Andy Stanley: How you approach your preaching can hinder your message

Andy Stanley has some preaching advice that he shared at the NewSpring Leadership Conference:

“It’s really your approach, and not your content, that determines how well that you engage unchurched people…If we’re not willing to adjust our sails and adjust our approach, you can spend your entire life … telling the truth and driving people away from it at the same time… Non-Christians aren’t supposed to obey the Bible… We’d love for them to … But when you preach broadly and you don’t differentiate, what unchurched people hear is judgment.”

Here’s more:

“We do not believe Jesus rose from the dead because Adam and Eve were literal, physical people … The basis of Christianity is not all the difficult to believe parts of the Old Testament, but as long as we present to our children and to our generation it’s all or nothing, that’s almost impossible to defend… You know why I believe in the resurrection? Not because of the B-I-B-L-E. Because Matthew saw it, Mark talked to somebody who saw it, Luke interviewed a whole bunch of people who saw it, John saw it, Peter saw it, James saw it … I don’t know what happened to dinosaurs, and I don’t know anything about Adam and Eve, but I believe Jesus rose from the dead, and when you start believing Jesus rose from the dead, you’re going to take the Old Testament a lot more seriously.”

Your thoughts?


HT:  The Christian Post


  • Jay Jennings September 12, 2012 Reply

    Just one of the reasons Andy is a great communicator of Scripture. There are many of us who can preach to the choir. He continually demonstrates the importance of communicating truth dripping in grace to unbelievers. I was at the NLC. This was a highlight in a day of highlights.

  • pietrosquared September 12, 2012 Reply

    Too many churches say their mission is to preach to lost people, but they only preach to believers. Andy is a breath of fresh air in this regard.

  • pjski September 12, 2012 Reply

    I was there at NLC2012 and I loved what Andy said! All of the speakers were great, but I took the most home from Andy. I already started using some of his suggestions on how we talk about the authors of the books as writing what we are teaching instead of saying “the Bible says”. It totally changed even my perspective of why I was talking about a guy named Peter and what he says about why we are to be Holy.

  • Steve Miller September 12, 2012 Reply

    This is great. Listen to your own Pastor’s next sermon. Does he address the room as if he is only speaking to the saved folks? or does he address the guests, the un-churched, or the religious moral church goer who is confused about what the gospel is as well.

    There is always an invitational aspect to the Gospel, either accept it for the first time, or apply it deeper to your life. Otherwise you are just giving biblical information and people will hear it as, “do this, try harder,” or the lost and struggling will hear it as, “I’m a failure, I don’t measure up.”

  • EG@W February 11, 2013 Reply

    I could not disagree more. I was not at this conference but do attend several during the year and we as attendees tend to feel obligated to agree with the speakers as they are, as one commented, “preaching to the choir”! So content is not important? So truth is not truth? So in John 17 Jesus was not praying for believers?
    Let’s face it; have you ever been to where Andy planted his church? You could have put any charismatic young first year Seminary student there and grown a church. Why did he not plant in the inner city of ATL or on the southside where the work is most difficult and the lost people are overwhelming in numbers; or Detroit or East St Louis, etc??? No he planted in a very upper middle class comfortable area and began transferring new members from other churches, and relocated transplants. Safe route. Comfortable route. Profitable route. Big house route. Read my books route.

    Truth is truth and the content is a Person named Jesus.

  • don jones February 11, 2013 Reply

    So does this mean that we need to be able to verify it in order to believe it? Obviously, the quote by Stanley may be out of context, I wasn’t there. Did God create the world, what about the unseen world of spirit beings (Eph 6), how do we know that Matthew, Mark, Luke saw Jesus, maybe that was made up as well, heaven, hell, etc.? If the quote from Stanleyis accurate and what he was trying to say, that is way to dangerous.

  • Mike Cooke February 11, 2013 Reply

    I enjoy listening to Andy Stanley’s podcasts here and there and have read a couple of his books. He’s a good teacher and communicator. But these responses to his talk at another Christian celebrity mutual admiration gathering raises a huge question.

    Why do pastors and church planters (after the fact), need to pay money to be told not to marginalize the unchurched or ANY other subset of people?

    I have an idea as I’m sure you do as well.

  • Robert Barnes February 11, 2013 Reply

    What Andy Stanley says makes sense if you have his model of how the church must change in response to a culture.

    Let’s look at an example from politics. The word on the street is that the Republicans must change their conservative language and positions in order to win the vote of the growing immigrant population. They must speak of joining hands with the Democrat Party. They must not speak against Obama, or else they are racists.

    Regardless of your politics, the message is clear–if Republicans are going to be successful, they must stop being conservative. They must stop their emphasis on self-effort, capitalism, and protecting language, borders, and culture.

    Sometimes, when I hear folks like Andy speak, I hear them saying that we have to give away significant portions of our language and practices, and only then, will we grow our churches, reach the masses, and so forth.

    But is there another way to reach the world than changing all our language? Are we preaching to the choir if we use the classical, primitive, language of the atonement in a Sunday morning sermon, and therefore, I have to say something else?

    There are other ways, other than successive capitulation, to reach unbelievers.

    There are other ways, other than sacrificing confessional Christian language, to be understood and relevant.

    But those ways are not easily mass marketed. You can’t put them on a bumper sticker. You can’t take pictures of them and put feminine music to it and make moms cry.

    Most of us are merely disagreeing on how fast we will divest ourselves of all the trappings of orthodox Christianity in order to increase numbers.

    Rather than waste our time and bandwidth on this, let’s go to the Scriptures and history and see what principles of ministry transcend culture, embrace Scripture, and make a functional bridge for God’s elect to come out of darkness, into light.

  • Craig R Secor February 11, 2013 Reply

    I have been working with teens, their families and young adults for over 39 yrs and there are three things that all of them desire- they want to know they are loved, accepted and to know that they belong. I’ll add two more. First, now more than ever more in this world of ever changing values as well as, “lust for physical pleasure and for everything, and pride in our possessions”. They desparately need to see our”…faith expressing itself through love” by, secondly, “…love in the truth…that lives in us and will be in our hearts forever.” That’s God’s Truth. Truth and Content-that’s Jesus who had no problem living it. Neither should we.

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