Culture and the Church: Thought Shapers- Part 8: Andy Stanley (Church Environments)

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Andy Stanley is the pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia and is also an established author.  He has written many books on leadership and ministry development.  One thing that Andy has outlined in his books that is a key to a church’s ministry impact is the issue of environments.  When someone who has never been to church or is new to the church comes to visit, how do we respond?  This is a very relevant question to address.  The way that Andy seeks to address it a North Point is through his idea of church environments.  He describes someone coming into the church as someone coming into your home to visit.  The first environment that they come across is the foyer.  This is when they are first entering the home (church).  In this stage people are evaluating the overall environment with questions like: What is happening here?  Do I like being here?  Are people friendly?  Will I feel at home or lost in the midst of this new place?  In the first environment, it is critical for the church to make people feel at home and that someone cares about them.  If people have a bad experience in the initial environment, they will not return.  If they have a positive experience in the initial environment, they will then gradually progress to the second environment – the living room.  In the living room, the people feel at home and comfortable with the church.  This is not the church they are visiting any longer.  It has become their church.  They feel like they know people and have friends in the second stage.  In the second environment, people need to be encouraged to get more involved in the church which leads to the third environment – the kitchen table.  At the kitchen table, people are a part of a community and a part of the family.  They are serving and involved in leadership in the church.  They have stopped being attenders of the church and have become part of the church.  This is their church and their place to serve.  The goal in visitors and new people at a church should be to gradually guide people from the foyer to the kitchen table.  This is a very practical way to build a community and connect people with church.