Andy Stanley: The Church Can Be Deep and Wide

Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley

A little over a year ago, Angie and I started planting Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas, and one of our biggest hopes is that it’s a church that unchurched people love to attend. So Andy Stanley’s newest book, Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend caught my attention. I pre-ordered it and devoured it once it arrived. I found the book to be both deep… and wide.

Andy opens with the deeply personal side of how North Point Ministries came into existence – the whole story including his experience at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, his parents’ high-profile divorce, and a church split. But don’t buy this book just to be “in the know” about such things. Instead, buy it because of all that follows – tremendous wisdom from one of this generation’s great church leaders.

I jotted a few notes down to share with my own leadership team, such as…

Andy Stanley’s announcement at the organization of North Point:

“Atlanta doesn’t need another church. Atlanta needs a different kind of church. Atlanta needs a church where church people are comfortable bringing their unchurched friends, family members, and neighbors. A church where unbelievers can come and hear the life-changing truth that God cares for them and that Jesus Christ died for their sin. We’ve come together to create a church unchurched people will love to attend.”

Say the word “church” today and very few people think “movement.”… 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 going.

The catalyst for introducing and facilitating change in the local church is a God-honoring, mouthwatering, unambiguously clear vision.

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Five questions churches need to be asking…

– Are we moving or simply meeting?
– Are we making a measurable difference in our local communities or simply conducting services?
– Are we organized around a mission or are we organized around an antiquated ministry model inherited from a previous generation?
– Are we allocating resources as if Jesus is the hope of the world or are the squeaky wheels of church culture driving our budgeting decisions?
– Are we ekklesia or have we settled for kirche?

The Five Faith Catalysts…

– Practical Teaching
– Private Disciplines
– Personal Ministry
– Providential Relationships
– Pivotal Circumstances

People are far more interested in what works than what’s true.

On the giving side of things, we are very upfront with the importance of what I refer to as priority, progressive, percentage giving. Priority as in: give first, save second, and live on the rest. Percentage as in: choose a percentage and give it consistently. Progressive is a challenge to up the amount by a percentage every year.

When people are convinced you want something FOR them rather than something FROM them, they are less likely to be offended when you challenge them.

The catalyst for introducing and facilitating change in the local church is a God-honoring, mouthwatering, unambiguously clear vision.

Marry your mission.
Date your model.
Fall in love with your vision.
Stay mildly infatuated with your approach.

This is one of those books that will be among the dozen or so that testify of great movements of God in recent history. What really amazed me as I read were the similarities between the thoughts of Andy Stanley, a guy I perceive to have had enough of “church as we know it” and my own heart as we have articulated the vision of Grace Hills.

Andy is controversial. He creates tension and leaves people hanging, wondering where he’s heading with each point, which is part of his unique gifting as a communicator. His book provides a great answer to two camps in evangelicalism today. One assumes the church exists for the church, along with its weekend service. The other sees the services of the church as a mechanism to attract the outside world. These two camps rarely meet, but Andy’s answer to the question of which camp is right is “Yes!”

If you want to lead a church that is both deep and wide, that draws people far from God and challenges God’s people to deeper discipleship, Andy’s book is a must-read.

Buy the Book Buy the Kindle Edition


Big Truths I Need to Hear Every Day

Eternal TruthI’m a messed up human being. I don’t mean that I’m particularly deranged – just that I was born broken and have reached the plateau of adulthood carrying some flaws with me. The biggest flaw? I believe lies… sometimes.

Here’s a law of life that can’t be avoided or broken… The way I think determines what I believe, which determines how I act, which creates my path and all of its rewards and consequences. Ultimately, life’s trajectory is a result of my beliefs.

When I mess up and sin, it’s always because I’ve believed a lie. I’ll give you some examples…

  • I’ll just do this once.
  • Nobody knows… or cares.
  • Everybody does this.
  • This is just who I am.
  • I’ve gone too far and there is no turning back now.
  • No one could ever really love me.

Any of those ring a bell? Whether whispers from the enemy, or sad chants we’ve accidentally learned to repeat, they are destructive. So today, and tomorrow, and every day thereafter, I need to start my day by ingesting truth. I believe that the only source of absolute truth is in the Bible, the Word of God. So I use Youversion’s reading plans to help me take it in each day. But that’s not all I need. I don’t mean that God’s word is insufficient. I simply mean that I need to personalize what I’ve read so that I can do and live the essence and meaning of it.

As for my particular struggles, there are some truths I am reminding myself of daily these days. The things you need to hear repeatedly in your walk will probably vary from mine, but these are truths I cling to:

The Truth About Me and God

  1. I am not God. I am powerless, helpless, lost, and broken without Him.
  2. God loves me and showed how much He loves and values me by sending Jesus to the cross for me.
  3. I cannot stop God from loving and valuing me because it’s about His character, not my behavior.
  4. In Christ, I have the limitless power that raised Jesus from the dead working in me, so victory is always achievable.
  5. The Holy Spirit wants to do His work in me at all times. I simply must yield at all times.

The Truth About Me and Myself

  1. I cannot control my circumstances, but I am absolutely in control of my responses. Blame nothing.
  2. I am responsible for all of my actions, attitudes, and behaviors. Blame no one.
  3. I am capable of accomplishing anything to which God has called me.
  4. My default is to be defensive and make excuses, which flow from pride and insecurity.
  5. I can always, always choose better.

Recommended Resource: Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris.

The Truth About Me and My Family

  1. My wife is a beautiful gift from God and deserves my attention, my affection, my protection, and my devotion.
  2. My wife is for me, shows me grace and respect when I don’t deserve it, and loves me faithfully.
  3. My kids need a Dad who is stable, strong, safe, and loving.
  4. My kids need a Dad who loves their Mom and proves it.
  5. I am the Dad, the priest, and the Pastor who will be held responsible for my family’s spiritual welfare.

The Truth About Me and My Church

  1. Jesus died for His church. It is His alone, and He values it immeasurably.
  2. God has called me to be an undershepherd of His flock, leading and feeding them on His behalf.
  3. I am not responsible for the choices others make, but I am responsible for equipping people under my care for spiritual maturity.
  4. I am the leader, whether I feel adequate or not, so I need to make the tough decisions and be in front.
  5. I am here to growth spiritually healthy people. People don’t exist to make me successful. I exist to help them be like Jesus.

The Truth About Me and My Culture

  1. The world will squeeze me into its mold unless I fully surrender to God and choose His path.
  2. Cursing the darkness is exhausting, pointless, and ultimately counterproductive to God’s goal for the world.
  3. I need to be light, salt, and a voice of truth within the territory of the deceiver.
  4. Everyone needs Jesus. Everyone belongs in God’s family.
  5. Isolation from culture helps no one. Imitation of culture helps no one. Infiltrating culture is my calling.

I don’t always remember all of these truths. When I forget them, things go badly. When I am reminded of them, I can stand strong and walk confidently. Truth leaks, leaving room for the lies of the enemy. Hearing truth and applying it repetitiously is the only way to win.


Photo by Chris Nicolson.

10 Tough Words for Men

Tough DogI’m a man. I like being a man. Men aren’t better than women, and women aren’t better than men. But we’re different. So I’ve had to do a lot of painful discovery of who I am as a man, and I’ve learned a lot, mostly from my mistakes. I’ve come to some practical conclusions about manhood and want to drop them on you so you can get back to your man things.

  • God likes men with a wild streak – not a sinful, rebellious wildness, but an “I’m gonna do some stupid-big things for God and take risks in the process” wildness. King David, the Apostle Paul, and John the Baptist were all wild men.
  • Being a wild man doesn’t mean being a wild animal. My appetites for food, entertainment, and sex are God-given, but need to be under control. “Under control” appetites are godly. Out-of-control appetites aren’t.
  • I have responsibilities. Paying the bills, serving my wife’s needs, loving my kids, and leading my family spiritually all take priority over hunting, fishing, comic books, and video games.
  • Integrity means being ONE man at home, in public, and in private. The very second I start keeping secrets from my wife, my family life is beginning a slide toward destruction. Secrets are lethal.
  • “Growing up” means being physically healthy, emotionally mature, mentally engaged, and spiritually confident. It’s not enough to be tough in half the areas of my life. I need balanced growth.
  • Strong leaders are few. In a vacuum, bad leaders will fill the void if I choose not to. So I need to show up, speak up, and lead in a culture where men are sheepishly silent.
  • Meekness isn’t weakness. It literally means “power under submission.” Jesus was meek and His tender side changed the world. I should celebrate meekness, tenderness, and affection.
  • Being mad and mean is weak. Bullying my wife or kids provokes the God who made them and assigned me the role of protecting them. Yelling at people doesn’t make me bigger. It makes me smaller.
  • Work matters a lot. Family matters more. And worship matters the most. At the end of my life, I want to look back with a clear conscience at how I lived what I said were my priorities.
  • I don’t have to drink, cuss, smoke, or chew, or run around with those who do to feel more manly. But if I want to be like Jesus, I’ll be a friend to people who drink, cuss, smoke, or chew.

There are more tough words to hear, but these ten were in my heart and I’ve shot from the hip. What would you add?


Photo by Jeff Hill Photo.