Andy Stanley is only a little larger than life. About a foot larger. On the screen in the West Auditorium of North Point Community Church, the image of Andy is a foot taller than life-size, but only a foot. He is high def and crystal clear. In the East Auditorium, where the video originates, Andy is onstage live. He is plain spoken. He connects well with his audience. The Sunday we were there, in his sermon on temptation, Andy references his own without drawing undue attention to himself.
Given his heritage as the son of Charles Stanley, eminent television preacher and pastor of the nearby First Baptist Church of Atlanta, one might expect Andy to exhibit the bearing of a great leader. And certainly, if numbers tell the story—with 20,000 attenders at the Alpharetta, Georgia, campus, plus the ten satellite locations across the South fed by his videos, and a remarkable following among younger leaders at the annual Catalyst conference—Andy is an exceptional leader.
But he comes across as, well, Andy. He is not hyper-spiritual. He avoids language that's too churchy. He seeks out counsel from a wide range of people. He refuses to make grand pronouncements in the name of the Lord. But when decisions are made, he wears them; when directions are set, he leads. Andy is in charge.
Editors Marshall Shelley and Eric Reed met with Andy to talk about what leadership looks like today.
What is distinctly spiritual about the kind of leadership you do?
Andy Stanley: 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, ...