This session was lead by Andy Stanley, Senior pastor at North Point Community Church.
Andy says that North Point’s vision is to create a church that un-churched people love to attend.
The following is just my notes. The ideas and quotes here are all Andy’s, not mine.
- We are not as quick to make changes as we need to be.
- All programming in a church is designed to answer a question.
- Whereas programming begins as an answer to a question, over time it becomes part of organizational culture.
- As culture changes, many of the questions remain the same, but the answers don’t.
- The tendency is to institutionalize the answers. (this is what makes it so hard to make changes in the local church)
Andy knows that we have all felt hindered at one point or another by a certain program in our churches. He reminds us that at one point, that program was revolutionary.
That program was answering a question for people. That program was the cat’s pajamas! But overtime, that program may have become a part of our church’s culture. At some point that revolutionary program stopped answering a question for people and started making them feel too comfortable.
- If we institutionalize an answer, the day will come when it is no longer an answer.
If you think about that ugly couch in your house. At one point in time that couch was brand new and sitting in a show room somewhere. But now we’ve fallen in love with the couch. We don’t want to get rid of it because the stains remind us of old times and there’s emotion, sentimentality and history attached to that couch. Keeping an old couch around is fine. Poorly decorating your home is not a sin.
But when we do that in our churches… it’s not a good thing. When you fall in love with an approach, and a tactic that used to work, over time it doesn’t have the same affect that it once had. That old couch in your church will kill momentum in the church.
We must continue to be more committed to our mission that to our program or our model.
- Over time, sustaining the model can become the mission.
- Over time, the model can work against the mission.
What if your approach to ministry is anti-evangelistic? What if your approach to ministry is anti-what the mission of your church says it is? If we keep the old couches around our church, they will trump mission, vision and momentum every time. When you institutionalize programs, the questions never change, the answers never change, and eventually will be working against what you are trying to do. Any institution that fossilizes around old practices, will eventually be in decline. You cannot pray your way out of decline. You must behave your way out of decline. And you behave your way out by falling back in love with the reason you went into ministry in the first place.
Here are some questions from Andy to wrestle with amongst your church staff as a leadership team.
- What have you fallen in love with that’s really not as effective as it used to be?
- What are you emotionally attached to?
- What are you doing that’s really not working?
- Where are you manufacturing energy? Are you promoting an event that you yourself don’t want to attend? When you make an announcement about an event are you really thanking God that you’re too busy to go to it yourself?
You are spending money that’s not yours. You’re wasting time that you don’t have.
- What do we not enjoy because it’s tiring?
- What are your organizational assumptions?
Every decision you’ll make is based on assumptions. So we need to discover our organizational assumptions. Leaders must bring the underlying assumptions that drive company strategy into line with changes in the external environment. Our world is changing and if our assumptions don’t line up with reality, then the church won’t reach the people it’s trying to reach.
The assumptions a team has held the longest or the most deeply, are the likeliest the be it’s undoing. Some beliefs appear to be so obvious that they are off limits to debate.
One of our assumptions, as leaders of the church, was that we need to sit people in rows and talk to them. The other assumption is that all Christians love to sing. Another false assumption is that all families are like ours.
Which assumptions are true, but not fully leveraged? People don’t stick to a production, they stick to a relationship.
To reach people that nobody else is reaching, we need to do things that nobody else is doing.
– Craig Groeschel
That means you’ve got to quit doing the things that everybody else is doing.
I really liked this talk by Andy. What a great illustration… the old couch. I think this message is so important for all church leaders to hear. You know, it’s interesting. I went to this conference and I heard this message and I thought to myself… Andy’s not talking to me. I immediately thought of other people that I wish were able to hear his message. I was sitting in the lounge area listening to Andy talk and taking notes on my MacBook. Mary Beth leaned over to me and said, that there are a lot of people attending Catalyst One Day that think this message isn’t for them. They think it’s for other people. That got me thinking. I was sitting there thinking that this message was for other people… and not me. But it’s got me re-evaluating some things. I’m looking for those old couches in my life that I need to get rid of.
[Image by: Scott Fillmer]