Andy Stanley claimed in a sermon that small churches are bad because children that go to them will learn to hate the church because there won’t be enough people in their age group with which to make friends. He even claimed that a church was too small if their youth group wasn’t large enough for separate middle and high school groups.
Andy Stanley’s argument is self-defeating. If his advice were followed then no churches could ever be started unless a large enough people agreed to instantly start one. This would eliminate the majority of churches, even large ones, from ever having been formed. The practice of the Apostles was to start churches in towns no matter small they started initially. It would be ludicrous to suggest that the Apostles should not have started a church if there weren’t enough people to have separate middle and high school groups. Obviously youth groups were not even part of the early church’s imagination. Such a focus on modernity and ignoring history shows Stanley’s absolute absurdity of requiring only large churches.
Stanley’s requirement that all churches be large also would prevent small churches in rural areas from existing. If no church in a rural area should exist since it’s not large enough for Stanley’s requirements then Christians would be forced to drive long distances to attend church. Such a requirement would greatly hinder the body of Christ in rural areas.
Although Stanley cites the need for a church large enough to support separate youth groups for middle and high schoolers, he provides no scriptural basis for why youth groups are even necessary or profitable. There is no requirement in scripture for youth groups. Many Christians would even make the case that scripture does not approve of what constitutes a modern church youth group. A lack of youth groups is not the reason why Christians who grew up church are leaving. The reason Christians who grew up in churches are leaving is that the vast majority of them received a government education based on atheism and then went on to four more years of higher education also based on an atheistic worldview. After being indoctrinated for 16 years in anti-Christian philosophy it is no wonder at all why Christians are leaving the church. Stanley’s failure to see the cause of the abandonment of the church by government-educated Christians shows his severe lack of discernment and his extremely weak Christian world-view. The documentary Indoctrination, produced in part by Exodus Mandate,shows how the result of 12 years of education based on atheism will result in Christians students becoming apathetic non-Christians who no longer attend church.
Andy Stanley also seems to be in direct violation of Acts 20:30 which warns against drawing away disciples unto yourself.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:30
After seeing the reaction to his sermon Stanley admitted that he was wrong by saying:
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.
Given that his only response was to send a tweet apologizing it is likely that Stanley fundamentally does not understand why he was wrong beyond the mere surface level reason that people were offended. Christians should pray that Stanley will study the scriptures and conform to the worldview of the scriptures in which small churches are often the norm and in which Christian education is understood as critical to the preservation of the church.