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User Friendly

A common critique that I hear about “seeker sensitive” churches is that their message is too simple and accessible. The feeling stems from the fact that we tend to believe that if something has been made more plain and obvious, the message must have been compromised.

But this isn’t always the case. User-friendly doesn’t have to mean dumbed down.

In the design of technology, usually the more sophisticated the design, the simpler the interface should be for the user. The reason the iPhone and similar products are so successful is because they’re so intuitive. Likewise, Google is the easiest and most powerful search engine, but their algorithm is extremely complex.

In both of these cases, it’s not like the designers made it simple because it was less work. Or because they were compromising their product. In reality, it actually took more work to make something so complex so accessible and easy to use.

You know you have really mastered something that’s complicated when you are able to present it simply. And without sacrificing its essential features.

The Apostles knew this. When you read through the Gospel presentations of people like Peter and Paul in the book of Acts, it’s not the exact same material that you get in their letters. What made Paul the greatest evangelist in history was not the brilliance of Romans. It was the fact that he could condense the essential message of that 433-verse book into a 25-verse sermon when he was preaching to the Bible believers of his day (Acts 13). Or a 10-verse sermon with culturally relevant illustrations when he was preaching to a crowd with absolutely no knowledge of the Bible (Acts 17).

Did Paul dumb down his own message? Or was he such a master of it that he was able to make it simple and accessible?

The measure of a church’s faithfulness to the Bible is not its ability to dumbfound people with its complexity. It is its ability to faithfully communicate its essential message in a way that people can understand and embrace.

The greatest expression of the Gospel that we can have is the simplest.