Andy Stanley: ‘We cannot guarantee your safety’

North Point Ministries suspends in-person services until 2021

Pastor Andy Stanley, who leads an Alpharetta-based mega-ministry, said the rise in COVID-19 cases has led to the suspension of in-person adult worship services through the rest of the year.

At this point, services will resume in 2021.

“As you imagine, that was not a casual decision,” Stanley said in a video message. In May, North Point Ministries  officials announced plans to reopen in early August.

Then, “the COVID numbers were actually moving in the right direction,” said Stanley. “That has changed. Consequently, we cannot guarantee your safety and that is a big part of this decision.”

Other factors taken into consideration include attendee surveys and the experiences of churches that had already opened their doors to worshippers.

Even if the churches were to reopen or stay open, he said, they would not be able to create a quality experience with social distancing protocols in place.

Stanley recognizes that may not be a popular stance for some.

Some may support the decision. Others might view it through a political lens or accuse him have not having enough faith.

The fact is, said Stanley, that should someone get sick, the church would be responsible for contact tracing, which is “pretty much an impossible thing to do.”

That is one of several unforeseen issues facing other churches of similar size that reopened weeks ago.

Several churches in Georgia have reopened in recent weeks. Others are delaying letting people back in the building.

According to the North Point Ministries web site, each week more than 30,000 people attend services at the ministry’s metro churches.

Those churches include Browns Bridge Church in Cumming, Buckhead Church in Atlanta , Gwinnett Church Hamilton Mill Buford and North Point Community Church in Alpharetta.

Stanley said he was confident the church would remain strong, whether or not they meet in person.

In the meantime, he said the ministry was going to enhance the online experience and develop a strategy for limited physical gatherings.

“Ultimately, we are going to thrive,” he said.