Church: The Weekend Experience
Pastor Carey Nieuwhof reflects on Andy Stanley’s teaching about how to make your church seeker-friendly. Here are a few of his observations. The bold type statements are quotes from Andy Stanley with comments from Pastor Nieuwhof. Powerful insights!
1. We don’t tailor content of our services for unchurched people, but we do tailor the experience. This is such a huge and important distinction. Opening up your service to the unchurched doesn’t mean dumbing it down.
2. Nothing should offend people in your weekend services except the Gospel. Often people get turned away not because of Christ, but because of people’s bad attitudes or strange preferences for certain kinds of music or culture.
3. A parking team is not about ‘parking’ guests, it’s about welcoming them. Even if you don’t have a “parking problem”, your welcome should start when your guests pull into the parking lot. Greet them personally and help them start their experience well.
4. Everyone has an approach to their weekend services. If there is a conflict between your goal and your approach, your approach always wins. Everyone has a template for their weekend services. If your template and approach aren’t getting you to your goal, change it.
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. Brilliant.
6. People learn best in emotionally charged environments. So engage their emotions early – with a fun opener (Andy referenced the 101st anniversary of the Oreo recently. They gave away a prize of Oreos and milk to an attender – cool). Or let music prepare people’s emotions.
7. 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.
8. The more time you can spend in planning a service or experience, the more personal it becomes. Planning is the friend of the Holy Spirit, not His enemy. Often “I’m relying on God” actually means “I didn’t prepare”.
9. Our goal is not to be creative, but to leverage creativity for the sake of the mission and vision. Bingo.
10. A clean environment communicates that we’re expecting you. I wish this was in the Bible. Then I could preach at people about it. But it’s not. So quoting Andy will do.
11. An orderly environment communicates you know what you’re doing. I wish this was in the Bible too. Clean and orderly communicates so much about you and so much about how you value the people you’re welcoming.
12. People stop attending church because they disengage, not because they disagree. HUGE insight. Very few people walk out your door because of disagreement. Many leave because of disengagement.
13. Attention span is determined by the quality of the presentation. With all the talk about diminishing attention spans, this is a clear reminder than 5 minutes of boring is 5 minutes too much, and 1 hour of gripping feels like not nearly enough. Pastors, before you use it to justify a 60 minute message, just make sure you’re that gripping.
14. A goal is something you accomplish. A win is something you experience. So true!
15. Creativity works best in the context of predictability. Creativity has constraints, but like obedience to the law, eventually the constraints bring a new kind of freedom.
1. Public loyalty buys you private leverage. Criticize privately, praise publicly. Your boss and colleagues will respect you. Flip it and they’ll fire you or never trust you.
2. Your direction, not intention, determines your destination. This principle came up numerous times. It’s just true. Good intentions amount to little.
3. Evaluate everything you do against your mission. This was from a session I attended led by Diane Grant. Diane is Andy’s Executive Assistant but a super strong leader in her own right. She owns this principles.
4. Great opportunities are a chance for a vision to drift. Again from Diane Grant. Exactly. And an opportunity does not equal an obligation. Stay true to the mission.
5. The loudest critics in the church are people who have become missionally disengaged. Clay Scroggins, a campus pastor at North Point, shared this nugget. So true. Why listen to people who are missionally disengaged give you feedback on your mission?
6. Kids begging their parents to go to church beats parents begging their kids to go to church. Invest in your family ministry environments. Chad Ward, UpStreet director at one of the North Point campuses shared this. So true. Get the kids, and you’ve got the parents.