a plea for simplification

There has been a massive over-complexification that has taken place in modern [Western] “Christianity” that needs to be seriously and radically addressed.

All throughout the Bible, God is portrayed as a God of exactness, precision, detail, and immense variety.

He is also portrayed as a God who is very simple – infinitely powerful, wise, knowledgeable, and perfect: yes, God is all of those things. But He displays those infinite perfections in intentional simplicity.

God’s directives for praise and worship are both viscerally powerful, and intensely simple: “make a joyful noise“, “praise Him“, “extol Him“, “sing“, “shout“, “pray“, “lift hands“.

Nothing in that list requires any special skills, training, or knowledge that is not to be had by all of God’s people.

Where, then, does complexity in the church come from:

  • Why are church budgets (in some places) detailed and delineated enough to require dozens of dense, text-packed slides to describe?
  • Why is “praise and worship” more of a performance, rather than a free-will offering to the Lord? Why do some church choirs require an “audition” to praise God?
  • Why are so many “types” of pastors and deacons and other staff members a part of the church (senior, associate, assistant, youth, singles, elderly, etc, etc)?
  • Where do light and smoke shows get their Biblical backing?
  • How do video clips and skits make it into the worship of God?
  • Why do we feel we need to be “entertained” and “taken care of” in church?
  • Why are we outsourcing our minds and thoughts, waiting on the pastor to teach, waiting on choir to sing, waiting on the church to do FOR/TO us, instead of us doing FOR/TO the church, the community, and the world at large?

I’m sure part of this is due to the entertainment culture and mindset that pervades modern Western culture: we have our iPods, our smart phones, laptops, TV, radio, internet, Playstations – and we think we are supposed to be entertained all the time. We have entitlement programs from the government, and we think it’s someone else’s job to take care of us.

We have seminaries to train our young men to be pastors, and we think if you haven’t gotten your degree from a seminary, you’re somehow “less” of a pastor than a man with a Doctor of Divinity.

One prime area I see this displayed is in the overtly complicated and highly specific church budgets with dozens upon dozens of line items: staff salaries, pastoral salaries, building maintenance, VBS materials, promotional banners, decoration, vehicle upkeep, janitorial supplies, food, children’s ministry, women’s ministry, singles’ ministry, missions trips, outreach, denominational requirements (eg participating the SBC’s NAMB and IMB), lights, music licensing … and the list goes on and on.

Several of these topics will be addressed in future posts, but I propose the following simplification for church budgets:

  • missions/outreach
  • facility maintenance / rent (or mortgage)
  • vehicle maintenance / licensing / insurance (if applicable)
  • janitorial supplies
  • pastoral / assistant staff salaries

That’s it. five categories. Maybe one or two additional / altered for a specific church.