North Point Community Church pastor Andy Stanley decided to respond to critics and church members dogging him for his decision to close his Church until at least 2021, though at the rate things are going he’ll be well into 2022 by the time he opens the church doors and welcomes his little goatlings back into the pen.
Stanely has been on a roll since the pandemic hit, telling members that the “Foundation of our Faith is not the Whole Bible,” that Geroge Floyd was “This Generation’s Samson,” and to “Sleep late and skip church” during Father’s day.
During his November 29 service, however, Stanley expressed his gratitude for his flock, or at least the ones who haven’t gone feral from being away from the body for so long. Because of continued financial support, he stated that no staff jobs were lost and the bills are continuing to be paid.
He emphasized the generosity of spirit of the congregation proven by a record-breaking tally for their to their “Be Rich” campaign, no mean feat in the midst of a pandemic. The “Be Rich” campaign is an “initiative to partner with life-changing organizations in our communities and around the globe.”
Essentially, they raise money to give to primarily secular organizations, from The Drake House where “These funds will go toward creating a dedicated space for the students of The Drake House to either complete their homework or do virtual learning should the need arise” to Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.
Stanley, who oversees six churches with nearly 40,000 members all spread across the Atlanta Region, quoted Ephesians 1:15-16, as the text he built much of his sermon on . “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” He says:
We have not met in the church building for nine months, and you gave more to ‘Be Rich’ than you have ever given before – over $7 million, and that is, well, I don’t even have words for that.
Stanley recounts how a “high-profile media person” who had been taking some potshots at him and his decision to close asked him how his megachurch was “doing spiritually’ given that they’ve been all-virtual for the better part of the year. Taking this to be a little dig at him and a backhanded way of suggesting that something was amiss in the congregation, he responded:
Well, they gave over $7 million in 39 days to support the local charities and our communities. And if Jesus was serious about that ‘where your treasure is there your heart is,’ then I think we’re doing pretty good.
…When someone takes a shot at us on social media for not being ‘open’ [Editor’s note: he uses finger quotes on the word open] I’ve been sending them the four minutes video of our ‘Be Rich’ celebration. And I’m always tempted to add ‘hey, our closed church just did a thousand times more for other people in 39 days than your open church has done in the past 10 years. So shut up with all that, right?’ But I restrain myself and do my best to walk in the way of love. But when people who don’t know you take a shot at you, it is difficult to restain my evil thoughts.
During the rest of the sermon, Stanley also thanked his congregation for allowing him to remain apolitical during the election, and showing grace for his decision not to bring up political topics, but rather remain focused on other things.
It’s not the first time Stanley has been outspoken at critics who questioned his decision to cease in-person services. Several months ago he said during a broadcast that there was no command to actually meet in person as a body, saying:
People on the other end of this argument, I keep hearing them say over and over ‘the Lord commanded us to meet. The Lord commands us to meet.
He does not.
Studies and surveys have shown that the rate of which people congregants actually tune in live church service broadcasts has dropped precipitously, with only around 25% participating.
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