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Last week, my son and I visited Andy Stanley’s Church, North Point Community Church, in Alpharetta (suburb of Atlanta), Georgia. I have wanted to visit this church for a long time and it was an awesome visit!

I have heard about how North Point’s strategy is to create environments conducive for spiritual growth. We can’t control spiritual growth, but we can design our environments that are conducive to the the working of the Holy Spirit, creating the growth that only the Holy Spirit can do.

Their church has been created for people who don’t like church. North Point is also very newcomer-oriented. This was evident everywhere I went. I took a lot of pictures!

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take pictures as I was driving in. (For obvious reasons.) But it sure was easy to get in. There were orange cones everywhere that made it very easy for me to follow. There were also many people in orange safety vests directing the car. What I thought was interesting was as I was driving in, there was a sign that said if you had preschoolers to put your flashers on. Apparently these cars get directed to their own lot close to the preschool entrance.

There’s clear directional signage as you drive.

After I parked, we walked up, and this was what I saw sticking in the lawn in front of the church.

As a newcomer, I didn’t know where the main entrance was. Fortunately, I was smart enough to figure it out.

Ah ha! But it was actually tricky. This entrance was on the side of the central entrance that went directly into the auditorium. But the one labeled “main entrance” was the one where the info center was.

Once inside, it was pretty easy to figure out where to go. There was clear overhead signage. Kinda like an airport. Big hallways too!

And right inside it was also obvious where the auditorium was.

The only confusing part might be which auditorium to go to. There is an East Auditorium and a West Auditorium. We picked East because that was where we walked in — lazy human nature took over. Once we walked in, it had a really cool feel.

There was a balcony on top too, so I went up to take a picture.

Ten minutes before the service starts, they show a video called “The Ten Before.” It is all announcements of what is happening at the church. But they were nothing like boring everyday announcements. They were very high caliber and quite engaging.

At the end of the announcements, there was a recap slide showing all the videos that had been shown. I presume this is a reminder for those who watched, and a heads up for all those who came in mid-stream.

What was fascinating to me was that once the video started playing and the music started booming, people started heading in. By the time the video ended, it looked like everyone was there. I saw very few latecomers come in.

Andy  Stanley kicked off the service. He started by stating the mission of the church, welcoming people, telling us about the guest speaker, and giving us the heads up that today we were going to be the video venue. That is why there is an East and West Auditorium. The live speaker speaks in one of the auditoriums, but you don’t know which one until the service starts. The other service is the video venue. I guess it must be random so everyone doesn’t flock to one auditorium over the other.

However, in the video venue you barely feel like it’s video. Once the live band clears out, a screen drops down and they project a (12-foot?) image of the speaker on the stage. Because the other auditorium has the exact same set, it feels like it is a live image of the speaker. The side screens have the close-up shots. I was wondering why there were two video camera operators in the center aisle. Now I knew why — both cameras are aimed at the speaker if the speaker is live in that auditorium. The cameramen disappeared once the message started, as there was no need for them to shoot video because there was no live person!

So here’s the view from my seat… the center image is a video and stayed static the entire service. Both images on the side are video.

The message was solid Bible teaching. Afterwards was offering and then I think that was pretty much it. I dragged my son around while I explored the facility and took pictures.

The Info Center is very easy to find. It’s huge. Very clean and simple and a ton of very friendly, helpful people! I tried to sneak over to get a few brochures to look at and a lady there was very warm and welcoming and gave me a CD of one of Andy’s talks. Kudos to the Info Center staff!

It was also pretty hard to miss the children’s ministry entrance.

I don’t know if they do balloons every week but even without balloons the place is quite impressive.

Waumba Land is their birth through preschool area. The environment is of a wonderful world. I loved the trees.

There was a special guest registration area.

Once you walk in, you see giant butterflies!

This was my favorite part… a very cool entrance…

…into an undersea tunnel.

I loved this… glowing jellyfish! So cool that this was a hallway, totally transformed!

There’s a section called Super Kids.

The Super Kids stage was Super Cool. If I were a kid I would be Super Excited to be in such a Super Setting.

The rooms were very easy to find. Overhead hanging signs could be seen clearly.

Rooms were also easy to find because the signage stood out perpendicular to the wall so you could see them all. I also really liked how each door had a clip built in where the daily snacks were listed so parents could be on the lookout for allergies.

The inside of the rooms were very simple. Different colored paint and all the same hangings.

The rooms for the older kids had nothing on the wall except simple artwork.

Back to the hallways. Amazing!

Now back to the big people hallways. I liked how they broke up the monotony of the hallway by painting the sections different colors.

Even the signage to the rooms is cool.

At the center is what appears to be a round hub of some sort. This place is definitely built to accommodate large crowds of people.

Then I came upon the area for the older kids, K through 6th grade. This area is called UpStreet.

The street theme is very fun. Here’s the guest registration, designated by a street sign.

The interior has large murals…

… and a turn of the century feel.

Cute train station! Hmm… sorry to you guys. I guess guys wouldn’t call this “cute.” Obviously a woman is writing this blog.

Detail of the board on the train station — a schedule of the themes for the year! So clever. Love it!

I love these posters. It wasn’t until I was processing the pictures that I noticed the spoof in the middle was off of Chik-Fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin.”

The directional signage to the rooms is quite appropriate.

The buildings are spoofs too.

A bank built on the trust of God… even the outside looks bank-like.

One of the large group rooms. This one has an urban feel.

Another one of the rooms. The volunteer was so nice: “Please, come in and take pictures. You can go anywhere and get a better angle.” I wonder if they get a lot of people like me going around taking pictures?

The rooms, once again, are very simple. But the artwork reflects the theme as well. Hmm… I would say this is more of an art deco flavor though.

This was a side hallway… I suppose a jaunt towards a country lane?

A country store… right down from that country lane.

Even the fruit looked real!

Another cool building. What I thought was interesting about this was they integrated real 3D elements alongside the painting to make them blend together.

A fire station, once again a mix of 2D and 3D elements.

I really liked the stop light too.

Here’s an example of what looked like a candy store.

But it was labeled the “Friendship Factory.”

This room was all dark, so I brightened it up in Photoshop and discovered a very awesome set. (And impressive ceiling, to boot.) I think this was the KidStuff room, where parents and elementary-aged kids meet together. But don’t quote me on it.

The above is just a sampling of the many pictures I took… what wonderful inspiration for creating attractive and engaging environments. What kid wouldn’t want to come here? Their program is really good too, 252 Basics. Our church uses it.

They also have a bookstore.

I absolutely love the feel of this place. So warm and welcoming. If there were room for cafe tables, I’d get a coffee and sit down and relax.

But there is no room for that. In fact, it is quite a crowded space. Lots of resources in there. But I love the design.

Here’s the corner for CDs.

In looking at the photos above you might have noticed a lot of people wearing blue shirts. The children’s ministry volunteers all have the same T-shirt. As a parent, I think this is awesome. It is so easy to find a volunteer to ask a question to. It adds to the friendliness of the environment.

North Point has done an outstanding job creating an environment that carries out their mission. I am very glad I had the opportunity to stop by.

6 thoughts on “A Visit to Andy Stanley’s Church

  1. Been watching Charles Stanley most of my life, was very interested to check out Andy and what He believes and pratices

  2. Wow. What a grand church. Just wondering though, and I mean this sincerely – when do we have to start building churches that look like grand entertainment venues in order to worship God? All that money that went in to that building – could it have not been used more wisely – perhaps missions in the USA and missions abroad? Do we have to have such hip and cool decor to entice people to come to church? As Christians, do we have to present ourselves as hip and cool? So many people around the world risk their very lives just to gather in small rooms in a home or basement in order to worship and have bible study — and here we spend millions of dollars to have such grand and over the top rooms to play in at church. I guess I would rather spend money a little more wisely.

  3. We need to be careful to not rush to judgement on how wisely a church has spent it’s financial resources. As a missionary, I led church meetings in shacks in shanty towns. You are right you don’t need fancy stuff to worship God or have church. However, to be missional, like missionaries, you have to reach a people group through their culture first. So, if you are reaching people in a shanty town, you reach them inside of their culture and when you reach people from a large city like Atlanta, you reach them inside of their culture. Culture is a bridge! This is missionary training 101. Atlanta boasts great shopping malls and venues that cost millions of dollars. People are use to that. If the unchurched visit a church that has cut corners financially, it tells them that Christians don’t care about keeping things nice and up to date.

    My question is: what is the dollar amount that I must stay under as a pastor when it comes to my facility? At what amount does it become unwise? I have a church of 250 and our building is worth $2.4 million according to our insurance company. I bet NorthPoints facility costs less per person than my church does. But no one will accuse me of spending too much because it is a modest building that requires two services for our modest average numbers of 250.

    The reality is most of us in the US could have baught a smaller house or a less expensive care and sent it to a missions organization. So what is the right size of house? What is the limit we should spend on a care before it becomes unwise?

    While we are debating this, someone got saved today through the ministry of NorthPoint. If you haven’t watched the inspiring baptism videos at NorthPoint, I highly recomend it.

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