Pastor, you gotta
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
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
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
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
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
Thanks for listening. Forgive me if I have
been too harsh.
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