We get questions about why we do church the way we do all the time.
Why the band?
Why the lights?
How come the preacher is so ‘clear' (as opposed to being more traditionally unclear)?
Why do you emphasize kids and student ministry so much?
While our approach raises some great questions, it also seems to produce results. 60% of our growth every year comes from people who weren't previously attending church. Did you know that? That's outstanding! Thank you for continuing to invite your friends.
This week 24 staff and volunteers headed down to the Drive 13 Conference, North Point Church’s leadership conference in Atlanta (that's us on the stage at North Point). As a strategic partner church of North Point, this is always a highlight trip for us.
I wish you could have ALL been at Drive (come with us next time), here are 7 quotes from Andy Stanley at this year's Drive I want you to know about. His quotes are in bold. My commentary is in normal text.
I hope it helps you understand why we do what we do. And it might even spur you to invite that friend you've been thinking about.
1. We don’t tailor content of our services for unchurched people, but we do tailor the experience. People think we ‘water down' the Bible because our messages are clear. Hardly. Sometimes you get more bible at Connexus than some bible churches. We just try to make it clear. And we make no assumptions. If your friend is here for the first time, we want them to be able to access everything, from the opening song, to the prayer, to the message.
2. Nothing should offend people in your weekend services except the Gospel. That's why we work hard on great guest services, excellent family ministry, and having an engaging – even fun – environment for you to bring your friends into. If your friends stumble, we want them to stumble over or into the Gospel, not some callous or boring or offensive thing a person did.
3. People learn best in emotionally charged environments. That's why we do silly things like the Harlem Shake video and the butter tart giveaway. It's why we share powerful moments, like telling people's baptism stories or using music that stirs emotions. It's why we work hard at shaping powerful experiences (don't miss Good Friday or Easter this year!).
4. We leverage common experiences and emotions, not belief systems. When you’re reaching unchurched people, don’t start with disagreement (belief), start with agreement (common experiences and emotions) and then get to belief later. Think about this: you wouldn't want to go for dinner at a friend's house if every time you walked into their place they started talking about how they disagreed with you. The challenge can come later in the message, and we always try to comunicate it from a place of both grace and truth.
5. If you start (a message or event) with common emotions and common experiences, not everybody agrees with your point, but everybody follows you there. That's why Andy and I start almost every message with a personal story or a shared experience we've all had (you've probably felt the tension of how to relate to that difficult person at work), and then we move to the scripture. It just carries more people with you than if you start with what you don't agree on.
6. Our goal is not to be creative, but to leverage creativity for the sake of the mission and vision. We are not creative for creativity's sake, but in order to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
7. People stop attending church because they disengage, not because they disagree. Very few people walk out a church because of disagreement. Many leave because of disengagement. That's why we're passionate about helping people engage relationally and take their next step, whether that's to join Starting Point, serve, join a community group, give or invite a friend. Taking a step engages you.
8. Evaluate everything you do against your mission. This insight was from Diane Grant, Andy's assistant (who led a breakout). We get a lot of requests to do ‘new ministries', but we are focused on only doing those that best suit our mission, vision and strategy.
9. Kids begging their parents to go to church beats parents begging their kids to go to church. Invest in your family ministry environments. This insight is from Chad Ward, UpStreet director at one of the North Point campuses shared this. I hope you hear this. THIS is why we invest so much time and money in our family ministry and student ministry. We want this experience to be fantastic for kids and to have them passionate about their faith. There is no better gift you can give a parent than every opportunity to see their sons and daughters growing in faith and character. We invest a huge amount in that (and go every year to the Orange Conference to help us get better).
So those are 9 reasons why we do what we do.
You can read about other insights from our partnership with North Point on team alignment here, on attracting great leaders here, and get the full version of my take-aways from Drive 2013 on this blog post.
How about you? What do you like about how we do church? What's not yet clear? We'd love to hear from you.