Recently, I was asked to speak at a church. I already knew what I wanted to talk about when I was asked. I looked forward to the opportunity . . . except for the part where I had to sit down to do the ‘work’. Since I wanted the message to be simple, I ended up redrafting that message three times. I whittled a 45 minute message down to 25. Chopping it up was painful, but in the end it was well worth it. The congregation stayed with me the whole time and I believe God used my words to bring transformation to their lives. Simple. Hard. Worth it.
Perhaps one of our biggest mistakes when attempting to make ministry, leadership, relationships, or whatever, simple, is that we assume the process should be simple too. Not true. Most of the time, making something simple is complicated, time consuming and a lot of work. Most of us give up at the worst possible time, when it’s the most complicated. There’s a miserable valley we must walk all the way through before we arrive at the other side and our goal.
Despite the work, simple is better. A few more observations about simple.
People Remember Simple.
God gave us 5 fingers on each hand, not 8. I suspect He knew that most of us can only remember a few things at a time. If I ask you to remember 4 words, I suspect you can do it no problem; but 12? God gave us 10 commandments, but Jesus summed them up in 2 that any four year old could remember.
People Value Simple.
We live in the day of the ‘elevator speech’. If you can tell me what you want to say between the 1st and 12th floor, I’ll listen. If not, well, “Sorry. I need to get going.” We pay attention to simple and lose interest in complex. When you present me with simple, I’m impressed and know you cared enough to prepare.
People Do Simple.
Less is more. Give me 23 tasks and I’ll easily get locked up. I won’t know which ones to do and might just go find something else to do (like check Facebook). Give me 4 tasks and I feel empowered to get things done. Simple helps me focus and motivates me to action.
- Your congregation and community don’t want 8 announcements that last fifteen minutes; they want 2 announcements delivered in 3 minutes.
- They don’t really want 12 emails a week about upcoming events & activities; one will suffice.
- They don’t want to spend 10 minutes on your website trying to find service times or directions.
- Certainly, they would love to have notes from your message; but if they are going to have to fill in the blanks they secretly hope they won’t get writer’s cramp, that there’s enough light in the room and possibly that you will provide pencils for them.
- Your volunteers and leaders would really prefer to open the resource closet and find what they need in 8 seconds.
- Your attendees aren’t looking for a booklet with 28 volunteer opportunities; they just want to know what the one or two things are they can do to help make a difference.
- Volunteers would like to have a simple 1-page document that lets them know what you expect. They would appreciate getting a quick email reminding them that they are scheduled to serve each week. They want to know about the training event at least a month ahead of time.
What do you need to simplify in your life or ministry this week?