Every church can learn a lot about the way it does ministry by doing this simple exercise:

Take your church calendar and ask, “If someone or a family of four participated in everything our church offers, what would their day planner look like, and how much would it cost financially?”

It’s a blunt, but enlightening instrument. When I first asked those two questions, the church I was serving in was asking for 15-20 hours per week, and roughly $2,000 per family above and beyond the tithe annually. This included all retreats, breakfasts, studies, camps, service projects, etc., and a $100 extra offering for special mission and benevolence offerings we took up. We were typical.

We had many takeaways from the exercise. One was, we needed to chill. We needed to simplify. We needed to do less, better. Maybe you do, too.

We simplified, and involvement grew. Lives balanced out. People smiled more and families spent more time together. But, some felt guilty for doing “less”–though we were doing better by doing so.

Ask those two questions. Try the answers on as a single mom. Try them on as a father of five with major time commitments at work. Try them on as a single person. Try them on as an elderly person.

We found the answers demanded simplicity. Things may be different in extremely large churches where expectations are mitigated by the realization no one can make everything. For most of us, though, the answer lies in simplicity.