…to Andy Stanley.
I’m sure as a very famous leader of a very large church for a couple of decades, you have gotten your fair share of everything from “constructive criticism” to hate mail. So I want to point out that I don’t write this from a place of hate or jealousy or anything like that. This is also not an exhaustive letter of grievances. I don’t have the patience to write long entries and I also am aware that grumbling is a big no-no in God’s eyes. So my desire is not to do that.
Two recent events led me to write this. The first one, which occurred second from my perspective, but which actually happened first (because you did this interview like 3 years ago even though I just saw it a few weeks ago), is that I heard you make a certain statement in a YouTube interview. The second event, which happened first for me, was a statement you made in your final “Not In It to Win It” message on May 22.
First, In a YouTube interview with Leighton Flowers, Mr. Stanley, you off-handedly mentioned that you weren’t aware of anyone who had come out of large seeker-sensitive churches who were now espousing Calvinism. This was around the 16-17 minutes section of this video. Now you were more specifically speaking of pastors who would probably be labeled Young, Restless and Reformed. But seriously? You don’t think that people are switching from seeker sensitive churches to Reformed or Reformed-leaning churches? Case in point: me. And I know there are others.
The second comment was one you made in your sermon. This was in the second service and unfortunately is not the one of record on YouTube. The setup was talking about the great political diversity at North Point churches because there are campuses all around Georgia, and satellites more broadly around the country. You then stated that some people had left NP churches (it must be quite a number if it’s been noticeable from the central leadership) and gone to other churches. You assumed that it was because they just wanted to be around people who looked like them and thought like them. Then you quietly joked that they were outside the will of God. (Hee, hee. Moving on.)
Since both of your misstatements apply directly to me (and to other personal friends), I decided to write. My issue is not what you believe about Reformed theology or churches that aren’t “seeker sensitive”. My issue is that you made gravely misguided assumptions and led perhaps thousands of others to believe those assumptions. Have you looked into YRR pastors and discovered their church tradition backgrounds? Have you talked with anyone who left NP? Have you found out their reasons?
I was hurt.
I used to think that a big machine like NP made every decision based on Bible study and much discussion and contemplation. Now I realize y’all are just as prone to “that’s how we’ve always done it”-ism as any other church. It’s just that “what we’ve always done” is whatever would appeal to the secular culture. And that is leading further and further away from holiness and a biblical witness.
You seem to think that NP and churches like you are still on the cutting edge of evangelism. That anyone who leaves is somehow stuck in a rut. But you’re stuck in a rut. A rut carved by a world that hates God. And it’s leading down a hill and off a cliff that many of us don’t want to go off.
Ask questions. Don’t make assumptions. As you said in that sermon – be curious.