An Open Letter

…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.

Thank you.

By rachelodell

I'm a wife and mother with a Christian upbringing and a Masters Degree in Music Education. I'm a songwriter and singer, and I like to tell other people what I think. Hence, this blog.

3 comments

  1. I too left a large Seeker Driven church for a Reformed dare I say Calvinistic church. AS is stop troubling that I just have to think that he’s trolling us all. He can’t be this obtuse, please tell me he’s not this obtuse, please.

  2. You speak for me as well Rachel. I moved to Georgia to work with NP ministries in my early 20’s. I was highly invested and served on multiple NP campuses with Big Stuff and Upstreet for about 17 years. When we decided to leave it was for theological reasons. We saw NP slipping into Woke, CRT theology that is unbiblical. We moved into church circles where we exposit scripture. As we began to grow up in our faith and truly DIG into the Word ourselves, we now consider ourselves reformed in theology. So we absolutely did leave the seeker sensitive church for reformed faith. We were missing SO MUCH MEAT of the Word of God under NP and were not aware.
    I remember our very first Sunday away from NORTH POINT, the pastor opened his message up by saying “if you have your Bibles with you, and I hope that you do, open them up to…”
    Tears immediately spraying to my eyes, because for the first time in two decades the pastor placed tremendous value on God‘s Word. Scripture was no longer a sideline feature to a big production, it was the big production!
    For Andy to assume that people left NP because they desired to be around only people who look & think like them is gros and racist. We moved on to church circles that look like the hands and feet of Jesus, behave like the actual church and are determined to think like scripture instructs, not pander to the world. (And yes, there is still diversity)
    There was a 2020 Mass North Point Exodus. People fled to truth and away from worldly fluff. Andy’s words about this grand event and all who participated in the walk out, remind me of the Rise & Fall of Mars Hill. Happy to run right over any who don’t align with woke theology and leave them as necessary carnage. Sad.

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