Dieter Rams, "Weniger, aber besser," and Worship Ministry

RT 20 tischsuper radio, 1961, by Dieter Rams for Braun

RT 20 tischsuper radio, 1961, by Dieter Rams for Braun

Dieter Rams, his Ten Principles for Good Design, and his axiom Weniger, aber besser (Less, but better) have been massively influential on modern designers. Even if you've never heard of him, you have seen his design principles in action through those he has influenced. Most well known among designers influenced by Rams is a fellow you may have seen in the news lately - Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple. Ive has spoken widely of his admiration for Rams, and Rams' influence on Apple and Ives' design work is well documented. Notice the similarities between the two devices below. That's a Braun T3 Pocket Radio on the left, and an early iPod on the right. Both are quite simple. Neither device is flashy. There's nothing wasted or extraneous. The design is focused and beautiful.

But what does all of this have to do with your worship ministry? 

Hopefully, a lot.

The pressure to do more and bigger and louder is very real. If last year's Easter production involved a band, vocals, adult choir, and video, well than this year had better have all of that plus a youth choir and live animals. And somewhere in the middle of all of that more, bigger, and louder you may have lost sight of what your priorities are.

There's nothing wrong with a large production, but is it really meeting your church's worship priorities? Or, are you just competing with last year's Easter production - trying to one-up yourself?

That's where Dieter Rams and Weniger, aber besser come in. If we adopted "Less, but better" as an axiom for our worship ministries we would ask questions like:

  • How are the components of the service I've planned for Sunday accomplishing our worship priorities?

  • Which of these components is distracting from our priorities?

  • Am I spending so much time on one area that others are suffering?

  • Would we come closer to accomplishing our objectives if I focused on a smaller production, but was able to give each portion of the service the attention it needs?

  • What is really being contributed to the worship gathering by each of these components?

I would encourage you to resist the desire to always take your gatherings to "the next level." Instead, take Rams' advice and enjoy the beauty that can be found in doing fewer things but doing them better.