here’s to you, 722

in my office, i have a quote taped above my computer screen that says “if you’re trying to lead with someone else’s vision, then who is going to fulfill yours?” obviously, it wouldn’t be taped there if i didn’t need to be rebuked for my frequent urges to reinvent the crazy-cool vision happening in so many exciting churches across the country. not just churches, but leaders, speakers, worship leaders…anything with a cool or creative quality that is worth noticing (and thus, copying). vision seems so much easier when you can skip the process of personal discovery. “find what’s working out there and do that” seems an efficient alternative, possibly even an inspiring one, but it’s a shortcut that skips the oh-so-valuable step in which you (or your organization) is forced to look at yourself and consider what makes you unique—how and why are you going to take what nobody else has, to do what nobody else can do, to reach the people that nobody else is reaching?

if i had to pick one ministry that has made it hard for me to avoid ripping all i could from it, it might be a little deal down in atlanta, ga known as 722. over the past 12 years, 722 (a ministry of Northpoint Church) has been shaking the spiritual climate of one of the largest cities in america. i’ve watched its webstream, copied its songs, gawked at its speakers, and marveled at the tremendous amounts of both production and authenticity that can co-exist in a church. it modeled for us what ministry to post-boomer generations can look like. in many ways, it taught us how to worship and how to inspire new generations. i’d even say that this ministry (and in a larger part, the entire Passion network of speakers and artists who found a home in 722’s leadership) helped give younger generations a voice in a Church that didn’t quite know what to do with us.

but, as was the case with others like it, 722 worked. it fulfilled its existence. the generation that used to only find itself behind the doors of a church when nobody else was around (weekday evenings when they could play their music and talk about things in a way that made sense to them) are now running the joint. so with 722’s years of success came a hard decision by its leadership to close this chapter of its ministry. those leaders modeled with guts what every church leader should do: be willing to face the realization that if your goal is to reach people nobody else is reaching, then you’ve got to do what nobody else is doing. and if that’s not the case, there’s no other option than to reconsider why you’re here in the first place. numbers don’t justify it. “success” doesn’t justify it. having dorky-copy-cat-pastors like me eagerly watching your services from across the country doesn’t justify it.

so here’s to you, 722. thanks for all you’ve showed us over the years, especially in this defining moment.

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~ by bradherndon on August 4, 2008.

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