3-5 massive screens were in the front of the room. People were packed in. As far as I could see there wasn’t an empty seat in the entire room.
(You know something important is about to happen when you notice behavior like this.)
The host church dimmed the lights. Loud music began. A young, hipster looking worship band came out and led us through various Chris Tomlin songs that most everyone seemed to know. They developed an atmosphere of excitement. Thousands of people around the country and globe were watching.
I had been to enough conferences, retreats, seminars, and other events to know what to expect. At least I thought I did. I was thankful that I had decided this time I would have no more than one major takeaway per day. I previously challenged others to get something out of conferences and events and saw many walk away in a fog. They heard so much information that they weren’t sure what to do with it afterwards.
You have probably had the same thing happen to you. You hear speaker after speaker. You take notes, you go to lunch, you listen to more speakers and get more notes until it is time for dinner and you go home or to a hotel exhausted only to do the same thing again the next day.
You may have heard of others trying what I tried that day…define one clear takeaway each day that you will use, apply, or in some way integrate into your work, family, or ministry.
That day I heard one of the most simple and clear examples of a vision statement that I had ever heard in my life.
“Our vision is to create a church unchurched people love to attend.” Andy Stanley, lead pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta, GA stated this as if everyone else had a exceedingly clear vision like his.
If you have ever wrestled with clarifying a church’s vision statement, you know that many pastors and church leaders struggle to focus and clarify the vision God has given them for the future. In a sense, Stanley was absolutely right about it being pretty simple because he and his leaders had done the work necessary to focus and refine their vision statement. In another sense, it was one of those vision statements that you wonder how in the world did they get so clear in so few words.
In typical Andy Stanley fashion, he expounded on their vision in a way that everyone could understand. I appreciated the way he admitted that it had deficiencies and wasn’t for every church. He knew his limitations but wasn’t willing to let his limitations create a barrier to kingdom impact in his church or community.
So what made his vision statement exceptional? I have included Stanley’s vision statement again for you to reference as you work through the points below.
“Our vision is to create a church unchurched people love to attend.”
How Andy Stanley Created A Church Unchurched People Love To Attend – Church Vision Examples
1. It focused on a future reality not yet present.
You have probably seen how many churches try to create vision statements and end up giving a list of the things that they are going to do. You can include these things in your detailed vision statement but it will inspire and motivate more if you paint a picture with words of the future you imagine.
2. Andy Stanley’s vision was specific to North Point Church.
I can’t say it enough, try your best to create a vision statement that includes elements unique to you community, church, and people. Otherwise you will share a generic vision that everyone may say they agree with and few will become passionate about achieving.
3. Stanley’s vision was bigger and more difficult than any person could accomplish without God.
Is your church’s vision bigger than you? Does it seem at least slightly impossible? If it doesn’t, I would ask if it is sized for you or for God. Consider what dreams God has laid on your heart, what you imagine him doing during the best of situations, and get clear about what it looks like.
4. North Point Church imagined church looking different and seeing radically different results.
Would others say that your church does things in an altogether different way than other churches? How have you aligned the distinct gifting and experiences of your church with the community you are located in? North Point Church did this well by asking very serious questions about what they were trying to achieve and ultimately deciding to do whatever it took to get there.
5. Andy Stanley defined a win from Scripture and saw God build a church and a vision around it.
For Stanley, they had to get serious about reaching their neighbors or else they were not serious about the Great Commission (See Matthew 28). But for them to get serious about their neighbors, they had to decide that they were willing to do anything short of sinning to reorganize their church in a way that created systems for reaching those most churches claim to want to reach and rarely do.
What else would you say that Pastor Andy Stanley and other leaders at North Point did well in their creation and communication of their vision statement? How can you and your church learn from their example?
(Note: Andy Stanley, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, TX, certainly believes in the importance of God’s word. Although many would like to focus on “throwing stones” because of their real or perceived ecclesiological or theological disagreements with Stanley, our goal here is to look at the actual vision statement communicated by Andy Stanley. I have never met anyone who knows it all when it comes to bible interpretation and/or application. But I think you and I can learn from powerful leaders and communicators like Stanley who have influenced a generation to not only consider the claims of Christ but also become more like Jesus as they apply the truth of God’s Word to their lives more each day. My hope is that as you look at how Andy Stanley created a church unchurched people love to attend, you will discover new insight through a powerful church vision example that you can apply to your context in some way.)