Complexity is not to be admired, it is to be avoided. – Jack Trout
Jesus gave the church a simple mission – make disciples. We have added lots of layers to help facilitate this mission, but at times, the layers can create confusion and exhaustion. One thing nearly a year of the pandemic has taught churches and other ministry organizations is that we can simplify, down the very basic nature of what we were called to be as a church. You don’t need it all, you just need the main thing.
Here are a few thoughts for avoiding complexity.
As an organization grows, it becomes more complex. It becomes more layered with more people involved. Organizations, left on their own, drift toward complexity, which is something i’ve heard multiple leaders say over the years. If we as leaders truly want our ministries to become more effective, more streamlined and more simple, we must actively combat complexity. I think Craig Groeshel puts it this way, “we need to kill a rule, cut a meeting, or remove a step.” These are practical actions to help eliminate complexity as you grow.
Narrow The Options
You don’t need to know every single option or outcome, you just choose one and make it work. We pray for wisdom and gather a bit of information, but truth be told, options are sucking the life of leaders! For every one option that will do just fine, there are thirty other possible ways to turn! Just walk into any store and look at the toothpaste aisle. The limitless number of choices for something as basic as toothpaste is mind-boggling. From a personal example, I’ve been in a slight calendar crisis for while now. The options of digital calendars such as Google Calendars or iPhone calendars versus paper calendars such as Michael Hyatt’s free to focus planner or just a simple printed off paper calendar from a random website threw me into a loop. A couple years ago I tried to switch a few things around and found myself in a situation of utilizing too many options and I had to narrow them. There are some amazing calendars, syncing tools, to-do lists, apps, and cool ways of doing things, but I just need one – one that works. One that’s simple. That’s just one small example, but in general, it’s a part of the times we live in – narrow your options. You don’t need to research everything under the sun – do a little checking around, make a decision then make it work.
Work Hard At Being Simple And Succinct
The first step in helping your organization fight complexity and move to streamlined simplicity starts with you. Start by working hard to be simple and succinct. If you need a meeting, make sure it’s simple, one or two items of agenda, and ends on time if not early. Overall, work hard at using fewer words, asking more questions, try not to beat around the bush and keep things moving. Set up your day for simplicity. I remember talking to a pastor who had just added another church to his ministry – he was now pastoring two congregations. I asked him if his daily routine would be changing now that he has more on his plate. He thought for a minute and calmly said, “No, I’ll just wake up, see what needs to be done, then get out there and get it done.” A simple and refreshing answer. You can’t do it all. So, trust that God is using your common sense and his spirit at work in you to do what is needed and necessary.
Make Decisions Easier For Your Team
Systems are truly important for ministry – it helps keep things moving with a clear understanding. But don’t make it difficult for your team to make decisions. The layers that can be created from long standing systems can inhibit. You can avoid complexity by allowing ministry staff and key leaders to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. If decisions are only being run through you, you’ve created complexity and a bottleneck.
Use Simple Words
in the book, Power of Simplicity, Jack Trout shares that when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, he had 20,000 words with which to work. When Lincoln gave the famous Gettysburg Address, he had 114,000 words to choose from. Today, there are more than 600,000 words in the dictionary. If we’re not careful, our choice of large and unique words will create unnecessary complexity. Big ideas almost always come in small words. Don’t feel like just because you’re leading a ministry you have to use a ton of words or big words. Just talk normal, simply. Make things easy to understand. When speaking or writing, just go about it as if you were talking to someone.
Big ideas almost always come in small words.- Jack Trout
Jesus Mission Was Simple
Jesus had a very simple plan. It was uncomplicated. He invited people to follow Him. This simple plan had huge impact then and it still does today.
As ministry leaders, we must avoid complexity. We must fight it. We must simplify those things that seem too complex in our churches and organizations. This will require pruning, discernment, and focus. The rewards will be more energy, clarity, and success.
I wrote this post after reading The Power Of Simplicity by Jack Trout. It’s an older management book, but has lots of timeless insights about doing things right. It reminds me of another book a few years back, Simple Church by Thom Rainer.