Apparently, Andy Stanley will be coming out with a video explanation this week concerning his “what did he just say” comments about large vs smaller churches. As a preacher/pastor myself, I know what it’s like to say something off-the-cuff and wish you could stick it back in your mouth. Andy Stanley is one of the best communicators alive and has a tremendous amount of influence. So, I am looking forward to this video explanation, as his Twitter apology didn’t really address the real issue of his comments being wrong. He just said they were offensive. But truth can be offensive. So, if he is right, he has no need to apologize. Only if he is wrong. To say, “I’m sorry that I offended you with the truth,” is different than saying, “I was wrong in the views I expressed, which certainly offended you, and I am so sorry.”
After all, when he made his comments, he noted that he was uniquely passionate about this point he was making (saying something like,”You can tell that I am passionate about this!”). Now, I know that he was speaking within the broader context of a longer message, and big churches are always hearing visitors say, “I wish you were smaller and more intimate,” while small churches are always hearing people say, “I wish you were larger and had more specialized programs.” It’s hard to satisfy the sheep sometimes. 🙂 But the comments were not a slip of the tongue or accidental. They reflected a well ingrained philosophy of the church in general and youth ministry in particular.
So, I’m kind of hoping that Andy will own up to the fact that his comments do represent his deeply held passion about youth ministry, and that this may be area where he could be wrong. IMHO, a deeper repentance would be the kind of apology that would make a real difference to the small church pastors whom he dissed, many of whom travel and pay admission to conferences where Andy speaks. If I know Andy, then I fully expect that his “explanation” will not be an “excuse.” He is the real deal, an authentic and uniquely gifted disciple of Jesus. I have learned a TON from him. This is why I fully expect him to own it, and when he does, everybody will win.
The application for me as a leader of leaders at Creekstone Church is that I want our leaders to be the chief repenters, not excuse makers. And yet as sinners, sometimes (okay, often) we do make excuses, which gives us just another opportunity to repent. But only grace can motivate and empower true repentance, which is why we say all of the time: “Grace changes everything.”