Sunday, May 8

Keeping the main things simple

We believe disciples are followers of Jesus who obey the commands of Christ. The core of "teaching them to obey all that I commanded you" is the keeping of the "Ten Commandments of Jesus Christ." We believe this is where we must start in making disciples. Teach them to observe (obey) those things Jesus thought were most important.

What often gets taught first is a lot of secondary stuff. How Christians should act, where they should go on Sundays, and a long list of do's and don'ts. Many of these things are important, but they aren't more important that what Jesus himself commanded. Living out daily what Christ taught defines those who claim to be his followers.
It is only when we obey God's laws that we can be quite sure that we really know Him. The man who claims to know God but does not obey His laws is not only a liar, he lives in self-delusion. In practice, the more a man learns to obey God's laws,the more truly and fully does he express his love for Him. Obedience is the test of whether we really live "in God" or not. The life of a man who professes to be living in God must bear the stamp of Christ.  (I John 2:3-6 JBP)
Jesus himself stated that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. The second is similar to the first: to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we add the commands in the Great Commission to those in the Great Commandment we get:

Love God
Love others
Make disciples

Pretty simple. I can think of no better starting place to work with new believers than with these three commandments. If you get these right, everything else falls into place. There is enough in these six words to keep us busy with a lifetime of learning and ministry.

But why don't we focus on these essentials? What distracts us from living out these three? Why do we so easily lose our focus and get off on so many other secondary matters?

I believe for all our talk about simplicity, we continue to live as if "more is more" rather than "less is more." If what we do is too simple, we will look dumb. So we complicate the simple and hope everyone will see how smart we are by adding on all kinds of extras and non-essentials. Does this remind anyone of the Pharisees?

Simple in no way means "easy to accomplish," but it does mean uncomplicated. We have complicated that which was meant to be simple to the point that few truly practice in their daily lives those things Jesus commanded.

I recently posted Roy McClung's How to explain simple/organic church in 2-minutes on a napkin. In this short video Roy does a great job illustrating how we have taken something quite simple and morphed it into something quite different than originally intended.

Neil Cole expresses it this way,
"Simple is transferable; complex breaks down...Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the trasference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the process, the more available it is to the broader Christian populace."
I vote for getting back to basics. Simplify the process. Teach the Great Commandment and the Great Commission until our disciples are obeying these commands. If we aren't even keeping the basic ABC's of the Christian faith, how dare we attempt to pontificate on the QRS's?


Anonymous said...


Life is complicated enough and we all need to make sure that we do not add the weight of Pharisees to our shoulders but rather take on the yoke of Jesus.


Alan said...

The older I get, the desire for simplicity increases. The important or main things must be simplified in order to make them easier to pass on to others.
Great post!

Tim Patterson said...

"Simple is transferable; complex breaks down...Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the trasference to the next generation of disciples."

That says it right there, great quote. So challenging for us to keep it simple and thus reproducible so we can get to multiplying generations.

GuyMuse said...


A couple of my favorite Reggie McNeal quotes:

The church in North America is not like the Pharisees--we are the Pharisees, and Jesus does not like Pharisees.

The Pharisees clumped together and built a parallel culture--refuge theology is Pharisaical. When dealing with Pharisaism, we are dealing with a religion that has nothing to do with Jesus. They have a heart for religion, but not a heart for God.

GuyMuse said...


Same here. The older I get the more I crave simplicity and less clutter.


I agree. Neil Cole is right on with this quote. It is a lesson that constantly challenges us in our work and ministry.

Bobby and Ruth said...


I think discussion concerning the "Simple Church" is very interesting. I've heard quite a bit from some proponents that rejects Church Leadership and desires to be led by the Holy Spirit alone. I find this view to be unorthodox. I do believe in congregational church polity. The leaders do not hold all power nor do they make all decisions; however, I do not believe that any member of the congregation has the "right" to teach & lead the church.

I'm not saying that you have promoted these aspects of "Simple Church", I'm only saying that I have heard and read these views of Simple Church and I do not agree.

It's a no brainer how many "traditional churches" have convoluted the life of the church with their programs and lack of attention concerning the basic fundamentals like gathering for prayer, fasting, sacrificing for one another, evangelizing the lost as to participate in kingdom building and not becoming introverted and constructing for yourselves an earthly kingdom. Just take a look at the weekly bulletins of traditional churches. There lies the evidence of where there focus is.

Keep up the discussion. I earnestly desire to fulfill Scripture and I think others are well intended to do the same from both opposing camps (Simple/Traditional), but I believe that a grammatical/historical interpretation of the Scriptures can serve both equally well.