Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Andy Stanley: people who love small churches are small minded people

Recently, Andy Stanley ***accused Christians who prefer small churches with the sin of selfishness:

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 stinking 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 [or] anybody else’s kids” … 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. Instead… you drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church. They go to college, and you pray that there will be a church in the college town that they connect with. Guess what? All those churches are big.

~as reported in "Christianity" Today

This lambasting diatribe by false teacher Andy Stanely (who has a dog in the race--his own branch of megachurches) actually speaks out of ignorance on one level. According to a recent study by Duke University  by researcher David Eagle at Duke's Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, megachurches have less people involved than smaller churches.

Research published last week by the American Sociological Association's journal Socius found, according to its abstract, "a negative relationship between size and the probability of attendance for Conservative, Mainline, and black Protestants and for Catholics in parishes larger than 500 attenders."

Research published last week by the American Sociological Association's journal Socius found, according to its abstract, "a negative relationship between size and the probability of attendance for Conservative, Mainline, and black Protestants and for Catholics in parishes larger than 500 attenders."

"The addition of control variables does not change these patterns. These results support the theory that group cohesion lies at the heart of the size-participation relationship in churches," continued the abstract.

"With the rapid growth of megachurches in the United States, a negative relationship between size and frequency of attendance could serve to accelerate aggregate declines in attendance.

Eagle told CP that he believed three factors were generating this trend: megachurches having an inherent appeal for those who do not want to regularly attend church, megachurch attendees struggling to form social connections, and megachurch attendees having more members with high incomes than smaller congregations.

~ Excerpts from "Christianity" Today

More importantly, Stanley is pushing for dividing families IN the churches. While I'm not a proponent of "Family Integrated Worship", I do believe that his view is divisive not just with families but with the church. He is borrowing from the secular government school model where all children are divided up by age and that is all they associate with. They become divisive among themselves (6th graders wouldn't be caught dead being seen talking to much less playing with a 3rd grader!), developing a "us versus them", "we're in, you're SO out" clique mentality inside the churches as well as families. This is, ironically, the very heart of selfishness--the thing Stanley wants to accuse small-church members of.

Moreover, it shows Stanley's lack of maturity, that he never grew up out of the government elementary school/high school mentality himself. Scripture however, says that the various ages are a good thing.

Tit 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,

Jas 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism....Jas 2:4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
Jas 2:8  If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF," you are doing well. 9  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

There is no wisdom from among one's young peers--and if ever this passage holds great warning for such views as Stanley, this is it: 2Ch 10:6 Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, "How do you counsel me to answer this people?" 2Ch 10:7 They spoke to him, saying, "If you will be kind to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." 2Ch 10:8 But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.
2Ch 10:9 So he said to them, "What counsel do you give that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, 'Lighten the yoke which your father put on us'?" 2Ch 10:10 The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, "Thus you shall say to the people who spoke to you, saying, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter for us.' Thus you shall say to them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's loins! 2Ch 10:11 'Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'" 2Ch 10:12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, "Return to me on the third day." 2Ch 10:13 The king answered them harshly, and King Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the elders. 2Ch 10:14 He spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions."

Rebellion and lack of wisdom among peers is often the case and causes more rebellion.

Pro 22:15  Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. 

So how can a mere child grow into maturity with other immature kids, especially since it's likely that most of whom aren't even saved, as the road to destruction is Broad and that these megachurches are deliberately attracting unbelievers?

The selfishness of children, developed and emphasized by the world, teaches these children to have a haughty attitude of not associating with younger children. Cliques are the epitome of selfishness.

And frankly, it reveals Stanley's desperation to create a problem (selfishness and lack of loving their children) and then offers the solution, megachurches like his.

From my own experience, it is true: it's easy to hide in a large church but it isn't so easy to hide in a small church. How is wanting accountability and fellowship "selfish" anyway? How is wanting to actually know the people selfish? How is wanting to know who teaches your children and who is influencing them (and yourselves) "selfish"? Such accusations are those of a slanderer who is actually guilty of the thing he accuses others of being. To desire the best for a child and the family is the heart of agape love and parental authority. Stanley claims the opposite.

Back in 2013 I reported about Andy Stanley's view of churches and pastors. This is key to understanding how horrible his recent slander and attacks on Christian are: Quote: Andy Stanley who denies "shepherd" is a right term for pastors in his interview with "Leadership Journal":

There's nothing distinctly spiritual. I think a big problem in the church has been the dichotomy between spirituality and leadership. One of the criticisms I get is "Your church is so corporate." I read blogs all the time. Bloggers complain, "The pastor's like a CEO." And I say, "OK, you're right. Now, why is that a bad model?"
So what's the principle behind the CEO model?
"Follow me." Follow we never works. Ever. It's "follow me." God gives a man or a woman the gift of leadership. And any organization that has a point leader with accountability and freedom to use their gift will do well. Unfortunately in the church world, we're afraid of that. Has it been abused? Of course. But to abandon the model is silly.
Should we stop talking about pastors as "shepherds"?
Absolutely. That word needs to go away. Jesus talked about shepherds because there was one over there in a pasture he could point to. But to bring in that imagery today and say, "Pastor, you're the shepherd of the flock," no. I've never seen a flock. I've never spent five minutes with a shepherd. It was culturally relevant in the time of Jesus, but it's not culturally relevant any more.
Nothing works in our culture with that model except this sense of the gentle, pastoral care. Obviously that is a face of church ministry, but that's not leadership.
Isn't shepherd the biblical word for pastor?
It's the first-century word. If Jesus were here today, would he talk about shepherds? No. He would point to something that we all know, and we'd say, "Oh yeah, I know what that is." Jesus told Peter, the fisherman, to "feed my sheep," but he didn't say to the rest of them, "Go ye therefore into all the world and be shepherds and feed my sheep." By the time of the Book of Acts, the shepherd model is gone. It's about establishing elders and deacons and their qualifications. Shepherding doesn't seem to be the emphasis. Even when it was, it was cultural, an illustration of something.
What we have to do is identify the principle, which is that the leader is responsible for the care of the people he's been given. That I am to care for and equip the people in the organization to follow Jesus. But when we take the literal illustration and bring it into our culture, then people can make it anything they want because nobody knows much about it.

End quote.

Contrary to this false teacher, Acts indeed does continue with the biblical model of shepherding (ironically Acts 20 connects shepherding God's flock of believers in relation to protecting them from wolves like Stanley): Act 20:27  "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 
Act 20:28  "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 
Act 20:29  "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
Act 20:30  and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Act 20:31  "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.

As well, Jesus Christ who is God the Son, identifies Himself as the Great Shepherd over His sheep of believers:

Heb 13:20  Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
Heb 13:21  equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus combined the two in John: Joh 10:1  "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 
Joh 10:2  "But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 
Joh 10:3  "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 
Joh 10:4  "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 
Joh 10:5  "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers." 

The true shepherd (versus the hireling) owns the sheep and therefore has a personal interest in their well-being. A CEO much less Fuhrer Elder does not own the sheep and has no personal vested interest or love for the people. 

Also the Shepherd/sheep model describes our sin and rebellion against Christ and His authority over our souls:

1Pe 2:25  For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 

1Pe 5:1  Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
1Pe 5:2  shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 
1Pe 5:3  nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
1Pe 5:4  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

As you can see, Stanley's view of the local church has been unbiblical and worldly for years. It's no wonder he slanders Christians who see the value in a smaller flock where they can know the undershepherds (elders) and the sheep (believers).

*** Apparently Stanley had to walk back his careful and deliberate sermon and apologize for his harsh words. Despite his messy attempt to justify his words, it did in fact reveal his heart. His apology was self-contradicting too: he acknowledges his teaching is heard and read by people all over the place and then said that his remarks were "only" for the adults in his church (a church which, again, is full of ungodly people and led by a false teacher--himself) which followed, ironically a weekend sermon to middle school kids called "Walking Wisely". There's much to criticize in this interview of Stanley trying to patch up his reputation and words, but I won't do that here.

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