I have to be honest; I would typically not seek out a Andy Stanley book to read. My preference has been to avoid books on how to do church (unless of course they agree with how I want to do church!) so I spend more time reading theological or devotional works that get me excited about Jesus. But Stanley’s Deep & Wide must have been on sale for Kindle so I picked it up and spent the last week reading through his account of the birth of North Point and how they approach ministry. Since I am being honest, I need to tell you that I agreed with more in this book than I thought I would. In fact, I agreed with most of it. This is definitely a book for those thinking through what a church should be about and how it should live out its mission.
Perhaps this truth reveals that I have now been out of the protection of my wise seminary professors too long, or that I have finally been in ministry long enough to grasp points I once felt off the mark. Either way I think there is much to gain from interacting with Stanley’s vision and approach to ministry and we should never be hesitant to enter the conversation.
The book covered purpose, environments (church buildings and gatherings), ministry approach and leadership. I often found myself verbally agreeing with Stanley as he unpacked his story and was drawn the most to his heart to reach those outside the church – those in need of a relationship with Christ. Most churches embrace the mission of making disciples but we lose focus on making new ones and Stanley believes that is his church’s value.
There is much to embrace and wrestle in Deep & Wide and I commend it to you. Below are a selection of my highlights of the book – all out of context mind you.
“One of the fundamental realities of organizational life is that systems fossilize with time. The church is no exception. Your church and my church are no exceptions. It takes great effort, vigilant leadership, and at times good, old-fashioned goading to keep a movement moving.”
“the casualty in a church for church people is grace”
“Jesus did not come to strike a balance between grace and truth. He brought the full measure of both.”
“The quest for consistency became an excuse not to help. Before long, church leaders were hiding behind, “If we do it for one, we will have to do it for everyone.” To which I can hear Jesus shouting, “No you don’t! I didn’t!” If we’re not careful, we will end up doing for none because we can’t do for everyone”
“We believe the church is most appealing when the message of grace is most apparent. We are equally as convinced that God’s grace is only as visible as God’s truth is clear.”
“It is your responsibility to see to it that the church under your care continues to function as a gathering of people in process; a place where the curious, the unconvinced, the skeptical, the used-to-believe, and the broken, as well as the committed, informed, and sold-out come together around Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
“We concluded that the best discipleship or spiritual formation model would be one designed around growing people’s faith. The model most of us had grown up with was designed around increasing people’s knowledge. The models we were exposed to were primarily teaching models. We wanted to go beyond that.”
“That being the case, our messages and lesson preparations are not complete until we know what we want our audiences to do with what they are about to hear. To grow our congregants’ faith, we must preach and teach for life change.”
“One reason we are able to get people involved quickly is our approach to leadership development. Our entire leadership development model revolves around apprenticing rather than traditional classroom training.”
“So in the area of spiritual formation, what’s your model? Is it teachable? Is it portable? Most importantly, will it carry people their entire lives? Have you created language that can be passed from children’s ministry through your adult ministry?”
“The quality, consistency, and personal impact of your ministry environments define your church. To put it another way, your environments determine what comes to mind when people think about your church”
“Engaging presentations are central to the success of the church’s mission.”
“If the journey begins with the assumption that everybody here knows what we are doing, you will eventually have an audience of people who already know what you are doing.”
“We don’t want new and non-Christians looking around the Bible for the verse that says what they are hoping it says. We want them to let the Scriptures speak for themselves. Messages built around proof-texting accomplishes the opposite.”
“You should never begin a conversation about change by addressing where you are now. You should always begin with where you want to be.”
“As a leader, your responsibility is to make the people in your church discontent with where they are by painting a compelling picture of where they could be.”