Simple Church is a book written by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger. It is also the name for a task force at Our Shepherd that met over the last couple of years. This group worked hard to develop our congregation's new DNA statement, refine our core values, and help shape our new logo.
DNA of our Congregation - Gather, Nurture, Serve
During the summer of 2018 the Simple Church Task Force helped our congregation launch our DNA statement, "Our Shepherd gathers, nurtures, and serves because Jesus loves." The fall 2018 sermon series and small group emphasis introduced the congregation to the purpose of our congregation present in the words of Gather, Nurture, and Serve. These words illustrate not only the purpose, but the DNA statement also carries in its words the process by which we trust God will work through us to accomplish His purposes.
God gathers us to Himself and His people in worship. God nurtures us together in His Word as we do life together. We serve Christ with our words and actions in the world.
Gather • Nurture • Serve
These three simple words represent the DNA of our congregation. As God works among us and in our community we find ourselves living our faith in the world. No more waiting or observing as an audience in this world. God gathers us by the Word and Sacraments to His work in the world.
I enjoy trusting God to be at work and discovering how He calls us all to be partners with Him.
Clarity > Movement > Alignment > Focus
Simple Church in our congregation continues as the clarity of process moves forward into our ministry. We agree on the what and how of our congregation. Developing the DNA statement and narrowing our minds to the simple and necessary purpose and process of our congregation is the fulfillment of the clarity step in the four steps of Simple Church.
We still want to figure out how to measure gather, nurture, and serve so that we can evaluate where we have strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and external threats.
"Movement is the sequential steps in the process that causes people to move to greater areas of commitment." (Simple Church p. 139)
We are working on the strategic programming in our congregation. Through gather, nurture, and serve people live their faith in the world. Strategic, sequential, intentional, and clear steps provide an opportunity for the people of God at Our Shepherd to see how they called by God to participate in the Mission of God.
Each regular event of our congregation provides people an entry into our life as the people of God, an opportunity to take the next steps in living out their vocation, and help people answer the question, "Now what?"
Each special event is an opportunity for people to transition from where they are at in their relationship with God and His people toward the next opportunity to gather, nurture, and serve. I desire us to plan and implement at every event invitations for people to bridge toward more fully gathering to God's Word, nurturing life together through God's Word, and serving God with our words and works in this world.
"If you want to maximize everyone's energy you must recruit on the process, offer accountability, implement the same process everywhere, unite leaders around the process."
How do we do that?
General Managers of professional sports teams at draft time have to determine if they will select the best player on the board or select the player that best fits the teams needs. In the church we trust every baptized person is a part of the body of Christ. We also trust that each person is a different member of the body. We have different gifts. As our logo and process is implemented, understanding is increased and unity is promoted.
Our church staff is held accountable for how gather, nurture, and serve is implemented. We are developing wildly important goals that are measurable on what we can do. We trust God places us into these moments to give glory to His name. We develop our goals inside the buckets of gather, nurture, and serve. Our goals are connected to how people will move through these steps towards faithfully living our faith in Christ in the world.
We should be prepared to answer these three questions:
- Are more of us being gathered in worship and prayer?
- Are more members of our congregation finding their lives nurtured in the Word as we do life together?
- Are more of us serving God with our words and works by serving one another, the community, and the world?
These three questions will help bring alignment toward gather, nurture, and serve.
"Focus is the commitment to abandon everything that falls outside of the simple ministry process." (Simple Church, page 203).
The art of eliminating nonessential activities that do not support the process of the Mission of God will provide greater energy in the congregation to do the things that really matter.
We must be careful not to add simply so that we appear busy. Busyness is not equal to productive. Dr. James Dobson points out that "overcommitment and exhaustion are the most insidious and pervasive marriage killers you will ever encounter as a couple." His words are not only trust about marriage but also are trust about our relationship to a congregation.
We want the next steps in our congregation to be simple to understand.
If every event and program develops and defines the strategic transitions that are possible for someone that participates, then we will have focus on what God does amongst us. Understanding the transitions in ministry that build people up in the promises of Christ will help us not to have zombie programs. Zombie programs or events are those things that happen because we have always done them, but they don't actually have a connection to the purpose of our congregation.
Clarity > Movement > Alignment > Focus