A metro Atlanta megachurch pastor is in the hot seat for remarks he made about small churches and the parents that attend them in one of his recent sermons, according to a recent Christianity Today report.
Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, referred to parents who attend churches with small congregations and no student ministries as “stinking selfish” in a Feb. 28 message titled “Saved By The Church,” according to the report by the media outlet, known for its coverage of Bible-based ministries.
North Point Community Church is a ministry with six locations across the metro Atlanta area.
Stanley founded North Point Ministries in 1995. The church's services now reach 30,000 parishioners at campuses in Alpharetta, Buckhead, Decatur and Sugar Hill, according to North Point's website.
Stanley swiftly received online criticism for his message, with some online commenters rejecting the megachurch pastor’s comments.
One such critic was California pastor Karl Vaters, who wrote a Christianity Today blog, “Dear Andy Stanley, Please Be the Small Church’s Ally, Not Our Enemy," on the preacher's sermon.
“Andy Stanley – a guy I like, though we've never met – has engaged in some seriously small thinking by using some of the strongest insults I've ever heard uttered in a public forum against small churches,” the pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship said in his blog post.
In response to the social media criticism, Stanley issued an apology on Twitter Thursday:
In his interview with Christianity Today, Stanley expounded upon his Twitter apology.
"I’m not looking for sympathy here," he said. "It was devastating because my words undermined the importance, significance, and sacrifice of thousands of church planters and ministry leaders."
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
An earlier version of this story included tweets incorrectly described as reacting to Stanley's apology.