Thursday, February 19, 2009

Book Review: Deliberate Simplicity

This has nothing to do with living more simply and everything to do with church leadership and organisation. The heart of the book is 'doing more is not doing bigger'. I started off fairly antagonistic to this book - another book proclaiming 'this is the way to a big church folks, do it like us'. So I just thought the whole exercise was yet another American megachurch solving the global church's problem. And to be honest I don't think that's a totally unfair observation.

Another annoyance is the making up of words, unless someone can show me that 'multility' is a word. But when you need all your chapters to end in 'ity' and you get to 'multi' it gets a bit tricky, so what's an author to do other than mangle the English language.

Dave Browning compares his experiences at CTK with the slow, blundering, expensive, empire building mega churches. I've never been in or experienced a mega church so I've no idea whether he's right or not, although it sounds probable.

What I do know now, is that I'm leading a church that fits the deliberate simplicity model, although I didn't appreciate that until reading this book. We are in the new paradigm on all 12 points except perhaps no 9 which says the pastor is humble and understated! We also focus on worship, small groups and outreach, it didn't cost us millions to start a church and won't to start our next one. We're about loving God and loving people and so on,

Then it occurred to me that Dave Browning was writing something that in many ways describes Newfrontiers as a movement, only we've been around longer and we've not come across the radar of an American publisher.

You might think that I didn't like this book but that's not true, there's much to commend it but it just doesn't describe, in my mind anyway, anything that is especially new or unheard of in the UK although it does perhaps put it down on paper in a better way. A similar book from the UK would be something like Total Church - Deliberate Simplicty has the anecdotes and stories that inspire and make you think 'wow this sounds great' and Total Church has the theology and Biblical weight, and so is the better book.

He does ask some good questions like 'what your church be like without electricity?' damning our reliance on technology to provide something authentic for the guest. But it leaves a lot of questions to be answered because it fails to really tell you what CTK actually looks like.

It's still worth a read, especially if you're planning church in multiple locations, planting or stepping into leadership as it does raise some good questions.


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