No, it’s not that. I’m talking about the acronym – Keep It Simple, S****** (stupid, seminarian, whatever!).
My wife and I took a Sunday off, together – a rarity anymore – and visited the Missionary Church in Stouffville, Ontario (not far from where we were camping). Check them out at www.eastridge.ca. Two things impressed me about that congregation.
First, we were welcomed warmly and sincerely by a member of the congregation who wasn’t even a scheduled greeter that day. We were so impressed with her and the conversation we shared that I emailed the lead pastor to tell him that someone in his church greeted us the way he surely hoped she would! Every church thinks it’s friendly, but it takes an outsider to tell you whether or not that’s true. If first impressions mean a lot, a good one was made on Sunday, thanks to Martha. Her conversation was a simple one, that got deeper as we led it deeper. The KISS rule worked.
Second, the simplicity of the service impressed me. There’s lots of talk about worship styles and such in this day and age, and I enjoy a broad variety in worship (as does, God, I hope). The service at East Ridge was very straight-forward. There was no ‘order of service’ in the bulletin – just announcements – but it basically went like this:
- Welcome and announcements, opening prayer
- Greet those around you
- Children’s time
- Prayer (following a little chat about mother’s day)
It was that simple. Did you notice what was not there?
- Responsive readings (Why do we use these? People are so worried about when it’s their turn to read that they don’t really pay attention to the text and aren’t thereby edified.)
- Fancy words (The language was mostly the sort of language we’d use on the street. I say “mostly” because there were some rather ‘churchy’ words used in the message that a seeker might not grasp without a theological dictionary; some of this is very hard to avoid, though.)
- The Offering (Wow. How does a church survive without taking up an offering? Simple: those who are part of the community of faith give, without fanfare, either through pre-authorized remittance [like you do with your mortgage] or by some other means. Guests who want to give can do so through some sort of basket or box as they enter or leave – though I saw nothing of this at East Ridge. The offering didn’t even seem to be missed!)
My wife and I remarked on our way into Stouffville that, with all the new houses being built, a church would have to work pretty hard not to grow there. East Ridge has a good-sized congregation, and a very new building, with a worship space that would seat around 500 by my guesstimate. They reported their attendance for the previous Sunday at 260, so there is some room to grow. And they will grow, because they promote KISSing in church! They keep it simple!