Dr. Charles Stanley Says Retirement Is Unbiblical in His Succession Announcement for Megachurch

Charles Stanley

Dr. Charles Stanley says his recommended Pastoral Succession Plan for First Baptist Atlanta involves Stanley never retiring—even though he named Anthony George as his successor for the Atlanta megachurch.

This was the Facebook announcement for the church on December 10, 2017:

Pastoral Succession Plan
This plan officially provides for the orderly transition of the title, duties, and responsibilities of the role of Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, from Dr. Charles Stanley to Dr. Anthony George at such time in the future, known only to God, that Dr. Stanley ceases to be the Senior Pastor of the church.

Dr. Charles Stanley said, “While I intend to remain the pastor as long as God gives me health and strength, this plan will be officially in place to ensure a seamless transition in leadership whenever God ordains that to occur.”
 

According to an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stanley who is 85 made it clear that he doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon. Stanley said, he intends to remain as acting senior pastor “as long as God gives me health and strength, this plan will be officially in place to ensure a seamless transition in leadership whenever God ordains that to occur.”

Not the founding pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Atlanta, Stanley came to the church in 1969 as an associate pastor and became the senior pastor in 1971. Stanley is also the founder of In Touch Ministries which produces radio and TV broadcasts.

On November 24, 2017 on the In Touch website, the ministry listed this summary of the message for that day:

“Aging is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to make us unfruitful and useless. The secret to living a productive life is not found in a pill, a drink, or an exercise routine but in heeding what the Lord says. None of us know how long we’ll live, but while we have breath, we should desire to be useful and fruitful for God. He is the one who ultimately determines the number of our days, but we have the responsibility of doing what we can to live long and productive lives.”

An article from the Baptist Press, reports that…

Stanley, in his introductory remarks, clarified that the succession plan was not an indicator of an imminent retirement. “As you know, I don’t believe in retirement. It’s not biblical,” he told the church. He assured the congregation that the succession plan would not alter his role as pastor and George’s role as his associate.

Charles Stanley is not the only notable church leader who advocates spending an entire lifetime in service. Listen to John Piper’s iconic 7-minute message that inspired “Don’t Waste Your Life.”

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Christine Yount Jones
Christine Yount Jones is Content Director for Outreach Media Group. She has published several books and hundreds of articles about ministry in the last three decades. Before his death in 2003, Michael Yount and Christine had three children. Now, she and her husband, Ray Jones, together have five grown kids.