Andy Stanley announced on Facebook early this morning that he is closing NorthPoint Community Church for the rest of the year, offering all services strictly in virtual form until 2021 at the earliest.
Northpoint had planned on opening August 7th, but Stanley said the recent spike has forced them to this option, given that he cannot guarantee the safety of the congregants.
In the 4-minute announcement video, Stanley recounts what led them to this decision, acknowledging that many in his congregation have differing views and opinions on this drastic act.
“For some of you, this makes perfect sense, and in fact you may even be relieved. For others of you, this seems like an unnecessary precaution — perhaps a lack of faith on my part. You might even interpret this decision through a political filter”
Another factor is that even if the church did open, Stanley opines that the quality of the “worship experience” would be subpar.
Even if we did re-open, we certainly would not be able to create a quality adult or children worship experience, with social distancing protocols in place.
Translation: it’s all about that showbiz. Better to shut it all down than to put on a poor show.
Stanley gives further examples of mitigating factors in their decision, pointing out that if anyone attending church in any of their services got the virus, Northpoint would be responsible for all contract tracing, which from their perspective would be impossible to track and trace successfully.
It’s likely that Stanley never read any Barna polling which we recently wrote about, which shows that when faced with their church being closed, 1 in 3 congregation members stop attending church in any form, virtual or otherwise, as he says regarding the ability of his congregants to remain faithful and engaged for 6 more months of online services:
I’m absolutely confident that the church — and our local churches — will not only survive this, but I think ultimately we’re going to thrive as a result.”
North Point Ministries has six churches with nearly 40,000 members in the all spread across the Atlanta Region. Given the immensity of the argument being the first church that we are aware that has pledged this – and certainly the most prominent – we would not be surprised to see other megachurches follow suit.