Starting a New Chapter

Looking back

About six years ago, a good friend approached me with an opportunity. I was working in real estate consulting at the time, but hoped to return to full-time ministry with North Point Ministries. There had been four different Directors of Life Lessons in the previous four years, and the ministry needed someone to invest in its leaders and bring stability and a systems approach to Life Lessons Over Lunch. My friend, who had been my boss at North Point Ministries from 2005-2007, thought I was the right man for the job. A few months later, in June 2009, I started as the Director of Life Lessons Over Lunch.

Over the past five-and-a-half years, I have had the privilege of watching Life Lessons grow and make an impact on countless lives of people in the marketplace. During that time, you have launched almost 250 new Life Lessons groups, and we now reach more than 5,500 people on a regular basis. I have loved hearing the stories of life change, and it has been so exciting to watch your influence grow as Life Lessons has expanded around the world. But I think my favorite part of this job has been the incredible quality of the leaders with whom I’ve worked. I have learned so much from you about investing in your spheres of influence. And I love the heart you show for reaching unchurched people.

What’s next for me

This fall, the same friend who hired me twice before approached me about a new opportunity within North Point Ministries, and it’s one that’s near to my heart. This month I will be transitioning to a new role as a Men’s and Married Groups Director at Watermarke Church, the North Point church in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Small groups have shaped my own spiritual growth like nothing else—I have been in small groups for most of the last 27 years, and my wife and I have led Married Community Groups for the past 15 years. Leading small groups and coaching small group leaders was my entry point to vocational ministry, both right out of college and in my return to full-time ministry in 2005. Finally, Watermarke Church is where my wife has worked for the past two years, which means that we will be a one-church family again for the first time since November of 2012, which is a big win for us.

What’s next for Life Lessons

We are in the process of interviewing for my position, and we hope to have someone in place in early 2015. In the meantime, Ellen Gray is more than capable of supporting you well. Your DVD orders will still be processed and your questions will be answered in a timely manner. The one thing that would be most helpful during this transition is to address your LLOL-related email correspondence to From now through the end of the year, that email address will go to both me and Ellen, and once we hire a new Director, those emails will go to both the new Director and Ellen. I will continue to help out as needed while we work to hire my replacement.

Thank you!

While I’m excited about what this new opportunity means for me and for my family, you and Life Lessons will always have a special place in my heart, and I will really miss this ministry. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve you over the past five-plus years, and I will continue to follow this ministry from the outside. Thank you for allowing me to partner with you in ministry!

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Ordering DVDs for January 2015

Two quick—but important—notes on ordering DVDs for January:

1. If you need it by January 5th, 2015, order it by December 19th, 2014.

Normally, we try to get your DVD requests processed and shipped to you within 2-3 business days. However, at the end of the year, it always takes longer. For one thing, the Life Lessons staff will be out of the office for the entire week of 12/22-12/26. Also, North Point Resources (who actually fills and ships the orders) does its year-end inventory and closes up shop for a couple of days.

2. Leverage the new year to reach a wider audience.

January presents a unique opportunity to tap into the felt needs of those in your sphere of influence. At the start of a new year, people are naturally inclined to pursue self-improvement. If your Life Lessons group can help them toward their goals, they’re that much more likely to participate in your group. Here are some messages/series that can help you leverage the start of a new year:
  • “This One Thing”*: North Point’s 2012 New Year’s message, that challenges each of us to shift from a having list of resolutions to focusing on the one thing that most deserves our attention this year.
  • Life Apps: a 6-part series about turning knowledge into life change. This series plays heavily on New Year’s resolution themes like weight loss, exercising, spending wisely, etc.
  • Starting Over: a 4-part series about making this time different from last time.
  • Breathing Room: a 4-part series on creating breathing room in our schedules, our finances, and our relationships.
  • Time of Your Life: a 5-part series on making the most of your most precious resource—time.
  • Balanced: a 6-part series on how to experience financial balance.

* Single-message DVD-R’s like “This One Thing” are not listed on the Online Order Form. You can request them by emailing us.

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What does Life Lessons look like in other locations?

Most of you have only seen one Life Lessons group in action—your own.

Have you ever wanted to see what it looks like in other locations?

Here are some pictures of other groups in action. Some were taken when Life Lessons staff have visited groups; others were shared with us by leaders. (You may have to scroll down to see the pictures.)

Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (2008)
Corporate Square Location

Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (2010)
Koger Center location

Volunteers serving lunch to participants
at the CDC in Atlanta (2012)
Notice that the servers wear gloves.

Orlando Regional Medical Center (2010)
For several years, this group at ORMC
averaged over 100 people.

CNA Insurance, Atlanta (2013)
The leaders of this group have personally funded lunch for more than 4 years.

TechColumbus (2013)
This group serves not a company, but rather people working in the hi-tech industry in Columbus, OH.

Baidu, Beijing
The first Life Lessons meeting in China

Baidu, Beijing (2014)
Six months later, the group had nearly tripled in size

UPS Alpharetta, GA (2014)

Unable to meet on-site, this group meets in the breakfast area of a nearby hotel

Camp Marmal, Afghanistan (2011)
Life Lessons in Quonset hut looks a little different than an office

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New Series: Starting Over

We are pleased to announce the release of a new message series that’s available for Life Lessons groups.

What do you do when it all falls apart?
Your career
Your marriage
Your dream

How do you pick up the pieces and begin again?

In the four-part series Starting Over, Andy Stanley looks at why we have a tendency to repeat our mistakes . . . and what we can do to ensure that next time won’t be like last time.

I think Starting Over is destined to become one of the most popular series for Life Lessons groups.


Because all of us have had to start over at some point. And regardless of whether we’re starting over because of mistakes we’ve made, or because life has thrown us a curveball . . . starting over is hard. It’s humbling. And it hurts.

So if someone has advice that will make starting over smoother and less painful—and give us a better result?

That would be worth our while.

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Looking Back on Five Years with LLOL

Five years ago today, I stepped into this role as the Director of Life Lessons Over Lunch.

As I look back on these past five years, I am amazed at what God has done in that time.

When I joined Life Lessons, the U.S. was in the midst of the “Great Recession.” More than a third of the Life Lessons groups on our roster in 2007 had disbanded, and many of the companies that hosted them no longer in business. As of July 1, 2009, there were 89 Life Lessons groups in existence, with about 1900 people participating. That’s not small by any stretch of the imagination, but it was only a hint of what was to come.

In the five years since then, we have seen more than 220 new Life Lessons groups launch. Almost 300 new leaders have begun investing in their spheres of influence. And there are now almost 5,800 people participating in Life Lessons Over Lunch! Finally, since I joined Life Lessons, we have sent out DVDs comprising 13,437 messages!

Here’s why that excites me so much:

  • 220 new groups means 220 new environments where unchurched people can connect with God. And that’s not just offices. There are now groups at military installations, rehab facilities, schools and universities, prisons, factories, farms . . . even some groups watching on portable DVD players in landscaping trucks.
  • 300 new leaders means 300 people engaging in God’s mission in this world, 300 examples of what it means to live out your faith at work. And many of these leaders had never led any sort of ministry before leading their Life Lessons group.
  • 5,800 participants means that because of your investment in others, the number of people who hear practical biblical principles and connect with their heavenly Father over their lunch break has tripled in the past five years.

I feel so privileged to have played a part in what God is doing through you and your groups, and I hope you never lose sight of the difference you make!

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New Series: Why In The World

The newest message series DVD from Andy Stanley hits shelves this week.

With all that’s wrong in the world,
why would God choose to become one of us?

Why would God leave the comfort and recognition of heaven to live on this ball of dirt in a time before morphine and indoor plumbing when the best of conditions barely paralleled the worst of modern day conditions?


We think we know why He died.
But what compelled him to live as one of us?

We have added Why In The World to the Life Lessons catalog, but we strongly recommend that you consider the dynamics of your group before ordering it.

Who is it for?

  • This is a great series for groups that have been meeting for a while and contain a significant number of “nominal” or “Sunday” Christians, provided that the group does not fall into one of the Who is it not for? categories below.
  • It might also be appropriate for those who have not yet crossed the line of faith, but are really seeking.
  • This could be a great series for groups that meet in a neutral (off company property) site that want to inject a more overtly Jesus-oriented series into their calendar.

Who is it not for?

  • This series is not for new groups. This is a “Jesus-heavy” series, and new groups should establish themselves with more felt-need-driven (i.e., topic-based) curriculum for at least a year, so that the unchurched people checking out your group don’t feel like they’re getting the bait-and-switch.
  • This series is definitely not for groups that have to walk a fine line with HR about the Christianity angle of the group.
If any of the above describes your group, we have plenty of other series that will meet your needs—take a “pass” on Why In The World for now.

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RE:GROUP 2014 Video Now Online

At the end of April, North Point Ministries hosted an event for all of our group leaders—including Life Lessons leaders. We brought in Heather Zempel, Discipleship Pastor at National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and author of Community Is Messy. While the content of Heather’s message was more geared toward small group leaders than Life Lessons leaders, any of you who lead or participate in small groups will likely find it helpful.

Whether you were there or not, here’s a little wrap-up video we put together to capture some of what went on that night:

Heather Zempel’s keynote message is now available online,
for those who were unable to attend.

Her talk was broken into two parts, and both videos—along with discussion questions for each part—are available below.
These are stored as “private” videos on Vimeo; the password is: messy.
You can download the discussion questions here.

Part 1

Part 2

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New and Improved Series Pages

In early 2011, we launched a completely redesigned website—and we continue to tweak it and make it better.

[Click image to enlarge]

This version has proven to be much more helpful for you—our leaders—and more informative for prospective leaders and visitors who may launch Life Lessons groups in the future. Over the past three years, we have listened to your feedback and continued to enhance our site. As of today, we have updated all of the message series pages.

What’s new?

Message Run Times
Does this series have any longer-than-usual messages?
Do we need to let people know to be right on time in order to see the whole message?
Now you can see the run time of every message in each series, right on the series page. These run times have long been available on the series worksheets on Curriculum Listing Spreadsheet, but now you can get to them quicker.

Director’s Notes
Are there any messages in this series that, given the dynamics of our group, we should maybe skip?
Is there anything that would make these messages really come alive for our participants?
We realize you may not have time to preview every single message/series before you show it. So any time there’s something we think would be helpful for you to know before showing a series, we put it in the Director’s Notes. Over half of our series now have some sort of Director’s Notes that we think will help you lead well.

Electronic Files of Handouts
From time to time, Andy mentions a handout in a message—most often a card with relevant verses on it—that you might like to put in your participants’ hands. While North Point Ministries doesn’t keep the physical, printed cards after we complete a series (any extras are usually distributed to North Point’s Strategic Partner churches, who typically run the same series a year later), we try to make electronic copies of these handouts available. They are usually in PDF format, which you can download and print out for your participants. For some older series, those electronic files may be lost or have “rights issues,” but for almost any series in the past five years, we should have the electronic file posted on our site (or be able to track one down, if not).

We hope these enhancements will help you lead your group even better.

Do you have any ideas that would make these pages more helpful? Share your thoughts here.

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For a few hours each month, you circle up with a group of people looking for a bunch of different things from you — insight, guidance, support, wisdom, friendship, hospitality . . . leadership.

One night each year, we want to invite you to be a part of another group — a group made up of leaders just like you. This night is called re:group. It’s for the people who gives their lives away to reach others.

The weekend of April 25-26, we will host re:group at four different Atlanta-area locations.

Heather Zempel, author of Community is Messy, will deliver a main session talk aimed at encouraging you as you face the challenges of leading others. You’ll have time to recharge as you interact with other leaders. We’ll have dinner, dessert, and, of course, lots of fun.

re:group is our chance to . . .

  • Say thank you
  • Cultivate your leadership
  • Celebrate what God has done in and through you

To register, select the location you would like to attend.

Buckhead Church—Friday, April 25, 7:30–9:30 p.m.
Browns Bridge (Cumming)*—Saturday, April 26, 6:30–9:00 p.m.
North Point Community Church (Alpharetta)—Saturday, April 26, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Watermarke Church (Canton)*—Saturday, April 26, 6:30–8:30 p.m.

* The Browns Bridge and Watermarke events include breakout sessions. These sessions are specifically designed for small group leaders at North Point Ministries churches, but would be helpful for anyone who leads a small group environment.

On the registration form, please select “Life Lessons” as the Ministry area.

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Feb 24: Catalyst One Day Discount &
Special Volunteer Event with Andy and Craig Groeschel

We are always on the lookout for ways to invest in your leadership.
For those of you within driving distance of Atlanta, Febuary 24th offers two outstanding leadership development opportunities.

Catalyst One Day Atlanta

About 15 years ago, Andy Stanley helped conceive and launch the first Catalyst Conference, a leadership conference for the next generation of church leaders. Since then, more than 100,000 leaders have attended Catalyst. Catalyst has grown so much that there are now three full, three-day conferences as well as a handful of one-day events. North Point Community Church is hosting Catalyst One Day Atlanta on Monday, February 24th. Andy and Craig Groeschel (who is the pastor of and and has co-headlined Catalyst events for the past few years) will be speaking at this all-day event.

Catalyst One Day will cover leadership essentials, such as vision casting, decision making, team building, work/life balance, etc. Past Catalyst events have provided the content for many episodes of the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, which has more than 200,000 followers.

As a Life Lessons leader, you can register for Catalyst One Day for the discount price of $79—almost 50% off the regular individual rate of $149. Click here to register and use discount code “NPCC.” This is a special deal for leaders affiliated with North Point, so please don’t share the code.

Special Volunteer Event with Andy & Craig

In addition to Catalyst One Day, on the evening of February 24th, North Point is also hosting a special event for our volunteers, leaders, and coaches. As a Life Lessons leader, this includes you even if you don’t attend one of our five Atlanta-area churches. This special event begins at 7pm and will feature content specifically geared toward lay leaders who serve in our ministries.
This is a free event, but will require an RSVP.
RSVP info will be forthcoming, check our Leader Events page for updates.

Please let us know you’re planning to attend.

If you are planning to attend Catalyst One Day and/or the special volunteer event that night, please drop us a line to let the Life Lessons staff know. If there are a significant number of you coming, we may try to schedule a special dinner just for Life Lessons leaders.

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