Not long ago Andy Stanley goofed. He made a brassy statement from the pulpit that received immediate backlash from the Christian internet community, and I for one find comfort in the whole ordeal.
Here’s the context.
While preaching a sermon that was aired online Stanley attempted to make a case for large churches because he believes bigger churches facilitate better communities in which to situation their youth and junior youth.
That’s fine. Big church folk have always advocated the big church model, and small church folk have often advocated for the small church model.
There’s nothing new about that ugly family feud, as unfortunate as it is.
But here’s where Stanley crossed the line:
“When I hear adults say, ‘Well, I don’t like a big church. I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,’ I say, ‘You are so stinkin’ selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids, anybody else’s kids…I’m saying if you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big old church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church.”
Those are some of the most audacious and loaded phrases I’ve ever heard a Christian professional utter.
The online community’s response was swift and led to this follow up tweet:
The negative reaction to the clip from last weekend's message is entirely justified. Heck, even I was offended by what I said! I apologize.
— AndyStanley (@AndyStanley) March 4, 2016
I have said some stupid things from the pulpit. I mean, I’ve said some really, REALLY dumb things that were, at the time, completely out of line.
In fact (and this might come as a surprise to some people but…) just because something comes from the pulpit doesn’t mean it’s God ordained.
And like Stanley, it often isn’t until after I’ve watched the sermon on video did I realize how dumb something I said was.
It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating. And it has happened to almost every pastor, every lay minster, every itinerate preacher that I’ve ever known.
So I for one find this whole ordeal with Andy Stanley’s comments comforting.
Sorry Andy, I don’t mean to take comfort in your very public blunder.
But it is comforting to know that if it could happen to such a high-profile, well respect pastor, leader and author, that it could happen to any of us. Especially me.
I no longer feel like a little guy standing up next to the impervious giants of the pulpits.
I’m still a little guy in a little (small church) pulpit. That hasn’t’ changed.
What has changed is that the impervious giants of the pulpits aren’t actually impervious and aren’t actually giants.
It’s a comfort to know that we’re all human.
Even in the pulpit.
Andy, apology accepted!