Growth is exciting- it means more people are showing up week after week and are being reached! The other side that no one wants to happen is that complexity begins to creep in because it’s a natural byproduct of growth. Some leaders know the root issue of the “what do we do now?” confusion is complexity, while others feel the issues but can’t quite diagnose or even put a finger on them. Either way, being familiar with the symptoms of complexity will only mean you’re better prepared to lead the way through it.
Look for these warning flags from the trusted resource, Fight for Simplicity as Your Church Grows, to battle church growth complexities:
- Overwhelmed: Complexity is overwhelming. Your congregation doesn’t know what to do next. The staff can’t keep up with everything. Your community is confused. Replace complexity with simplicity and you create more space for people to hear the Bible taught.
- Lack of Focus: Simplicity is the result of discipline and focus. The more you fight for simplicity, the more focused your church becomes. As a result, you discover new opportunities to reach people.
- Resisting necessary cuts: Companies know the larger they get, the simpler they must be. Simplicity requires a willingness to cut out things outside the mission. This is how you set the stage for future growth.
Simplifying means making it easy to understand. For some reason, we want to pull off an extraordinary dog and pony show complete with three rings full of fireworks, cracker jacks, and trapeze artists. Let’s break this down a bit more: Remember when VBS was simple?
Remember when you attended VBS and it was full of goldfish crackers reminding us to be “fishers of men” and you made a simple craft in your familiar Sunday School room that looked the same each week? We participated in VBS for years with our children, and the culture at the church we were active in and attending was like “decor on steroids” and this was before the days of Pinterest! Before I knew it, I had my husband crafting a volcano from chicken wire and rolls of shaded and even burnt edges paper with flames that looked like they were lit and you could almost feel the 3D heat from the eruption in the corner of the room while I was making cherry blossom trees and origami cranes.
It was fun (and exhausting if I’m honest and VBS hadn’t even started!), and it was definitely a showstopper as kids were waiting to have their pictures taken with our volcano all week and there were “dibs” on who could take home the cherry blossom tree. Ask me the theme for the week- yeah, I taught the class and I’m drawing a blank and sadly I wonder what resonated more with the children? So what did I take away from this as the goal ultimately is to keep our youth interested in church: Keep it fun and simple. Let’s embrace the fact that our mission message can be engaging with simplicity.
Let’s be realistic: Church growth is a blessing and a curse. The blessings of more visitors, new members, and even expanding budgets are an obvious plus to every congregation, but what about the impending strain on the facilities and resources, along with the heavy workload for staff and, not to mention, the already overtaxed volunteers? Growth always comes at a cost and with complexities. Before congregants return to church this fall and for the holidays, go ahead and take a look at the above warning flags. If you identify that one out of three or three out of three are present- great! This means you’re growing and taking a closer look at how to grow even better and with intention. Simplification doesn’t mean you don’t care, in fact it’s the opposite! We care enough to step back and make sure that our message is clear so we can be the hands and feet of Christ to minister to each other and our community.
Keeping it simple goes against what we think is best, I get it. I’m often reminded that when our Creator made the earth, moon and stars, and even man, He said, “It was good.” In a day where “good” might be considered “okay” but we still try to up the game and use words like great, awesome, terrific, etc. let’s pause and remember the powerful (yet simplistic) nature of the word “good” that our Lord said in recognition of His beautiful creation. My prayer is that you allow this scripture from Psalm 84:11, to encourage, fill and motivate you as your church expands and you resolve to fight for simplicity, focus, and future growth: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Simplicity is a never-ending responsibility, especially for growing churches. It must stay as a top priority, though. When it does, your church is ready to reach more people. Our newest resource, Fight for Simplicity as Your Church Grows, eliminates this frustration for you, your staff, and your church along with the other guides in the Know and Grow: Solutions to Large Church Problems. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!
Pattie plays an integral role in key areas across ACS Technologies, including project management, business partnerships, operational excellence, and more. Pattie joined ACS Technologies in 1995. Before that, she worked in advertising and brand management leadership with Procter & Gamble. She also worked with Koinonia Partners, the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity. Pattie attends St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Florence, SC.