Drive Conference '10 Day 2 Thoughts

So at the end of Day 2 of the Drive Conference at Northpoint Community Church I have a few thoughts.

First, the people at Northpoint are freakishly nice.  And I mean more than most people.  I don't think I have ever experienced a group of church volunteers and staff that were more committed to hospitality.  At some point someone went and bought THOUSANDS of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and the Northpoint pastors and staff donned Krispy Kreme paper hats and walked around giving them away.  Whenever I asked for directions to a room or to a building the volunteer or staffer would actually walk me to it.  It was pretty dang sweet. 

Second, it's apparent to me that the culture at Northpoint-- a culture of hospitality and openness as well as a commitment to the overall vision of the church--is one that flows from the leadership to staff and then to everyone else.  I've been a pretty harsh critic of mega churches in the past.  I have been an even harsher critic of multi-site mega churches.  But these guys are on to something.  The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. 

Our day began with a dude in a Tron suit popping and locking to Fatboy Slim complete with lasers.  It was fairly awesome.  This was followed by stupid human games and other assorted "youth group" ice breakers.  I can't say that I blame the Northpointers for going there, to be honest.  The leadership of the church are all former youth pastors.  Heck, I'm a former youth pastor.  Heck, half of the people in there were current youth pastors.  It's all good. 

Andy Stanley took the stage at last and delivered the good with a great talk on the "Template" that Northpoint uses to plan and evaluate their worship services.

Stanley started by saying that the first thing that they did was to clarify the "win" for the worship service.  I know more than a few Presbyterian ministers who would visibly retch if they heard such a thing.  Presbyterian ministers more often than not don't seem to combine words like "worship" and "win" in the same sentence.  What Stanley means is simply this:  "What is the end goal of the worship service?"  This, too, will probably make Presbyterian ministers gag.  I don't have a problem with this.  It's all about intent.  Most oldline church leaders could care less what people walk away with when they leave worship.  Ours is a heritage steeped in God's sovereignty, and to think about people leaving worship and coming away with anything except a sense of their finite nature flies in the face of most good Presby pastors. 

Which probably explains why most oldline churches are small and worship is dry, boring, dull and meaningless to almost anyone that isn't also dry, boring and dull. 

Stanley shared that the movement they desire with the worship services at Northpoint involves the following actions:  Engage, Involve and Challenge.  Stanley believes quite firmly that there has to be some common ground that reaches your congregation each Sunday on an emotional level first and foremost.  "We are more open to learning when we are emotionally engaged," he explained. 

My first breakout session was called Developing Teams That Work.  I discovered pretty quickly that it was not a workshop on teamwork, but on how to build and nurture a team that will... you know... WORK.  We identified "five critical responsibilities" that have to be looked after if a team is going to function properly:  Refine the ministry environment, Nurture the ministry team leader, Value the team, Inform the crowd (or congregation) and Perfect the system.  These formulaic approaches to teams and systems seem a bit mercenary sometimes, but when you look at how Northpoint functions and how it has achieved such unbelievable growth you see why they are necessary.  I heard this more than once today and I took it to heart: "Before you get bigger, you have to get better." 

One of the more interesting breakout sessions was entitled "Discovering What Everybody Already Knows About You," a workshop that dealt with receiving and implementing feedback.  I had to hear some things as a leader that I really didn't want to hear.  The bottom line is this:  "If you don't want feedback on your performance or leadership... don't ask for it." 

The last breakout session I attended was called, "Creating a Culture Where Leaders Thrive."  This workshop was leadership gold as far as I was concerned.  The panelists in this workshop were:  David Salyers, the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, Donvan Roberson an exec with and Jeff Henderson, the campus pastor at Buckhead Church--the urban campus of Northpoint.  I had to furiously write down the quotes that just flowed from this group of leaders.  Salyers revealed some of what has made Chick-Fil-A such an incredible phenomenon in the fast food business.  Chick-Fil-A restaurants are not open on Sundays (Truett Cathy, the founder and owner is a devout Christian), and they never claim to be in the "chicken sandwich" business, but rather in "the people business."  Truett Cathy once said, "If I help enough people et what they want, I will get what I want."  Roberson revealed what has made among the top 20 of Forbes best places to work over the last two years:  They value their people and they value their customers.  In each case, employees are empowered to fulfill the company vision.  They are not programmed, they are entrusted with the vision and released.  Not surprisingly, the same is true at Northpoint church. 

I have so much to process and consider.  Day 3 continues tomorrow at 8:30 AM.  It's a good thing I have a 7-hour drive home to think about all of this. 


  1. I appreciate these comments as I was not at the conference. I hope you find the process of writing helpful to ingrain what you heard.


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