Today NorthStar Church, located in the North Atlanta town of Kennesaw, celebrated its 20th anniversary. Founded by Ike Reighard and pastored by Mike Linch, this church embodies everything right about Christianity and Christian leadership. I was fortunate enough to attend this church for approximately eight years when I lived in the area.

As NorthStar celebrated this milestone day, the following are 55 Must-Know Leadership Lessons And Quotes From NorthStar Church’s 20th Anniversary Service.  This message is an absolute clinic on how a leader should honor the past while pointing people towards the future.  Let me say this, every leader should watch Mike’s message for a template on effective vision-casting.

I hope the thoughts below bless you as much as this church has blessed tens of thousands of people in the North Atlanta area.  All quotes are from Mike unless otherwise noted.

  1. Celebration Is Vital – There are times you should celebrate as a church or organization. A leader who does not celebrate is a leader not worth following.
  2. Prioritize God Above All Else – When Mike did the welcome the first thing he said was “Give the Lord a hand for 20 great years!”
  3. There Are Definitive Voices Of Every Generation – The worship team opened with two of the most popular songs over the last 20 years, “Our God” and “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin. What strikes me about his music is the lyrics are all about Jesus, not our personal journey.  Also, notice how easy they are to sing. If you want to have a timeless voice it must be portable.
  4. Founding Pastor Ike Reighard said via video, “One of the favorite things for me is to tell people I was the founding pastor there.”
  5. Great Leaders Loan Other Leaders Their Reputation – Ike added, “You’ve allowed other churches like Piedmont to borrow your reputation.”
  6. Great Leaders Are Great Servants – Former community pastor Marlon Longacre said, “You’re not really called to ministry unless you smell like hamburger grease.”
  7. Great Leaders Have Great Dreams – Ike said, “The day you memories are bigger than your dreams you’re dead in the water. Make your dreams huge NorthStar!”
  8. Ike concluded, “The best is yet to come.”
  9. Great Leaders Honor The Contributions Of Others – Mike welcomed back former staff and Management Team members.
  10. Never Despise Humble Beginnings – Mike told the story of the church’s very first service which was held at Comfort Inn.
  11. You Never Have To Recover From A Good Start – The Speaker Of The House at the time, Newt Gingrich, attended the very first service along with 365 others.
  12. Great Ministries Are Marked By Significant Life Change – Hundreds stood when Mike asked if you got saved or baptized at NorthStar.
  13. Great Churches Have Great Passion – “As we look back I want you to get the passion of what NorthStar was all about.”
  14. Great Leaders Pay A Great Price For Others To Have Success – “People would show up at 5:30 AM every Sunday (to setup) because they got the passion of we were all about.”
  15. Great Leaders Touch The Hearts Of Others – “I don’t know if this man (who had leprosy) had ever been touched. I don’t know if this man was ever held by his father.”
  16. Great Leaders Proactively Go To Others – Going to people that didn’t know God wanted anything to do with them. Little did they know what God had in store for them.
  17. Mike read the church’s old mission statement – “To show God’s love in such a way that people will exchange ordinary living for an extraordinary life through the transforming power of Jesus Christ.”
  18. Great Churches Are Marked By Life Change – “This church has been about people helping making people make that great exchange.”
  19. Great Churches Are A Hub Of Activity For Their Community – “We want to be the hub of activity.”
  20. Great Churches Would Be Missed If They Were Not There – “We want people to say, ‘I don’t what we would do without NorthStar Church.”’
  21. Great Churches Are Effective – “There were over 200 community events last year with over 200 people held in this building. In the last 20 years, there have been over 4,000 community events of 150 people or more held here.”
  22. Facilities Facilitate God’s Work In The Community – “This isn’t our building. We were given this to leverage and help people get comfortable with God.”
  23. Great Churches Steward Their Facilities Well – “What a shame to open a building one day a week for church.”
  24. Great Pastors Champion The Mission And Vision Of The Church – “Here’s our mission – We exist to help people find their way home.”
  25. We Live In A Hurting World – “We live in a world where people don’t know where they’re going.”
  26. The Church Sanctuary Is Still A Holy Place – “Many of you make a commitment to Christ sitting in this room.”
  27. When Crisis Occurs People Will Remember The Church Who Served Previously Them – “I got a cinnamon roll, a Diet Coke, and a marker from NorthStar Church. So I decided I’d come and gave my life to Christ.” – a teacher who faced a crisis situation after NorthStar Church provided breakfast for them.
  28. The Power Of Community – “Sundays are awesome. But groups are better.”
  29. “Out of 47,000 churches in the United States, you’re in the top half of 1% of what God is doing. What God has done here is nothing short of amazing.
  30. Talent Often Shows Up At An Early Age – “I was 33 when they said you’re going to be the next senior pastor.”
  31. Churches Must Earn The Trust Of Their Communities – “By making a decision to serve the community first, we earned the trust to guide them to a spiritual home.”
  32. Great Pastors Have Great Faith – “We bought 40 acres of land with only 300 giving units.”
  33. Smart Churches Steward Their Credibility Well – “Use credibility to say, ‘I can’t wait to see where God is going to take us.””
  34. Great Pastors Cast Great Vision – “Over the next five years, we want to influence 10,000 people to take their next step for Christ.”
  35. Great Leaders Are Always Reproducing Other Great Leaders – “We want to equip leaders, expand our influence, and strengthen the body.”
  36. Smart Churches Create Easy On-Ramps For Engaging People – “We want this to be the easiest place in the world to find your place.”
  37. Great Churches Have A Holy Discontent – “We’re not content with somebody just coming to Christ.”
  38. “If we can connect people to God and connect people to each other, we can make this work.
  39. Smart Leaders Are Always Adding People To The Team – “We want to encourage growing Christians to step into leadership positions.”
  40. Great Pastors Call People To Action – “God has equipped you to do more than just sit.”
  41. Everything Rises And Falls On Leadership – “We got to the Super Bowl because we got the right guy in the right place.  Rise Up Atlanta!”
  42. Great Pastors Want The Best For Their People – “We often miss God’s best by not everyone engaging God’s best.”
  43. People Give To Vision, Not Projects – “We started our BOLD campaign with $6.8 million of debt. We got sick and tired of debt. God gave us a vision of what was not on the other side of that debt. We now stand at $1.4 million of debt.” – FYI, I got to be part of this effort as part of the INJOY Stewardship Solutions team.
  44. You Cannot Outgive God – “The more we give the more God gives.”
  45. Churches Should Set The Standard For Excellence For All Industries – “We want to be better than any hotel welcoming people around here.”
  46. Smart Churches Ambush People With The Gospel – “We want to meet people where they least expect to meet a church.”
  47. Great Leaders Leave A Godly Legacy – “When we started NorthStar my son was 2. Now he is the online pastor for the world.”
  48. Great Leaders Know The Work Is Never Done – “We’re not done.  We want to go where people are.  We’re not even close to being done.”
  49. Great Churches Build And Maintain Great Partnerships With Their Community – “We want to work with city leaders to help make positive change in our community.”
  50. Great Leadership Is Never Easy – “It hasn’t all been easy. There’s been some days I didn’t want to stay on stage. I’d rather be any other place in the world.”
  51. The Passion Of Great Pastors Increases Over Time.  Not Decreases. – “I’m more passionate than I’ve ever been. God has sent the right people at the right time. We still got a lot of work to do.”
  52. Great Leaders Stand On The Shoulders Of Others – “We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us.”
  53. Great Pastors Honor The Pastor But Are Always Pointing To Tomorrow – “NorthStar, thank you for the last 20. It’s been unbelievable. But let’s go and see what’s next.”
  54. Generosity Changes Lives – When you give, you change somebody’s way home.
  55. A Pastor’s Wife Is Just As Much A Calling As Being A Pastor – Executive Pastor Daniel Hoover also honored Mike’s wife Anne at the end.

Thank you Mike for your wonderful leadership! You are a dear friend and GREAT leader. God has truly used you in make a significant impact in my life as well as my wife and daughter. You can watch a replay of this service by clicking HERE.


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