What is North Avenue Presbyterian Church?
North Avenue Presbyterian Church (also called North Ave or NAPC) is a historic church in midtown Atlanta that has been committed to serving urban Atlanta for over 120 years. As the city has changed and populations have ebbed and flowed in and out of Midtown, NAPC has been a constant, investing in the city and establishing a multigenerational congregation committed to Jesus and making Him known. NAPC is a Presbyterian (PCUSA) church with both traditional (organ, choir, hymns) and contemporary (worship band) services and numerous ways to serve the city. It’s not flashy or a church with bright lights and the newest music, yet NAPC offers radical hospitality to all and is a place that everyone from a Tech engineer to an executive to a young family would feel welcome.
Skip to: Church Size | Leadership | Goals & Objectives | Dress Code | Worship & Music Style | What to Expect | Doctrine | Messages | Demographics | Atmosphere | Find Your Community | Local Outreach | Other Fun Facts | Contact & Social Accounts
NAPC is a medium-sized church with two services. The 9 am is a contemporary service and draws the biggest crowd, with about 225 attendees per week. The 11:15 am is a traditional service and has about 200 attendees on average.
Though there are about 500 people attending every Sunday (with roughly 900 members and some non-members attending regularly), having multiple services makes it feel smaller. Although people may tend to stick to attending one service each week, there are enough opportunities to serve or study with people across the church that it doesn’t have to feel like siloed congregations.
Pastor Shayne Wheeler – Senior Pastor
Shayne has a deep history in church leadership and growth, having planted multiple churches around Atlanta, Colorado, and Tennessee. He is the author of The Briarpatch Gospel: fearlessly following Jesus into the thorny places. Shayne preaches on most Sundays.
Rev Megan Johnson – Associate Pastor for Discipleship
Megan is a friendly, warm teacher and mentor. She preaches some Sundays.
See the full list of NAPC’s leadership and contact information on their website’s Team page.
Goals & Objectives
According to its website, North Avenue Presbyterian Church’s mission is “To love and worship God, to be transformed as we grow in Christ, to make visible the Kingdom of God as we serve Atlanta and the world.”
They strive to accomplish this through three areas of strategic focus: worship, grow, and serve. These areas are the lens by which the NAPC leadership makes decisions on programming, new hires, resource allocation, and more.
The dress code is very relaxed. Feel free to come as you are. Some people dress up a bit more for the 11:15 am traditional service, but if you’d rather not dress up even for the 11:15 am, no one will bat an eye.
Worship & Music Style
Worship and music style at NAPC vary by service. All services are held in the main sanctuary.
9:00 am service: contemporary and family-friendly worship service. Music is led by a worship band (professional worship leader, volunteer local musicians). It’s not flashy but has more upbeat music.
11:15 am service: more traditional and liturgical service. The music and worship style reflects that- there’s an organ, hymns sung by a choir, and a more traditional church music atmosphere. The choir and music director, who directs the multigenerational service choir, is Bryan Black, and he has brought a lot of life and energy into the music at this service.
What to Expect
The 9:00 am service has a time of singing, music, a sermon, and an open mic prayer time. A fellowship hour follows the service and is a great time to meet others who attended the service. A lot of families and a fair number of young professionals attend this service.
The 11:15 am service follows a traditional pattern for worship shared across the denomination, including certain scripture readings, prayers, sometimes the Nicene or Apostles Creed, and specific order of service.
NAPC adheres to the Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA) doctrine, which is based on the Bible and the Confessions of Faith. NAPC has made some church-level decisions as a church that is a bit more moderate than the PCUSA as a whole. For example, though the PCUSA allows for the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals, NAPC does not.
Doctrinally, the teaching at NAPC is focused on the truth of Jesus and welcomes diverse perspectives on the person of Jesus, appreciating the complexities of his character and different views on it.
Though NAPC may have historically had some more charismatic elements (such as a healing prayer service, which still exists but is not well-attended), one remaining charismatic element is the broken-hearted Christmas service which is a time of grief and remembrance for those who have lost loved ones.
The sermons at NAPC are presented in a storytelling, teaching style, rather than expository preaching, and they center around a selected passage of scripture or a theme over a few weeks. Different staff members preach, as well as outside guests and lay preachers. Usually, the same person preaches at all three services on a given Sunday. Despite being a somewhat traditional church, NAPC does take some innovative approaches to messages on Sundays. For example, there was a 6-week sermon series on the Book of Esther, and each week the sermon was taught by a different woman in the congregation.
One of the greatest strengths of NAPC is the multigenerational nature of the church. Unlike some churches which mainly appeal to the 20-somethings crowd, or are mostly older folks, NAPC is a great mix of all generations. There are lots of children and families, working professionals, older adults, and students.
The church is majority white and college-educated, but there is emerging diversity. While there has been an emphasis on engaging internationals for many years (members of NAPC are from over 30 countries!), historically there has not been much racial diversity. This is slowly changing. Among the young adults, there’s a tremendous range of folks: married, unmarried, sexual orientation, varying specific views, but in general, it’s an educated, sometimes a bit eccentric, all-are-welcome group.
The atmosphere is welcoming but understated. If you want to get connected, there will be greeters and friendly members to help you get plugged in and meet other people. However, if you want to just slip in for the service and slip out at the end, that is fine too. Any type of person can walk in and not feel out of place; there’s no pretense that people are polished or perfect. It’s very relaxed.
Find Your Community
NAPC has lots of ways to be involved, and it’s unique in that a lot of young people aren’t only involved with other young professionals, but with people in the church of all ages and demographics. For example, young professionals and students (generally in the 23-40-year-old range, but welcoming anyone who considers themselves ‘young’) are involved in teaching high school Sunday school, serving in leadership roles as Deacons and Elders, facilitating small groups with other young adults, being mentored by older men and women, or leading international student groups. There are also intergenerational small groups which are a great way for older and younger members of the NAPC community to learn from each other and build community across age and demographics.
The focus for community involvement at NAPC can be grouped into serving the local Atlanta community, international ministries, and global missions. There are lots of opportunities, and if you have a specific ministry interest, it’s likely that you can find someone at NAPC who’s working on it.
A few local opportunities to highlight:
- Streetgrace – a ministry started by NAPC leading anti-human-trafficking efforts in Atlanta
- FCS – working in food deserts, community development in south Atlanta. FCS leadership attends NAPC and the church is involved in their work
- Atlanta Children’s Shelter – women and children’s shelter started by NAPC, still involved
- International Students Ministry – every year NAPC welcomes Chinese students who attend Georgia Tech, with hospitality, meals, and housing as they adjust to Atlanta. Yu Chen is the person to talk to if you want to get plugged into this work!
There’s a strong Intervarsity (a college student ministry across the US) connection at NAPC, with InterVarsity students from Georgia Tech and Emory, local Atlanta Intervarsity ministry staff (from Georgia Tech and Emory), and InterVarsity national staff.
There are also opportunities to get involved with global missions through NAPC. Every year NAPC hosts a mission week, and throughout the year international missionaries and ministries are highlighted at the church.
Contact & Social Accounts
- Website: napc.org
- Address: 607 Peachtree Street NE
- Phone: 404-875-0431
- Email: email@example.com
Social & Other
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