Thursday, July 22, 2010

Revisiting The Big Idea, Part 1

In a recent conversation with some church leaders, I was trying to make the point that simplifying what we do increases our focus and power. Dave Ferguson and the leaders at Christian Community Church have approached this problem from a unique angle. The result: "The Big Idea", an action plan that will help you focus the message and sharpen the impact of your church on the community. I've posted about it before, and the book has been out for about 3 years, but it's worth visiting again. Here is a brief glimpse of the problem as they see it, and a sketch of a very workable solution.

Here’s a typical experience for the average churchgoer and his family. Keep track of the “little ideas”:
  1. little idea from the clever message on the church sign as you pull into the church parking lot
  2. little ideas from all the announcements in the church bulletin you are handed at the door
  3. little idea from the prelude music that is playing in the background you as you take your seat
  4. little idea from the welcome
  5. little idea from the opening prayer
  6. little idea from song 1 in the worship service
  7. little idea from the Scripture reading
  8. little idea from song 2 in the worship service
  9. little idea from the special music
  10. little idea from the offering meditation
  11. little idea from the announcement
  12. little idea from the first point of the sermon
  13. little idea from the second point of the sermon
  14. little idea from the third point of the sermon
  15. little idea from song 3 in the worship service
  16. little idea from the closing prayer
  17. little idea from the Sunday school lesson
  18. little idea from (at least one) tangent off of the Sunday School lesson
  19. little idea from the prayer requests taken during Sunday School
  20. little idea from the newsletter handed out during Sunday School

Twenty and counting. Twenty different competing little ideas in just one trip to church. Easily! If a family has a couple of children who attend a children’s church, and everyone attends his or her own Sunday school class, we could quadruple the number if little ideas. One family could leave with more than eighty competing ideas. And if we begin to add in youth groups, small groups, and a midweek service, the number easily doubles again. It’s possible that this one family is bombarded with more than one thousand little ideas every week explaining what it means to be a Christian.

We’ve bombarded our people with too many competing little ideas, and the result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before.

The lack of clarity that churches give their people impedes the church’s ability to accomplish the mission of Jesus. “More” results in less clarity.

It is one Big Idea at a time that brings clarity to the confusion that comes from too many little ideas.

Tomorrow: Part Two of "The Big Idea"

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