19 Dec The Impact of Simplicity by Pastor Scott Porter
I grew up in church. I was raised in the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, which is similar to a Nazarene church. It was a great foundation for me. I’m very thankful for my spiritual heritage. That’s where I learned the “kiss” principle: “Keep it simple, saint!” There’s something about the simplicity of focusing on the important things, the things that matter.
New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said after 9/11, “Weddings are optional; funerals are mandatory.” There’s a simplicity to that. It’s really my heart to help people with life’s complex issues, to help build bridges to people.
In the Bible we see that Jesus took the complex and broke it down into simple steps. I like that. I like to break things down into rings of priority. Now, my rings are a little bit different than other people’s rings. The number one inner ring of my life is my personal relationship with God. Just me and Him.
The next ring out is my personal health. The reason why I put it as second is that if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be any good to your family, your church, your job, or your friends. You’re going to be dead because you didn’t take care of yourself.
Then comes my spouse. She comes before our kids. If you don’t take care of your relationship with your spouse, your kids aren’t going to have mommy and daddy together for long. They’re going to split or there’s going to be dysfunction. So my inner ranking moves from God to myself, then to my spouse, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, etc…
This ranking helps me keep my calendar simple. Since we’re nearing the start of a new year, go through your calendar and do an inventory of what’s going to stay and what’s going to go. We can be ruled by our agenda in many ways. Unfortunately, sometimes I love technology too much. I started with a Palm Pilot. I loved my Palm Pilot; I never did the Blackberry. But go through your calendar and keep it simple. Don’t let it become a vice grip you can’t escape from. That won’t do you much good! Inventory what takes your time and determine what needs to stay versus what needs to go. Figure out what is yielding a return on your investment and what isn’t.
Brother Oral Roberts had a sign at his desk that said, “Make no little plans here.” That inspired me. Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin and T. L. Osborne were my preaching heroes growing up. The principle I learned from them and other heroes of the faith is to make the message of Jesus simple. Offer life-change to people through the simple message of Jesus. Church on the Move’s, Pastor Whit George preached a series called, “Introducing People to the Real Jesus.” It hit me because that’s what young people are looking for. They’re not looking for a show; they’re looking for the real Jesus. They’re hungry for truth and reality.
Something that I do very simply is tell stories. I tell lots of stories, even in my sermons. I had a lady come up to me when I was about 25 years old and she said, “I don’t like how you minister. You tell too many stories.” My response to her was, “Well, then you wouldn’t like Jesus either!” I would be more diplomatic today, but that’s just what came out of my mouth back then!
Now, there have been in our nation’s history people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ronald Reagan. Great communicators. I’ll never forget when the Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986. I was in chapel at Rhema, and Pastor Hagin called us to pray. That night, President Regan was supposed to give his State of the Union address. Instead, he came back with one of the most memorable speeches, “…this morning, as [the astronauts] prepared for their journey, and waved goodbye, and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’” He spoke from his heart, keeping it simple, and pulling the nation together. Isn’t it a nice thought, to pull people together?
Pastor, don’t try to be too complex in the sense of theology and what have you. Your messages will relate far more to people when you simply keep things simple and speak from your heart.
Me, personally, I’m very extemporaneous. I grew up in a golden era. Jack Benny was still around. Milton Berle was still around. Jonathan Winters was my hero. Winters improvised. When I’m in the pulpit, I improvise. I have my notes but say it off the top of my spirit and off the top of my head. Things flow and stories come to me. Stories can be very relatable and fun. Afterwards, people will come up to me and say, “I felt like I was the only person in the room, and you were speaking right to me.” I hear that after sermons. I hear that at weddings. “I’ve never been to a wedding like this before!” I have people come up and say, “I was married 20 years ago, and I wish I would have heard this!”
So listen, pastor: Keep it simple. Keep a humble heart with people and be approachable and relatable. Walk in love. Don’t hide in your office. Shepherds should smell like sheep, so get out there amongst them. Hug them, shake their hands, pat them on the back. It may be the only kindness they receive all week. You want them to follow you as you follow Christ? Be close to them so they can watch you live out your faith in both word and action.