21 Key Learnings from Andy Stanley and the Drive Conference

23 Key Learnings from Andy Stanley and Drive 13

I was at the Drive 13 Conference this week, North Point Church’s leadership conference in Atlanta.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a room with Andy only to think “I wish everyone could hear this.”

So if you missed the Drive Conference or were there but want a summary, here are my 21 top learnings from Drive.  Note that the talks I attended were mostly focused around weekend services (plus one on family ministry).

It’s rather telling that there are 21 insights listed and I actually left the conference a full day early (had to catch a flight). I still got this many take-aways. Wow!

Here are some nuggets I picked up. Andy’s comments are in bold. My take follows in normal font.

On the Weekend Experience

1. We don’t tailor content of our services for unchurched people, but we do tailor the experience. This is such a huge and important distinction. Opening up your service to the unchurched doesn’t mean dumbing it down.

2. Nothing should offend people in your weekend services except the Gospel. Often people get turned away not because of Christ, but because of people’s bad attitudes or strange preferences for certain kinds of music or culture.

3. A parking team is not about ‘parking’ guests, it’s about welcoming them. Even if you don’t have a “parking problem”, your welcome should start when your guests pull into the parking lot. Greet them personally and help them start their experience well.

4. Everyone has an approach to their weekend services. If there is a conflict between your goal and your approach, your approach always wins. Everyone has a template for their weekend services. If your template and approach aren’t getting you to your goal, change it.

5. If you start (a message or event) with common emotions and common experiences, not everybody agrees with your point, but everybody follows you there. Brilliant.

6. People learn best in emotionally charged environments. So engage their emotions early – with a fun opener (Andy referenced the 101st anniversary of the Oreo recently. They gave away a prize of Oreos and milk to an attender – cool). Or let music prepare people’s emotions.

7.  We leverage common experiences and emotions, not belief systems. When you’re reaching unchurched people, don’t start with disagreement (belief), start with agreement (common experiences and emotions) and then get to belief later.

8. The more time you can spend in planning a service or experience, the more personal it becomes. Planning is the friend of the Holy Spirit, not His enemy. Often “I’m relying on God” actually means “I didn’t prepare”.

9. Our goal is not to be creative, but to leverage creativity for the sake of the mission and vision. Bingo.

10. A clean environment communicates that we’re expecting you. I wish this was in the Bible. Then I could preach at people about it. But it’s not. So quoting Andy will do.

11. An orderly environment communicates you know what you’re doing. I wish this was in the Bible too. Clean and orderly communicates so much about you and so much about how you value the people you’re welcoming.

12. People stop attending church because they disengage, not because they disagree. HUGE insight. Very few people walk out your door because of disagreement. Many leave because of disengagement.

13. Attention span is determined by the quality of the presentation. With all the talk about diminishing  attention spans, this is a clear reminder than 5 minutes of boring is 5 minutes too much, and 1 hour of gripping feels like not nearly enough. Pastors, before you use it to justify a 60 minute message, just make sure you’re that gripping.

14. A goal is something you accomplish. A win is something you experience. So true!

15. Creativity works best in the context of predictability. Creativity has constraints, but like obedience to the law, eventually the constraints bring a new kind of freedom.

Other Gems

1. Public loyalty buys you private leverage. Criticize privately, praise publicly. Your boss and colleagues will respect you. Flip it and they’ll fire you or never trust you.

2. Your direction, not intention, determines your destination. This principle came up numerous times. It’s just true. Good intentions amount to little.

3. Evaluate everything you do against your mission. This was from a session I attended led by Diane Grant. Diane is Andy’s Executive Assistant but a super strong leader in her own right. She owns this principles.

4. Great opportunities are a chance for a vision to drift. Again from Diane Grant. Exactly. And an opportunity does not equal an obligation. Stay true to the mission.

5. The loudest critics in the church are people who have become missionally disengaged. Clay Scroggins, a campus pastor at North Point, shared this nugget. So true. Why listen to people who are missionally disengaged give you feedback on your mission?

6. Kids begging their parents to go to church beats parents begging their kids to go to church. Invest in your family ministry environments. Chad Ward, UpStreet director at one of the North Point campuses shared this. So true. Get the kids, and you’ve got the parents.

Hope this helps.

What other learnings from Drive or Andy would you share?

Which is of these challenges you most and what will you do about it?


  1. hannah on January 28, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    I feel like a lot of this tips lack a scriptural foundation. A lot of these tips are cultural and won’t work in all times and places.

    • S.J. on November 27, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      Most of what has been done in the church history and its approach to engaging the community has not been “scriptural.” It has been “traditional ‘ and “church for churched people.” Any 100 level Humanities class reveals this. And, usually, it is traditionally “churched” people who can’t get traction to this approach to ministry.

      “Nothing should offend…except the Gospel.” The rest is simply just an approach to ministry. Bravo to Andy and his unconventional approach to reach “unchurched” people. The NPCC model is reaching thousands and seeing a great harvest.

  2. Bjorn J. Burrows on October 13, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    This was really insightful. One thing I got from Drive was the unique perspective Andy gave on the presentation of the Bible.

    • Julia Wingfield on February 20, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      I’m searching for his talk on the modern day church’s presentation of the Bible! I remember it being the last session, and it was so profound. Do you know where I can find a copy of what you’re referring to?

      • Bjorn J. Burrows on February 20, 2016 at 12:14 pm

        I think you would have to go to North Point Resources and get the Drive 13 main sessions package. Doesnt seem that it in the public domain.

        • Julia Wingfield on February 20, 2016 at 12:16 pm


  3. Jennifer Reardon-Mcsoley on September 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Awesome!! Thank you for this! I often wish I was a fly on the wall at his meetings! Lol

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 8, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Tomorrow you get to be. Episode 1 of the podcast goes live tomorrow morning Jen!

  4. […] Hope this helps. What other learnings from Drive or Andy would you share? Which is of these challenges you most and what will you do about it? – See more at: https://careynieuwhof.com/2013/03/21-key-learnings-from-andy-stanley-and-the-drive-conference/#sthash… […]

  5. […] not a tailored message. You don’t have to tailor the message to unchurched people (see what Andy Stanley says about that here), but churches that have an impact will tailor the experience. There were presents under my tree […]

  6. John Hendee on September 27, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Carey; Great stuff. I am the new Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University. 30+ years ago I developed an evangelistic tool called a Peace Treaty with God. Recently I changed the name to It’s All About Relationship. They are four lessons. There are very effective with ALL kinds of people. The key is the APPROACH. If it is bad you don’t do the presentations with the folks in their home. If good, you get to. I and others have lead many people to Christ using this approach.

    What I’ve found is that less than 1% of our churches are preparing people how to share the Gospel one on one. That is horrific. We must change that. If you would be interested in learning more let me know. I’ve just finished 20 years of mission work in South American and am returning to do what I’m best at; training people in personal evangelism that is respectful and effective. I have a lot of success stories of the use of this tool from S.A. to the U.S. to Russia. I have done these studies with atheists, agnostics, religious people, hit men in prison, playboys, etc. etc.

    God bless you.

    Again, great stuff. I just ‘stumbled’ onto you on line or was it face book?
    Humbly yours in Him,

    John Hendee

  7. Darin on September 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I’m a loud critic at my church, and I am missionally disengaged, because I think our mission is drifting and incoherent. Why listen to the missionally disengaged? Because they might have unique insight on the “mission” that the leadership needs to hear. I don’t really want to leave my church and my friends just because I see room for improvement. It’s not good for any organization to ignore or push out those who are invested in that body enough to stay involved and engaged despite their frustrations. Eventually there will need to be a decision on both parties whether to fish or cut bait, but hopefully that will be after much dialogue.

    • Jenny Mops Coordinator on January 7, 2017 at 5:58 am

      I always find that coming with a positive attitude and one of honouring others helps people listen to you (it shouldn’t need to be the way but were all human and get our backs up hey). If you come with a solution that a big thing as well. I find it hard to deal with those who will complain but never be apart of finding a solution! I will pray for you as you discern the best way forward! Also always remember its God who brings the biggest change so pray EVERYDAY for your leaders and your church!!

      • Jenny Mops Coordinator on January 7, 2017 at 6:00 am

        also just saw this was three years ago haha!! I really hope its sorted by now!! ;D

  8. The Unchurched | Christian Pundit on August 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    […] guy who wrote that page, which I pretty much agree with, linked to (Link): this one on his blog, where I disagree with point six, which reads: 6. Kids begging their parents to go to church beats […]

  9. chadbrooks on August 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Carey-I bookmarked this ages ago and came back to it this morning. The two things that really got me going? The emphasis on cleanliness and orderliness of your environment. I can’t tell you how many times I spend hours around my church fighting cleanliness.

    It quickly becomes forgotten about. I am not naturally a person who looks at these things, but have transformed in the last few years when I realized how big of an issue it is.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 3, 2013 at 9:22 am

      You’re speaking my language Chad. I can obsess over cleanliness. Some of that is my issue, but some of it isn’t. The challenge is to make cleanliness a part of your culture. Most people who attend your church wouldn’t want to eat in a run down, cluttered restaurant. Why would they want their friends to come to a run down, cluttered church? I think if we see it that way, progress can be made. Our team now owns that value.

  10. dawn888 on June 26, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I live in a 55+ community, the Seniors are Unchurched Believers, most having been to church in years, so I began my own Bible Study here in our mobilehome park, slowly but surely they are coming to join in the Word, they are so thirsty… Small Groups are the solution. Check out Village 2 Village dot org, if we can do this in Ministry we might have a chance to prepare for lies ahead for America and the World. I am going to utilize the “get the children involved” by asking teens in the community to volunteer. Great suggestions! Thank you! All Prayers appreciated. Joining Harvest America for the September Salvation Outreach! We need to move quickly…

    • cnieuwhof on June 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      i love your deep commitment to ministry where you’re at. Keep it up!

  11. Berima Amo on May 31, 2013 at 6:32 am

    wow. you put words to my thoughts and beyond. thank you. Berima Amo, God Center, Ijburg Amsterdam, Holland.

  12. seenit on May 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Reality — many do leave because of disagreement. The message is not the same and it does become watered down. These are mostly mature believers, many are leaders, and most are givers. Result: Weakened leadership, budget failure and mega-debt with lots of unchurched & seekers who don’t understand.

  13. SSC - Melanie on May 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Love this one – Kids begging their parents to go to church beats parents begging their kids to go to church. Invest in your family ministry environments –
    It’s something we are working on at our church and it is starting to make a difference

    • SSC - Melnaie on May 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

      It’s also working with our youth volutneers….”Mom I’ve got to go in this week, I’m ON for story teller, the kids need me” Love hearing this from our teens

      • Carey Nieuwhof on May 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm

        Me too. Wonderful sign!

  14. […] borrowed some quotes by a church leader named Andy Stanley at this year’s Drive Conference to help explain why we do church the way we do it, and hopefully spur you on to invite that friend […]

  15. matthew laker on April 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing some things you picked up. Sparked some thoughts me, and I will have to share these with those on staff as part of our on going conversations.

  16. John Mulholland on April 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    #5 from “other gems” is fan-freaking-tastic.

    • cnieuwhof on April 8, 2013 at 9:22 am

      So true. They also usually have stopped giving long ago, despite what they tell you.

  17. Heather Hill on March 16, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    “You can’t make people fall in love with Jesus, you can just set up the dates”
    “You can’t grow spiritually unless you’re connected relationally”

  18. Joe Wickman on March 16, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Fantastic post Carey. I’m sharing this one with my team.

  19. cnieuwhof on March 15, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Thanks friends. And Chuck, you know that makes me smile!

  20. Chuck C. on March 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Great insights and I have disseminated them to many others. Thanks, Carey

  21. Kenny Campbell on March 14, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing!

  22. Asdrubal Hernández on March 13, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Great…..! Thanks for the effort collecting all this! God bless you

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