Andy Stanley: The Church Can Be Deep and Wide

Oct 2, 2012 | Books

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.

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