Open Letter to Andy Stanley: Churches Should Not Be Handcuffed

by | Mar 8, 2021 | Church & Ministry

Note: All pastors relate to COVID differently depending on their perspective and circumstances. They are under tremendous pressure and need more grace. I’m sure that Andy Stanley has done much good in his community, and for that, I applaud him. However, I don’t think that his comments can go unchecked: “Iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17a).

In a recent interview, Andy Stanley, pastor of Atlanta’s North Point Community Church, said he is “embarrassed” by churches that engaged in “spitting matches” with state and local governments over COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, lamenting that far too many churches “abandoned the mission for the sake of the model.”

No, we haven’t abandoned the mission because the mission is to be salt and light, to bring truth to a lost and perishing world and to stand boldly for the Word of God. We need to abandon fear and stop believing falsehoods leveled by those with an agenda to silence the pulpits and stop the spread of the gospel.

What makes me think it is an agenda? I don’t have time to go into all the inconsistencies, but let me present just a handful: Why did numbers drop substantially after the inauguration on Jan. 20 and the language about the virus change? Why are cases of the flu and pneumonia nearly extinct?

Why are Walmart and Costco packed every day of the year, while small businesses are being strangled? Why can people gather to protest the police, but more than 10 at a Thanksgiving dinner is a “super-spreader”?

What about masks? One day they tell us to wear two masks, but the next, they tell us not to wear them at all (as in this video, which has since been removed to hide the evidence).

Why are law-abiding citizens being harassed and arrested, while those breaking the law, destroying property and attacking innocent people are declared to be part of a “summer of love“?

This is why so many Americans are beyond angry, and I believe it may be a righteous anger. We have been subjected to skewed numbers, fake pictures and elevated statistics with the undeniable goal of instilling fear. And what about all the COVID-positive illegal immigrants crossing the border?

Follow the Evidence

Yes, COVID is real, but it’s also being used to push an agenda. There are numerous stories of doctors being told to write COVID as the cause of death even if it was not. The San Diego Tribune ran a story in 2020 quoting county supervisor Jim Desmond as saying, “We’ve unfortunately had six pure, solely coronavirus deaths—six out of 3.3 million people.”

I’m not minimizing even one death, but there is mounting evidence that the lockdowns themselves have caused as many, or even more, deaths than the virus itself. These are not my words—these are the words of the World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19: “In the United States alone, lockdowns have been tied to increased thoughts of suicide from children, a surge in drug overdoses, an uptick in domestic violence, and a study conducted in May concluded that stress and anxiety from lockdowns could destroy seven times the years of life that lockdowns potentially save.”

Over the past year we have learned a lot about this virus—and nearly as much about those who would seek to use tragedy to further a political or social agenda. As the church, it is our responsibility to stand against the deceptions rather than surrender to it.

Removing the Veil of Deception

Andy Stanley continues, “The thing that has been concerning to me about the local church is how quickly so many local churches felt like, ‘We’ve got to get back in our building, shoulder to shoulder, doing what we’ve always done.'”

So “quickly,” Pastor Stanley? We are now a year into this. Irrational reactions, inconsistent policies and a severe overreach of authority are crippling the church and devastating our nation. We must remove the veil of deception. Sadly, the new deception is that if you stand for freedom, then you are selfish.

Pastor Stanley’s words, even if it was not his intention, degrade the brave men and women who have determined that God’s Word requires us to get back to being “shoulder to shoulder, doing what we have always done.” It’s called the gathering of the saints—and we are not to forsake it. A pastor, of all people, should recognize this.

Reality Check

Since the 1600s, America has experienced health-related epidemics such as typhoid, scarlet fever and yellow fever every 15 years or so, but we have never taken such extreme measures as we did for COVID-19. We are to love our neighbor but also contend for what is right. What about all the families who are deteriorating because of abuse and addiction? What about the escalating suicide rate? What about loving those neighbors? Pot shops, liquor stores and abortion clinics are open, so why are churches still closed? Why is there no outcry about that?

God established the legal system to protect the innocent. Paul appealed to Caesar for this very reason (Acts 25:11). It’s not only permissible for churches to challenge the lockdowns; it’s a necessity. Had bold pastors capitulated in 2020, the church may never have opened in many areas.

Thank God for men like John MacArthur, Jack Hibbs and Rob McCoy, who by their courage in opening their churches motivated us to open ours on May 31, 2020. With a congregation size considered to be that of a large church, we had zero COVID deaths, and very few people became sick. I’m certainly not minimizing the virus, and I would not want people to get sick. We take precautions when warranted, but this is all no longer about science but, rather, as a way to stir up fear.

The Real Reason Many Churches Aren’t Opening

As I wrote in my article, “An Open Letter to Silent Pastors–Fight or Fade Away,” “over the last few decades, Americans have seen the destruction of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, the removal of God’s Word in several areas, and the blatant murdering of millions of babies.”

“This is an indictment against America and the pulpit is partially responsible—our silence speaks volumes. The pulpit regulates the spiritual condition of God’s people, which affects the nation. … Sadly, many pastors are exchanging truth for passivity, boldness for cowardliness, and conviction for comfort.” They aim “to be motivational speakers rather than preachers of righteousness.”

In my opinion, most pastors who are not opening their churches are upset at the ones who are simply because they are convicted. Instead of repenting for cowardliness and a lack of boldness, they open friendly fire.

Pastors, we are not just cheerleaders; we are game changers. We need men filled with the Spirit of God, not passivity and political correctness. Granted, there are many wonderful pastors and churches—and I appreciate their ministry—but too many American churches have drifted off course. They have lost the compass of truth and the boldness of the Spirit.

For more, watch this very short clip about boldness here, and read my article, “An Open Letter to Our Leaders—Churches Must Not Be Handcuffed.”


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to pass a declaration of independence from Britain. Each signatory was facing death by hanging if the bold experiment failed. The Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and that...

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Sometimes, I think Martha in the Bible gets a bad rap! I am not saying that Jesus labeled Martha at all. Please hear me out. But I think we would be wise to avoid picking up and holding onto some of the dynamics in this potential sibling rivalry between Martha and...

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

On the morning of June 5, 2022, I was praying in preparation for the Arise Women’s Summit I was hosting near Knoxville, Tennessee, when the Lord took me into an encounter. I found myself in the library of heaven standing before a giant staircase made of extremely...

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

During the past two years, I believe the church at large has been in a season of returning to God. Repentance is crucial when it comes to revival. Scripture shows a clear pattern that repentance precedes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Joel 2:12-28 and Acts...

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...


Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

God says that during this season, He is turning up the heat, finding the gold and bringing His refining fire. Job makes a powerful statement of faith as he says of the Lord, "When he has tried me, I...
What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

Pin It on Pinterest