Thinking Out Loud

October 30, 2012

Andy Stanley Reveals What’s In The Secret Sauce

As someone who has been around The Church for a long time, I’m really not in North Point Community Church’s target demographic. But at 2:00 PM on a Sunday, you’ll find me watching a streaming broadcast of their morning service. Two reasons. First, I think there’s something exciting going on in that Atlanta suburb and because the technology allows it, I want to be watching to cheer them on. Second, there’s stuff about what it means to trust God that I still don’t think I’ve got right and I need to be told again and in new ways.

Andy significant landed on my radar eight years ago. I was doing a church plant and wanted to access video teaching content from another church that the other church wasn’t ready to give out. “Have you heard of North Point?” I was asked. “North who?”

Just about any survey of megachurches in the past decade places North Point in the top five. In addition to their own satellites in the greater Atlanta area, North Point Ministries has strategic partner churches across the U.S., in Canada, and beyond.

Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love To Attend (Zondervan) is Andy’s message to pastors who want a behind-the-scenes look at the church and know how (and why) they do what they do.

The book comes at a time that many are concerned that the megachurches are setting the agenda for the church as a whole in the Western world. But the North Point staff have spent enough time doing seminars to know that their methodology is of interest to medium-sized and even small-sized church leadership.

The church is mission driven. The book explains how that mission drives their vision; how it drives everything that they do. The vision, in turn, drives their model. Their model drives their programming. And their programming is radically different from other churches you have been part of.

There’s no men’s or women’s ministry. Most of their giving to local needs goes to secular agencies. Events or services are termed “environments.”Their children’s curriculum targets key narratives and doesn’t try to cover the whole compendium of scripture. Women help take up the offering (and do lots of other things, too.) Non-Christians serve in various limited capacities. You have to — without exceptions — record a 3-4 minute testimony video to be baptized. They avoid the phrase, “The Bible says…” Officially, the music selections on Sunday are termed “singing,” not “worship.”

Some of you are feeling your blood pressure rise.

Andy admits there are no chapters and verses for these policies. But before you get up in arms, or say, “See, I told you so…” you should know that much careful thought and prayer have gone into creating the North Point distinctives.

This is a seeker-targeted church. In its present form, North Point is more ‘Willow Creek’ than Willow Creek. Too many people think that means ‘dumbed down.’ Not at all. What Andy calls “putting the cookies on the lower shelf” does not preclude solid, often exegetical Bible teaching. I would contend that in status quo churches across the western world, most people would find the level of personal challenge at North Point to be much greater than they are presently accustomed to. Jesus didn’t ‘dumb down’ anything. He challenged people in terms of spiritual disciplines and in their understanding how the Old Testament puzzle pieces fit together to reveal Him. Trust me, some of you — some of us — wouldn’t be able to keep up to the pace at North Point.

This is a hardcover book for pastors, church leadership, and church planters that is going to resonate with anyone drive by The Great Commission. It’s not for everyone. But it’s a book that every pastor, church leader and church planter needs to read. There’s also much in personal stories including a section at the beginning that defines the relationship between Andy and his father, Charles Stanley.

Highly recommended.


Here’s a quotation from the book published today at C201

July 21, 2010

Wednesday Link List

The Christian Internet:  Charismatic, Reformed, Fundamentalist, Catholic, Mainline Protestant and Evangelical sites all sharing cyberspace and competing for your attention.   Here’s a few we visited this week…

  • Our own link list cartoon this week is Joe McKeever at Baptist Press.

April 2, 2009

The Lost Art of Giving

usher_sidebetsOne of the downsides of regular tithing to ones local church is that we can sometimes feel that we’ve ended our obligation to do anything else in a financial sense.   Don’t get me wrong, the local church where you receive teaching, fellowship and spiritual nurture should be the first priority, when you look at where your money is going.    But once done, your heart should still be open to the possibility of responding to other needs you hear about or see around you.

I’ll get back to that in a minute.    First I want to consider another set of possibilities.

There are many people — especially in the blogosphere — who have gotten burned out on the whole church thing.   Entire shelves in Christian bookstores are devoted to this theme.   Those people are not current attending anywhere, which means many are not currently making financial contributions to the work of building the Kingdom of God.   If you’re one of them, it’s possible that as the income tax deadline approaches (less than two weeks in the U.S. and four weeks in Canada) you’re realizing you don’t have the charitable deductions you may have had in the past.

For the people in either of the first or third paragraphs above, I want to suggest some guidelines that I have found helpful in choosing projects to support.   I came up with some of this at a time we had no money at all, but am no trying to apply these things to some situations I have been aware of and trying to become more generous in my* giving.

*”My” in this case really meaning “our;” because I don’t do this alone but in consultation with my wife.

  1. How great is the need?    Is this a project that one or two people can help with, or is going to take a lot of people pulling together to make this happen?    Sometimes we tend to bail out if the need is huge, thinking our contribution won’t make a difference.   Other times, if the need is small, we think someone else will take care of it.
  2. How urgent is the need?   If the organization or project needs finances now, it means people need to respond now.
  3. How visible is the project or need?    Item (1) notwithstanding, there is an organization I know of that is so very visible that I sometimes find myself looking at projects I think may be off the radar of other people.
  4. How able is the constituency to support itself?  Some people think that the people who most benefit from a ministry or organization should be the people who are supporting it.   But that’s not the case with ministry to the poor, or to youth, or to seekers and new believers who haven’t yet learned the principle of giving.
  5. How much of my gift will go directly to meeting the need?   As with anything financial, we need to be shrewd; we need to be good stewards.   Make sure the need is real and that someone’s plight is being exploited to maintain the organization itself.    Giving in this sense may take the  form of giving directly to an individual or family, bypassing the  tax receipt.

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If you live in Canada and are looking for some practical suggestions on giving, e-mail me (see the contact-us button) and depending on the response you’ll get either a personal reply or a copy of some suggestions.

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