August 10, 2006 Tony M.

Leadership Summit [Andy Stanley]

Andy Stanley, senior pastor from North Point Community Church, took the platform for session three. He talked about the best leadership decision he’s ever made. He made a deal with God. He explained it something like this:

God, I don’t have time to build a ministry and take care of my family. I’ll give you 45 hours per week as a church planter. If you can build a church on 45 hours, I’m your guy. I’ll let you build has big a church as you can with that 45 hours, and I’ll be satisfied with that. But I’m not going to cheat my family.

Andy decided to cheat the church before he cheated his family. With his wife, he decided to be at home by 4:30 every day. That meant he left work at 4:00.

Andy explained that God has never commanded him love the Church. He was commanded to love his wife. He was never commanded to build the Church. Jesus said he would do that. Instead, we get it backwards. We try to go build the church, and we pray that God will take care of our family.

How did this decision impact Andy’s leadership?

1. It forced him to play exclusively to play to his strengths. Focus on the things you’re good at. The less you do, the more you accomplish. You’re not very good at very many things. Only do what only you can do.

2. It forced him to prioritize the success of the church over my personal success. He had to say no to lots of other opportunities. It forced him to focus on the main thing God has called him to do. North Point has his undivided attention.

3. The value has forced the organization to say no to many things and maintain a sustainable pace. That protects Andy’s time, but it also obviously also protects his staff’s time. We need to create a “to don’t” list. The value led to a decision to shut down the church the final weekend of every year to give all the volunteers and staff members a weekend to be with their families.

4. This value elicits incredible loyalty from the staff. Andy tells all new employees not to cheat their families.

This is a hard decision. People will be angry. We can’t fall into the “If I don’t, it won’t get done” trap. How many hours you work won’t make or break your career.

Charles Stanley said, “Never violate the principles of God in order to gain or maintain the blessing of God.”

Jesus has promised to build his church, and he’s done a great job. We’re just a small part of it.

Who or what feels cheated by you? Are you willing to make the tough decisions to make that right?

Comments (18)

  1. Seth McCoy

    wow!
    what an incredible perspective.

    as a husband and a future church planter, this is definately something to print off, remember, and practice.

  2. I attended the Portland, OR site and I am still thinking about this. I totally want the culture that he has created at North Point in this regard–however I’m having a tough time figuring out how to do this in a church plant. I can’t fathom 45 hours and then go home at this stage of the church (we have had one preview service). He is correct in saying it is fear. I am afraid that “if I don’t … then the church won’t succeed.” I have a feeling that I will be thinking/praying about this for awhile.

  3. Leadership Summit – Day One

    First day was outstanding. Tony Morgan has a great summary of each session on his blog which you can read…Session 1: Bill Hybels … Session 2: James Meeks … Session 3: Andy Stanley … Session 4: Peg Neuhauser Anything happen

  4. Leadership Summit: Stanley

    A quick confession here: I have become a huge fan of Andy Stanley lately. I loved his recent book on preaching, think he’s pretty right-on with his small groups stuff, and am pretty impressed by what God is doing at…

  5. I learned this lesson at my former church via means of landing in the hospital. I had stressed my body completely out. Originally, I blamed them for it :) It’s a lot easier to do that, when in truth it’s still my decision how often to work, how much time to “sacrifice.”

    I learned that part of the lesson this week, when I began to face some of my old “I’m stressed out” red flags. Then I realized, “Ok, I’m NOT working crazy hours and my employer has set an example of what a schedule looks like….it must be me.” And it is.

    For me, sometimes I got so concerned with leading my ministry or trying to influence culture, I was missing the point. We are never called to save the world. We are simply called to be obedient.

    In Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, he talks about killing superpastor. His experiences were so similar to mine. I summed them up here:

    http://www.flowerdust.net/?p=85

  6. Kenny

    I really like Andy. However, as a church planter who “cut my ministry teeth” on learning from great leaders/pastors like Hybels, Warren, Maxwell…all the greats who speak at these conferences. I have learned that what is “heard” during the conference is not always what was said or meant.

    To many times young church planters hear a differnet message when they hear “I just showed up in the city with me, my pregnant wife, my u-haul and some faith”

    Does Andy mean that including his Sunday speaking schedule he only works 45 hours? That would mean he only works 35-37 hours during the week.

    Does the 45 hours include any volunteer hours given to the church? What about the sound tech at your church who serves 5 hours on Sunday and then has to be at the office 40-45 hrs.(church planting means..the sound guys unload at 7am in a rented facility and then maybe get to leave when the serivce is over at noon..if another tema is loading)

    Not sure how the High School volunteers who works 45 hours a week and then serves another 5 each week would understand the new church planter saying he was only gong to work 35 hours a week..because he is the speaker?

    Also, not stated in such a comment is the fact that North Point is not like most church plants. Thousands were committed and in attendance long before a Sunday morning service was ever formed in the same area as Andy was already pastoring in and was linked to his father’s mega church and had many contacts ready to serve. (none of that is bad..just not the same as the guy who moves to a city and starts from scratch.)

    As a realist and church planter (7 years old..just moved into our own building) I would agree that 45 hours a week, that do not include the Sunday schedule, can be done if you plant with a team. A God honoring and family honoring healthy pace is our goal. And God will build his church.

    Not being critical…but our network has planted 4 churches in 7 years and I have seen the pain that comes from not “hearing” correctly at church conference.

  7. I grew up the daughter of a pastor with an average church staff of 2.5 and attendance in the 150-300 range.

    My dad was an awesome pastor.

    And I rarely saw him. And it sucked.

    Now that I am 26 and slowly yet surely following unexpectedly in his footsteps, I too see and have succombed to the temptation of working in a church, serving the church, and being a wife.

    I don’t work more than 40 hours a week. And depending on the week, I might even do less than that. Granted, our church staff is nearing the 300 mark, but I’ve been in other churches with large staffs who work excessive (50+) hours.

    The culture in which I work (and am speechlessly grateful for) has seen the fruit that comes from keeping it short and sweet. People stick around – there is hardly any turnover (and when there is, it’s because of babies most of the time!) and everyone is far more productive than they would be if they were burned out. We get spiritual health days. We play laser tag. We party as a staff at least once a quarter. If you walk into the church I work at at 5pm, you might run into a handful of people. MIGHT. It’s a ghost town.

    I think it’s more a testimony to what God can do through us when we leave before 5pm every day than it is when we kick in 70 hours, ignore our families, and our souls are dry – our minds & bodies exhausted.

    Just some more thoughts on this. It’s a topic close to my heart.

  8. Andy Stanley Cheating the Church

    Tony Morgan is blogging the sessions from Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Andy Stanley’s session dealt with church planting in “45 hours a week.” This concept was born out of deal Stanley made with God: God, I don’t have time to

  9. Jim W

    I wish someone had spoken this to me some 30 years ago…I DID learn (the hard way) and my family has not suffered over the past few years and God’s grace and a wonderful wife covered a lot of my absence, but I wish I had made this decision years ago.

  10. Mat Garcia

    First time posting with you Tony. Good feedback. You would be wise to listen to Ann Jackson’s comments. We need to be careful not to assume Andy’s ministry situation is anything like yours or mine. We would do well to listen and chew on his insights and experience, but to only digest the principle in regads to application: Keep your priorities balanced! That’s clear. How that principle applies to your situation and mine will differ greatly.

    We also tend to be in awe of success stories from great leaders like Hybels and Warren. But both respected Pastors speak frankly about the cost they and others paid. Warren has spoken about his emotional and mental breakdowns. Hybels has written about his marital and family drift and the the high cost his founding staff paid by going into credit card debt to support the church and staff members that experienced divorce.

    I continue to listen to and chew on the great insights of Andy and otherr. But I try to be careful about what I will digest into application.

  11. Andy Stanley on Cheating the Church

    Tony Morgan blogged the sessions from Willow Creek Leadership Summit.
    Andy Stanley’s session dealt with church planting in “45 hours a week.” This concept was born out of deal Stanley made with…

  12. Dave

    I find it fascinating that so many people loved Andy Stanley’s message at the Summit. I liked it the least of any of the messages there. Two reasons:

    1) I thought it highly de-motivational – devaluing – to the volunteers I took. In addition to paid staff, I took 30 volunteers. Many of them work 40+ hours each week at their jobs. By the time they come on Sunday morning, they’ve put in their 45. So in other words, no small groups, no volunteer ministry. Seems pretty hypocritical to me to ask them to volunteer time if pastors are not going to. 2) I think it was unbiblical. Andy used Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” to conclude that it’s our job to love our families, it’s Jesus job to love the church. That is clearly not the intention of that text. We need to love the church and our families. Passages such as Matthew 6:33 make it clear we are to “seek first God’s Kingdom.” There were things I loved about Andy’s message. Concepts such as 1) playing to our strengths, 2) maintaining a sustainable pace, 3) pastor’s being sure they don’t get wrapped up in a messiah complex … were incredible. But the de-valuing of volunteerism bothered me so much that I wished I had not taken my people to the Summit this year. Except Cordeiro’s message changed all of that. I loved it. He recognizes there is a tension between loving our families and seeking first God’s kingdom. Simplifying it to “45 hours” is not the answer. Bono was right, Christians have to stop giving simple answers to complex issues. Cordeiro’s example of “moving the fulcrum” was invaluable. I don’t question the importance of what Andy talked about. Many of us have used church work as the place to get our strokes. Many of us have worked so hard at church that we have brought no emotional energy back home with us. That’s wrong. I understand this stuff from personal experience. My grandfather left two of his children in an orphanage in Hawaii for two years so that he could be a missionary to China. The scars from that decision still affect our families. I’ve listened to lots of Andy Stanley messages and read lots of his books, including Choosing to Cheat. I generally love what he has to say. I left the Summit thinking, “this isn’t something Bill Hybels agrees with.” More importantly, I don’t think Paul or Jesus agree with it either.

  13. Mat Garcia

    1. Great post.

    2. I often wonder if “book writing time” comes out of family time or church time.

    3. My standard is simple. I work the number of hours my average volunteer works at their job, and add on top of that, what I ask of my people in volunteer hours at the church. I cannot ask my people to do what I am unwilling to do myself. My family time is not more important than theirs.

  14. norton928

    Kenny, I don’t think Andy meant the 45 hour limit to be a mandate for all church leaders in all situations. I think he would say (and did say) his season and decision was unique and it’s up to other pastors to figure out where their line is.

    Dave, Andy didn’t say anything about volunteers not giving time over 45 hours. I know that he honors volunteers greatly and has always volunteered time himself (outside of his official role). I think he was chiefly talking about one’s specific role and the fear we have that success of the ministry or business rests fully on how hard we work. It’s unfortunate if any of your volunteers felt devalued because I haven’t heard anyone else get that from Andy’s message.

    Thoughts?

  15. Mozilla700

    Andy Stanly did a videotaped sermon on, “it’s not about you.” It talked about his reflections while on a vacation in Hawaii. He was sitting on the beach reading a science magazine and thinking about how vast the universe was, and how we are so small in relation. He then concluded, “it’s not about you.”

    Does anybody know the name of that video, or where I can get a copy?

  16. Debbie

    Bless Andy for bringing a message that challenges all of us to stay focused on God, His principles and truths and LIVE it. We can come up with a lot of “yeah,but’s….” when we use our human logic and let our ego’s and fears get in the way (as well intentioned as they may be and seem) but the bottom line is always God. But when we stand before Him we will have the joy of seeing His delight that we rejected the lie that He wasn’t enough.

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