An Interview with Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley is one of my very favorite authors and speakers. I listen to his monthly leadership podcast and read everything he writes. Last week, we released his newest book, The Grace of God.

Book Cover for The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

In case you don’t know, Andy Stanley is the founder of North Point Ministries (NPM), one of the fastest growing and most influential Christian organizations in America. Each Sunday, over 20,000 adults attend services at one of NPM’s three campuses in the Atlanta area: North Point Community Church, Browns Bridge Community Church, and Buckhead Church.

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Andy is also a best-selling author of Visioneering, The Next Generation Leader, and The Principle of the Path. He and his wife, Sandra, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, with their three children.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Andy about his new book and about what he is learning.

Q: So often we hear from you on leadership, vision, and communication. I’m curious. Why did you choose to write on the topic of grace?

My publisher, Matt Baugher, pointed out that I preach on this topic often but had never written about it. He asked me to consider a book on grace and immediately I got excited about it.

Q: There’s no subtitle to this book. If you were to add a subtitle, what would it be?

“The Solution to Just About Everything”

Q: It is easy to see the grace of God throughout the New Testament, but you say, “a careful reading of the Old Testament reveals grace to be God’s preeminent characteristic from the very beginning.” When do you believe we are first introduced to God’s grace?

Creation. Not to get too philosophical, but why is there anything? Why did God bother to create anything? For His glory, certainly. But life itself, the opportunity to live, to love, to be loved is an expression of God’s grace.

Q: It is evident that the church today has an uneasy relationship with grace. How can we, the church, do a better job of consistently communicating the message of grace?

The church, or I should say, church people, must quit adding the word “but” to the end of our sentences about grace. Grace plus is no longer grace. Grace minus is no longer grace. We are afraid people will abuse grace if presented in its purest form. We need not fear that, we should assume that. Religious people crucified grace personified. Of course grace will be abused. But grace is a powerful dynamic. Grace wins out in the end. It is not our responsibility to qualify it. It is our responsibility to proclaim it and model it.

Q: In the opening chapter you say, “When we are on the receiving end, grace is refreshing. When it is required of us, it is often disturbing.” It is true. How do you fight this constant tension?

The only reason I have for extending grace to others is that it has been extended to me. All the “one another” passages in the New Testament: Love one another, serve one another, forgive one another… are anchored to the fact that God did all of that for us. I am to extend grace to others as a response to God’s offer of grace to me.

Q: I find that people often confuse grace and mercy. How do you clarify the difference between these two ideas?

Mercy is not proactive. Mercy is not getting what I deserve. I can decide not to punish my children. But that different from doing something FOR them when I should actually be doing something TO them. Grace is proactive. Grace doesn’t merely withhold retribution. Grace offers something good in addition to withholding what an individual deserves.

Mercy says, “I won’t sue you.” Grace says, “I won’t sue you AND I’ll come over next week and serve you. God didn’t merely withhold punishment, He sent His Son to die for us.

Q: From your studies and/or experience, what has surprised you most about grace?

It is extraordinarily powerful. It is often extraordinarily slow. Fear works quicker. But fear erodes relationships. Grace is like a crock pot.

Q: Who are some voices that you are learning from these days?

These days, my staff. I’m surrounded by some great thinkers and great communicators. As I told the crowd at Catalyst last week, my opening talk was inspired by two of our staff communicators. I get a lot of credit for ideas and results that are actually a reflection of the efforts and insights of the brilliant people I get to work with every day.

I selected 100 people from the comments below to receive a free copy of this book. You can find the list of winners here.
Question: Why do you want a copy of this book? If I give you a copy, do you promise to read it?
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  • Rodney ORourke

    I attended NPCC for six years before being transferred to New England. I have a start up Christian ministry and need the guidance.

    Right Standing Ministries

  • Robin Luftig

    I would love to get a free copy of Andy Stanley’s new book because grace is the reason I speak to others about God’s forgiveness. If it wasn’t for grace, I would be doomed for a very sad life and doomed eternity.

  • Cody

    I am a sinner saved by grace and I need a better revelation of God’s grace, that’s why I would like a copy of Andy Stanley’s new book! I am a teenager and always looking for ways to further my walk with God.

  • Marc Buxton

    I think grace is often misunderstood, and I was excited to see that Andy was writing a book on it. He does not write “filler” books, but rather he writes passionately about subjects he believes in. I’m very interested in reading his take on God’s amazing grace, and being able to apply them to our ministry. I will read it and blog about it.

  • Dave

    I am looking forward to reading the book. Andy Stanley is a gifted communicator and pastor. This is the type of resource that I would pass on to others to help in growing the kingdom.

  • Charlotte Frederick

    Not creative … but profound — AMAZING Grace!! — I still can’t get over the wonder of His grace in my life. Besides – I just completed a class “Doctrine of Grace” with Jack Cottrell at Cincinnati Christian University – perhaps a reward for my A?

  • gBaines

    I want my students to have it!! I’m a volunteer College pastor from a local church in Hendersonville who visits 150+ college students on about 30 college campuses. Love to give books to College seniors who are about to leap out into the world and want them armed to the hilt . . . No better “General on the hill” than Andy to help set their trajectory. Can’t think of a better weapon against the enemy than “grace” and living under it.

  • Kyle

    Well this may be too late but I want a copy because it is the solution I unpack for college students at Kansas State University every day. I work with students in greek houses, residence halls and across campus who do not understand the solution is God’s grace, ultimately displayed in Jesus. These are the leaders of tomorrow and I believe this book would help me live out Nehemiah 8:8 as I help give the Word meaning and making it clear to all those who listen. I’m 26, my 6th grade English teacher would laugh to see how much I now read because of how God has changed my life through grace.

  • Liberty Sanders Bain

    Found this interview from a type of grace is old friends (MH) and new ones coming together to bring me something…hopefully a new book!

  • Seungsoo Jun

    Is this still opened? I would love to deepen my understanding of grace

  • Alesio

    Hey, I really love how Andy present some issue, to read this book is going to be great to my spiritual life, please. Send me a free copy, Thks

  • Juan

    God if YOU marked our transgressions, who would stand?! Thanks to YOUR GRACE we are cleansed by the BLOOD OF THE LAMB- Only by GRACE can we enter, only by GRACE can we stand: not by our human endeavor;but by the BLOOD of the LAMB _ Into YOUR prescence you call us – LORD you call us to come; and into YOUR presence YOU draw us… and now by YOUR GRACE we come… Thank YOU~ ABBA ~FATHER~ full of lovingkindness and tender mercies-new…Once I “KNEW” THE GRACE, THE CHRIST, my LIFE was not just stirred, it was changed! It continues to be CHANGED into HIS LIKENESS- Convivted of sin, and THANKFUL FOR GRACE! Now my chief ambition in life is to “KNOW” HIM more and to DECALRE HIS NAME! I use “GODLY” (as defined by GOD’S WORD) resources to aid me in sharing with others- THIS AMAZING GRACE! GOD thank YOU for this MAN~ YOUR servant. In Jesus’ NAME, Draw him and his family closer to each other and ever more in LOVE with THEE~ May He contnue to watch for the souls of many with YOUR JOY…in all humility while being girded in YOUR STRENGTH alone. Pastor Andy, after the LORD using your father over the past 15+ years, I have been blessed to get to hear you occasionally on IN TOUCH. I would love to read your book~ THE GRACE OF GOD… PS: Thank you for sharing your website and resources! I love to sing and worship our GOD~ Not just becasue there’s a catchy or trendy beat, but whatever we sing has to have “MEAT” :0) ~ Hug those guys-and tell them may their “MEAT” be to forever PRAISE, WORSHIP and ADORE our GOD with their voices and other instruments. Blessed Psalm 13:5-6

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  • Nickie

    This is the best book I have read in a long time. Mr. Stanley is a phenomenal writer, obviously guided by God. I loved LOVED this book, and have passed it on to my husband who is now reading it. (This is major as my husband isn’t a book reader– I’m the book worm in the family!)

  • Sue

    This interview gave me an understanding of the difference between Grace and Mercy both what I need to recieve. More importantly, I am learning how to give others grace and mercy. I’ve been asking God to give me love for those who have hurt me and it’s not easy! He’s answering. This interview is an answer to prayer. I am definately going to get the book. There is nothing more powerful than giving grace and mercy to those who have wronged you. That has to be a work of God; it’s not natural.

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  • Jacque

    I’m on staff in a church and struggling with the area of grace towards my fellow leaders.

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