pastoral leadership

Leadership Quotes from Andy Stanley

Compiled by Brian Dodd

Andy Stanley’s latest book, Deep & Wide, is the definitive leadership book of this generation.

Now onto the quotes:

  • Blessed is the man who gets the opportunity to devote his life to something bigger than himself and who finds himself surrounded by friends who share his passion.
  • As leaders, we are never responsible for filling anyone else’s cup.  Our responsibility is to empty ours.
  • Preachers’ kids who gravitate toward ministry are commodities.  I hire all I can.
  • We genuinely want to be a network of churches that unchurched people find irresistible.  We don’t grade ourselves on size.  We grade ourselves on how attractive we are to our target audience.
  • From day one, I’ve had critics.  I’m fine with that.  All my critics are religious people.  (It may be the only thing I have in common with Jesus).
  • “A pastor has no greater privilege than to baptize his own children.” – Dr. Charles Stanley
  • “Beginning empty handed and alone frightens the best of men.  It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them.” – Gene Edwards in his book The Tale of Three Kings
  • My dad turned eighty this year.  It goes without saying that I stand on his shoulders.  Those are two very crowded shoulders.
  • One of the perplexing things we face as church leaders is that most church people don’t know what the church is or why it exists.
  • Say the word church today and very few people think “movement”.
  • Systems fossilize with time.
  • The church needs leaders who are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we hand it off to the next generation in better shape than we found it.
  • Belief in Jesus as the Son of God is about the only thing all churches hold in common.
  • While it’s amazing that the church survived the persecution of the first century, it may be more amazing that it survived the institutionalization and corruption of the centuries that followed.
  • Churches designed for saved people are full of hypocrites.
  • The casualty in a church for church people is grace…The casualty in liberal churches is truth.
  • Jesus did not come to strike a balance between grace and truth.  He brought the full measure of both.
  • “If we do it for one, we will have to do it for everyone.”  To which I can hear Jesus shouting, “No you don’t!  I didn’t!”…The better approach is to do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.
  • We are not going to spend countless hours creating policies for every eventuality.
  • You can’t get it right every time regardless of your model.  And that’s not an excuse.  That’s the reality of ministry.
  • We put people into leadership roles too early, on purpose.
  • Our doctrinal statement is conservative.  Our approach to ministry is not.
  • I don’t learn much from people who agree with me.
  • Either you were a mess, are a mess, or are one dumb decision away from becoming a mess.  And when you were your messiest version of you, you weren’t looking for a policy, were you?
  • They (first century Christian leaders) were comfortable with a bit of ambiguity and inconsistency.  We should be as well.
  • If you want to know what people mean by what they say, watch what they do.
  • The Jewish Christians appointed a committee and sent them to Antioch to set things straight.  Which, of course, only made things worse.
  • It is your responsibility to lead the church in the direction Jesus originally intended.  As a leader, your task is to protect the missional integrity of the Jesus gathering to which you have been called.  It is your responsibility to see to it that the church under your care continues to function as a gathering of people in process.
  • Let’s rid our churches of anything that makes it difficult for those who are turning to God.
  • We don’t believe classes create mature believers.
  • Theological education and spiritual maturity can be mutually exclusive.
  • I should always be able to point to a group of men and say, “That’s the group I’m currently pouring my life into.”
  • In most churches spiritual formation was not the driving force behind programming (or budgeting, for that matter).
  • It’s no coincidence that God didn’t give Israel the law until they first learned to trust him and follow him.
  • As a person’s confidence in God grows, he or she matures.
  • Jesus taught for a response.  He taught for life change.
  • People are far more interested in what works than what’s true.
  • Culture is like the wind.  You can’t stop it.  You shouldn’t spit in it.
  • There is a direct correlation between a person’s private devotional life and his or her personal faith.
  • Percentage giving is an invitation for God to get involved in our personal finances.  The percentage isn’t the issue.
  • People who have never given away a percentage of the incomes are not going to begin with 10 percent.
  • I’m inclined to think God hears whatever he wants to hear.
  • The Bible is full of illustrations of God calling and prodding people into service in spite of their overwhelming sense of inadequacy.
  • We are committed to involving as many people as possible, as young as possible, as soon as possible.  Sometimes too young and too soon!  But we intentionally err on the side of too fast rather than too slow.
  • For the most part, adults learn on a need to know basis
  • “I’ve never heard a faith story without a relational component.”
  • “We decided not to leverage adult groups as a growth engine.”
  • “The most significant was our decision to keep group leaders with their small groups as long as possible.”
  • “We market Starting Point as a conversation rather than a class…Whereas the content is very valuable, the relationships formed in that intimate setting are of equal or greater value.”
  • “We can’t create a providential relationship.  But we can certainly create some content points.”
  • “People lose faith when life gets too easy, but people lose faith in the face of tragedy as well.’
  • “God often showcases his power on the stage of human weakness.”
  • “Your approach to spiritual formation must be flexible and dynamic enough to support you through every season of life.”
  • “Nobody matures past his or her need for prayer and meditation.”
  • “Every Sunday people walk onto your campus and determine whether or not they will return the following week before your preacher opens his mouth.  And that’s not fair.  But it’s true.”
  • “The sermon begins in the parking lot.”
  • “Your environments determine what comes to mind when people think about your church.”
  • “Time in erodes awareness of.  The longer you serve in a particular ministry environment, the less aware of it you become.”
  • “Intuition is not enough.  Leaders need objective ways to measure effectiveness.”
  • “Embracing an agreed-upon standard of excellence si how you create a culture.  More specifically, it is how you create a culture of excellence.”
  • “It could be argued that the very first thing God did in time was to create an appealing environment tailored for His prize creation.”
  • “The physical environment does more than leave an impression; it sends a message.”
  • “An uncomfortable setting makes people uncomfortable.”
  • “Let’s not do what a previous generation did and assume that what’s appealing today will be appealing tomorrow.”
  • “I don’t care how good the preaching is at your church, if parents get the impression that you are germ-tolerant, don’t ask about registering their babies.”
  • “People are smart.  If your church is disorganized in the places they can see, they will assume it is even worse behind the scenes.”
  • “The reason more people aren’t engaged with the local church is…we aren’t all that engaging!”
  • “Engaging presentations are central to the success of the church’s mission.”
  • “The presentation is what makes information interesting…Presentation determines something else as well: attention span.”
  • “If you can present something in any way other than someone standing on a stage and talking, do so!”
  • “Knowledge alone makes Christians haughty.  Application makes us holy.”
  • “Content this is perceived as helpful always addresses a need.”
  • “Helpful content is content presented in a way that is age- and stage-of-life specific.”
  • “I’m not trying to produce Bible scholars.  And by the way, teaching through the entire Bible doesn’t create Bible scholars anyway.  It creates people who think they are Bible scholars.  And those are some of the meanest, most uncompassionate human beings on the planet.”
  • “If you want your environments to be great, you’ve got to define great.”
  • “Purpose should determine approach.  At the end of the day, it’s what we do, not what we purposed to do, that defines our lives and reputations.”
  • “The approach a church chooses trumps its purpose every time.”
  • “If you don’t clarify the win for a team, they will do it themselves.”
  • “Our immediate win is when a regular attendee brings an unchurched friend who enjoys the service so much that he or she returns the following week.”
  • “Does that mean we tailor the content to a non-Christians?  Nope.  We tailor the experience to non-Christians.  There’s a big difference.”
  • “Where a weekend experience consistently begins will ultimately determine who consistently shows up to take the journey.”
  • “Everyone, from skeptic to saint, knows what it is to hurt, what it is to doubt, and what it is to hope.”
  • “Our responsibility every week is to engage our entire audience.  Not just church people.  In my experience, this is where most churches miss the mark completely.”
  • “If you offend someone before a service, it’s going to be next to impossible to engage him in the service.”
  • “Men generally want to know how long things will last, what time they will be home.  We go out of our way to address these issues as early as possible.”
  • “In our world, it is a major win if we can get everyone in the audience to smile or laugh within the first three minutes of the service.”
  • “We only offer information that is appropriate for guests.”
  • “Putting unbelievers or different kinds of believers in situations where they feel forced to worship is incredibly unfair.  It’s offensive.  It’s bait and switch.  It’s insulting.”
  • “If you introduce your topic with a gut-wrenching emotionally charged song, you’d better have something of equal significance to say.”
  • “If you are going to create a church unchurched people love to attend, then unchurched people need to love the weekend message.”

Dr. Jeremy Berg is the founding and Lead Pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Minnetonka Beach, MN, where he has served since 2010. He an Adjunct Professor of Theology at North Central University (Minneapolis) and Professor of Bible & Theology at Solid Rock Discipleship School. Jeremy earned a doctorate in New Testament Context under Dr. Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary. He and his wife, Kjerstin, have three kids, Peter, Isaak and Abigail.

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