Book Highlights: Deliberate Simplicity


I've been following Christ the King Community Church in Washington state for a few years now. Dave Browning, their pastor, has written his manifesto for how they do church in Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less. We've been following a similar philosophy of ministry ever since I came to Five Oaks (way before it was popular), but I learned a lot from Browning. Having generally followed this approach for years, I'm more aware than ever of some down sides that we're currently addressing. Browning doesn't cover the down sides, but he articulates simplicity as well as anybody. (For most of you reading this post, just read the "top highlights.")

Top Highlights:

  • There is no growth without change, no change without loss, and no loss without pain. (12)
  • …when you have something important to do, keep the process simple. The more complexity in the system, the more likely that implementation will fail. (27)
  • …Meyer’s Law: It is a simple task to make things complex, but a complex task to make them simple. (32)
  • New believers can learn enough in just a few days to keep them growing for the rest of their lives. If you are taught to read the Word, pray, be in community, and reach out to others, you have the basic equipment to make the journey. (42) 
  • …the apostle Paul would go into a pagan community, preach Christ, then appoint elders from among the converts before moving on to a new community…evidently the basic information needed for leadership…could be conveyed in a short period of time.
  • …discipleship was defined as a relationship, not a program…Once you get pointed in the right direction, time is on your side. (42)
  • The greatest sin of the church today is not any sin of commission or sin of omission but the sin of no mission. (69)
  • When I was a kid, the solution…to rectify the discrepancy between how we lived our life on Sunday at church and how we lived the rest of the week was to act just as strangely Monday through Saturday as we did on Sunday. The solution I’ve come to as an adult is just opposite: be the same person on Sunday that you are Monday through Saturday. It seems to be working out a lot better. (94)
  • While there are a limited number of programs that a Deliberately Simple church may initiate, there are an unlimited number of ministries that individuals may initiate. While corporate programs are discouraged, individual ministries are encouraged. (136)

More Highlights:

  • While I am committed to a different approach to ministry…different does not necessarily mean better (p. 11).
  • What if this church were more like a movement than a ministry? (15) 
  • Less is more, and more is better. (17) 
  • …if you participate in a Deliberately Simple church, you will most likely meet in a rented auditorium, sit on a stackable, chair, sing along with projected lyrics and a rock band, and hear conversational teaching by a bivocational pastor in blue jeans witting on a stool. (18) 
  • …a “boots on the ground” approach to the church’s mission. We believe that if we can get God’s people to simply love God and love people, the church cannot be stopped. (30) 
  • Jim Collins: good to great companies made much use of ‘stop doing” lists.
  • Worship is the way to stay centered. Small groups is the way to stay connected. Outreach is the way to stay concerned. (44)
  • At Christ the King we advocate ten plus ten—ten minutes a day in prayer, and ten minutes a day in the Word. (54)
  • …we think big but act small. We keep asking, “What is the simplest thing that could possibly work?” We try to have just enough to facilitate our mission. Just enough money. Just enough time. Just enough leaders. Just enough space. Just enough advertising. (62)
  • Most of the worship centers at CTK have begun with an investment of less than five thousand dollars. (54)
  • Henry Trumbull…once said, “Unless a man is ready to work for the salvation of others, it may be questioned whether or not he himself is saved.” (70)
  • (J.I. Packer) “To seek pleasure, comfort, and happiness is to guarantee that you will miss them all. …become heart realities only as by-products that come from focusing on something else, something perceived as valuable, invigorating, and commanding. The seeds of happiness, it has been truly said, grow most strongly in the soil of service. (71)
  • Throughout the years, we have found that two kinds of people fit especially well I a Deliberately Simple church: lost people with ruin and wreckage in their lives, and saved people who have a heart to reach out to lost people. (72)
  • It’s time for us to quit standing at the barn doorway, inviting the crops to come in. (74)
  • We include “those who are about to come” in our constituency instead of just those who are already here. (76)
  • …we want our energy to go into experiencing and expressing the grace of God, not into impression management. (94)
  • Bill Gore, founder of…Gore-Tex, is committed to multility [sic] for his workforce. He limits the size of his plants to not more than 150 employees (a size he feels is optimum for a sense of family). To insure this size, he limits the parking lot to 150 cars. He knows it’s time to build a new plant when employees start parking in the grass. (133)
  • Our strategy is to multiply groups by multiplying leaders. We have come to the conclusion that we are not in the church growth business. We are not in the church planting business. We are not in the multisite business. We are in the leader deployment business. (192)
  • Our process for multiplying leaders is IDTS: identify, deploy, train, support. Deploy first, then train. (192)
  • The dream for CTK Community Church is to provide an opportunity for pastorpreneurial leaders to “plug and play.” That is, if you align with the mission, vision, values, beliefs, and priorities of CTK, then you can engage immediately with us in the work. It’s that simple.