Today as church leaders we learn from each other more than any previous generation but in the process we often lose our voice.
Many of us are following the calling of other ministry leaders.
Culture pushes churches to be the same. Our local communities need churches to be unique.
Here are 4 unique ministry practices of North Point:
1) Fight for Simplicity
In 1996 NP began with a simple approach. All churches start with “a blank piece of paper and no money” so the context almost requires simplicity. However, churches naturally gravitate toward complexity.
North Point has been unique because they persistently maintain a simple ministry approach.
Maybe this year we as church leaders should celebrate the ministries we strategically end instead of just the ministries we start.
2) Partnering with Parents
Somewhere along the way we parents got so busy that we abdicated the spiritual leadership of our children to the church. That’s a strong statement but I think you’d agree. North Point dared to be unique with their children’s ministry approach. They work hard to equip/encourage parents to spiritually lead their children at home. They believe “what happens at home is more important than what happens at church”.
Using the Scriptural encouragement for parents to be the primary spiritual influence in their child’s life (Deut. 6:7), North Point was the birth place to Reggie Joiner’s Think Orange children’s philosophy. I once heard Andy Stanley say at a Drive Conference, “When people ask me the secret to North Point’s growth I tell them it’s our children’s ministry.”
3) Small Groups
In 1996 small groups were not as common as they are now. Not only did they utilize a ministry that wasn’t common – they went “all in” making small groups the heart of their ministry.
They don’t celebrate (publicly or privately) attendance, offerings, buildings, or services like they do small group participation. Small group participation is the only numeric goal NP has ever had! That’s why they have more than 30,000 adults participating in weekly small groups.
The NP Small Group model utilizes “closed” groups. Everyone in the group commits for a period of time (typically 12 – 24 months) and the group is closed to outsiders to encourage deeper, more meaningful relationship development.
Andy Stanley is the best speaker I have ever heard at speaking to both the church goer and the skeptic (insider/outsider) simultaneously. Using his unique gifts, it made sense for North Point to be intentionally sensitive to “outsiders” in EVERYTHING they did on Sunday.
This has caused many in ministry to “throw rocks” at NP. But being unique requires courage and resolve.
I admire the unique ministry decisions that NP made. Like NP, when you’re unique AND successful you won’t be unique for long.
How about you? Is your vision specific to your unique leadership team gifts, unique congregational makeup, and unique community opportunities/needs?
What are you prayerfully considering at your church today that may one day be common?
A great book to further read on this topic is Church Unique by Will Mancini.