Several years ago I was at the Creative Church Conference at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, and Andy Stanley and Ed Young were seriously on a roll. They had just written, “Can We Do That?” and they were just rocking through the conference.
It was just a week or two before we attempted to launch “North Point Fellowship” (eventually to become Compass Church), and I was inspired, motivated, and very much ready to win the world for Christ.
I was also nervous and excited, and was eating up all of the wisdom these guys were dishing out in large helpings.
On Friday night of the conference, I was particularly moved by some of the things that Andy taught in his session. Understandably so, I guess, since his book, “Visioneering” was so instrumental in helping me process and think through the steps I needed to take to get ready to plant a church. (I wish I had followed the principles more faithfully, but that’s a post for another time)
Thirty minutes or so after the conference ended that night, I was still hanging around and talking on the phone with my lovely wife, Leona when Andy and his wife, Sandra, walked right past me. I had to do a double take, because it was kind of unusual to see one of the main speakers at a conference this size walking around through the crowd afterwards. Usually, that’s a logistical nightmare.
I told Leona, “I just saw Andy Stanley walk into the church bookstore.” Of course, since his book had had such an impact on me, she encouraged me to say hello to him. So I decided to do just that…
I shouted it without batting an eye and as if I had known him for years. He turned at the sound of his name, and seconds later I was shaking his hand and introducing myself.
…And then I just blurted it out like Bill Murray in “What About Bob?” or something:
“Visioneering,” I said with a dramatic pause, “…changed my life!”
The look on his face was priceless. Surprise, amazement, humility, a sense of wonder and a little bit of “I’m not sure what to think of that” were written all at once in his expression.
I then quickly went on to explain how God had used his book to give me clarity and direction about planting a church, and “thank you so much for writing it.” As I was talking, his wife was just beaming and looking at her husband with a knowing smile.
One of the nicest, most gracious guys I’ve ever met, and a classic moment in my memory.
(Not that he would remember it or know or recognize me if you mentioned my name, but cool encounter nonetheless.)
Now if you ask me who I’m patterning my life after and who I am following, my answer would of course be Jesus, not Andy Stanley.
But I’m thankful for the wisdom of Andy Stanley.
And I’m thinking it’s time to re-read Visioneering.
Has someone been a blessing to you? If you have the opportunity to do so, tell them.