Monday, June 20, 2016

Are You "Stinking Selfish"?

OR... maybe you are Mega-Funded?

When I hear adults say, ‘I don’t like a big church. I like about 200. I wanna be able to know everybody.’ I say you are so stinkin’ selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids, anybody else’s kids. If you don’t go to a church large enough, where you can have enough middle-schoolers and high-schoolers so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big ol’ church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people, and grow up and love the local church. Instead, what you do… you drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church, and then they go off to college, and you pray there’ll be a church in their college town that they connect with, and guess what: all those churches are big, the kind of church you don’t like. Don’t attend a church that teaches your children to hate church.
~Andy Stanley[1]

Yeah, we know this is old news. But we have a little piece of the puzzle that might shed light on the inflammatory comment that Andy Stanley originally delivered (above), and a possible explanation for his retraction as well.

Below is one of the most popular, but controversial, of all of Pastor Anton Bosch's articles. Since this was originally published several months ago it has generated much response, both pro and con. With Pastor Anton's permission, and with his minor modifications, we are republishing this on this blog. We have added a few editorial notes of our own to his footnotes.

As you read this article keep in mind that Andy Stanley* was trained by Leadership Network as an up-and-coming young man, along with the others who would go on to become leaders in the Emergent/Emerging movements, which was also done alongside the formation of the Megachurch and New Calvinist leadership streams. Thus his promotion of the megachurch is tied in directly to the ideas espoused by Peter Drucker, the leadership guru, who taught several generations of Leadership Network pastors that the church should be run like a corporation, and the pastoral function that of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). We wrote about this in our monograph The Pied Pipers of Purpose specifically, and more recently we described how the process worked in our 4-part series “We Are Not ABANDONED”**

It should be further noted that Leadership Network assisted in the funding $$$ of these Neo-Superstar leaders as they launched their Mega-Churches, including publishing bestselling books, and promoting them on conference circuits. In other words, these evangelical leader SuperStars had their Mega-Church way paved with Mega-Buck$ brick$.***

Thus, given this situation of mega-fundedness, an attitude of scorn towards small churches is an integral component of the so-called 'DNA' of churches in the Leadership Network empire of networks. Below is an example, which includes Andy Stanley in his formative years:
Leadership Network spawned and funded this Next Gen Catalyst movement,
with Andy Stanley a key leader****

Christians in Small Churches are Stinking Selfish

By Pastor Anton Bosch
“You are stinking selfish” if you are in a small church. These are the exact words from Andy Stanley, pastor of the 30,000 member Northpoint megachurch in Atlanta on February 28, 2016. His statement is based on his incorrect assumption that big churches cater better to the needs of children than small churches. Even if he is right, it is still not based on any Biblical principle but rather on pragmatism which teaches that if it works it must be good. The problem with this, of course, is that he, his church, and others like it, have no interest in what the Bible teaches but only in what will enlarge their already overblown empires. This is big business and is not church.

Stanley’s people have wiped any trace of the original text of the video from the Internet.[2] In a subsequent Tweet Stanley apologized profusely saying that he does not believe what he said! That only makes it worse – a pastor who preaches what he does not believe! The reality is rather that this is exactly what he believes in his arrogance, and the only reason for the apology and retraction is that he was blown away by the backlash to his ridiculous statement. “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)

In the words of A.W. Tozer: 
“The great goddess Numbers is worshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these she appeals as arbiters of all questions, the test of spiritual growth and the proof of success or failure in every Christian endeavor.[3] 

The fact that most big churches are big because they compromise the truth and preach an easy and sometimes false gospel just makes his statement even more egregious. So according to Stanley, you, and your children, are better off in a big false church, than in a Bible teaching small church. The high regard many across the world have for Stanley adds to the impact his words will have on small churches all over.

His definition of a small church is anything below 200. Yet 90% of American churches are smaller than 350 members with an average church size (including mega churches) of 75 members.[4] Thus Stanley clearly has a problem and hates the vast majority of churches in the world, their leaders and members.

So, let’s examine the reasons why many prefer big churches:

  • Big churches have celebrity pastors.
  • Big churches have many (entertaining) programs.
  • I can be anonymous and attend when I want and live as I wish.
  • There is no pressure on me to play my part, unless I want to.
  • Big churches have excellent musicians, facilities and coffee.
  • Etc.
So, I wonder who is selfish: the person who enjoys the comfort and anonymity of the big church or the person who is willing to make personal sacrifices to serve in a small church? Yes, small church is indeed messy, uncomfortable and less than excellent when it comes to gadgets, facilities, brand name preachers and entertainment. But people who attend small churches are generally there because they want to make a difference and not just be a number in the system. People in small churches are often willing to sacrifice selfish desires for the sake of serving others. 
Leadership Network Into Action, No. 46, 8/26/04. Note funding theme.

Unfortunately Stanley is not on his own – he has simply said what many others think. Personally I have stopped attending events where other pastors gather and here is the reason: The first question you are asked, once someone determines that you are in the ministry, is how big your church is. The moment you tell them you are in a small church, the conversation ends. They are no longer interested in speaking to a “loser” who obviously cannot be any good since the church is small. What these snobs forget is that many small church pastors could “get” a big church, but they choose to serve the Lord’s people in real ways rather than being the CEO[5] of a business empire. These faithful, sacrificing men are the real heroes, not the celebrity pastors who sell their convictions for popularity. By the way, serving in a small church is a lot harder work than being a celebrity preacher, complete with body guards to keep the members at a distance.

But at the end of the day we must turn to the Scriptures as our guide and manual. So, does the Bible have anything to say about church size? I think it does. And before we continue, let’s discard the 3,000 that were saved in Acts 2:41 and the 5,000 in Acts 4:4. This was unique to the founding of the church and was God’s way to kick-start the church remembering that these would soon be scattered across the world to fulfill the Great Commission. If a church of 8,000 was God’s design, then this church would have survived, but the Lord soon cut it down to 12! (Acts 8:1). The fact is that there was not a single big church anywhere in the New Testament, in spite of those preachers being far superior to anything we have today – after all they had physically walked with the Lord.

On the contrary, ALL the churches in the New Testament were small. Most met in houses which sets the limit at 25, at the most, remembering the size of houses then. Yes, some cities had several house churches (Jerusalem, Rome and probably Antioch). But after a lifetime of studying the New Testament church, I cannot find evidence for a single church bigger than 200.[6] 

Throughout the New Testament, the emphasis in the local church structure is relationships. Think of 1Corinthians 12 and how that each member of the body has a unique part to play and how each member of the body is vitally connected to the rest of the body. There are no passengers or spectators in New Testament churches. Yet Stanley expressly mocks those who choose to be in small churches because they choose relationships over programs!
Andy Stanley with Joyce Meyers*****

Many of those who choose big churches do so because they feel that size means that God is doing something. This is the biggest lie the devil has sold to modern Christendom. The contrary is true. Throughout the history of the church, big and the majority has have always been wrong. At the same time, small does not necessarily mean it is good – there are just as many small churches that are into some error or the other.  But think of the words of Scripture:
  • “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”(Matthew 7:13) (In the context Jesus is speaking of the broad road as being a religious one).
  • “… when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
  • “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
  • “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16)
  • The only churches of the seven in Revelation 2 & 3 that were not rebuked were the two smallest and weakest ones.
  • After three years of the most anointed preaching ever, Jesus just left 500 disciples (1Corinthians 15:6).
  • Apart from Jesus, Paul was the most powerful preacher in the New Testament, with a personal call and audience with the risen Christ, yet he leaves Athens without having been able to establish a church. This great apostle, came to the end of his life and confessed that he only had one leader that he could trust to take care of the work after his demise (Philippians 2:20-21).
Where are the mega churches and the celebrity brand-name preachers in the New Testament? They are not there. Don’t be deceived; we are not the chosen generation that has managed to be successful where two thousand years of the true church has struggled to survive against the gates of hell. If churches are big and successful, it is most likely because of the arm of flesh and not the Spirit of God.

Here is your choice: Would you rather be counted with these: 

“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented– of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise” (Hebrews 11:35-39)
Or these:

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:16-17).

If you are in small church, be encouraged and fulfill the Lord’s call where He placed you. If you are in a big church – drop your selfishness and pride and get into a real church.

[Ed. Note: Pastor Bosch's original footnotes have been amended to include additional information.] 
1. The sermon is posted online but the controversial section is missing: A transcript is available upon request. This section of Stanley's comments were transcribed and posted at the following webpages: Here is a critical article: “Andy Stanley, Megachurches, and the Bullying of Christ’s Bride,”
2. See: “Andy Stanley Explains His ‘Stinking Selfish’ Parents Comment,”  Stanley's backpedaling is an example of the dialectics taught by Leadership Network. Stanley would have learned how to take two steps forward, one step back, thus shifting the paradigm by planting this outrageous idea, which caught much press attention, into people's minds. For prior evidence of Stanley's dialectic dancing, see “Circling the Wagons,” by Dr. Orrel Steinkamp,
3. Tozer, A. W., & Verploegh, H. (1986). The set of the sail (pp. 153–156). Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread.
5. Stanley also believes that the leader of a church should be a CEO and that the idea of a “shepherd” is outmoded. This would be yet another example of the influence of the teaching Stanley received via Leadership Network, especially under the tutelage of Peter Drucker, the business guru, who trained several generations of pastors to become CEOs rather than shepherds. See:
6. Actually, the ideal size in my humble opinion is around 100.

*For further reading on the controversial history of Andy Stanley see the late Pastor Ken Silva's website and type 'Andy Stanley' into the search box feature. 

**See the multi-part series we wrote  and for further documentation look into the footnotes and follow the links:
Part 1: "We Are Not ABANDONED"
Part 2: "Under the Bus" and "Off the Map" - The Out-of-Control Bus That Runs Over Sheep
Part 3: The MegaChurch Transit Authority and How it Operates
Part 4: The "Visionpath" Bus Route: The Road Most Traveled 

***Read our 4-part series explaining much of this titled "The Cult of Evangelical Leadership":
Part 1: Sacred Cows & Stars.
Part 2: CA$H COW$ & FAT CAT$
Part 3: Stuffed Shirts & Their Sycophants

Part 4: Scurrilous Shepherds & Their Starving Sheep

****The original url for this in 2007 was: Next Generation (or Next Gen) was a project of Leadership Network. The remainder of the text reads: "Leadership has been the topic of focus for the Catalyst brand since inception and will continue to be so. Catalyst and the annual Catalyst Conference provide a wide cover for addressing a variety of topics specific to Next Generation Leaders, including organizational leadership, personal leadership, integrity, character, relationships, and teamwork, among others. Over the last six years, Catalyst has grown in influence and reach, now offering an annual event, multiple resources, a dedicated online magazine, a podcast and many other tools for young leaders. Catalyst has only just begun to go deeper with the Catalyst Community in taking them beyond a conference experience and into a relationship that provides ongoing support for growth and continued learning." Catalyst is just one of many evangelical annual conferences where Leadership Network leaders are given star-studded status as keynote speakers, and also opportunities to promote their latest books for fame and fortune. See also: and

*****See the video here:

Anton Bosch is the author of Building Blocks of the Church, which teaches and encourages lay people how they can have church. He has also authored Building Blocks of Encouragement and Contentiously Contenting.