Brief History of North Point Community Church
In the Beginning
In November 1995, Andy Stanley stood in front of a gathering of believers at a North Atlanta convention center and cast the vision for a new church. He said, "Atlanta does not need another church. What Atlanta does need is a safe environment where the unchurched can come and hear the life-changing truth that Jesus Christ cares for them and died for their sin." So began North Point Community Church.
For the first three years of its existence, the congregation of North Point met every other Sunday night in rented facilities. When the Olympics came to town, the church was unable to meet for nine weeks. "Those were our pioneering days," says Julie Arnold, Director of Service Programming. "Everybody had to pitch in and do whatever needed to be done. It was difficult to attend North Point back then, especially for families with kids. Only those who were truly committed to our mission and strategy stayed with us through those defining years."
When Andy talks about those early years, he focuses on the unique opportunity the unusual schedule afforded them. "We made a strategic decision not to focus on growth, but instead to focus on leadership development. As a result, when we moved to our own facility and began regular Sunday morning services, we had a core of leaders who knew exactly what we were trying to do and exactly where they fit in."
Outposts In the Community
In addition to the Sunday evening services, NPCC started three ministries designed to capture the attention of their three target audiences.
Under the leadership of Reggie Joiner, KidStuf was established in an elementary school cafeteria. KidStuf targeted families with elementary-aged children. KidStuf is a 35-minute program where children participate with their parents in a highly interactive, values-driven learning environment. As Reggie is fond of saying, "KidStuf is where kids bring their parents to learn." This was North Point's first presence in the community they would later call home.
While families gathered for KidStuf, the student ministry team was setting up five miles away in a rented recreation center for InsideOut. InsideOut is an environment designed for high school students. Under the leadership of Kevin Ragsdale, the InsideOut volunteers made the church's presence known among teenagers in the area.
After participating in a conference together, Bill Willits, Director of Group Life, and Louie Giglio of Passion Conferences, felt led to create a weekly worship and teaching environment for single adults. As a result, 7|22 was born. Under the leadership of North Point's Singles Ministry, 7|22 quickly became a gathering point for hundreds and later thousands of singles and college students from all over the state. Bill's exceptional organizational skills, combined with Louie's passion to communicate, enabled North Point to make its mark on the young adult population of North Atlanta. After Buckhead Church opened in Tower Place in May of 2007, the need for this weekly environment diminished. Sixty percent of Buckhead attendees are single adults. So, in September of 2008, 7|22 had its last meeting.
In December of 1996, North Point purchased an 83-acre site in the middle of Alpharetta, a small town fifteen miles north of Atlanta. Six months later, construction began on what was to be the first of three building phases. The first phase of construction included a 2,700-seat auditorium, along with a small theater, offices, and education space for preschoolers and children. On September 27, 1998, the congregation of North Point Community Church moved into its new home. That first Sunday, over 2,000 adults attended two morning worship services. By Christmas, attendance had grown to 3,000. By the end of the first year, North Point was averaging over 4,000 in worship. Plans were started for a second phase of construction. "It was difficult to determine what to build," says Rick Holliday, Director of Administration. "We were growing so fast that we didn't feel we had time for a three-year building campaign. Also, we had no idea how large an auditorium we would need in three years." As a result of this dilemma, the church leadership decided to experiment with the idea of developing multiple worship environments, rather than one large auditorium. This was a faster and less costly way to meet the growing demand. By spring of 2001, the second phase of construction was completed. A second auditorium stood directly behind the original one. With the additional seating, North Point is able to accommodate over 5,000 worshipers at one time.
A group of people in the Buckhead area wanted a relevant church similar to NPCC, where they could safely bring their friends who did not go to church. In the spring of 2001, they began meeting every other Sunday night in rented facilities, much like the early days of North Point. Andy Stanley and the leadership team encouraged and advised Buckhead Fellowship, and in August of 2001 asked them to become the first satellite campus of North Point Ministries. Buckhead Fellowship became Buckhead Church. They continued meeting every other Sunday night until they moved into a renovated grocery store on Roswell Road on Easter Sunday of 2003. The same NPCC Sunday morning environments are at Buckhead Church, with live worship, drama, and announcements. The messages are now simulcast to each campus. Buckhead Church moved to a permanent facility at Tower Place in the heart of Buckhead in May 2007.
A third campus, Browns Bridge Community Church, opened on October 8, 2006. This campus was fully programmed and showed NPCC prerecorded messages with the same technology used at Buckhead Church. Browns Bridge has grown from approximately 1,500 adults on Sunday morning to over 3,500 and from two services to three in just two years. And the messages are now simulcast every Sunday.
When asked to comment on the amazing growth at North Point, a member of the leadership team said, "We can't explain it. We don't try to explain it. We just pray that God will keep us from getting in the way of what he's up to."
Beyond the Numbers.
Currently, North Point Ministries has over 20,000 adults participating in worship at three campuses each Sunday. In addition, over 6,000 children meet in small groups while their parents attend worship. However, the numbers don't tell the whole story. Changed lives are what drive the leadership at North Point. Lane Jones, campus pastor of Browns Bridge Community Church in Forsyth County, put it this way, "Our real mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. That's not just a slogan on our wall. We have measured our success by that standard from the beginning. If we ever stop hearing stories of life change, I guarantee we will stop what we are doing and regroup, no matter how many people are attending."