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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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,950 Ratings  ·  250 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 Books (first published May 31st 2006)
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Aug 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-church
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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-
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book revolutionized my view of church ministry! Loved it! A must for every pastor!
Matthew 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
Michael Boutot
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
While the book had good and valid points, I feel it could have been much shorter as there was lots of repetition. I also believe they gave no attention to other issues that I think have damaged the church, such as an increased focus on music and decreased emphasis on expository preaching.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Annie Rose
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had a difficult time deciding how to rate this book. I think the basic idea presented (focus your church's ministry on the process of spiritual growth and get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit that focus) is fantastic and could help most churches if properly understood and applied. However, the writing is at times painfully repetitive (you can tell it was cowritten by two preachers!), and the book would've been just as good at 50 or 75% the length.

More substantively, it bothered me that the a
May 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Micah Lugg
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Matt Kottman
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is in some ways highlighting the obvious and in others unveiling what we miss in all the clutter.

They define a simple church this way: A simple church is a congregation 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 its execution. The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment). The
Aug 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
May 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
David Gregg
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Jason Johnson
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! A definite must-read.
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
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Vincent Ng
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Book was fairly straight to the point emphasizing the need for many churches to simplify their processes through clarity, movement towards a direction, aligning different processes, and focusing through eliminating and limiting. The book would be helpful for churches that may seem like they are all over the place with regards to the different ministries that are offered. I personally thought that the content of the book could have easily been condensed from it's near 250 pages, and that greater ...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
Sam B
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely phenomenal. We've allowed church to get so convoluted and so far from what it was ever intended to be or to do; this book does an excellent job of both highlighting these shortcomings and proposing amendments to rectify our mistakes. Don't think this is just for pastors and skip it - anyone involved in a church should read this.
Terry Cheek
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book takes a sobering and much needed look into how we function as a church. The book context reveals a great deal beyond the page by page text. Simple church is an excellent review process for any pastor to read and evaluate in perspective of his current service. I highly recommend it!
Brian Nicks
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book on the simplicity of doing church well. Ultimately it comes down to the process of making disciples - simple (Love God, Love others, Serve The Lord), or complex (create programs for every conceivable type of person in your church to try to draw as many people as possible to church on any given day). Simple works.
Colin Adams
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The basic premise of this book - the need to simplify - is a welcome one. For the church that has become cluttered with countless programmes, this is a necessary read. However, the Trellis and the Vine is the same genre, and a better book in my opinion.
John Wright
May 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I liked the idea (actually I still do) and had relatively high hopes, but it turned out not to be all that practical or well-written. It got repetitive, and I had to just put it away.
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The writers have arrived at a thesis which is fitting for the title of their book. In this book they will argue that healthy churches are churches that clearly understand their purpose of making disciples and then intentionally move their people through a simple process designed to accomplish that goal (ix). Almost immediately the reader is discouraged from looking at this thesis as a new set of programs or new agenda items that need to be done (3). The reader is instead urged to see that the so ...more
James Scott
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and clear teaching on a way to run a church that serves God, but achieves focus in growth
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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Is your church implementing "simple"? 2 20 Apr 06, 2012 03:08PM  
  • Sticky Church
  • Transformational Church
  • The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church
  • Seven Practices of Effective Ministry (North Point Resources)
  • It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It
  • Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth
  • Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church
  • Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement
  • Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church
  • Courageous Leadership
  • Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City
  • Leaders Who Last
  • The Externally Focused Church
  • The Church of Irresistible Influence: Bridge-Building Stories to Help Reach Your Community
  • The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God's Eyes
  • The Trellis And The Vine
  • Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time
  • Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry
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
“Our wives and the Holy Spirit have a lot in common. It is not enough for our wives to move into a home. That is only the beginning. Redecorating is a must. And this is not a one-time redecorating. It keeps going and going. The same is true with the Holy Spirit. Continual work is inevitable. It is never done. It is a lifelong process.” 0 likes
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