Unknown-3I missed the two afternoon sessions and heard they were both exceptional, so I’ll be chasing footage when its available.

Final session of the day: Andy Stanley. 

– ‘There’s no such thing as just a youth pastor.’ Thank you for saying it, even if it was somewhat of a recovery statement. Youth Pastors are essentially the “Lead Pastor” of a church of teens and parents without the resource and power (and frankly, attention) of a lead pastor. Tough and essential role in any church.

Guiding Question for the Talk: ‘If we had it to do all over again, what would we do all over again?’

– Autopsy your success. Too often we only autopsy our failures, but it’s vital to ask, ‘why is this working?’

– Why did our organization grow so fast? We had a uniquely better product. If you have the only hotdog stand in town your hotdogs don’t have to be that good. Andy then proceeds to acknowledge the global nature of the summit by referencing various food stands around the world and gives a much needed shoutout to Ugali. I say “much needed” because…..have you tried Ugali?  It needs a shout out.

– ‘Uniquely better’: it does what it is supposed to do better than the competition.

I squirm at marketplace metaphors for church. I understand what Andy is saying here and frankly, I consider Andy to be one of the very sharpest minds in the church today, but ‘product’ and ‘competition’ to me speak to what is wrong with the western church. 

We are in grave danger when we shrink the grand gospel of Jesus down to product language and in my opinion, we just feed the beast of consumerism by saying it that way. Also, other churches are not our competition. We stand together against the ‘competition’ of evil and darkness according to Paul. Having said that, no one can deny that Northpoint grew rapidly and reached 50,000+ people because no one else in town was doing what they were doing and because they were innovative, many, many now know the gospel. 

– ‘All of our churches look like music venues.’ Yes. What will the next generation of churches look like? When can I get back to House for All Sinners and Saints where we sit in a circle and worship with a cappella liturgy? 

– About Northpoint: ‘We are not unique anymore which means we are not uniquely better anymore.’

And here, in my opinion is where Andy struck gold:

– Someone somewhere is messing with the rules to the prevailing model.

– Every industry has shared assumptions. Shared assumptions get you into trouble. Which means every industry is stuck (not broken) and it may not be stuck in a bad way, i.e., some things work, but all the same prevailing models have shared assumptions and consequently things continue on unchanged, but somewhere, somebody is pioneering new approaches.

– Discovering uniquely better is virtually impossible. Recognizing uniquely better is accessible to many.

– Uniquely better is often the byproduct of circumstances that success organizations are trying to avoid.

– Multi site began as a solution to a problem , now it is a strategy, not a solution to a problem.

– The more successful you are, the less likely you’ll recognize it as better because it will play off different assumptions and different rules.

– Create a culture to recognize rather than resist ‘uniquely better.’

Here is how: 

1) Be a student not a critic.

‘This can’t be of a God. Look at all these people.’ Lol! Don’t criticize something you don’t understand. The moment you critique, you stop learning and when you stop learning, you stop leading.

2) Keep your eyes and mind wide open.

Listen to outsiders. Listen to people who don’t know how to do what you do. They may see something you can’t see. Outsiders aren’t bound by our assumptions. When you think, ‘that won’t work because…’ you’re leveraging an assumption. The ignorance of an outsider might be the ticket

Closed minded leaders close minds. You will close eyes and minds of people around you. Parents, beware that your closed mind is not closing the minds of your children. Boom!

– Being close minded is like being greedy – it is difficult to see in the mirror. Here are questions to help you see if you are close minded:

Q1: How do you respond to staff who make suggestions based on what they’ve observed in other organizations?

Q2: When was the last time the org embraced a big idea that wasn’t your idea?

Q3: When were you not sure but gave the go ahead anyway.

“I listen to Sam Harris because I’m a student, not a critic.” Brilliant.

Sam Harris, ‘we must pay attention to the frontiers of our ignorance.’

Andy: “Uniquely better dwells on the frontier of your ignorance.”

Beware Status Quo (surely not the 70’s Supergroup? I don’t think they are very dangerous.) ‘Being the leader and leading are two entirely different things.’

3)  Replace how? with wow!

Someone comes to you with a good idea, resist ‘the h word’ and give the, ‘wow!’ And watch them light up and share more. This also works as a parent when your kids are processing. I am guilty of ‘how.’ This one hit me where I needed to be hit. 

‘Wow ideas to life don’t how them to death.’ We fuel innovation or shut it down by our response.

Andy’s biggest laugh came from a gender stereotype joke about men coming home from work with a head full of ideas and for wives not to be afraid to listen and say ‘wow’ and in doing so, the men will do more dishes, clean up more etc. It was very funny and very well delivered and made me think of two things:

1) What does Sheryl Sandberg have to say about this joke and what it is communicating?

2) Many women on our church staff are wired to be the one to come home with a head full of ideas. Many men are the more quiet, reflective type. Is this really a truth about gender or another stereotype to bust?

Every time I listen to Andy Stanley, I end up deeply challenged about my leadership. He once again left me with a lot to work on. Strong session.