A Sincere Proposal for Andy Stanley
March 7, 2016
Last week I posted a response to your now infamous sermon where you said some rather shocking things about people who attend small churches. You offered an apology on Twitter acknowledging that you found your words offensive. That was appreciated. Believe me when I say that I have said many things I wish I could take back. I know what it is to be corrected by church members and elders for saying incorrect or unkind things. I don’t know if there are men at Northpoint to whom you are accountable. I hope for your sake and the sake of your church that there are. It is a dangerous thing for a pastor to not have men to whom he must give account.
My question to you Andy is do you truly believe what you said about small churches and the people who attend them? Your statement on Twitter gave no indication that you believe the substance of what you said was wrong. What I mean is that while you agreed your words were offensive I still don’t know if you now believe something fundamentally different about small churches and the people who choose to attend them. So, do you now disavow the philosophy behind the words you spoke?
If you are at least open to the possibility that your remarks were wrong in substance and not just in style then I ask you to consider the following recommendations:
1. Take down the offending sermon from the church’s website. If you truly believe your words were offensive as your tweet indicated then I assume you do not want that message continuing to represent your church.
2. Make a statement to your church confessing that your statements about small churches and those who attend them were wrong.
3. Write an article expressing how you now see the great value of small churches, how millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout Christian history and around the world have been wise and godly in their choice to be part of a small church; that mega-churches like Northpoint represent a blip on the calendar of church history and a fraction of a fraction of Christians. You could include a word of thanks for those untold thousands of pastors who labor faithfully in small churches whose names will never be emblazoned on a book cover nor grace a conference banner; men who love Christ and his precious people.
4. Take the time to read the following excellent books:
The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges
Shepherds After My Own Heart by Timothy Laniak
How Jesus Runs the Church by Guy Waters
God Has Spoken by J.I. Packer
5. Locate a smaller church which has a strong commitment to the gospel and the ministry of God’s Word and inquire if the pastor would allow you to “shadow” him for several weeks of ministry: hospital visits, sermon prep, worship service planning, elder meetings, etc. Explain to him that your goal is simply to learn some things about faithful pastoral ministry.
I know that some of these suggestions may seem condescending on first reading. That is not the intention. These recommendations come from my desire to see you better able to bless the people of Northpoint. So, to that end, I would love for you to reconsider your understanding of the church, pastoral leadership, preaching, and the authority of Scripture.