I've been reading Andy Stanley's new book, Deep & Wide. To be honest, it has really moved me on a few occastions. I'm not done yet, but I saw this story as I was reading the book and thought it was worth reading.
Andy Stanley generally wears sports shirts and jeans when he preaches. But when he spoke at First Baptist last month to observe his father Charles Stanley's 80th birthday, the father didn't just pray that the son would wear something nice. He bargained. "What if I buy you a suit?" he asked.
Said the son, "Now you're talking."
Vatican II it wasn't, but the meeting of the two Atlanta ministers on the dais of First Baptist bridged two of the most storied religious careers in Atlanta's history. It also demonstrated that old hurts do, in time, heal.
Here was Charles Stanley, the leader of one of the biggest Baptist church in Atlanta, the man who was twice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, founder of a worldwide evangelism TV network through In Touch Ministries, and for a time Atlanta's most influential preacher.
Standing next to him was his only son. Seventeen years earlier, Andy Stanley quit his father's church during perhaps the most controversial moment in its history: the public divorce of his mother and his father.
Charles Stanley's divorce, tantamount to a sin in his conservative congregation, led to a schism between father and son that ultimately took years to mend. And over that time, another transformation quietly took place: the son eclipsed the father.
Taking his ministry in a radically different direction from the church in which he was raised, Andy Stanley, 54, has now surpassed Charles Stanley in power and influence.
About 30,000 congregants attend the five campuses of Andy Stanley's North Point Community Church every week, making it, by some measures, the second biggest church in the country, just behind Joel Osteen's mammoth congregation in Houston.
North Point has more than quadrupled First Baptist in attendance. And North Point's worldwide footprint keeps growing, with more than 31 "strategic partner" churches from Athens to Estonia that use North Point's message and curricula.
Andy Stanley assured the First Baptist congregation gathered for his father's birthday that he became what he is with the benefit of his "ringside seat," as Charles Stanley's eldest child and a one-time associate pastor at First Baptist.
"So much of what I am today I owe to you," he said to his dad.
Be sure to take a look at this list of "women you should know." Full disclosure: I wrote one of the articles.
I try to highlight women (and non-Anglo) voices here at my blog because I think it is imporant to hear from a range of people. Lists like this can be helpful to broaden the conversation.
A few years ago, Christianity Today associate editor Katelyn Beaty and I (Sarah Pulliam Bailey) brainstormed the number of Christian women in public life, coming up with just a few names for a Her.meneutics piece. We noted obvious names like Bible teachers Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and Anne Graham Lotz, but were discouraged when we tried to pinpoint influential Christian women in other arenas.
Since then, with the help of several influential Christian leaders, we began paying closer attention to women who have risen to leadership in various sectors. We began noting how women have entered into prominent political, business, or other leadership positions, while others have also been paving the way in the arts, education, and ministry.
To create this list, we asked dozens of evangelical leaders to identify Christian women in North America whom evangelicals (both men and women) admire and who are shaping the life of the church and culture in significant ways. We tabulated the results, and ended up with 50 that clearly stood out. We decided to profile a few of these women, especially those whom we feel readers should know more about (and who have not already been profiled in CT). As with any list, readers (like the editors) will argue about who should be included and who should not. This list is hardly the last word, but it recognizes the growing public role of Christian women in our movement and culture, and suggests the ways they are shaping our future.
I must confess that I found this fascinating and well-written. All metaphors break down eventually, but it is worth considering as we talk about church leadeship in times of crisis.
Can you remember a time when you were flying in a plane and it made a sudden turn that made you feel scared, helpless, and wondering if you could trust the pilots to get you to your destination safely? Do you remember feeling out of control, as someone else was in charge and your fate was in their hands?
Working for an organization, including a church or ministry, is kind of like a plane in flight. The senior leaders are up front getting data from private channels and have a perspective out the windshield that no one else has. Most people on the proverbial plane are going about their lives without considering the competency of the pilots' leading, until there is a hard turn and they feel it.
A commercial pilot in our church explained these turns as "bank angles" where one wing stoops down. He said that the response of the passengers directly correlates to the degree of the turn.
Ideally, an organization makes as many 25-30 degree turns as possible. If so, there can be ongoing changes and course corrections without people freaking out and panicking, running through the proverbial cabin. But, sometimes a really hard turn simply has to be made. Those on the plane usually don't understand why, because they neither have the data nor see the reality that's confronting the pilots flying the plane. Those on the plane have five basic options on how they will respond when the organizational plane makes a hard-banked angle turn:
1. Jump Out of the Plane
3. Storm the Cabin
4. Trash the Pilots After the Plane Arrives at Its Destination Safely
5. Trust the Pilots
Jim Daly is working hard to build bridges and this video is worth your time.