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‘The Problem Is Leadership’ — Andy Stanley on the Decline of Religious Values in United States

Andy Stanley
Screengrab via YouTube @Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, recently spoke out about America’s “leadership problem” and the role of the church in finding a solution to the country’s loneliness epidemic.

His remarks came in response to a poll recently released by the Wall Street Journal that showed sharp decreases in how Americans view the importance of patriotism, religion, and community involvement.

“Some 38% of respondents said patriotism was very important to them, and 39% said religion was very important,” the survey stated. “That was down sharply from when the Journal first asked the question in 1998, when 70% deemed patriotism to be very important, and 62% said so of religion.”

Referring to declines in patriotism, religion, having children, and community involvement, the results further stated that “younger Americans in particular place low importance on these values, many of which were central to the lives of their parents.”

Within this polarized political and social culture, Americans have also expressed less acceptance of people different than themselves. The poll revealed, “Tolerance for others, deemed very important by 80% of Americans as recently as four years ago, has fallen to 58% since then.”

Dana Perino, anchor for “Amerca’s Newsroom” on Fox News, asked Stanley to respond to the poll results and offer insights into how the church might provide a solution.

Andy Stanley Responds to Decline in Religion and Rise in Loneliness

When asked to weigh in on why there has been such a steep decline in the importance of religion, Stanley said, “People have lost faith in institutional leadership in general—beginning with political, but also religious. And the problem is leadership, to some extent, has been reduced to, ‘Follow me because I hate the same people you hate.’ ‘Follow me; I fear the same people you fear.’ And that’s terrible leadership.”

“A leader who has to have an enemy in order to lead is a bad leader,” Stanley added. “As Christians and as a faith community, we should know better, because Jesus was clear about this. His message was, ‘Just because somebody considers you their enemy, you do not have to return the favor.'”

As the pastor of a large church, Stanley expressed that he has found that those in younger generations see a vast difference between the leadership displayed in churches and in government and the leadership modeled in the Bible.

“Consequently, they’re kind of done with institutional religion and, in some way, institutional politics,” Stanley said. “It’s a leadership problem. It’s a messaging problem.”

Stanley argued that the solution is found within the teachings of Jesus, saying, “Jesus not only modeled the answer, but he provided the answer as well.”