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Lessons Learned from North Point: Be Strategic

September 26, 2011

North Point Community Church (launched in 1996 – pastored by Andy Stanley) is now the 2nd largest church in the country averaging nearly 30,000 in weekly attendance plus more than 9,000 people who attend one of their partner churches across the country.

If you want to learn how to create brand loyalty then partner with Apple Computers. If you want to build a championship sports franchise then partner with the Dallas Cowboys. (Okay . . . I might be a little biased.) If you want to learn how to build/transition a church to become strategic then partner with North Point.

I once heard Matt Chandler, speaking at Catalyst, say, “If you want to have a strong church strategy you should learn from North Point. They are in the ‘Ivy League’ of church models and systems.” I couldn’t agree more!

After partnering with North Point these past two-and-a-half years, I thought I’d share what I learned in a series of blog posts this week.

My first impression from North Point leadership was how incredibly strategic every decision is.

NP’s mission is “leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ”. Simply-worded but not terribly unique. I believe what makes the mission effective is the strategy behind it.

A mission is most effective when it has an accompanying strategy. North Point’s strategy to accomplish their mission is to “equip and encourage people to pursue three vital relationships: Intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders“. Then their ministry model and each environment is formed with this strategy in mind.

I was recently reading an online hotel review when the reviewer referred to the hotel as “pretty but not functional”. Unfortunately, that is how I have seen many churches approach their mission statement. Lots of prayer, work, and time go into crafting the exact wording and message of a mission statement. However, with time it often becomes nothing more than ink on paper or a forgotten page on a website because there is a strong “what” but no “how” (strategy).

The culture at North Point is soaked in strategy.

Quick Example: Athens Church (a North Point strategic partner) pastored by Sean Seay hosted an Easter Egg Drop a few years ago. They raised money for the event (contract labor, marketing, helicopter, eggs) and ended up having more than 2,000 people from the community attend the event. However, they decided to never do it again. Why? Because they determined it wasn’t a strategic step toward their mission.

You see for the rest of that year Athens Church Children’s Ministry asked guests to fill out a survey. In this survey they asked guests “How did you hear about Athens Church?”. Even though more than 2,000 people attended the Easter Egg Drop event, the survey revealed that virtually no one came to the church because of it.

My first lesson learned at North Point was a mission or a goal must be guided by an accompanying strategy. Determine the “what” and the “how”. Otherwise, it’s “pretty but not functional”.

What’s your church’s mission statement? More importantly, what’s the accompanying strategy to accomplish it?


From → Leadership, Ministry

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