and become more advanced we are provided with tools, systems and logistics that ought to be making our lives easier, not harder. In every case,
Jan 14, 2015 Bob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Simple Church winds you through the different threads of leadership and discipleship. I learned there is a correlation between the two. One of the greatest challenges of discipleship, from my perspective, is how to balance experienced Christians with a structured discipleship ministry. My unanswered question is how do you encourage discipleship uniformly across the church if not fully sponsored, echoed, by lay leaders? Clearly discipleship is transforming individuals in their life and faith jour ...more
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
Kevin Driskill
I enjoyed this book much more when I learned how it should be read. There is an essential core truth in the book that is a must read for every minister. The fact that is so significant and relevant is supported by exhaustive statistical analysis; or rather exhausting statistical analysis. So many studies were given that I began to recognize the lead-in statement to the percentage of these that did this as apposed to those that did that (to the third decimal point).
As much as I love a good graph
This is an excellent book to help organize churches around an intentional discipleship strategy - Clarity. Alignment. Movement. Focus. All ministry leaders should read it and then defone and align their efforts based on it's conclusions. (Critically, at times it was sloppy in it's use of Scripture - they should have just stuck to their research methodology instead of trying to make Scripture "jive" with their research results. It was also a little repetitive and a little illustration-heavy.) Gre ...more
The most helpful part of this book is the research-- the stats revealing the dramatic need for a Simple plan of church organization. I trust other readers will use this as supplemental material to their own Biblically based model of church shepherding and pastoral care. Without a firm grasp of one's own ecclesiology, the simple approach runs the risk of building just another Big Box Church that excels at efficiency but fails in caring for the sheep.I might recommend "From Embers to A Flame" as a ...more
Jason Johnson
Fantastic! A definite must-read.
The subtitle of the book is "Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples," but there was very little said about how God makes disciples (i.e., the Means of Grace). The focus was essentially on man's efforts to refine and streamline the Great Commission. A very pragmatic approach to ecclesiology, typical of North-American Christianity. There were good reminders to not overwhelm the members of a congregation with too many programs and unnecessary organizations. And I appreciated the authors' r ...more
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
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
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
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
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Is your church implementing "simple"? 2 19 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
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“Research shows that when you receive frequent interruptions while working on a task, your performance drops the equivalent of ten IQ points. In other words, when you multi-task you are ten points dumber on the core task than you are if you just focused on the core task. Some of us cannot afford to multi-task.1” 1 likes
“Alinearse con el proceso significa que todos los departamentos ministeriales sc someten y se ajustan al mismo proceso global.” 0 likes
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