Simplicity is simply stated less is more. Albert Einstein said, “Out of complexity, find simplicity.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be simple is to be great.” So much of life has become so complex, crowded, and cluttered that people are hungry for simple. Pick up an iPod; click on Google’s home page; scan the pages of Real Simple.
Jesus, also, was into simple. The religious leaders of his day, in contrast, were into complexity. They had developed a religious system with 613 laws, one for each letter in the text containing the Ten Commandments. In answer to the question, of all the 613 commandments, which is the greatest, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matt. 22:37-40 NIV). Jesus was not lowering the standard of the Law nor was he abolishing it. He simply captured the essence of it all in one statement. He summed up 613 commands in two. On another occasion, Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers. He was bothered by meaningless and distracting clutter. Jesus adamantly opposed anything that got in the way of people encountering him.
The reality is that many of our churches have become so complex and so cluttered that people have a difficult time of encountering the simple and powerful message of Jesus. Many people are busy doing church instead of being the church. Sometimes, I feel, that the clutter and complexity can often make things look okay, even good, when in reality the busyness is a great disguise for lack of life. Great amounts of activity do not produce life change. I believe that simple is best and less is more. The church needs an environment where life change is likely to occur with a simple process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. Imagine a church that is no longer busy but is alive with ministries and activities that move people to make a difference. Incidentally, a study on church growth was conducted that hypothesized that churches that offered more programs would grow more than churches that offered fewer programs. The research proved the opposite. Less programs means more focus, more excellence, more energy, more attention, and, ultimately, more impact on changing lives.
What are your thoughts? How has your church moved to a more simple structure?