StaSeve 05-7-137




Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones

North Point Resources

Multnomah Publishers, 2004, 186 pp.   ISBN 1-59052-373-3


North Point is one of today’s most modeled-after churches.  This book describes their management and marketing principles.  It’s “not so much about what to do as it is about what to ask.” (10) The authors break the operation down into principles and steps.  It’s easy to read and understand.  A baseball story analogy is followed by the explanatory text.  Reads much like a business book. 


There is an internal code in your church that drives your methods and ministries.  Many churches need to rewrite their code so everyone is clear about what is important and how they should function. (64-5)  “What if every volunteer and every staff member understood that certain practices were critical to the success of your mission, and that these practices were an essential part of the style and culture of your ministry?” (65)


Disclaimer: “Vision, values, and strategy are not nearly as important to your success as being in sync with what God desires to do in your church.” (67) [This is listed as a given but is not discussed in the book. dlm]


Practice #1. Clarify the Win.  Define what is important at every level of the organization. (69)


You know when you throw a strike, but how do you know when you score a “win” at church? (32)  If you give people a clear goal, they will work hard to get there.  Ask, What is the most important thing? (33)


“People tend to stop showing up when an organization is not winning.” (69)


How do you measure success?  “Clarifying the win simply means communicating to your team what is really important and what really matters.” (71) 


Be “intentional about defining a win so that you don’t accidentally communicate the wrong win or keep your team guessing....” (72)


“When you clarify the win, you help your team stay on the same page.” (75)


Sometimes ask the question, “What do we want people to walk away and do?” (79)


Keep the win as specific as possible, like a destination.  Keep it in front of your team.  Clarify what it means for every level of ministry.  (81, 83)


Practice #2.  Think Steps, Not Programs.  “Before you start anything, make sure it takes you where you need to go.” (87)


Where does a win happen best for you?  Then take the steps necessary to get there.  Do one step at a time.  Think steps, not programs.  Any activity not taking you there is wasted time.  A good step must be easy, obvious, and strategic.  If things don’t come easily, break them down into easy steps.  A step must be obvious so people don’t go the wrong way.  Strategic means it moves you to the next step.  (35-7)


A hit is not really a hit unless it gets you on base. (87)


“A program is a system of services, opportunities, or projects usually designed to meet a social need.”  A step helps someone get where they need to go.  Ask first, “Where do we want people to be?”  Ask next, “How are we going to get them there?” (89)


Each step must move people to the next stage in their spiritual growth.  “If classes don’t keep people moving, if the classes are not viewed as steps, they can actually work against helping people grow spiritually.” (90)  Steps should help people build relational bridges “because discipleship happens most naturally in the context of meaningful relationships. And we have learned that meaningful relationships are most likely to develop through the dynamic of an active small group.” (91)


“We determined not to start any new ministry or environment until we could determine how it would lead people to experience group life.” (91)


“A program is usually disconnected from other programs and can easily become an island unto itself.” (96)


Practice # 3.  Narrow the Focus.  “Do fewer things in order to make a greater impact.” (99)  Do a few things well. Teach the fundamentals.  Boil it down to the basics.  (39) 


Your potential to make an impact with your life is directly related to your willingness to narrow your focus.” (101)


“There is a natural tendency to drift toward complexity.”  “A lot of churches are simply doing too much....”  “While they are trying to reach the world, they are losing their own communities.” (101) [While this is true, it may be fair to point out that some churches doing very well at reaching their communities have greatly reduced their efforts to reach the world.  dlm]


“You have to do less if you want to grow more.  And if you do more, chances are you will grow less.” (102)


“Individuals have been allowed to build their identity around a program, not a mission.”  “...they lose the objectivity that is necessary to evaluate its effectiveness.”  “Programs need to change; a mission can last a lifetime.  When leaders give their heart to a mission, they hold whatever they create with open hands.  Why? Because the value of a program is linked to how well it helps accomplish the mission.  And a good leader is always more passionate about the mission than about the program.” (104)


“Narrowing your focus means you choose what potentially works best over what is presently working.”  “Just because something is working doesn’t mean you should keep doing it.” (106)


Most people are not looking for a church.  They are looking for something that is relevant to their marriage, family, or personal life, something that works for them.  They are looking for something specific.  (108)


“First decide who you have the best potential to reach.” (109)  “Create brands that are distinct and target a specific group.” (115) 


Our calling is to lead people to follow Christ.  “We are not in the business of education, social reform, or political revolution.”  “Our business is to provide hope and salvation for the human heart.” (116)


Practice # 4  Teach Less for More.  “Say only what you need to say to the people who need to hear it.” (119)


“When I attend conferences, the speakers usually cover so much material that I leave with only a vague, general feeling of conviction—I’m never really sure what I should specifically do.” (119)   “A good coach focuses on the fundamentals of the game.” (120)


“Most people don’t learn just so they can know more; they learn when they need to know something.”  Communicators “must make sure they know what people really need to learn.  And in some situations, they need to spend time making sure people understand why they need to learn something.” (121)


“You can drastically improve how much people learn if you teach less.” “...narrow the scope of what you teach to cover less information,...the core principles most appropriate to your target audience..., the ‘irreducible minimums’ of learning.” (122)


“Good teachers begin by identifying what is most important for their students to know.”  “Teach with the end in mind.” (123) 


“When you have established a vision for each stage of a person’s life, you have established a way to measure what you teach.” (123)   


“What will this curriculum help a child to ultimately become?” (127)


“Based on this verse (Luke 2:52), we have divided a child’s spiritual growth into three categories: wisdom, faith, and friendship.” (127)  We want every kid to grow up and say:

       “I need to make the wise choice!”

       “I can trust God, no matter what!”

       “I should treat others the way I want to be treated!” (128) [These are important principles but one might ask whether these minimums are too minimal? dlm]


“We identify a set of essential truths for every age group.  We then give our leaders and staff permission to teach these principles over and over again....” (128)


When in high school, his son wasn’t interested in Shakespeare.  What he really needed to know was how to dance.  “People attend churches every week and listen to someone teach Shakespeare when what they really want to know is how to dance.”  “Shakespeare may be interesting, but for most of us it is not very helpful.”  “They need leaders who will take them by the hand and teach them how to dance.” (136) [At the same time, as in this example, people often have a strong desire to know what is immediate and superficial when their deeper needs are unappealing and difficult.  It is important to be relevant to get their attention and it is critical to meet deeper needs as well, as I'm sure the authors would agree.  dlm]


Practice #5  Listen to Outsiders.  “Focus on who you’re trying to reach, not who you’re trying to keep.” (139)


“It’s just the natural tendency of any group to become insider-focused.” (140)  “The church today is primarily characterized by insiders reaching insiders.” (143)


“Jesus said he came ‘to seek and to save what was lost’ (Luke 19:10).  He commanded His followers to go into all the world and ‘make disciples’ of those who were not followers (Matthew 28:19).”  [I would have appreciated additional emphasis in the book on the “all the world” aspect. dlm]


“You should strive to find the delicate balance between facilitating the growth of believers and reaching those who are unchurched.”  Decisions can’t be based on who we will keep, but who we will reach. (145)  “The glue ... is an uncompromising commitment to create environments that will appeal to the unchurched.”  (146)


“People want their friends to have a good first impression of the church.  It puts healthy pressure on us to consider carefully how we program and communicate.  That doesn’t mean we water down the truth of what we teach, but we are keenly aware of how we say what we say.”  


“Our insiders have decided that the needs of outsiders are more important than their own.” (150)


“Our children’s ministries keep an eye on the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, etc.  Our student ministry will learn from MTV and the WB network....”  “To effectively listen to outsiders, you must learn their language.”   


Practice #6.  Replace Yourself.  “Learn to hand off what you do.” (157)

“Whether you have an exit strategy or not, you will ultimately exit.” (158)


On Sunday morning we have our teenagers “serving on the mission field.” (159) [Perhaps stating that teenagers were serving in ministry would help preserve a distinctive meaning for the term “missions" and "mission field.”  If we speak of the “mission field” as being ministry inside the church, then it may seem that all ministry is missions.  It may be helpful to distinguish "missions" as applying to culturally or geographically distant people. dlm]


“Make sure that every volunteer makes it their mission to recruit another volunteer.” (163)


Practice #7. Work On It.  “Take time to evaluate your work—and to celebrate your wins.” (173)


“No matter how good the system, a consistent time of evaluation can produce tremendous benefits.”  “Schedule consistent times to break away from the battle and assess your plan as well as your performance.”  (174)  “You can’t evaluate something if you stay in the middle of it too long.” (175)


Every Monday Andy asks the staff: “What did you see, hear, or experience this week that makes you feel we have successfully fulfilled our mission?” (176)


We can repeat those things that worked and hopefully avoid repeating the ones that didn’t. (177)


“Nearly half the time in our Monday morning meetings is spent discussing the current book and its application to our circumstances.” 


We share our stories to celebrate those involved.  It is a unique chance ... to... thank their peers who’ve played a pivotal role in making a great story happen.” (180)


“If you want a behavior repeated then you need to reward it.  Few things are more rewarding for a volunteer than hearing his or her name shared as part of someone’s life-changing story.” (181)



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