I first heard about this book from my dad who happens to be an Andy Stanley enthusiast. Back in my (short) days as the curriculum person at our church, I got to preview some of Andy DVDs and like all things put out by North Point, I was impressed and I enjoyed them. I was watching a session of Guardrails and I can vividly remember responding audibly with a “good word”… I was the only one home. Hmm… it was a good point. I think Toby agreed with me ( for those that know me – Toby is my dog and he probably thought I was crazy. Wouldn’t be the first time).
My dad told me that Andy had a new book coming out and that it was going to be a tell all on what happened in his parent’s marriage and how North Point got started out the drama that went on with his father. I’m human. I’m curious about other peoples messes. So much like reading a tabloid magazine, I was set to get the dirt from the inside source. It turns out that book was about a lot more than that. While the chapters on Andy’s leaving his dad’s church and starting North Point were good, the book is so much deeper than that.
This book is pretty much Andy’s brain on North Point. He gives you the look inside why they do things the way they do. Now I’m not a fan of copy-cat churches. I’m not suggesting we all become mini versions of North Point. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Andy’s intention either. It’s just interesting to see how they got where they are and why they intentionally went that direction.
It was a good book for anyone in church leadership to read. It convicted me about some of the things that I’m currently doing in my own ministry. Andy ends the book was the chapter about “What If” – what if he hadn’t of left his dad’s church? What if he hadn’t started North Point? What would he have missed? What lives wouldn’t be changed? This was a challenge to me to live my life fully and take the risks that might seem crazy. I want to live a life that is so on point and so intentional that I would be heart broken if it never happened. I don’t want to miss the God moments. What if I hadn’t give it my all? What if I didn’t connect with that student? It’s empowering to remember that every investment we make into the kingdom of God is worth it.
What I love is that North Point is so different from the church I serve in. I mean size wise there is no comparison. However, Andy has never been about making big churches. The whole premise of the book is creating churches that unchurched people love to attend. It’s so good to remember that the church isn’t a building with walls. It’s a group of people alive and active in a community. It also shouldn’t be exclusive for “members” like a country club. It’s an open invitation to authentic relationships, to family, to find a deeper purpose and meaning to life. Our churches should be a place unchurched people love to come. Okay so maybe they don’t want to come… because they’ve had a negative experience or their scared or worried… but that is the thing. We should put all those fears aside with our love and acceptance. I don’t know about you, but I needed that.
My job is mainly about keeping the church people happy. It’s about making sure that parent’s are happy with the care that their child receives while they attend our services, classes, programs. I really do believe that my job is beyond childcare. I’m not there to make sure kid’s are watched and out of their parents way. Idealistically, that’s not why I am there. However, practically and legally, that’s kind of why I’m there. I need to be reminded that there are some families who show up that may know nothing about this church thing. I need to remember that not every child grew up with a faith in Jesus. Some haven’t made that decision yet and they are just trying to figure this whole thing out. I want to be a safe place for them to come with their questions and with their doubts. I want them to feel loved and accepted and I don’t want them to worry about judgment.
I do believe that churches can be deep and wide. I’ve often heard the phrase “That church is an inch-deep and a mile-wide. ” – meaning it’s all about the numbers and not growing the people. I’m pretty hardcore when it comes the deep stuff. I don’t want to be a church full of baby Christians who haven’t grown past their faith infancy. So I like the idea of being deep and wide. We need to be wide reaching in our love, acceptance and grace. We need to go deep and be a part of life transformation. It’s a both/and situation.
I’m thankful to Andy Stanley for his honest writing and his ability to share all that he has learned from experience. This is a must read.