Pastor-author Andy Stanley is, if anything, a deeply passionate Christian leader about church growth and reaching the unchurched in the youngest generation. I am not a huge fan, thus I do not read him often. But I am not a huge fan of a lot of this kind of writing and teaching. But I profoundly respect Andy Stanley and believe that he contributes to the overall well-being of the church. Stanley, the son of the famous Charles Stanley, preaches to an estimated 33,000 people every Sunday at five different North Point Ministries metro-Atlanta campuses. Like his father, who still reaches older viewers, Stanley also has a television program, Your Move. This program is estimated to reach an audience of nearly one million per week.
On Tuesday (June 10), Stanley tweeted,
•”Instead of praying for revival leaders of the SBC should go spend three weeks with @perrynoble Why pray for one when you can go watch one.”
•”Praying for revival equates to blaming God for the condition of your local church.”
•”Why not call the Church to pray for the things Jesus & New Testament writers prayed for? Why add Revival to the list?”
•”Churches that need reviving most are the very churches that resist it most.”
Stanley conceded that the conversation resulting from this Tweet spiraled beyond what he had intended it to become after he and others began diverging on the subject of what they meant by “revival.”
There would have been a time when this post would have irritated me, if it did not (in point of fact) bring about a negative public response from me. This was surely true back in the 1970s. Not any longer. And certainly not when I read what Andy Stanley said once he was criticized and sought to clarify his response through further comments.
When asked to define the term “revival,” Stanley acknowledged he was speaking in terms of local (organized) revival meetings. He explained that he wanted to draw attention to the revival-like growth and atmosphere he had seen at South Carolina’s New Spring Church, pastored by his friend Perry Noble.
Stanley added: ”I realized about half way into what became an almost four hour discussion that many, maybe most, of the response was coming from people who were thinking more in terms of an awakening like America has experienced in the past. I can understand the confusion and I definitely contributed to it.”
Stanley further responded by saying that much of the frustration evident in his Tweets stemmed from growing up in Southern Baptist churches listening to church leaders pray for “revival” while being unwilling to make the organizational changes necessary to reach people.
He said, ”I love the local church. And I’ll admit I get a bit stirred up when I hear church leaders talk about the need to reach more people while refusing to make the changes necessary to actually get the job done.”
While Andy Stanley and I see the local church quite differently (I am a minister in the Reformed Church in America, a mainline church) I share his deep commitment to mission. “Mission,” said the late Dutch theologian Hendrikus Berkhof, “is far more than a minor practical instrument in the world of salvation. It is directly linked up . . . with the