March 16th, 2010

How One of America’s Most Strategic Churches Shut Down a Ministry

An Interview with Jarrett Stevens

Jarrett Stevens recently moved to Chicago to start Soul City Church. I have enjoyed getting to know Jarrett and his story a bit through his participation in our Vision co::Lab.

A few years ago, Jarrett moved from Willow Creek to lead 722, a singles ministry associated with North Point Community Church, formally spearheaded by Louie Giglio. When I found out that Jarrett was responsible for leading 722 to close its doors, I couldn’t resist a phone call and short interview. I had one question in mind.  How would a strategic bunch of folks, connected to strategy maven Andy Stanley, shut down a ministry?

Here are some notes I made from the interview. Below is Jarrett’s announcement to 722 in 2008.

BACKGROUND

  • After Louie Giglio, our team was tasked with taking 722 to the next level
  • Louie was incredible communicator and they did great worship
  • There was a strategic choice to not offer 722 specific serving opportunities and small groups
  • 722 started as a singles ministry but ended up attracting people 16-46 years old

INITIAL LEADERSHIP

  • Clarified our vision to reach single folks in the city
  • Asked college and high school students to get plugged into their OWN ministry (who wants 30 year olds at their highschool?)
  • Half our audience dropped in one night
  • Moved to Buckhead campus, better version, although radically different
  • We continued with the same basic format of worship and teaching

DISCERNING THE NEED TO STOP

  • After a year run, things didn’t take off like we had hoped
  • We wanted to reach people that Buckhead church wasn’t already reaching
  • We had become more of an alternative service to the weekend without realizing it
  • If we can’t be radically unique and absolutely critical, we wondered why we should exist

THE DEFINING MOMENT

  • We finally asked two questions as a team
  • Q #1: Do you think that 722 is doing what only it can do to reach people that no one else is reaching?
  • Q #2: So is there any reason to continue what we are doing now?
  • We all concluded that we didn’t want to give our lives to an option.

THREE GREATEST LEARNINGS

  • Engage a prayerful process about shutting down the ministry
  • The best thing we did was to quit doing what we had always done hoping it would offer different results
  • Our greatest challenge as leaders is we can’t see quitting as winning

6 Comments on to “How One of America’s Most Strategic Churches Shut Down a Ministry”

  • Stephen says:

    Thanks for posting this Will. Thanks for your clarity Jarrett. I also led a shut-down, and even with that experience, it’s hard not to take up the “but what if you tried” posture in my own heart. But I totally agree that ‘shutting down’ can equal a win – it’s just a big version of the little no’s that keep a vision clear! God’s blessings on Jarrett, his future in the Lord’s Kingdom, and his work through Soul City.

  • rc says:

    They may have shut down 722 but I believe they are still trying to target singles under a different name. I don’t attend buckhead church so I’m not certain but I have come across do.justice. http://www.dojusticeatlanta.org/

  • Malcolm says:

    Great post! Good to hear how things like this went down. A ton of good info in this short post & video.

  • Will Mancini says:

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the gratitude expressed toward Jarrett’s experience- I forgot to thank him in the post itself! Excited to see how God uses him in Chicago.

  • The cult of celebrity invades the church without a connectional, relationship building ethos that enables pastors to serve with humility, intelligence, imagination and love that overcomes obstacles. I wonder why an interim pastor was not brought in to enable the ministry to make the transition successfully.

  • [...] is a great example of a church that was drunk, and they sobered up. North Point actually canned a great worship [...]

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