Andy Stanley - More Than Ever

Hey, today is such an important day for our church and if this is your first time with us or your first time watching, this is the perfect time to be here for the first time because as I said a couple weeks ago when I talked about today we're gonna kinda peek behind the curtain and hopefully, you'll discover, there's not a curtain. Today I wanna talk about more than ever, what we're about as a local church. So, if this is your first time or maybe you're skeptical, somebody made you come to church 'cause you're spending the weekend with 'em, whatever. Again, this is the perfect time.

A couple years ago Sandra and I were in the kitchen talking, we were kind of just entering that empty nest season of life and so, we were talking about, what are we gonna do with our time and what's the best way to invest this season of our life and she, we were just again, having this cool discussion and she asked a question that I thought was amazing. In fact, I wrote it down and I actually used it in a message a couple years ago, right after she said it. She said, what would we like people to line up at the end of our lives and thank us for? What would we like people to line up at the end of our lives and thank us for?

That is a really good question. That's a question everybody should ask at every season, every transition of life. Hey, when your life's over and you're sittin' on the front porch and your productive years are over, if you could choose what people were grateful to you for and the difference you'd made, what would you want it to be? So, we had a great discussion about this.

So today, what I wanna do is I wanna ask this same question as it relates to all of us collectively, as a group of Jesus followers and as a group of churches that are here in the Atlanta area and some churches that are scattered around the country. Now, if you're new you may think that's a pretty arrogant question to ask. You know, like somehow you're gonna do somethin' so amazing that people are gonna thank you for it, but it's not really an arrogant question. It's not an arrogant question for you to ask as an individual and hopefully, as you'll see, it's certainly not an arrogant question for us to ask as a group of churches. Because, whether you're aware of it or not, and I can understand why you're not, because you're busy people, we're gonna talk about that.

We, as a group of churches, we are actually stewards of extraordinary influence and unprecedented opportunity. That we, as a group of churches in the Atlanta area, really are stewards. That is, we've been given an extraordinary opportunity because of our influence and, as you're gonna see in just a minute, an unprecedented, and I know unprecedented is like a big word, but we really do have an unprecedented opportunity as it relates to our city because, thanks to your participation in groups, thanks to your generosity, thanks to the fact that you are involved in the community, thanks to your volunteering, churches all over the country and in some cases, all over the world, look to us as leaders and look to us for leadership, look for us to fix things that are broken, to solve problems that they're wrestling with in their own communities.

And because of your, really just because of your participation and because of our growth, we have extraordinary influence as it relates to what churches are doing all over the country and in some different parts of the world. And, that's actually success for us because in the beginning our goal was to create a church that served as a new model for churches, because we wanted something, we thought the church needed to do some things better, do some things differently, address some issues that you know, were not being addressed.

And so, from the very beginning we wanted to create a different kinda model and specifically, we wanted to create a church that unchurched people loved to attend. We wanted to create a church that unchurch people, people who were far from God, people with questions that maybe nobody could answer, would show up, participate in church with you and walk away saying, you know what? I'm not sure I believe it all, but that was helpful. I'm not sure I believe it all, but those are some of the finest people in our community. I'm not sure I believe it all, but I'm so glad my kids are involved. I'm not sure I believe it all, but you know what? That did answer a question for me. I'm not sure I believe it all, but I think I'll go back next time.

We wanted to create a church where doubters felt the freedom to express their doubt, people with questions could actually ask their questions and hopefully, get some answers. And, you have been successful in creating that kind of church. You have provided a model for churches characterized by some things that maybe in the past churches weren't characterized by. You've created a church that's characterized by leadership culture. The churches that I grew up in, maybe the churches you grew up in, they were more like people who stood behind a counter and waited for customers to walk in the door.

But, leaders aren't like that. Leaders try to find things that are broken and fix 'em. Leaders see problems and wade into the problem. Leaders are the people who think about the future and the vision and how things could be better and how things could be different. And you have been part and this church and in the network of churches we've created, of creating in the local church a leadership culture that has infected and impacted lots and lots of churches. In fact, there has been a resurgence of leadership in the local church.

That's why there're so many church plants. That's why so many were entrepreneurial thinking people have entered ministry, it's because you gave leaders the opportunity to step to the forefront of a local church and lead and the reason you did is because so many of you are leaders and you came to this church and Atlanta area churches and you were able to use your leadership gift and it impacted our culture and created a model for other churches to follow. You've created another thing that you didn't know about. You've created a multiplication culture.

When I was in seminary, graduate school, studying theology, almost 40 years ago we had a professor, Dr. Howard Hendricks, and he used to say, men, don't be content, he said men 'cause it was mostly men, ladies sorry, it's not that way anymore. It was a long time ago. He would say men, he had this really rough, cool voice, say men, don't be content with addition. Multiply, you have to multiply. Jesus called us to multiply.

And I can remember sittin' in class thinking yeah, multiply, but how does a church multiply? Because the only model I'd ever been exposed to was addition. You just add members and you add people. But, you have cracked the code and we have cracked the code on multiplication. You've multiplied groups because of what we do in the communities. You've multiplied environments in our community. You've now even been able to multiply churches. And speaking of groups, our groups culture, thanks to Bill Willots, who's here with me today, and our incredible staff of groups people who've been sorta pushin' on this flywheel for year after year after year. It has been a game changer for churches.

So many church had sorta given up on a groups model because it was so difficult to multiply. But, under his leadership and with your leadership we've been able to crack the code on groups for adults and also in family ministry. The fact that we led the way in moving adult leaders with children through elementary school and the same adult leader through middle school, same adult leader through high school, was a brand new paradigm for how to do children's ministry and teenage and high school ministry in church.

As a result, it's not curriculum driven, it's not school year driven, it's relationship driven, because our goal was for parents to have a partner when it came to parenting their kids and hundreds of you, actually collectively thousands of you have plugged in with sixth graders and stayed with them sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Thousands of you have plugged in with ninth graders and moved with them ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth. Thousands of you have plugged in with children and walked with them through their elementary years and again, have partnered with their parents in setting an anchor deep so if they were to drift they won't be able to drift very far.

And, this has been a game changer. It's a completely different model that hundreds and hundreds of churches have adopted. But, with all of our success, we've got one clap. Yeah there we got five claps, yeah. Well, hey, you hear me say this all the time. As a parent, I would go to this church just because of what this church has done for my kids.

And as I told you last week, I'm not gettin' my money's worth anymore. I mean, we're tithers plus to this church, but I don't get any free diapers, any free crackers, nobody comes home with crafts. I asked Sandra the other day, did you do a craft? She said, we don't do crafts. So anyway, the point being, I am such a thoroughly satisfied customer as a parent, and I'll get to this in just a minute and I know this is kinda arrogant, I don't know why everybody in the city of Atlanta doesn't have their children in the incredible environments that you create. It's just incredibly fantastic.

But, the point is this. We can't and we're not going to coast because there's more. There is more opportunity than ever, ever, ever before because our Atlanta area churches are in some of the fastest growing areas of our city. And because we're in some of the fastest growing areas of our city, that means without moving, without building anything new, without paving anything new, there are more adults and there are more children and there are more middle school and high school students than ever for us to have the opportunity to impact. That's why we can't coast, because the issue isn't size. The issue is life change.

Last weekend I think I told you about this, or mentioned this last weekend, but last weekend on Friday, last weekend we had an event just for our high school seniors, not high school students, just high school seniors, from our Atlanta area churches. So, last weekend I had an opportunity to go up with Gavin and with Clay and we got to teach just our high school seniors, 634 high school seniors. I was on stage, it was so emotional. We just had 25 minutes of singing, I was just blown away and I pulled out my phone and I took this picture. Isn't that amazing?

And again, as I'm talking to these extraordinarily mature students who are trying to figure out next steps and their small group leaders were there and to see an adult who poured into these kids and so many of you, you know, walk with them from ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth, it was so emotional. I thought, I mean, every parent in the city of Atlanta, you would be crazy not to have your student at Inside Out in the ninth grade, so that by the time they got to this age they would have an understanding of the world and God and the way the world works and relationships, that these kids have.

So again, there are so many things going on. Not only that, we have more than ever, opportunity with university students because of the growth of Kennesaw State University, because of the growth of Georgia State University and other smaller colleges moving into the Atlanta area, Atlanta has become somewhat of a college town, believe it or not. And, we're seeing the results of that and we have more opportunity than ever with college students. Three of our campuses have college gatherings every single week, Brown's Bridge Church, Woodstock City Church and Buckhead Church. This past Monday and Wednesday, because Buckhead meets on Monday, the other two meet on Wednesday, but this past week we had over 2000 college students just at college gathering.

Here's a picture of Woodstock City with Sam Urmistad on stage, okay. 1000 plus college students, mostly from Kennesaw State University. So again, because of where we're located and because of the way our city has changed we have more opportunity than ever. But, here's why our opportunity is unprecedented and here's why we have to get this right and here's why we're not taking our foot off the pedal and here's why those of you who are adamant, not adamant, but are passionate about discipleship and seeing people become Jesus followers, this is why we need you more than ever.

First, how many of you like maps? Anybody here just love maps? My wife loves maps. We actually have, believe it or not, have a room in our house that is a map room and I don't love it. It isn't a beautiful room, but we have maps because she loves maps and I said, yeah. So, we have maps, we love maps. So, I wanna show you a map. So, this is obviously metro Atlanta and I wanna show you our local churches with a 20 minute drive time, just show you what our, talk about this unprecedented opportunity we have.

So, here's North Point Community Church where we are now, with a 20 minute drive time. Here's Buckhead Church, with a 20 minute drive time. Here's Brown's Bridge Church, 20 minute drive time. Woodstock City Church, 20 minute drive time. Gwinnett Church, 20 minute drive time. Decatur City Church, 20 minute drive time. Gwinnett Church, Hamilton Mill, our newest campus, 20 minute drive time, which is extraordinary. But, Chris, down at Southside, along Southside and Peachtree City and their church is here, then they started a second campus, which is Southside Newnan and then they just started a third campus, Southside Henry County.

This is why we have an unprecedented opportunity in the city and around the city of Atlanta. We can invite people to church regardless of where they live and where we live. We have them surrounded. They say, well I work in Alpharetta, but I live way up in Forsyth County. No problem. Well, you know, I work up in Forsyth County, but I live all the way down at Buckhead. No problem. You cannot escape us. We are ubiquitous. We are everywhere. We are the only church or group of churches in the city of Atlanta with this opportunity and we have to take advantage of this opportunity. And not just any city, right, an important city, a strategic city, a diverse city, an extraordinarily strategic city when it comes to what happens in our country and what happens with travel and what's going on in our city.

One of the great things if you travel you know this. So many of the large cities in the United States are land locked because they're on coasts. We can grow, like I need to tell you this, 360 degrees in every direction and as we continue to grow and as we continue to multiply our footprint, we just have more and more and more influence and more and more opportunity.

So, here's what I wanna do for about 15 or 16 minutes. I just wanna dream with you a little bit about what could be and should be, about the difference that we can make. And so, then after we dream a little bit about what we could be and should be and the difference that we can make, then I'm gonna ask every single one of you to do one thing, one thing that could change everything for somebody. In fact, it is the same thing that someone did for you that you would say hey, it made a big difference in my life. In fact, it resulted in a complete changed life for me.

So, back to my original question. We're all sittin' on the front porch together. It's a very large front porch and this is over. Somehow this is just all over and we, if you would ask me Andy, what would you like people in our communities to line up and thank us for as a collection of churches? If I could write the script I would narrow it down to three things. Our contribution to the church at large, our contribution to our communities and the first one would be this.

That as a result of what we did together I envision a world where the church is considered an essential part of every community, that when people find out a church is coming they're excited, even if they're not church people, that the church is considered so valuable and such an integral part of the success of any community that people would love the fact that there's a local church or a new local church in their community, that people would immediately think of all the good the local church does and the value that a local church brings to a community. And I gotta tell you. Be Rich has planted that flag for us. Your generosity through Be Rich, which is our annual giving campaign where we give to the best charities in our communities, has been amazing.

In fact, you should know that every time we have planted a church in a new community one of the first things that the staff do before we even have a location or piece of property, one of the first things that we do is we go to the local charities, whether they're faith-based or not, we don't worry about faith-based or not faith-based, we just find the best charities, to people who are serving children the best, the underserved children the best, the title one schools the best, the people that are really knocking it outta the park and we go to them and say, you know what? We're comin' to this community. How can we help? How can we help you raise money? How can we resource you? And how can we help you with volunteerism?

And as a result of your consistent generosity in all of these communities, these churches would be missed in terms of what's happening in the communities, if we were to leave. And I envision a world where that's true of every community and every single church and you are leading the way in that direction. In fact, this year over 70 churches are gonna join us in our Be Rich campaign and they're are dozens of other churches who took this idea and ran with it, rebranded it, they don't call it Be Rich, they call it something else, but they understand the value and they understand their responsibility to make a difference in the community, whether or not the people in the community ever darken the doors of their church.

I envision a world where people love the fact that there's a church in the community. The second thing is a world where people skeptical of what we believe are envious of how well we treat each other and amazed at how well we treat them. This captured the attention of the ancient world. This is what set the early Christians apart. They picked up abandoned children. They stayed in villages when plagues would rip through different parts of the world and they would nurse people back to health and they would give up or lose or risk their own lives to help the sick. That unusual kind of love got the attention of the world again once and I think it can again and it is the thing that we've been called to. It should be as individuals and as a group of people, it should be our brand. It should be our reputation.

When people think Christian, they should think, finest people I've ever met. When people think Christian, they don't think of legalism, they don't think of criticism, they don't think of all the stereotypes. When they hear the word Christian, they think oh yeah, I'm not sure I'd ever wanna be one, but I sure hope my daughter marries one because those Christian men, they know how to treat a woman. I'm not sure I would ever wanna you know, be one, but I sure hope I get to work for one. I hire all of them I can. They're the most honest, hard working people. And the thing is this. This should not take us by surprise.

In fact, it's amazing we lose sight of this so quickly because toward the end of his ministry, the last final hours really with his apostles, Jesus said something that is so extraordinary and he didn't say this about anything else. He said look, by this one thing, by this one thing people will know if you're my follower. By this one thing people will know that you're my disciples. By this one thing people will know that you have been paying attention to what I've taught, that you love one another and not the kind of love that you want and not the kind of love that you've seen expressed and not the kind of love that you've received. He defined that kind of love. He says, as I have loved you, talking to his apostles and ultimately to us, as I have loved you, as I have loved you, you are to love one another and by that unique brand of love people will know that you're my followers.

When you get this right people pay attention. When you get this right it paves the way to influence. When you get this right we become attractive because of who we are and what we do regardless of what we believe and regardless of whether or not the people around us ever believe what we believe. Imagine a world where people are envious of the way we talk about each other, envious of the way we treat each other, and amazed that we would include and treat them the same way. That changed the world once. It is no mistake that Jesus said, that's where you plant your flag in terms of your reputation. And this is something we have all been called to do.

But, I envision a world where the church is the epicenter of that kind of love and that kind of acceptance and that kind of unconditional expression of grace and mercy and forgiveness. And third, I envision a world where people want the message of Jesus to be true before they believe it's true. A world where people want the message of Jesus to be true before they believe it's true. A world where the gospel is so clear that it is as compelling as it actually is because it's so clear. Because when the gospel message is clear people will want it to be true before they believe it's true.

Who doesn't want justice for people who've been treated unjustly? And if there is no eternity there is no justice because there is certainly no justice for most people in this life. Who would not want to think that there is a God who knows their name, who loves them personally and has invited them to refer to him and to call him and to relate to him as a heavenly Father, not because he's a man, not because he's male, not because he's a literal father, but it is the best image that human beings can wrap their minds around when they think of a powerful being that loves them and cares for them and promises to protect them. Who doesn't want there to be eternal life? Who doesn't want there to be something beyond this life?

And this is the promise of the gospel and this is the promise of Jesus. And when the gospel is clear, people should want it to be true before they believe it's true. And when it's cluttered, and when it's complicated it loses its appeal and we lose our appeal. But, I envision a world where the church gets this right and the gospel is so clear that people lean in, and want it to be true before they're convinced it's true. Jesus said something very interesting along these lines.

In Luke and Luke captures this for us. And, when you read it, if you're just reading through the New Testament this is one of those verses that you read and go, huh, and keep going. But, the depth and the significance I feel as if maybe Jesus was looking out beyond his own death and beyond his resurrection and he was thinking of that day when the gospel would go into Gentile parts of the world and the polytheists of the world would wake up one day and realize what? There is a single God who knows my name and loves me and I don't have to continue to make sacrifices to appease this God when I never know what this God thinks about me anyway.

Jesus said this, he said, the law and the prophets, talking about the Old Testament, that's the first entry, name for the Old Testament or what we call the Old Testament, the law and the prophets were proclaimed until John. Talkin' about John the Baptist. He said, up until the time of John it was all about Moses. Up until the time of John it was all about Israel. Up until the time of John it was all about a covenant between God and a nation. He said, but since that time, since the time that I, Jesus, stepped onto the pages of history, the good news, the good news that was missing up until now, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached. And look at this next word. And everyone, everyone who's exposed to it, everyone who understands it, everyone who understands the implications of it and everyone is forcing their way into it.

When people understand the gospel they lean in and they hope it's true. They wish that it would be true because when it is clear it is compelling. And if that was our contribution to the church and if that was our contribution to our city and if that was our contribution to the world, we would leave the world and we would leave the church in better shape than how we found it. So, as for me, if you can't tell already, I am more committed, I am more energized and I am more excited than ever about partnering with you to inspire more and more and more people to follow Jesus, and why not? Because Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth and everyone is invited to participate in it.

Now, here's what I know. You're busy. It's like, this is great, Andy. I hope, good luck with that. Go get 'em, tiger, you know. 'Cause you know, I got stuff to do. I know you're busy. You're raising kids, you're trying to have kids, you're trying to find somebody to have kids with, you're trying to date, you're trying to figure it out, you're trying to finish school, you're trying to get into school, you're trying to see your grandkids and they're scattered all over the country and it's like you know, why couldn't they come here? They've got plenty of churches here and jobs here.

So anyway, I get it, you're busy. And, I along with all the lead pastors of all our churches and all of our staff, we're gonna keep all the organizational plates spinning. So, you don't need to worry about any of that. But, there is something you can do. In fact, there's something you must do. There is one thing that you could do that could change everything for somebody and as I said earlier, it is the thing that perhaps changed everything for you. And that one thing is not a new thing. It's an old thing.

In fact, this thing that everyone can do is the reason that all of this, by God's grace, exists. There is one behavior, there is one habit that in the early days most of us embraced that allowed us to accomplish again, what we humanly speaking, have accomplished. And it's a habit. It's a habit that serves as what some people call a keystone habit. I don't know if you're familiar with this phrase or not. A keystone habit is a habit that has a cascading effect down to different areas or to all areas of a person's life, or a company or a community or even a country.

There's a habit that's so powerful it begins to effect everything. For example, tracking what you eat, or journaling what you eat is a keystone habit. If you journal what you eat you pay more attention to what you eat. If you pay more attention to what you eat you eat more healthy. If you eat more healthy you sleep better. If you sleep better you're more alert at work. If you're more alert at work you make more money. If you make more money your children love you. If your children love you they stay in town and have grandchildren you have access to. So anyway, can't promise that. It's a keystone habit. And some of you have learned this because when you started journaling what you ate you ate better, you exercised more. I mean, it's a keystone habit.

Another keystone habit is dinner, if you're a family and you have children, dinner at the table four nights or five nights a week. Families who make this a habit, we eat together, we don't go out to eat, we eat at home four or five nights a week, it's a keystone habit. The keystone habit trickles down to relationships, conversation, clarity, homework, grades, scholarships, everybody's happier, okay. So, it's a keystone habit. Well, organizations have keystone habits. And we have a keystone habit.

And I want to call your attention to it and I want to invite you back to it because it is the one thing that every single one of us can do that would make all the difference for someone in our communities. And we called it in the old days, and I'll call it in these news, invest and invite, invest and invite. It's very simple. You love your neighbors, you love your friends, you love the people you work with and then when the time is right you invite 'em to church. You invest in that relationship, you invite 'em to church. You invest in that relationship, you invite 'em to church. Not because they're projects. They're not projects. They're people. The reason you invite them to church is the same reason you tell them about a good restaurant or a new restaurant. Why? Because you don't want 'em to miss out.

And these environments that you have created in all of our Atlanta area churches, are you kidding me? Why would anyone wanna miss out on any of these. These are some of the best kept secrets in our city. Last weekend, or last week I was talking, last week in transit, that's our middle school environment, in transit, they were talking about everybody has influence, this is seventh and eighth graders. All of you have influence which makes all of you leaders. Here, let's learn how to leverage the influence you have so that you can impact people in a positive way. And this whole lesson was about how to leverage influence. It was incredible. And then, get this. Every parent that afternoon, got an email from the small group leader with three questions to ask at home to keep the conversation going.

So, a mom came up to me. She was just so excited about this. She said, I'm telling you. She said, as a parent I don't care what you believe. I don't care what you believe religiously, you want your kids to understand the influence they have. You want your kids to understand how to leverage it in a positive way and the fact that I had questions emailed to me to keep the conversation going, who wouldn't want their middle schooler in an environment like that? I'm going, I know. Every family in this city or in any part of our city should have their middle schoolers in these environments. That's just one example. We have a city-wide initiative called, Canopy, for singles. It's the best, Canopy's the best way and the best place in Atlanta for singles to meet other singles. It's based around affinity groups, cooking, hiking, biking, running, jogging, anything you can think of.

We bring singles together and then two or three times a year they all get together and do a time of worship and teaching, we call it Canopy Stages. I mean, and we have the potential to do that because of our reach to singles both in the city and all around the city. It's an incredible opportunity. It's one of our best kept secrets. In fact, if you're a single, just go to to find out more about Canopy. I can go on and on and on. I mean, these environments that you've created, that you have funded, why would we not want to invite people because it will certainly impact their life in a positive way, even before they come to the same conclusions perhaps you have about God and faith and who Christ is.

But, we're not gonna stop here. Those are the old days. We're gonna take it up two notches, okay. Not only are we gonna invest and invite the people in our communities and the people we work with. We're gonna start inviting strangers to church. And I'm gonna tell you how. I'm gonna give you a little plan. Whenever you hear, now this is important, I've been doing that, I would never ask you to do something that I haven't done or am not currently doing. Sandra and I have been doing this for a long time. Whenever you hear anyone mention what we call the three nots, the three little nots, whenever you hear someone mention the three nots, you're just gonna invite 'em to church.

Oh, you should come to my church. Oh, you should come to my church. You should come to my church. I mean, you're sittin' in the booth you know, having coffee with somebody and you hear somebody on the other booth mention one of the three nots. You get up on your knees, lean over, and you say, hey, you should come to my church, okay. And you almost think I'm kidding, okay. Sandra and I have some really funny stories. We just decided we're gonna do this. Even at the, even if it's a little odd and people might even think it's rude, we've decided you know what? We believe so much in what we do, why would we not take a risk and invite strangers to church? And here are the three little nots. Whenever you hear, not in church, not going well, and not prepared for. Not in church, not going well, and not prepared for, don't need to write this down. Gonna hand it to you on your way out. Not in church, not going well, you're shocked, aren't you? Not prepared for.

Oh, you know, we're not really church people. Oh well, you should come to my church. Oh, I'm tellin' you what, we moved to the city, we just were not prepared for all the changes. Well, you should come to my church. What? Yeah, you should come to my church. What's that got to do? Oh, you gotta come to my church. I'll tell you what, things are not. You know, you asked where my husband was, well things just aren't going well in our marriage. Oh, hey, you should come to my church. You say, Andy, really? Is our church the answer for everything? Maybe. What's it not the answer for? What is the gospel, what's the gospel not the answer for?

There was a friend of my dad who I met because he was a friend of my dad, he's long since passed away, Adrian Rogers, he was a pastor in Tennessee. He tells the story about being on a plane and he's this big, tall handsome guy and has this big Bible and he gets on the plane and opens his Bible and the guy next to him kept lookin', kept lookin' and finally the guy said, okay, 'cause it's like a big Bible. It's not like, online Bible. This is like Bible, okay. One of those. And Adrian did this on purpose 'cause you couldn't help but see him he was so tall and handsome and he's got this big Bible and the guy said, hey, why you read that. And he said well, there's only three problems in the world, sin, sorrow and death and this addresses all three. He just went back to reading. He said, about 15 minutes in flight the guy says, okay, I've been tryin' to think of something that's not related to sin, sorrow and death. There's just three problems, sin, sorrow and death.

And my friend, you are the jars of clay and I'm the jar of clay that is the container for the hope of the world so yeah, if somebody's not at church, they should come to your church. If somebody wasn't prepared for it we can introduce 'em to the person and the one that can help 'em get prepared for, and not just that, we can help them. And if things aren't going well, I mean, that's what we do is we help people for whom life and things and family aren't going well so yeah, when you hear one of the three nots you go, you should come to my church, you should come to my church. Now, we're not stopping there. I'm gonna give you the specific invitation, okay, 'cause we're not, we're not playin' around. This is too important for us to just play around and think well, we're a big church and we've got it under control.

So, here is the specific invitation and I have been extending this invitation for three months, almost three months now. Every single week, I told our staff, I said, every single week I'm gonna extend this invitation to someone and you can call me on it and check me out. And here's the invitation. Come sit with me. Come sit with me. Altogether, everybody out loud. Not, well, you should visit our church sometime, see 'ya. Hey, you should check it out. You should watch online. Nope, we're not doin' that anymore. Now, I want you to use good judgment, but the invitation is hey, come sit with me. So, I've been inviting people to come sit with me for, we have some of the most amazing wonderful stories 'cause when I say come sit with me, they're like with you? I'm like yeah, I sit in the same seat every single Sunday. Just say Andy said I could sit with him.

This is 9 o'clock service, I was having direct message conversation with somebody in the city on Twitter and I said, come sit with me and they showed up this morning 9 o'clock and sit right here. I never met 'em before til they walked in and identified themself. This afternoon at 4:30. Oh, thanks. 4:30 service got, and anyway so this is our invitation. Come sit with me. One more time all together, come sit with me. That's it. Just come sit with me. Which means you have to be here and it means that you have to save 'em a seat and if you're volunteering and you're thinking well, I can't invite somebody to sit with me, I'm taking care of a small group. You just let us know. Text us, email, let your director know. I can't be there, somebody's gonna sit with me. Because we're gonna invite 'em to come sit with me.

Now, I'm gonna make it even better. There's more. Now, I'm gonna teach you the elevator pitch. We have an elevator pitch, okay. Now, not a sales pitch, we're not selling anything, right. This is the elevator pitch. This is why they should come to your church because you know, well so, what's your church about? What's the name of your church? And what kinda church is it? Well, to be honest I would rather chew on broken glass than go to church, so no, I'm not gonna come sit with you. I'm not gonna come to your dumb church. So, here's our elevator pitch, okay. And when somebody says, what's your church about or why, tell me about your church, here's what we're gonna say.

Well here's the thing. You know how life is complicated and you know, you wanna get it right, I wanna get it right and we want to help. You know, life is complicated. Parenting, they got the stroller, is so complicated. You know what? And you wanna get it right and you've got these little ones. At North Point Community Church we just wanna help. I know it's so complicated moving to a big city and you wanna get this right and well, at our church we just wanna help.

So, what's your church about? Well, you know how, you know how life can just get complicated? Oh yeah. And you wanna get it right. Yeah, of course, I wanna get it right. And our church, we just wanna help. You know, life's complicated, parenting's complicated, school's complicated, dating's complicated, everything's complicated. You just pick whatever season of life they're in. You've got it. You know how that's complicated? Yeah. Well, and you wanna get it right. Yeah. Hey, we just wanna help. Come sit with me.

Now, being kinda silly and you know, this is a big deal because from my perspective this boils down to this one simple question, will we or won't we, will we or won't we be good stewards of this unprecedented opportunity in our city. Will we or won't we be good stewards of our more-than-ever opportunity? An opportunity to inspire more people than ever to become followers of Jesus almost anywhere in our city, and I say yes, yes we're gonna take advantage of that opportunity because come on. We're just doing for others what somebody did for us. You're here because somebody invited you, right.

Aren't you glad somebody invited you? And aren't you glad they invited you more than once, 'cause you said no the first five, six times, then they kept sticking stuff in your mailbox. Then the finally, one Sunday morning, picked up your kids and took 'em off to church. Just like, where are my kids going? Well, we're taking your kids. And finally, you follow along behind your kids and you looked for snakes. There were no snakes you know. And you thought huh, these people seem kinda normal. Then you saw somebody you knew from work or you knew from the community. You thought, they're kinda normal.

Next thing you know you walk in, about halfway through the service, you get all emotional and you go like, whew, what's wrong with me and you cry and then at some point you see a baptism video and it kinda connected with you and here you are, you've got one of our cool t-shirts on, right. So, this is just a matter. This is so simple we can all do it. Hey, life's complicated. You wanna get it right. We can help. Come sit with me. This is the keystone habit that changes everything.

And here's why it's such a big deal. This is the bigger deal, this is the bigger picture. When we do this consistently and we get this right it impacts, a keystone habit, it will impact how we serve, it will impact how we sing, it will impact how we give and it will impact, and to me this is the most important one, it will impact how we evaluate, because as long as we see ourselves through the lens and the eyes of people who are here for the first time, as long as we see and evaluate through the eyes and the ears of the people who aren't so sure about the whole God and Jesus thing, as long as we evaluate through the eyes and the ears of people who have questions about the Bible, then we're gonna get it right. But, the minute we turn inward and it's all about us, we are done. We may be big and done, but we are done. We are no longer making disciples. We are no longer living and working and ministering in sync with God's spirit that he put in us to do something for our world.

So, we gotta continue to be a place where people who are suspicious, people with questions, people who are seekers and starters and returners can show up and get some answers to their questions. But more than anything, I just want 'em to meet you. I just want 'em to participate in the environments that you've created because at the end of the day they're life changing and I don't know why everybody wouldn't wanna be a part of it. This one keystone habit, this one keystone habit, invest and invite, inviting strangers, come sit with me, will keep us focused on our mission and will allow us to again, lead more people to become followers of Jesus and after all, come on, Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth. Jesus introduced the kingdom values to earth that everybody has dignity, that everybody has worth, that everybody matters and everyone is invited to participate in it. So, why would we not invite 'em?

So, here's your assignment this week. This week, maybe before this day's over, you're going to hear, now that I've kinda put it in your head, you're gonna hear somebody say something, I don't go to church, or things aren't going well, I wasn't prepared for that, nah church, I wasn't prepared for that, moved to this city and boy, we had a baby and you know we thought we had it all under control, everything was beautiful and then they let us take it home. We were not prepared for that. Things aren't going well at home. Things aren't going well with my college aged son. Things weren't, you're gonna hear one of these three things and then you're gonna have a decision to make and I hope you'll decide to speak up and say hey, it's so complicated, isn't it? And you wanna get it right. We all do. I struggle with getting it right too. At our church we just wanna help. Come sit with me.
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