We believe that people want to have safe conversations about faith. Starting Point is a tool that allows us to do that.
Starting Point is a conversational environment where people can explore faith and experience community. Starting Point groups are safe places for people with questions about faith, as well as those who want to learn about the Bible and Christianity. Groups meet for eight weeks to reflect on central questions of faith and life.
- Seekers–those who are curious about God, Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity
- Starters–those who have just begun a relationship with Jesus Christ
- Returners–those who have some church experience, but have been away for a while
Starting Point groups meet for 8 weeks with each group meeting lasting approximately 75 minutes. Groups typically have ten to twelve participants and two to four leaders (for a maximum of sixteen people). Most groups meet at a North Point Ministries church on Sunday morning, but some will meet during the week [at the church].
The most effective way is by word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied group members and the personal testimonies given during baptism videos. We also use marketing tools such as signs, brochures, slides, bulletin announcements, and stage announcements.
Whether it’s through a one-on-one conversation, an orientation, or online, we let people know what Starting Point is and what it’s not. We also try to ensure the right people are getting into Starting Point groups as we want these groups to include seekers, starters, and returners. Groups typically begin within one to three weeks from when someone signs up, depending on the demand. Depending on the size of your church and the interest level, you may elect to start groups on a regular basis or on an as-needed basis.
Each group member purchases a Starting Point Conversation Guide, which contains eight chapters of content, and Bible. We ensure all Starting Point group members and leaders use the same Bible so they can be on the same page, literally.
During the course of each week, participants:
- Watch a video message at SPMembers.com. Another option for the video message is to watch a shorter clip of the message together during group time from the Starting Point DVD.
- Use the Conversation Guide to reflect on central questions of faith and life.
- Explore and share what they are learning with other people during their group time.
Leaders utilize the Starting Point Conversation Guide, just like the group members. Leader resources are at SPLeaders.com for weekly content, as well as high level training and information.
The fully downloadable revised Starting Point Ministry Kit is available to provide ministry leaders with everything they need to create a successful Starting Point environment including logo package, promotional videos and materials, and application and training materials.
Once individuals have completed Starting Point, we encourage them to continue their journeys of learning with others by joining a Community Group or serving on a ministry team.
Yes, North Point Ministries’ churches have long-term Community Groups that have used the Starting Point materials as a curriculum choice. Some groups have seekers, starters, or returners involved, so Starting Point is a good option in the beginning months of the group. However, every group could benefit from Starting Point.
We use volunteer leaders who fit the following criteria:
- Member of a North Point Ministries church
- Member of a long-term Community Group
- Has been in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ for at least five years
- Has submitted an application; interviewed with a staff member; be approved, attend a new leader orientation, and apprentice with an experienced leader
We provide a variety of training opportunities, including:
- New Leader Orientation: to model a Starting Point environment, we do our New Leader Orientation in a three-week conversational setting. These materials can be accessed at SPLeaders.com.
- Apprenticeships: All new leaders apprentice with seasoned leaders for at least one group cycle.
- Focused Training Events: Periodically, we host an event for all the Starting Point and/or small group leaders in the church. The purpose is to inspire, appreciate, and equip them.
- Evaluations: Participants and co-leaders fill out surveys at the end of the group. Co-leaders are also encouraged to take time to meet weekly to provide constructive feedback.
- One-on-One Leader Development: Leaders meet with a staff member, usually once per group cycle, for encouragement, advice, celebration, and prayer.
- Online Resources: We have helpful articles, recommended books, a blog, and websites.
North Point Community Church (NPCC) started in 1996 and began hosting Starting Point environments in 1998. Initially, we utilized a different curriculum, but in 2001 we wrote and published the first Starting Point materials. Since then, NPCC has grown and added other churches and strategic partners as part of North Point Ministries. In 2005, we began revising the materials and officially published a new version of Starting Point in May 2006. Starting Point distribution went national as we partnered with Zondervan to increase the reach of Starting Point. Hundreds of churches across the world are currently hosting Starting Point groups. In 2014, Starting Point underwent another major rewrite. The revised Starting Point is now available by Zondervan beginning January 2015.
Our Sunday morning groups are held at the same time as our services, so we have childcare options available onsite. Childcare reimbursement is available for those groups meeting offsite on other days.
The 10-week Starting Point materials are translated and available in Spanish, Macedonian, Russian/Moldovan, Portuguese, Slovakian, and Marathi. If you’re interested in using Starting Point in another language or international location, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The 10-week Spanish Starting Point can be purchased in our online store.
Yes! North Point Ministries works with select strategic partners around the world to implement Starting Point where it may be helpful. For more information about our strategic partnerships, go to www.goglobalx.org. If you’re interested in launching Starting Point in an international setting, contact email@example.com.
You may order Starting Point materials at our online store. Check the online store for any current specials and quantity discounts being offered.
We don’t know exactly why. What we do know is that God has blessed Starting Point and has used it to change thousands of lives. We believe that there are several aspects of the environment that seem to set the foundation for success:
- Simplicity of our church model–Starting Point is our only step for seekers, starters, and returners.
- Invest and invite strategy–As a church we create environments to which our attendees will want to invite their friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
- Small group emphasis–We believe that small groups create a context for life change.
- Visibility–Because of our target audience, visibility is a priority when it comes to marketing. Weekly bulletins, stage announcements, baptism videos, orientations, and building signage are a few examples.
- Valued–The resources given to Starting Point demonstrate the value placed on it by leadership. Examples at each church include dedicated Starting Point staff, an entire hallway with rooms devoted exclusively to Starting Point on Sunday mornings, and a designated Orientation room.
- Modeled–Many of our staff members, elders, and senior management team have led Starting Point groups.