Here are my notes from Andy Stanley’s message on March 5, 2017 at North Point Community Church. The stand-alone message was on volunteers, and it’s something that happens twice a year across all North Point churches.
Andy started the message by saying he and Sandra were “satisfied customers,” having seen all of their children move through the children’s and student environments. He said while all churches have volunteers, North Point has succeeded in part because they have engaged leaders. The commitment to excellence people talk about isn’t just about the music or preaching…people are talking about the volunteers and leaders.
Andy then proceeded to talk about the strategy of the church and say the why behind the what. I have a hunch this talk will be delivered at their church leadership conference, Drive, in a couple of months.
The first big conflict to hit the church was described in the book of Acts. The key question was “do you need to convert to Judaism first in order to become a Christian?” The underlying question was a debate between Christianity as a continuation of Judaism or something new. This question was settled about 20 years after the resurrection with a church council. Acts 15:13 records the decision.
Acts 15:13 records the decision. “We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” This verse has been a theme of North Point’s ministry across two decades. They want to remove all unnecessary obstacles for people to follow Jesus. Jesus should be the only obstacle.
So how does North Point try to create churches unchurched people love to attend? The big idea is they assume there are guests in the room.
“We want guests to know we know they are here and we are happy about it.”
Three questions to consider…
#1 – What do they see?
When people come to your house, you clean up first. Your house looks the best when you are expecting guests. Is there trash on the floor? Are the rooms ready for people?
#2 – What do they hear?
Andy talked about the reputation a church should have in the community. The community should see you as a stakeholder in the community. They should WANT you there. He shared several examples:
- Gwinnett Church hosting Night to Shine, a prom-style event for students with special needs.
- Buckhead Church being featured on a MARTA directional sign along with hotels and restaurants.
- Decatur City filling up all the volunteer positions for a non-profit that serves refugees.
“You are our reputation; You are our church,” Andy said to every volunteer in the room.
#3 – What do they experience?
People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus. That’s why we want people to experience something positive every time they come in the doors.
Andy told a story from the time they hosted a large singles gathering every week called 7:22. One week, when Louie Giglio was taking a break, a well-known speaker asked to speak. Andy said yes. During the series, he brought up a popular singer who had made some bad choices. This speaker repeatedly mocked her lifestyle and choices and lifted her up as an example of what not to do. Andy said he was furious for two reasons:
- It wasn’t nice, and there’s stuff in the Bible about being kind.
- Two weeks earlier, that lady had visited 7:22, brought in the back doors with her security people.
Did we show respect for the values and views of our guests? Everybody’s views make perfect sense to them. People are not going to be coerced into following Jesus.
Andy ended the message by speaking to all of the volunteers. “You are our church,” he said. “You’re so good at this,” he encouraged.
Then each lead pastor (campus pastor) came up and asked everyone who isn’t serving to indicate interest by turning in a card. At North Point, the card was attached to a donut.
My Thoughts and Notes
- Sharing your strategy as a church is an amazing volunteer recruitment tool. This message wasn’t a hard-sell for people not serving as much as thank you for people already serving. But he shared the overall strategy with the entire church. When you do that, it increases the confidence level of the people. They will see you have a plan and they can envision themselves being a part of it.
- Sharing stories of people serving sets a standard for the kind of volunteers you want. In a way, a message like this raises the bar for volunteers before they even start serving.
- The message wasn’t a hard pitch but a genuine thank you. When you thank people repeatedly, more people will be interested.
- This message will likely be delivered later to church leaders. As I said earlier, I have a hunch church leaders will hear this message at Drive. It’s a great idea to talk strategy to your church, not just to church leaders.