Andy Stanley - Community for Everyone - re:group conference 2016

After announcing that North Point Ministries has 72,000 people in groups. “20 years in people ask me, ‘What would you change if you started over?’ Our one numeric goal (to have 100,000 people in groups) has shaped everything. It has shaped everything including our budget. Your goals shape where the money goes. Groups is the best bet.”

1.     Mission Matters
a.     Our mission as a church is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
b.     Our vision is to create churches unchurched people love to attend. If our strategy works? Unchurched people will attend!!
c.     We believe that for people to grow spiritually, they must be connected relationally.

2.     Tensions in Connecting People
a.     As we reached a growing diverse population, we must evaluate our methods of forming groups. Scott McKnight The Celebration of Difference – Who are the groups of people who tend to be invisible? Who are the invisibles in your church?
b.     Historically, we have formed small groups composed of:
                                               i.     Men (married and unmarried)
                                             ii.     Women (married and unmarried)
                                            iii.     Married Couples
c.     Our way of forming groups has left some people wondering if there is a group for them.
                                               i.     Heterosexual dating couples who are living together.
                                             ii.     Gay and Lesbian couples. Some married, some not married.
                                            iii.     Individuals who defined them as Same-Sex Attracted (SSA) who are choosing a path of celibacy; or homosexuals not in a relationship.
d.     The Theological and the Practical
                                               i.     We must stay focused on both of the theological and the practical. Don’t see it as an either / or, but as a both / and.
                                             ii.     Some aspects are more informed by the practical than the theological or vice versa.

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
Acts 15:19 (NIV)
·      Let’s don’t make it difficult for people wanting community!
                                            iii.     In interpreting scripture, we desire to focus on what is major rather than debating what is minor. When you start with the majors, it begins a relational bridge to walk on.
                                            iv.     We want to focus on making a difference rather than making a point.
                                             v.     More is required—both practically and theologically—from those in leadership. The wider the door gets to community and diversity, the more you need a good leader. The core of a great small group is a great small group leader.
3.     Creating Community for Everyone
a.     In seeking to create community for everyone, we’ve:
                                               i.     Tested new ways to form groups. (non-traditional couples {heterosexual living together, homosexual not living together} to get into a mixed groups). The challenge for a mixed groups is finding the right leader.
                                             ii.     Learned through staff-led groups. Not operating on neutral turf—we operate on a deficit. They worked at building friendships. “I can accept you without accepting everything about you.” Take a step in one area of your life… Celebrate the small steps and the small wins.
                                            iii.     Expanded options for our short-term groups. Mom Matters. Parenting. Spiritual Growth. John Woodall’s Seven.
b.     In seeking to prepare our leaders, we’ve provided specific training.

Can we as a church minister to gay and lesbian individuals without coming to theological consensus?