Jeff Henderson is the lead pastor at two of North Point Ministries’ eight Atlanta-area locations. He knows what it’s like to launch and lead a local church—having been tasked with that job three times in the last two decades.
At Gwinnett Church, Jeff has built a culture founded on being FOR the local community. How are they responding then, when their community faces this kind of crisis?
Jeff recently talked with Emily Beach, who works on the NP Resources team, about the innovative things his team is trying and how shrinking their focus has expanded their impact.
Jeff, let's rewind to March when we decided to close our local churches. What went through your mind as a lead pastor?
I used Facebook Live to talk to our congregation that night, and I said, "The church is perfectly positioned to be distributors of hope." The early days of all this were so uncertain. To me, it felt like an opportunity to really show the people in our community—many of whom might start listening for the first time because of their fear—that our church was for them.
When we launched Gwinnett Church, we rallied around the idea that the church for too long has been known for what it is against. We want to be known for what we are for. We are FOR Gwinnett. In fact, one of our goals is to be a church that is so loved and valued in the community that people would protest if we ever closed down.
So, we saw this as a moment to prove what we’d been saying—that we are for the people and businesses in our community.
And fortunately, we had some experience being a church without in-person gatherings. Gwinnett Church was up and running for 10 months before we launched any Sunday services. Instead, we hosted free Friday night concerts for our community and joined 10K races together.
I tried to communicate the same thing this time that I did back then: the church is open. When people asked me, "When are you reopening?" I said, "We're still open. It just looks different."