Something I Know about Andy Stanley

Something I Know about Andy Stanley November 19, 2012
Andy Stanley and Charles Stanley

Over the weekend, CNN posted a lengthy story about the tenuous relationship between two prominent Atlanta preachers: Charles Stanley and his son, Andy. I’ve remarked to a couple people lately what an interesting time we’re in, as we watch the sons (and occasionally daughters) of prominent evangelicals. Of course, we’ve seen it writ large with Franklin Graham and Robert Schuller’s children recently. But I’ve also had the pleasure of befriending Jay Bakker, Sean McDowell, Chuck Smith, Jr., and a few others. Those sons bear a heavy burden.

I’ve only met Andy Stanley, pastor of the massive North Pointe Church, once, but it was memorable.

Several years ago, I was speaking at a pastors’ conference at Columbia Seminary in Atlanta. Columbia is a PC(USA) school, and the chapel was full of mainline pastors to hear Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Barbara Brown Taylor, and me.

Andy Stanley came to the conference. He sat in the crowd and listened to our talks and took notes. I believe he shared a cup of coffee with Brian.

Andy Stanley probably cannot eat at a restaurant in Atlanta without being recognized — 33,000 attend his church — and yet not a single mainline pastor at Columbia recognized him. Humbly, he sat under our teaching, and he learned.

Very few megachurch pastors would do such a thing. In fact, I’m hardpressed to think of one who would. But Andy Stanley did, and that tells me a lot about him.

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  • Kyle

    Great article.
    Even better is your little story about Andy.

    Not all evangelical leaders of mega churches are tools.

    • Phil Miller

      “Hey, I guess they’re right. Senior citizens, although slow, and dangerous behind the wheel can still serve a purpose. I’ll be right back, don’t you go dying on me!”

  • Luke Allison

    Interesting that Al Mohler recently singled Andy out as going “soft” on gay issues due to Stanley’s interestingly nuanced way of speaking to that subject. The more subtle and/or thoughtful a prominent pastor is, the more fire they’re going to take from the boundary-watchers.

  • Well said. I was at a conference recently where Andy Stanley spoke and I got the same impression of him.

  • I was just “saw” Andy for the first time at a Rocket Preaching conference. I was impressed to hear him voice his ideas that the Bible has become an obstacle to the gospel, and that we need to stop referring to things as “biblical,” especially marriage. He taught that: If you’re a Christian you believe in the Bible, not the other way around.

  • Chris Eidson

    I lived in ATL for 6 years and was a member of Andy Stanley’s church. It was the best church experience possible. There is not a Sunday that goes by where I don’t wish we were still going there. Andy is obviously a phenomenal speaker and it always impressed me how humble he is. His real strengths are in his leadership abilities. The church could use more Andy Stanleys out there.

  • Andy Stanley also famously attended an Emergent cohort meeting in Atlanta on one occasion.

    I also remember hearing him speak at a church ministry conference. I honestly can’t remember where or exactly when (this was years ago, possibly in the middle of his parents divorce), but I remember what he said: He started by telling all these leaders (almost all of whom were white men) that if they had a broken relationship with their spouse, that they needed to get up and leave the conference immediately and go home, get on the next plane back to wherever they lived, and go work on their marriage. Several people got up and walked out and left the conference, apparently taking his advice. It was one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard a Christian leader give. It definitely left an impression on me.

  • Ircel Harrison

    Although I find myself disagreeing with Andy Stanley from time to time, he seems to be genuinely concerned about sharing the Gospel with people and very transparent about his own struggles. He also has great insights about leadership. Your story about him seems to validate all of the above.

  • Todd

    It is false humility. Andy,Tony, and the rest of the new liberals main concern is self glorification. They are trying to make a great name for themselves while stealing the glory from God.

    • Prove it or just quit slandering.

  • Guest

    After reading one of Andy Stanley’s books that deal with true hard-core Christian life issues (Enemies of the Heart) I would think twice about making a judgement about his ministry being involved or supporting of LGBT lifestyles (in the sense that LGBTs “consider themselves” to be Christians). I would say that probably they would love LGBTs into the kingdom but never approve such pernicious sexual perversion as part of the normal Christian life. Andy seems to be an open minded pastor so I don’t see that he would necessarily approve any of the heresies of the Emergent Church, but rather analyze the movement to avoid his people falling into the Tony Jones, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell heresies. I would need to hear a 2013 public statement from Andy Stanley that he supports any of the Emergent Church lies.