My First Time to Ever Hear Andy Stanley Preach: Some Observations
First, Andy would make a great motivational speaker or Fortune 500 CEO. He is articulate and persuasive. He had three major points, two of which came from statements of famous CEO's, words of wisdom that Andy applied to Southern Baptist churches and pastors. For example, he asked pastors "What would change at your church if you were fired and a new guy was brought in?" He explained, rightly so, that too often pastors and staff get comfortable in their traditions, routines, and methods--and churches get the kind of results for which they are institutionally structured to receive. He said that most pastors work to keep the people they have instead of working to reach the people they don't know. I n other words, church is designed for church people--and lost people have no "need" for church. Therefore, Andy suggested churches should take a look at EVERYTHING they do and restructure to reach people in need of Christ. "Everyone will live someplace forever." Churches, according to the euphemism Andy adapted from the CEO of Chick Filet, "shouldn't worry about getting bigger, they should concentrate on getting better."
I understand why Andy has 20,000 people attending his church. The church has been designed to make the lost people comfortable. That's not a criticial statement at all. It's a true statement. I thought it was particularly profound that Andy said he tells his staff, "Make sure the only thing that is offensive to the lost who come to our church is what I say. The gospel offends, but we don't need anything else to offend." Good for him. He understands that the gospel is offensive. Andy's methodology seems to work--particularly in the southern culture of the United States where people expect to be comfortable in everything they do.
There's no way I can be critical of what Andy said. He was articulate, entertaining, and expressed a vision for establishing the design of a church to bring lost people to Christ. What must not be done, in my opinion, is to package the style of Andy Stanley and demand that all should imitate it. Truth be told, churches that build edifices and programs for comfort aren't really designed to succeed in times of travail and trouble -- nor do we really make a difference in the world at large.
But that's another message -- maybe a David Platt message.
In His Grace,