Pastor, you gotta hear preach this sermon!

I love listening to Andy Stanley sermons. Andy is just so likeable. I listen to Andy and he just seems so easy to like. I suspect part of the reason for the success is at Northpoint is that people just like Andy, and like to listen to him.

You and I have both met church leaders who were very smart, very dedicated, very spiritual, but were not very nice. They were not easy to like. And their ministry had limited success. The Bible says, "Let your gentleness be evident to all." In another place it says, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18 [NIV] There is more to Christian ministry than this, but an important part of Christian ministry is being the kind of person that people like.

Not that all people will like you. Jesus had His enemies and followers of Jesus will have theirs as well. But, it is no exaggeration to say that Jesus was fantastically popular and people liked Him. They flocked to Him.

(This makes a great discussion question for a group: should a Christian try to be popular? It is a great question because the answer is, rightly understood, yes and no.)

But, niceness and being popular is not actually the subject of this week's article.

Andy believes in doubling groups.

The sermon I want to ask you to listen to is called MISSING INGREDIENT and can be found at http://www.northpoint.org/messages

It is a compelling argument for being in a group, and for being in a group that doubles. We need this in every church. Nothing is important until the pastor says it is important. When the pastor says groups are important, everyone believes that groups are important. When the pastor doesn't say it, no one believes that groups are important and groups languish.

But Andy goes beyond just arguing for groups and arguing for doubling groups. He models it. Here is an exact quote:

Our group started up three weeks ago. [Their groups take a summer break at Northpoint. This message delivered late summer--August, I think. So, what he means, in context is, "our group started up from our summer break."] We are dividing this fall. Sandra says every time, "This is the best group we have every had, I wish it never had to end." And, it has been an incredible, incredible group I wish it wouldn’t come to an end, but every eighteen months or so, my wife and I, we divide our group and start new groups, because we are so committed to this.

Show me a pastor that is in a group--Sunday School style group or home group, but some kind of group--that is committed to doubling and stands before his people every eighteen months and says, "We divide our group every eighteen months or so because we are so committed to this." and I will show you a church that has grown to nearly 20,000 people in a little over ten years.

Pastor, I want to invite you to listen to this sermon. More than just listen, I want to invite you to live the sermon. I want to invite you to follow the example of Andy who models being in a group that divides every eighteen months and cheerleads the church to do so.

"I am too busy to be in a group," you might say. Of course you are busy. Everyone knows you are busy. That is why it is such a powerful thing that you would say this. It sends a strong message that if you have time to be in a group and you are committed to being in a group that divides every eighteen months, maybe I can find the time as well.

[Warning: this next paragraph is a little harsh. You might find me violating the principle above about being nice.]

The opposite message is devastating. If you are not in a group, what people hear is this. "I think you should be in a group. I am not in a group personally, but I think it is a good idea for you." In many churches, the message that people receive is actually a little worse: "I am not in a group. The Minister of Music is not in a group. The Minister of Youth is not in a group. The Minister of Education is not in a group. The top tier of leadership around here--none of them are in groups, but we all think it is a good idea for you." Is it any wonder that groups in many churches languish? We wonder, "Why can't I get my groups committed to growing and dividing?"

A group of ten that doubles every eighteen months can reach a thousand people in ten years. But it is not likely to happen except that the pastor does what Andy does: models and cheerleads doubling groups.

One other thing. It is not some big punishment. Group life really is great. I am in a group that grew and divided about a year ago. Five couples started a new group. Right away, two of those couples dropped out. Six months ago we were having four and five and six people in our group. We did some parties and invited some people and picked up a few new people. The last few weeks we have been having above fifteen. Sunday our Minister of Education, Richard King told us that if we keep this up for two more weeks he will get us a bigger room after the first of the year. It Is fun being a part of a group like that.

Of course, for many staff members, Sunday morning may not work for group life. It doesn't have to be Sunday morning, but if the top tier of leadership is not happily committed to being in a group that doubles, it is not likely that anyone else will be committed to it. And, again, it is a wonderful life.

By the way, if you run across other sermons like this one by Andy Stanley, would you mind sending me the info? I would love to point out other pastors who are cheerleading doubling groups. My email address is josh@joshhunt.com

Thanks for listening. Forgive me if I have been too harsh.

 


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