I listen to a few church leaders on a regular basis. As a church leader myself, I feel like this is important. I pay attention to their style, their content, and how they structure their messages. I’ve learned a lot from them. One guy is Jon Weece, the Lead Follower at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY. He is a calm speaker, very conversational, and his messages are simple. I love that. Another guy I listen to is Andy Stanley, the founder and primary communicator of North Point Community Church near Atlanta, GA. He has very practical messages that reach every person in the room, Christian or not. He has a gift for doing this. This is why many non-Christians come to North Point every weekend…and then come back the next weekend. They (North Point) started a church that unchurched people love to attend. And they did just that.
I follow both of these guys on Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter, then good for you. It can be addicting and, just like other social media sites, a person can get caught up in pointless arguments. Jon Weece doesn’t really engage his haters on Twitter, which I respect. Andy Stanley will occasionally do it, but he makes a joke out of it (which can be viewed as a good thing or bad thing — regardless, I find it hilarious). Just occasionally, though, I see a tweet directed towards Andy (which spawns multiple other tweets from other Stanley haters) that I just marvel at. The line of thinking of some of these guys I just don’t get. In fact, this happened just yesterday.
I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday afternoon, and I found that Andy had tweeted this:
Simple, right? Then I saw this tweet, also in Andy’s timeline:
Hmm. A non-religious and agnostic person decided to compliment Andy Stanley on his speaking. Mind you, Andy doesn’t cover up Jesus. As a matter of fact, he is very open about his agenda and North Point’s agenda: To lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. He is, as he should be, pointing everyone he can towards Jesus. So, he is obviously grateful when a person who is unchurched and non-Christian says that they appreciate these Jesus-filled messages. But apparently @RJKelly1 isn’t. I checked out his Twitter page and read his bio, which says: “Minister of Jesus Christ. He saved me from my sins & will save anyone who believes & asks. All entries are my opinion. All rights reserved.”
Wait…what? I tried to figure this out. On one hand, it seems that RJ is trying to get this lady to see God. But by raining on her compliment towards Andy, who is already telling her about Jesus?
I know what some people might say. She needs to know that God’s awesome, right? She’s so misguided, correct? It’s our job as Christians to correct her, amen?
Nope. I’m not sure when this mindset crept into the church, but it’s damaging. We’ve taken the redemption that Jesus offers everyone and turned it into a tool to manufacture people who think the same, look the same, vote the same, etc. See where I’m going with this?
As a church planter, I get this leveled against me by people who have never met me. I’m “watering down the gospel” or “avoiding the truth” about God. Why is this said? Because some people in the church today think that there are only two options for people: A person must be 100% “in” or 100% “out”. I’m not sure what that means, either, but some have built a theology around it.
This is why it bothers those people that Andy has a church that unchurched people loved to attend. Simply put, there are people in the middle. There are people who don’t like who they are, but they are terrified of totally surrendering to Jesus. So Andy and North Point welcomes them and invites them to do this, one step at a time. It’s a safe place for them.
This is why the “safe place” mentality is part of the DNA at Middlepoint Christian Church, our church plant in Middlesboro. There are thousands of people in our city that have encountered too many people like RJ in some churches. This is why they don’t go, turn off any inclination towards Jesus, and write off the entire church as a whole. That bothers me. Deeply.
There are people in the space in between their “old” life and Jesus. Maybe @CC_Denham is, so she listens to Andy Stanley to find out more about Jesus. She knows that Jesus is full of truth (which RJ loves), but Jesus is also full of grace. That’s important.
If I were honest with you, I’d rather have people like @CC_Denham come to my church.
By the way, here’s the response the @CC_Denham came to after interacting with people like RJ:
Remember the people in the space in between.