Pastor Andy Stanley Responds to Criticism Over Suspended In-Person Services

YouTube / Andy Stanley

North Point Community Church pastor Andy Stanley announced this summer that amid the coronavirus pandemic his Atlanta-based megachurch would suspend all in-person services until 2021.

His decision sparked backlash especially from a “high-profile media person” who has been openly critical since the announcement. Stanley responded to the criticism recently, saying his congregation “is doing pretty good.”

North Point’s Continued Generosity

During North Point’s online service Sunday, Stanley praised his church community for its continued support both spiritually and financially while in-person services have been halted temporarily. He noted that while other churches who have reopened for public gatherings are struggling, North Point is thriving.

Stanley quoted Ephesians 1:15-16 to further show his gratitude for their dedication and commitment to the community. “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.”

The pastor also said he doesn’t take his church for granted “that you’ve trusted me… even when my decisions didn’t necessarily line up with what you thought your church should do in this season.”

Additionally, he thanked his congregation for their patience “during this political season,” as he refrained from taking a stance.

Stanley said his freedoms to express his public opinions on political matters is something he was willing to surrender “for the sake of what we are attempting to corporately.”

He quoted 1 Corinthians 9:19 to support his decision: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”

Response to Open Criticism of Church Closure

In 2007, North Point Ministries launched its “Be Rich” campaign — an “initiative to partner with life-changing organizations in our communities and around the globe.” Despite the suspension of in-person worship services, Stanley’s congregation donated over $7 million during the event’s 14th annual campaign.

When asked insincerely how his megachurch was doing spiritually given that its doors had been closed for a majority of 2020, Stanley highlighted his church’s most recent haul.

“Well, they gave over $7 million in 39 days to support the local charities and communities,” Stanley responded. “And if Jesus was serious about that ‘where your treasure is there your heart is,’ then I think we’re doing pretty good.”

Stanley said whenever his church is criticized or shamed for shutting its doors, he simply sends his critics a 4-minute video of the “Be Rich” celebration. He added that he’s often tempted to reply, “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.”