Andy Did It Again

When I hear adults say, ‘I don’t like a big church. I like about 200. I wanna be able to know everybody.’ I say you are so stinkin’ selfish.

The irony which seems lost on Andy is that the charge of selfishness may easily be leveled against those who attend Northpoint. After all it is easy to attend a mega-church. The seats are generally more comfortable. They have a coffee shop. Attendees don’t have to be bothered by annoying kids. The lights and videos are mezmerizing. You can be anonymous which means you can avoid any responsibility. You can consume all the various goods and services without needing to contribute anything by way of service. See how that works?

 

By now many of you have seen the clip of Andy Stanley criticizing small churches and the people who choose to attend them. Specifically Pastor Stanley said:

When I hear adults say, ‘I don’t like a big church. I like about 200. I wanna be able to know everybody.’ I say you are so stinkin’ selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids, anybody else’s kids. If you don’t go to a church large enough, where you can have enough middle-schoolers and high-schoolers so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big ol’ church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people, and grow up and love the local church. Instead, what you do…you drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church, and then they go off to college, and you pray there’ll be a church in their college town that they connect with, and guess what: all those churches are big, the kind of church you don’t like. Don’t attend a church that teaches your children to hate church.

No doubt seeing the quick and negative reaction across social media, Stanley took to Twitter to offer an apology.

I am glad Pastor Stanley apologized. That is a good start. There is not a pastor alive who does not regret something he has said. However, this is far from the first time Andy has made similar remarks about the superiority of mega-churches. I don’t begrudge him his opinion. I grew up in a mega-church. I am grateful for so many of my experiences there. But I also know what it is like to attend and serve on staff at a small church; something Andy does not know anything about. And I can say categorically that Andy Stanley is wrong.

Andy grew up at Atlanta’s mega First Baptist Church where his dad served as pastor. Later Andy became FBC’s youth director until a falling out between father and son. Andy left FBC Atlanta to launch the insta-mega-Northpoint Community Church which now has multiple locations across the metro Atlanta area. It is massive. But Andy does not know what it is like to take his family to a smaller church where everything is not awesome; where the band is not kickin; where there is no full-time director of stage props. In other words Andy has missed out on the church experience of the vast majority of Christians throughout the ages and around the world. Indeed he condemns their choice in such a church as “stinkin selfish.” I cannot help but wonder about the faithful pastors who labor with no fanfare for the sake of Christ and his people under the massive shadow of Northpoint. Their celebrity pastor neighbor called the men and women who attend their churches “stinkin’ selfish” for not doing the easier thing by following the masses to Northpoint.

The irony which seems lost on Andy is that the charge of selfishness may easily be leveled against those who attend Northpoint. After all it is easy to attend a mega-church. The seats are generally more comfortable. They have a coffee shop. Attendees don’t have to be bothered by annoying kids. The lights and videos are mezmerizing. You can be anonymous which means you can avoid any responsibility. You can consume all the various goods and services without needing to contribute anything by way of service. See how that works?

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Read another commentary:  Don’t Take Your Kids to a Megachurch: An Open Letter to Andy Stanley