Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Very Good Thing

At this church they really do come “Just as I Am,” - just as the old traditional hymn says. Since our oldest son and his bride attend North Point Community Church regularly, we visited today. I think this is our third visit. My eyes get opened a little wider on each visit.

They come in droves on Sundays to this church. There is no telling how many volunteers are working traffic, parking lots, greeting folks, working information desks, book stores and teaching children. It is incredible just to watch.

They have three adult worship services each Sunday. And they come wearing flip flops and shorts and pony tails - sort of how you would show up at the mall on a Saturday morning. You couldn’t find a necktie on a man in this group if your life depended on it.

There is no Sunday School but there are ministries for kids with such names as Wuamba Land, Upstreet, Kidstuff, Xtreme and Inside Out. There are approximately 5,000 kids participating every Sunday at the three campuses. When you add the 17,000 adults (and growing) in attendance each Sunday, you can’t help but think they are doing something very right.

Just for information, this church was started by Andy Stanley 13 years ago. In addition to all the volunteers, they now have 300 full time staff members.

Andy started this church on the premise that Atlanta did not need another church. “What Atlanta does need,” he said, “ is a safe environment where the unchurched can come and hear the life-changing truth that Jesus Christ cares for them and died for their sin.”

Although the message communicated here is biblical and solid as a rock, interestingly some religious people don’t like it and others find something to complain about. They complain about such things as the contemporary and loud music, the lighting, the fact they don’t have Sunday school and the fact that people wear flip flops and shorts to church. And the fact that they don’t give altar calls at the end of the service. So those folks find somewhere else to go to church that better suits their fancy.

I get the feeling that this church is filled with folks whose lives are in shambles, whose marriage has fallen apart, whose business has failed or who have made a ton of money and have figured out that money does not bring happiness. And people who are burnt out from playing dress up church.

As Andy said this morning, he never wants this church to be an “ought to” church, where people attend out of duty. I wonder if the “ought to” churches are those we have to dress up outwardly and inwardly to attend.

But they come to this church wearing their flip flops and shorts and shortcomings and brokenness and weaknesses. And they come because they want to come.

I am confident that many reading this do not like even the idea of what this church and churches like it are doing. There is nothing wrong with feeling that. I can understand it feels respectful to dress up on Sunday morning to go to church – I’ve done it most of my life. The truth is if you feel you need to dress up to go to church, you would not feel comfortable at North Point.

But from North Point’s vantage point, that is probably a very good thing.

That just leaves more room at their church for people who are not dressing up to come to yours.


ben said...

Another great post! I especially appreciate the fact that you did not criticize Northpoint's "style" or those who would not prefer its "style." Thank God that He is a God of variety!

Matt said...

Right on, Bruce!

Gary Goforth M.D. said...

Bruce, thank you for highlighting this great church! My wife and I are now living in Afghanistan and attending the only Christian church to my knowledge in the city. Church gatherings take place at alternate times and locations due to security concerns. We are told to shred or leave the announcement page. A alarm and red light are positioned at the front of the church in case of the need to evacuate quickly. Americans need to be extremely grateful for the freedom to worship in any style. We need more churches that are more concerned with sharing the Good News than playing church.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Bruce--I'm a firm believer that I can get into the gates of heaven without wearing my "Sunday best". I attended a service with my oldest son and family in Houston TX--the church was ginormous--the message given by the preacher was awesome and the choir gave me chills. I like the more relaxed atmosphere. All Best, Sue