Jump directly to the content

Already a subscriber?

Home > 2007 > May Web Exclusives > Leader's Insight: Get-It-Done Leadership

(Editor's note: Our article with Andy Stanley published in the Spring 2006 issue of Leadership won first-place interview in the recent Evangelical Press Association awards. The judge wrote that the conversation was so engaging, he forgot he was reading a contest entry. We had a similar experience while talking with Andy at his Alpharetta, Georgia, office. Despite the photographer's lights and the tape recorder, it seemed more like good table talk than a magazine interview. We thought you might like to sit in with us for some of the chat we had at North Point Community Church.)

Leadership: 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, "The pastor's like a CEO." And I say, "OK, you're right. Now, why is that a bad model?"

A principle is a principle, and God created all the principles.

So what's the principle behind the CEO model?

"Follow me." Follow we never works. Ever. It's "follow me." God gives a man or a woman the gift of leadership. And any organization that has a point leader with accountability and freedom to use their gift will do well. Unfortunately in the church world, we're afraid of that. Has it been abused? Of course. But to abandon the model is silly.

Churches should quit saying, "Oh, that's what business does." That whole attitude is so wrong, and it hurts the church.

In terms of the shifting culture, I say thanks to guys like Bill Hybels and others who have been unafraid to say we have a corporate side of our ministry; it's going to be the best corporate institution it can possibly be, and we're not going to try to merge first century –

The church wasn't an organization in the first century. They weren't writing checks or buying property. The church has matured and developed over the years. But for some reason the last thing to change is the structure of leadership.

So why do pastors resist using business terms for leadership?

Because there are people in our congregations who have red flags go up.

If you're a preacher's kid, you see the church differently. Having seen church from the inside out, it was very easy for me to abandon all that because I did not confer spirituality on congregational decision making. To me that system was just chaotic. It works against the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in my mind, and it works against godly leadership principles.

Here's an incredibly important principle. You cannot communicate complicated information to large groups of people. As you increase the number of people, you have to decrease the complexity of the information. Congregational rule, when you're trying to make a complicated decision, works against the principle. So consequently, the guy with the microphone and the clearest message always wins. The most persuasive person in the room is going to win. Whether right or wrong.

PreviousFirstPage 1 of 2NextLast

Posted: May 28, 2007

Subscribe to read more

Subscribe Today!

  • Monthly issues on web and iPad
  • Web exclusives and archives on Leadership Journal.net
  • Quarterly print issues

Print subscriber? Activate your online account for complete access.

Join the Conversation

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–5 of 8 comments

mike ratliff

January 25, 2013  12:48pm

Mr. Andy Stanley is not a pastor in any sense of the word. Mr. Stanley will have to answer for much for all the false things he is teaching. His congregation should ask him to step down immediately. However, I am afraid that his congregation has selected for themselves a teacher to tickle their ears.

Report Abuse

adolfo alean jr

January 25, 2013  7:59am

andy for sure is not his dad and when i heard that he is being invited to president obama swearing for his next term as president that send me a alarm bell for the second time. the first time is when i seen his with joyce meyers that prosperity preacher i said to my self o'no andy dont take the joel osteen route............

Report Abuse

Glenn de Guzman

January 24, 2013  5:11pm

I feel that Andy's approach is a slippery slope. Labeling a model which the LORD himself used as irrelevant is quite disturbing. What about "salt and light"? What about loving our wives "as Christ loved the church"? Are these irrelevant metaphors too now in Andy's modern thinking? Where is this kind of eagerness to be relevant going? Is this concept Scriptural at all?

Report Abuse

Sam Andrews

January 24, 2013  12:33pm

Andy appears to come off very prideful. I see very little humbleness in his answers. (Of course I was not there when the interview took place so it could be the way this article was written.) I believe you can be culturally relevant and still be biblically accurate. They do not have to be pitted against one another. We are told in Isaiah 55:8-9 that God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I Corinthians 1:20 raises the following questions: “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” I just read in Richard Blackaby’s book Spiritual Leadership that “people do not naturally think the way God does. . . The danger is in believing that human reasoning can build God’s Kingdom. It cannot.”

Report Abuse


January 24, 2013  11:58am

The only reason it may seem "culturally irrelevant" is because we are failing to teach the new leadership of the Church what it means to be a pastor. That word in itself is derived from the word for shepherd and that is found in Ephesians, and is said to be a lasting role in the Church until the whole body is mature and lacking nothing and unified (which we aren't). The illustration of shepherd is unlike any today and stands as something to be taught and learned to truly understand the role of the leader/servant in the Body of Christ. Jesus is the head shepherd and we are under him, watching his flock, caring for his lambs, leaving the 99 to find the one and rejoicing every time one is found! If this model doesn't make sense then it isn't your call, or you haven't had a true understanding of who Jesus was, is, and always will be. We can not separate the teachings of Christ from the call of Christ, He called us to serve as He did, and He came as the Shepherd!

Report Abuse
Use your Leadership Journal login to easily comment and rate this article.
Not part of the community? Subscribe, or on public pages, register for a free account.
Reader's Pick
Missional Living in a Fraternity

Missional Living in a Fraternity

What it takes to go with Jesus into unlikely parts of the world.
Sister Sites