Tag: andy stanley (page 1 of 2)

Top books for people sensing a call to ministry


image credit: CreationSwap user Agatha Villa

Sensing a call to ministry?

Then it’s time to start getting prepped now. Nothing can substitute for doing the work of ministry. But picking up and working through a handful (or two) of good books will help you more than you could ever know.

These are some of my favorites. Some I read in seminary. Others I’ve read since I’ve been working full-time in the local church.

I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.



Small Groups with Purpose by Steve Gladen (e-book)

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley (e-book)

Sticky Church by Larry Osborne (e-book)

Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne (e-book)

Lectures to my Students by CH Spurgeon (e-book)

Creating Community by Andy Stanley (e-book)

UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (e-book)



21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell (e-book)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (e-book)

Tribes: We Need you to Lead us by Seth Godin (e-book)

Good to Great by Jim Collins (e-book)

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (e-book)


Theology/Spiritual Growth

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler (e-book)

Knowing God by JI Packer (e-book)

Christian Beliefs: 20 Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem (e-book)

ESV Study Bible

The Attributes of God by AW Pink (e-book)

Desiring God by John Piper (e-book)

Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers by John Owen (e-book)

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper (e-book)

The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg (e-book)


Anything you’d add?


Measuring what matters in small groups

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I attended the ReGroup conference at North Point this year. I decided to post some of the notes. To see all of them, click HERE.


How do we know if our ministries are working? Is it stories or is it statistics? Yes. Stories and statistics are not mutually exclusive. The measurements that we track help us tell the story of our ministry…about what has happened, what is happening, or what will happen. They help us know if we are “winning.” Measurements matter, so we measure what matters.

I. Where stories and statistics intersect

A. “Story” people and “statistics” people

  1. Stories engage the heart
  2. Statistics engage the head.
B. As a church, we are both organism and organization.
  1. Organism without organization is chaos
  2. Organization without organism is lifeless

II. Involve the right people

A. Establishing measurements must be a collaborative effort.

B. Establishing measurements requires diverse perspectives.

  1. Ministry involvement offers the perspective of ownership.
  2. Manager involvement offers the perspective of oversight.

III. Leverage best practices

A. Tie to the strategic

  1. Vision (life is better connected, which is why they measure “connection”), mission (to lead people into a growing relationship with Christ, which is why they send out a survey 2x/year to people in groups), and strategy (to create environments where people can grow, which is why they track the number of groups and the number of people in groups) must drive all measurements
  2. For each area of the organization, measurements must be developed around a clear win and critical factors of success. They measure 4 things: group participation, leader apprentice (for future growth), leader retention, and leader training
B. Tips on the tactical
  1. If you can’t or won’t change something, then don’t ask for feedback
  2. When relevant, use rations 100% of the time. This makes it easy to compare over time.
  3. Track over time to establish targets. You have got to have trends.
  4. Don’t marry your metrics.

IV. Follow up the right way

A. We don’t make decisions based on measurements alone.
B. We do…
  1. Open conversations. We believe the best, and don’t assume the worst.
  2. Start explorations
  3. Plan ahead…use numbers to look forward
  4. Benchmark standards
  5. Celebrate success. Don’t just focus on gaps.


The church is people and every one of them has a story. Our measurements must always be complemented with the stories of the people they represent. But stories, like numbers, can be manipulated. Therefore, it is not one or the other. We must walk the path between the ditches of the lifeless, organization-only mentality and the chaotic, organism-only approach. This is wise and skillful leadership; this is where sustainable growth is found. What you manage shows what you value.


Serving as a small group

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I attended the ReGroup conference at North Point this year. I decided to post some of the notes. To see all of them, click HERE.


It’s clear in Scripture that God’s heart tips toward the orphan, the widow, the poor, the imprisoned, and the brokenhearted. But how – with the urgency of our weekly responsibilities – do we ensure that serving our community and showing compassion to those in need are priorities? And how do we make it simple for our groups? We will share how we’re learning to make this an integral part of our ministry.

I. How are compassion and service integrated into your church’s strategy?

A. We must manage the tension between serving as a ministry (what we do) and service as a value (how we do it).

  1. When serving becomes a ministry, we are learning to make it simple.
  2. When service is a value, we are making it a priority.
B. To gain long-term traction…
  1. Service must be anchored in the strategic language of your church. (at North Point, they often say, “Relationships fuel service and serving fuels relationships)
  2. You must have a mechanism for mobilizing people to serve.

II. What is the role of compassion and service in groups?

A. We must manage the tension between mobilizing groups to serve and equipping groups for effective service.
B. When we mobilize and equip, people will do good well.
C. We want to move people from awareness to engagement to identity. (see groupleaders.org/berich for an example of what they’re doing this season.)

III. How will you make serving a priority in your groups?

A. We must manage the tension between finding engaging service opportunities and meeting the real needs of our communities.
B. We partner; we don’t pioneer. To non-profits they say: We need you, and you need us.
  1. This allows us to leverage our resources to help our partners go further, faster.
  2. Partnering instead of pioneering multiplies our influence in the community.


Our mission is to point people to the One who transforms, and it is the most important mision in the world. Service is a catalyst to this transformation, and the transformation is multiplied when we serve in and as a community. As a result, it is incumbent upon us to equip and mobilize groups to serve in astrategic and helpful ways – to make it simple and make it a priority.

Developing a Small Groups Strategy

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I attended the ReGroup conference at North Point this year. I decided to post some of the notes. To see all of them, click HERE.


There is a road map you can follow when developing your small group ministry. In this breakout, we’ll talk about the key principles that form the framework of our small group strategy. And we’ll discuss how you can contextualize them to your adult ministry, regardless of the size.

I. Some contextual thoughts for developing a small groups strategy

A. Leading a small group is to developing a groups strategy as driving a car is to building a car. A car and a groups’ strategy are both systems. 

B. Every system is built of essential components.

  1. If you leave out an essential component, your system won’t work.
  2. If you don’t know what the essential components are, you won’t know why your system down’t work.
  3. For every essential component, there is a steering question to ask and a guiding principle to consider.
  • When you have better questions, you get better ideas.
  • When you have better ideas, you get better solutions.

C. The goal for today is to further your ability to develop and implement an effective groups strategy. 

D. We will achieve the goal through two tactics:

  1. Introduce the five essential components of a small groups strategy.
  2. Illustrate an expression of these components using the example of our model

II. The Five components of an effective small group strategy

A. Point leadership

  1.  Steering question: Who is empowered, responsible, and accountable for the success of our groups system?
  2. Our answer:
  3. Guiding principle: “First who, then what.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great

B. Establish clear wins

  1. Steering question: How is our groups’ strategy helping us accomplish our vision?
  2. Our answer: intimacy with God, community with insiders, influence with outsiders. Closeness and intimacy (closed model), vs connecting people quickly (open model)
  3. Guiding principle: Life change happens best in the context of a small group. People love to win!

C. Coaching structure

  1. Steering question: How are we providing real-time, tactical support to group leaders?
  2. Our answer: coaching provides vision, orientation, direction, and support.
  3. Guiding principle: coached leaders go further, faster

D. Leader development

  1. Steering question: How are we equipping leaders with the knowledge they need?
  2. Our answer: community group leader orientation, coaches meetings, early gathering, theopraxis
  3. Guiding principle: Teach less for more.

E. Assimilation Solution

  1. Steering question: How are we forming groups?
  2. Our answer: Group Link in January and August. At Athens church, they appoint people to small groups
  3. Guiding principle: Think steps, now programs.


  1.  There is no such thing as “the thing,” that silver bullet that solves all small group problems.
  2. The strategy will only be as strong as the weakest component.
  3. The expressions may not be infinitely scalable; the questions are.
  4. Ask and answer these questions continuously.



Why I’m a small grouper for life

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I attended the ReGroup conference at North Point this year. I decided to post some of the notes. To see all of them, click HERE.

Andy Stanley taught in this main session.

Leading a group is the hardest and the best thing that a volunteer at North Point can do.

The only numerical goal that they’ve set as a church is groups. The goals you set focus the attention and affection and resources of your church. The goal was to connect 100,000 people in groups. Because of that, it’s impacted how they’ve budgeted and staffed. Groups is central to their entire congregation.

They say this often:

Life change happens in circles not rows.

Andy Stanley started a small group because he couldn’t attend Sunday school. And his first groups experience as a couple wasn’t a part of a program. It was just a need that he knew he could meet.


There are no perfect groups. Because people are there.

They have a closed groups model, and their secret to adding and growing groups is Group Link. This year they’ve connected over 6500 people in groups. 50% were new to small group life.

I’m not a small group lifer because:

  • I’ve learned so much in small group.
  • I like to connect with new people.
  • I’m expected to participate.
  • I look forward to Monday night.

I am a lifer because:

  • Group provides a relational first step for disconnect new or non believers.
  • It’s an environment where Sandra and u can nub user together and use our complementary gifts.
  • I’m faced with a variety of faith journeys that never fail to build my faith
  • Our children witness firsthand the importance of community.
  • We believe life change happens within the context of relationships.

North Point says this often:

Everybody needs to be in a group and when you’re ready, you need to lead a group.


Why circles are better than rows

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I attended the ReGroup conference at North Point this year. I decided to post some of the notes. To see all of them, click HERE.

Andy Stanley kicked the conference off in his opening session.

He started off by saying

Your greatest investment in the local church may be in preparing the way for your child or grandchild. – Andy Stanley

He also dropped this jewel

The best thing you can do for your church is develop a groups strategy.  – Andy Stanley

8 Lessons why Circles are Better than Rows

A groups model frees adults to serve on the weekend. Sunday school is a system that doesn’t allow everyone to experience groups. I you’re serving, you can’t ge in a group. Now they want people to worship for an hour and serve for an hour.

1. A groups model provides an opportunity for everyone to participate in a group…even the staff.

If you are really committed to spiritual formation, you’ve got to have a system that allows everybody to participate. Vision/selling point: we want everyone to grow spiritually. We want everybody to be in circles, not just rows.

2. A groups model provides the optimal environment for care.

Relational care is far superior to pastoral care. Te most difficult situations are the ones where people are not connected. If you have a pastoral care problem in your church, the answer is not that you need more staff. You need more groups. Groups also allow students to serve younger students.
A groups model is a growth engine for the weekend services. The problem with on campus groups is that you have to basically double the size of your campus.

3. Groups allows you to double your capacity.

It’s easier to invite people to one hour programming than 2+ hours. 1 hour programming allows you to use a smaller facility to reach more people.

4. A groups model is far less expensive than an on campus classroom model.

When you do small groups in homes, you never run out of parking or space. Paying for babysitters is much cheaper than building a building. Not spending money on a building also allows you to spend resources on hiring staff, not paying for a building.
5. A groups model is a growth engine for connecting people.

With on-campus groups, you often find yourself not wanting to build a building big enough to connect that many people. And they won’t come because you don’t have anything for them. And the cycle continues.

6. A groups model allows us to deliver message content and critical information beyond rows and into circles.

This gives the chance to give content that you can’t deliver on Sunday morning. North Point calls this the ‘insider edition’ and they put it online and on DVDs they give to groups.

7. A groups model is a catalyst for identifying, enlisting, and developing leaders.

In the classroom model, teachers surface quickly. In groups, leaders surface quickly, because every group needs a leader.* If you care for people, you care for people.

The true Church is never facility dependent. And neither is it preacher dependent. Small groups open up tremendous opportunities to lead people to Jesus.

*25% of North Point staff served as an adult group leader before being hired.




Andy Stanley, Catalyst 2011

Andy Stanley, pastor at North Point Community Church, opened the main sessions at Catalyst 2011.

He challenged those at the conference with these statements as they related to the theme, “Be Present.”

The more successful you are, the less accessible you will become.

For many this is frustrating. For others, this is liberating. But this is simply a leadership truth. And it’s not a bad thing.

There’s part of us that reads this and says, “Not me. I’ll always be accessible.”

 Refuse to face this reality and burn out by trying to be accessible to everyone.

You get stretched really thin if you ignore this principle. You can only be really, truly accessible to very few people. Over time, your body is in many different locations, and your mind goes with it.

 Some people use success as an excuse to become more inaccessible than necessary.

We see people using success as an excuse. Over time, the one who spreads himself too thin is no longer “present.”

Some people like to live with the mantra:

Unawareness is bliss.

The more aware you are of the needs around you, the more you often feel helpless and put-upon. Because no problem is fixed in 30 minutes, is it?

Being aware of the problems around us wears us out.

The Apostle Paul helps us with this.

Let us not become weary in coing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

You have limited time and opportunity, but as you have time and opportunity

Here’s the truth from this passage:

  • You can’t shut it all out.
  • You can’t hide in your office from people.
  • You can’t take it all on.

In ministry, this is one of the primary tensions you have to manage. There is no solution for this. If you ever solve this problem, your heart is hard towards people.

This is the phrase that Andy lives by, and the one he lives out with his family all of the time:

Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.

In school, when people asked the lunch lady, “Can I have an extra cookie?” she’d respond with, “If I give it to you, I have to give it to everyone.” To which you reply, “No you don’t…you can just give it to me!”

Fairness ended in the garden of Eden.

Nothing has been fair since. Fair is nothing to shoot for.

Don’t be fair. Be engaged.

3 tips to be engaged:

  1. Go deep rather than wide.
  2. Get involved with an individual couple.
  3. Go long-term rather than short-term

If you give every single one of your leaders who’s struggling an hour…you’ll be burned out. You’d be better off giving one couple 20 or 30 hours. If you don’t, it’ll rob your joy.

This is a challenge for me, personally. I would like to be able to “fix” everything. I’m grateful for Andy’s wisdom here. I needed it for sure.

Are you tempted to “fix” everything and everyone?


Vision Leaks

I’ve heard Andy Stanley say that vision “leaks.”  Here’s what he means:

Vision doesn’t “stick,” so you need to continue to cast the vision of your organization.  If you don’t continue to cast that vision, it disappears from the hearts and minds of those in your organization.

And I agree with that.

But let me put a twist on it.

Vision “leaks.”  Here’s what I mean:

If you cast your vision well, then everybody in your organization will “leak” that vision on a consistent basis.

You’ll see the effects of clearly communicated mission and vision in all of the different areas of your organization.  As people put on the lens of the worldview of your church, every idea that they have and every plan they make will fall in line with the vision you’ve cast.  It will leak onto everything they touch.

The goal of casting a vision is that people would not just nod their heads in agreement.  You want people who buy in so much that they become marketers and salesmen of the vision themselves, working to persuade others that their vision is too small, too weak, and too bland.  In effect, they begin to do the same thing that you do: cast vision.

But the vision has to start “leaking” with you.  If you’re not invested to the point that the vision “leaks” out of you in your conversations, ideas, current plans, future plans, and how your corner of the organization impacts the rest…then you need to ask God for a new vision.  Because if it’s not leaking out of you, then I can guarantee it’s not leaking out of those you’re leading.

If your vision isn’t “leaking,” maybe you should recast it.

Or get a new vision.

Have you ever seen your vision “leak” in the way I’ve described it, leaking out to others inside and outside the organization?

Ever had to recast that vision because it quit “leaking”?


5 Catalyst Guys you should follow

I’ve spent the week at Catalyst Conference, and have been completely impressed with the way this conference has run.  I thought I’d mention a few of the folks that helped pull this event together.  You can read all of my Follow Fridays HERE.

1. Brad Lomenick – Brad’s leads the Catalyst Conference team, and did a great job pulling everything together this year.  It was a great success.  Brad blogs on leadership HERE, and you can find him on Twitter HERE.

2. LV – I first met LV when we rode from our church offices to Ruby Tuesday’s in a 1985 Volkswagon Vanagon.  Nope, not kidding.  LV was on a road trip around the country to connect with leaders who had been impacted by Catalyst.  LV does a great job investing in and coaching young leaders.  You can follow him on Twitter HERE.

3. Reggie Joiner – Reggie’s talk at the opening labs was phenomenal.  You can read my notes HERE.  I love the work Reggie is doing with his ministry, Orange, revolutionizing the way churches lead students and families.  He stays around all week at the conference, also, to emcee.  You can follow him on Twitter HERE.

4.Andy Stanley – I know, I know…Andy isn’t technically on the team that organizes and pulls off the conference.  But he spoke to launch the conference, and will close the conference this evening.  You can read my notes from his session HERE.  I love hearing him speak, because I feel like he communicates in such a way that he can take a difficult concept and explain it in a way that makes me feel like it’s easy to understand.  You can follow him on Twitter HERE.

5. Tripp and Tyler – I’ve mentioned them before, but I’ll do it again.  These guys emceed the event, bringing a twist of creativity and humor to the announcements.  You can follow Tripp on Twitter HERE, blog HERE.  You can follow Tyler on Twitter HERE, blog HERE.


Andy Stanley on appetites, tension, and leadership

Opening Catalyst Conference, Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, discussed the internal tension that we all carry that’s associated with our appetite for more.

As leaders, certain appetites are heightened:

  • progress
  • greater responsibility
  • respect
  • desire to win
  • growth
  • fame
  • achievement
  • to be envied

There are 3 things that are universally true about our appetites:

  1. God created them, but sin destroyed them.
  2. Appetites are never fully and finally satisfied.  Though we think there’s some amount, or size, or goal that will fulfill our appetite…which leads to tension.
  3. Your appetite always wants what it wants now, never later.

How you deal with your appetites will determine the direction of your life.  If you are ruled and controlled by your appetites, the end will be embarrassing.

Genesis 25 centers around a birthright.  Esau was set to become instantly wealthier than all of his siblings, receive the highest status in his family, and receive the best of God’s blessing.  Who, honestly, would trade that for a bowl of stew?  Who would trade their future for something as temporary as that?

Scientists have shown that a your brain chemically changes when appetite happens:

  1. Impact bias – your brain takes a simple appetite and blows it out of proportion (ever experienced buyer’s remorse?).
  2. Focalism – your brain focuses your mind on one thing and blocks out everything else.

What we need is for someone to reframe our appetites.  Because whatever we want, we’ll find ourselves wanting more of that.

Don’t allow your appetite to dictate and control your leadership.

What’s your bowl of stew?  What’s hard to say “no” to now?  What are you trying to talk yourself into?

What are you contemplating that your spouse is uncomfortable with?

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