“Church unity is more important than theological correctness,” Andy Stanley told the crowd at the Orange Conference this week, The Christian Post reported.
Around 8,000 people attended the event, which took place outside of Atlanta and addressed issues of church leadership.
Stanley, who serves as the senior pastor at North Point Church, spoke to the crowd on John 17. In this New Testament passage, Jesus says a prayer for those that follow him, saying, “may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Stanley went on to stress the importance of Jesus’ prayer, pointing out how significant it was that out of all the requests he could have made, Jesus prayed that his followers would be united. Stanley pointed out that Jesus could have prayed for “good health” or that they would be “theologically accurate,” but instead he prayed for unification.
“He prayed for our oneness, that we’d be on the same page,” he said. “This is mission critical. If they are not one, we will not win … unity is mission critical and disunity disrupts the mission.”
After this point, Stanley, the son of famed televangelist Pastor Charles Stanley, went on to describe his personal background to believing in Jesus. He said that to him, believing in Jesus Christ was more important than arguing over trivial theological points like the process each church should have regarding communion.
He argued that prioritizing these things over unity is going against what Jesus told the disciples in John 17.
“Will we prioritize our oneness over our doctrinal peculiarities? Our baptism, our communion, our style of worship, our preaching?” he asked. “Will we prioritize our oneness over our politics? Will we continue to allow the kingdom of the world to divide the Kingdom of God that is in this world because of politics?”
Stanley pointed out that oneness in the faith was “more important than being theologically correct.” He also added that when Christians get to Heaven “we will discover that when it comes to theology, we were all wrong about something,” citing the different types of Christianity.
Stanley went on to talk about the Jerusalem Council, described in Acts 15. He noted how it was pivotal when the early church decided that Gentile converts did not have to follow Jewish law in a strict way in order to become Christians.
Stanley pointed out that the early church was willing to lessen the weight of “theological and cultural concessions for the sake of unity and so should you and so should I.”
Stanley’s sermon at the Orange Conference followed the event’s theme of “one voice.”
“It’s too easy to drift into silo thinking and build churches that become characterized by fragmented and random programs,” the conference website notes. “But if we combine our talents, perspectives, and gifts to lead with one voice we have a different kind of influence with the next generation.”
Other event speakers included Louie Giglio, Danielle Strickland, Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, Adam Duckworth and Doug Fields.
(H/T: The Christian Post)