5 Little Talked About Insights Behind North Point's Success

5 Little Talked About Insights About North Point

It’s been a privilege to lead Connexus Community Church for five years now. We’re a North Point Partner church, which has not only given us a front row seat to what’s happening at North Point, but the chance to implement the ministry model in our own (Canadian) context.

As I’ve noted in this week’s posts about North Point, Andy is one of the most quoted leaders in the church today (here are 21 of his quotes from Drive 2013).

To wrap up this series, I want to look at 5 little talked-about insights I’ve discovered about North Point. Being a partner for 5 years and having been around North Point for 7 years, I think there are some secrets about North Point’s success that aren’t that well known.

Before we get to the list, if you’re a bit cynical about ‘successful’ churches, just watch some North Point baptism stories. Genuine life change is compelling. And if God uses you to transform over 30,000 lives, well, seriously, how can that be a bad thing?

From where I sit, there are at least  five remarkable things about North Point many leaders don’t realize.

1. Healthy systems attract healthy people. I sincerely believe North Point is one of the healthiest organizations I’ve seen. That doesn’t mean there aren’t struggles (just read the beginning of Deep and Wide and you’ll realize Andy and the team have faced struggles as deep or deeper than any of us).  Get behind the scenes and you find leaders who have a deep humility and a commitment to character development, emotional health and spiritual growth. Andy is committed to making North Point a healthy culture. And healthy systems have a way of attracting healthy people. It doesn’t mean their team doesn’t struggle. Their crises are not much different than yours, but they are relentlessly committed to working through them in a spiritually, emotionally and relationally healthy way.

2. Character lubricates the friction of leadership. Andy has written about this, and so many leaders at North Point lives this out. Friction is inevitable in leadership. Get a big church and your problems get even bigger. But character (solid character) lubricates the friction of leadership. When you are selecting team members, don’t compromise on character. You need people committed to getting better personally, not just professionally.

3. Strategy trumps vision. Yes vision matters. And yes vision is everything. But have you noticed, everybody’s got vision? If vision alone was enough, every church would be having huge impact. North Point is tenacious in its’ commitment to finding the best strategy to implement that vision. Strategy might be a a bad word in some leadership circles, but here’s the truth: a bad strategy will kill a great vision. If vision is important, strategy is uber-important. Strategy trumps vision.

4. People’s gifts have a far greater impact when deployed strategically. Most leaders are tempted to allow every volunteer to launch a programe or ministry they happen to be passionate about. So the more people you have, the more ministries you have – not a single one of them strategically aligned to serve the mission or vision of the church. North Point has been dogged in its determination to do a few strategic things well, and to stick to that, no matter how much pressure others put on them. So instead of having a thousand high capacity volunteers running in a thousand directions, you get a thousand high capacity volunteers running in one direction. Which do you think will have a greater impact? Exactly.

5. Great preaching alone isn’t the secret sauce. Most people will tell you that while Andy is renowned for his preaching, he’s even a better leader. I think the hard work Andy has done on staying emotionally and spiritually healthy, the way he has surrounded himself with great leaders (I outline how to do that here), and the relentless focus (and ability to say no) have proven to be some powerful factors in North Point’s effectiveness.

As you have tracked with North Point, what have you noticed?

What are some other principles and insights that can help all of us get better at what God has called us to do?


  1. Maxaipa on April 15, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Good article, it caused me to think through the day. Now after reflection I have some questions. How do you define “success” in ministry? The most successful ministry only had 12 members, one leader, no building and few resources. When I go to the web site for North Point and read it over and view the pics it looks big. Perhaps a thousand or more. I wonder what a 1000 people, all united together in one purpose could do if they put their minds and hearts into it or were lead to do?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 15, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Great question. North Point has grown to about 40,000 people on six campuses in multiple services who are doing just that…putting their minds and hearts into a single mission, the one started by the man with 12 followers.

      • Maxaipa on April 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

        Is it the numbers that make this franchise a success. 40,000 people are a town. They could sway the results of voting, end poverty in a specific area or raise enough funds to combat any one of several societal ills. In other words do as we were commanded and create counter culture in Jesus name. Have they accomplished any of that? If not, why?

        • Carey Nieuwhof on April 16, 2015 at 7:11 pm

          You should read Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley.

  2. Anton Lim on November 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Thanks for sharing Carey. All great points. The ones that got my attention more were number 3 and 4. As I was reading point 3, I realize that I’m good and like to cast vision, but I need to deliver a good strategy too, which is hard work. Usually vision is a lot easier as vision is naturally pretty positive, but not all strategies work, or many strategies are fraught with holes.

    And for number 4 – while this isn’t new to me, I admit it seems hard to stick to because, if you’re a people pleaser like me, it’s hard to say “no” to someone’s good idea, even though it may not be the best strategic idea to accomplish the vision.

    Lots to keep mulling over for my current ministry context.

  3. Chuck on November 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

    #1 and #3 need to play off of each other healthily, I think. Strategy implies to me, man-based wisdom. Whenever we put that before God’s Word or direction, we get into serious trouble. HOWEVER, what you said about “vision — everyone’s got it” is also highly true. Hence, a balance between the two, with some serious accountability and counsel, is probably the basis for a decent secret sauce. Just my two cents.

  4. Beau Sizemore on March 19, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    #3 is huge. Falls in line with one of my favorite quotes via Herm Edwards:

    “A goal without a plan is a wish.”

  5. Lawrence W. Wilson on March 17, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Carey, #5 is a critical insight. Thanks for sharing this list.

    • cnieuwhof on March 18, 2013 at 1:45 am

      It’s so true. If great preaching alone built huge churches we could just set up video screens in parking lots and thousands would flock to them. It’s more complicated than that.

  6. Steve Grcevich on March 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Agreed. The NPCC folks I’ve encountered have all been people of high character and competence. Any of them would be very successful in the business world.

  7. Jeff Gelzinis on March 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Carey, So bummed we didn’t get to connect at Drive ’13. This article is on point and leaders from around the country got to see it in action this week.

    • cnieuwhof on March 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      I wish he had too. Troy fountain had great things to say about you as usual though.

  8. cnieuwhof on March 15, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Jonathan…thanks. I’m not surprised, but it is wonderful, isn’t it?

  9. Jonathan Cliff on March 15, 2013 at 8:25 am

    I’m 7 months into this NP-partner environment, and I’m already finding much of this true. It’s encouraging and inspiring to work alongside healthy people when working within the church!

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