Photos: Inside the churches of Charles and Andy Stanley

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Jim's picture

Two preaching giants and the 'betrayal' that tore them apart


All the tensions converged one day when Andy's father called him into the office to discuss the divorce.

"Dad, you never asked me what I think you should do," Andy said. His father smiled and asked him what he thought.

Walk into church the next Sunday morning and read a letter of resignation, Andy said. Tell them that you want to continue as their pastor, and will preach as long as they want.

"Daddy, your church is not going to leave you," Andy said. "They need the opportunity to choose to have you as pastor if you divorce. If you do this, it all ends. Let them chose."

Andy says his father didn't hear anything after the word "resign." All the rumors seemed to be true. His son had joined the church faction trying to get rid of him.

His son had betrayed him.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

To have gain one of the largest flocks in the Country and lose your wife is just not worth it.

Jonathan Charles's picture

From the article:

Only he and his sister, Becky, know the truth, he says. (Becky declined to talk after initially agreeing.)

"I love my mom. In her prime, she was an incredible woman," Andy says. "Something just caught up with her, and my dad took all the grief for her."

Sounds like Andy is acknowledging that something went wrong with his mother.

Wayne Wilson's picture

 Quite a story of power, pride, and "success."   Despite Charles assurance that he knows, one has to wonder what the Lord thinks of all this.   Personally, I just view it as a cautionary tale regarding my own self-importance.   


"You see, into my ministry I brought the survival spirit. You do or die. You do whatever is necessary to win. It doesn't make any difference what it is."

The divorce became final in 2000, and First Baptist eventually voted to retain Charles as its pastor. He recently celebrated his 80th birthday at First Baptist, and was presented with a large photograph depicting Jesus counseling him as he prepared a sermon. Charles painstakingly posed for the photographer, with a professional model playing Jesus.



"One day we're not going to be the coolest church." 

dmyers's picture

Regardless of the biblical validity of Charles's divorce or of his theology of divorce, his theology of God's will is a mess.

"God said you keep doing what I called you to until I tell you to do something else.  I got that straight from the Lord. ... I was simply obeying God."

How is this different than Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker, et al.?  The pastor/preacher/individual Christian's personal conviction about what he/she wants to do trumps any objective standard, including God's Word.  And no one can argue with the conclusion, because it came "straight from the Lord."  

Joel Tetreau's picture

So - without a doubt I have reservations with both men theologically and in the area of method. However, on the personal side I'm grateful the men have been able to work to have a relationship despite the amount of tension that has been there in both private and public. Those of you who have not been in vocational ministry and have a son or father who is also in vocational ministry - and minister not too far from each other - and have even what in reality is a small variance in philosophy - you cannot believe how people try to make a soap opera out of that. While my father and I have never experienced what these two have - I can deeply appreciate the love that a father and son have - especially in the face of vocational ministry. You cannot understand the dynamic of that unless you've lived it.

Thx for posting the article.

Straight Ahead


Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (; Regional Coordinator for IBL West (, Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Jonathan Charles's picture

A little cheesy:

He recently celebrated his 80th birthday at First Baptist, and was presented with a large photograph depicting Jesus counseling him as he prepared a sermon. Charles painstakingly posed for the photographer, with a professional model playing Jesus.

Paul J's picture

We hosted the Catalyst one day last Thursday with Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel.  One of the sessions Andy Stanley spoke on building a healthy staff culture and he started with leadership using Mark 10:32-45.  I hadn't taken that passage as view of leadership but found it a fascinating look into servant leadership.  In vs 42 it talks about the leadership his disciples were familiar with, the gentile leadership, and compared that to Christ's new view on leading as servant.  At the end the talked about loyalty which made my ears perk-up having some familiarity with the right edge of fundamentalism and he made this statement regarding loyalty, "If you have to ask for it, demand it, or have people sign a document pledging it, YOU are the one who lacks it".  In the contexts of organization he made this comment, "what is more important: building a great organization or creating a name for yourself?".


I'm finding the way some of these prominent evangelicals lead very fascinating.

JohnBrian's picture

I listened to a 50 minute sermon on Boundaries. He was 45 minutes into his "talk" before he mentioned the Scripture, and then he told an OT story without  providing the reference. In the last few minutes he referenced the Scripture a 2nd time, providing the name of the book, but not the chapter or verse and then he used that passage out of context..

As soon as he mentioned the book I knew exactly what passage he was going to and exactly how he was going to use it.

He may have the biggest congregation in Atlanta but they are not being fed.

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