65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audible Audio EditionVerified Purchase
If there is one thing that Andy Stanley is passionate about (and writes well about) it is the fact that most churches need to do everything they can to reach people that are not in church.
Deep And Wide is unapologetic about the fact that one of the most important ways that people become Christians is that they are invited to church by a friend or family member, and then they are confronted with God (usually over time, often over years) and are changed because of that confrontation. Deep and Wide is both Andy's story and the story of North Point.
If you want to hear about how Andy felt called to start a church (it really was the result of being pushed into it and problems with the church he was previously working at), or you want to find out why North Point is so focused on its children's ministries, or why Andy believes that one point sermons that are not primarily exegetical (but primarily are focused on an application) are the right way to preach, then you need to read this book.
This book is not for everyone. If you are at a church and you do not want to invite anyone to come to your church (I have been a member and the chair of the deacons at a church that I did not want anyone else to come to, so I know the feeling) then you may not want to read this book. On the other hand, if you really believe that the church should exist in order to point people to Christ, then this book is for you.
I do not think the book is perfect. I really wish Andy had re-written the section about church history. He does what most evangelicals do and points to the early church, mentions Constantine and then skips to the Reformation and again skips to modern US. I think skipping over church history like that damages modern Evangelical's understanding of what church is and the importance of church history and the relationship of the church to the church Universal throughout history. But given that mis-step, I fully support the theology that comes out of the chapter that says that the church is primarily about those that are outside of the church.
If you are a lay person and do not really influence policy at your church you might think that this book is not for you. I think you are wrong. The average lay person is the one that actually moves the church. Church staff are nice, they are the ones that influence budget, get to do all the behind the scenes work at church and get paid to think about the church, but it is the average lay person that actually knows people that do not go to church.
The problem with thinking that it should be the church staff that are responsible for evangelism is that church staff often do not know anyone that is unchurched. At one point in time I worked for a denomination, attended seminary, worked as an intern at my local church and lead a small group at the church. Do you know how many people in a normal day that I had a real relationship with that were not Christians? Zero. And that still is my problem.
It is the people that work in the secular world, who are parents of children that go to public school, who are on the Rotary Board and belong to a softball league that win people for Christ. They may not preach or be comfortable sharing their faith, but many they can invite their friends to church. And those friends often will come and over time those friends will come to know Christ and be baptized and lead families to know Christ. The problem is when people that are uncomfortable sharing their faith attend churches that they would not invite their worst enemy. That is the place where most Christians in the US are at. They are not comfortable directly sharing their faith and they are ashamed of the church that they go to because if they were not a Christian already, they would not go there.
Deep and Wide does cast a wide net. It steps back to give a history for North Point, it spends time on the how to keep unchurched the focus and there are two sections that are primarily for church leaders (how to preach to unchurched and how to lead a church through a change in focus). But all of those parts are important if a church is serious about focusing on the unchurched.
In the end this book is about a vision. It is a vision I believe in and a vision that this book has encouraged me to strive after living out. Church is often a pain in the neck. It is usually made up of a bunch of people not like you. It takes time and effort to serve and attend. But that is the group of people that Christ said were to be the group that reaches the world for him. I do not care if you believe in a church model like North Point. All that I want for you is to be in a church that is reaching people for Christ. This book makes me want to do that more.
A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for purposes of review.
112 of 125 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2013
Book Review: Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
Andy Stanley's Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend is part memoir and part instruction manual on how to create churches for those outside the church. Deep and Wide is divided into five sections, "My Story" is Stanley's personal background, "Our Story," is the story of the planting of North Point Community Church in 1995 "Going Deep," covers North Points' spiritual formation technique "Going Wide,"is about how North Point structures its programming for outreaching and "Becoming Deep and Wide," is about helping churches to transition to the type of church Stanley advocates. My thoughts on what Deep and Wide gets right and what it gets wrong are detailed below.
What Deep and Wide gets right:
In section One, "My Story," Andy Stanley shares his experience as a kid with a famous preacher for a father (Charles Stanley, for those who don't know), his time as a youth pastor working for Charles Stanley, his father's divorce and all the strife it caused between Andy and Charles as well as Charles and his church.Given that Andy Stanley and his father Charles Stanley are both famous preachers, the transparency in these stories is to be commended. Recounting a story about Charles coming over for dinner Andy writes,
By the time the night was over, we were standing in my driveway yelling at each other like a couple of middle-school girls. Meanwhile, we were getting up every Sunday in front of our respective congregations acting like everything was fine (p. 40).
Stanley begins his book by telling how God has used the broken situations of his life to lead him to where he is now and he doesn't attempt to whitewash his past. He tells a story about being convicted during his morning prayer of a prank he played years earlier that he never confessed to for fear he would go to jail, talks about the anger he felt as a teenager towards people who didn't respect his father. The first few chapters make it clear, this book isn't written by a saint, and he wants you to know that.
Andy Stanley is, without a doubt, a masterful organizational leader. Deep and Wide's greatest strength is the information Stanley shares on how North Point is organized.Chapter 9, "Creating Irresistible Environments," is a particular highlight. Stanley points out that every single aspect of any organization, from the appearance of the parking lot to the quality of the presentation, communicates a message to outsiders. He asks, "Fair? No. True? Absolutely." Stanley provides some helpful advice on creating this message and avoiding the inattentiveness familiarity brings. Everything we do or say communicates more than we intend for it to and it would be wise to learn to manage that communication.
Section five, "Becoming Deep and Wide," also gives practical wisdom. Here Stanley gives some pointers on managing change in a congregation. Anyone familiar with Stanley's work won't be surprised to find that the focus here is on developing and communicating vision. "The catalyst for introducing and facilitating change in the local church is a God-honoring, mouthwatering, unambiguously clear vision (p. 270)." He gives good definitions of mission, model, vision, and approach and discusses the ways confusing these things with each other can cause problems in a congregation (i.e. making your model your mission instead of creating your model from your mission). This is, in my opinion, the most useful section of Deep and Wide.
In Deep and Wide Andy Stanley gives one of the clearest and most concise histories of the word "church" I have ever read. Beginning with the New Testament, Stanley defines ekklesia (which means something like "called ones") and then recounts the path of Christianity after the conversion of Constantine, the rise of Basilicas, the use of the Germanic word kirche (which is a holy place), and its confounding permanence in our translations as the word church. Here Stanley writes my favorite words in his whole book:"What began as a movement, dedicated to carrying the truth of Jesus Christ to every corner of the world, had become an insider-focused, hierarchical, ritualized institution that bore little resemblance to its origins (p. 63)."
Stanley wrote that about the Church pre-reformation, but we should ask ourselves if we have done this in our own congregations.
What Deep and Wide gets wrong:
In section two, "Walking Towards the Messes," Stanley gives the "Biblical justification for [North Point's] approach to church (p. 16)." Within a page Stanley begins a false foundation that will taint his whole approach. He writes:
In the beginning, the church was a gloriously messy movement with a laser-focused message and a global misison. It was led by men and women who were fuled not by what they believed, but by what they had seen. that simple fact sets the church apart from every other religious movement in the history of the world. After all, it wasn't the teaching of Jesus that sent his followers to the streets. It was his resurrection. The men and women who made up the nucleus of the church weren't simply believers in an abstract philosophy or even faithful followers of a great leader; they were eyewitness of an event (p. 51-2, bold emphasis added)
There are two problems with Stanley's interpretation of why the church preached. One is the great commission. They did preach because Jesus had taught them to. Yet Jesus taught them another thing, in Acts 1:4 Jesus tells them to wait until the Holy Spirit comes to do anything. So they returned to the upper room where they were staying and prayed and waited. And in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit comes and Peter preaches and 3,000 people are baptized.
So, according to Acts, what sends the church out preaching? Commissioning from the Holy Spirit.
Stanley completely misses this. In his whole discussion of the Church he only mentions the Holy Spirit while anticipating objections (saying things like "I know what you're thinking, `Doesn't having a service template limit the Holy Spirit?'" and answering with "You already have an unspoken template, I'm just saying make it purposeful.") and in the epilogue. For Stanley, the Holy Spirit is an afterthought. This is telling. It changes the Church from an entity empowered by a Divine commission to a group of strategic reporters. When the early Church is believed to be based on what it saw in the resurrection then the current church can be based on what it sees. What can we see besides what works and what doesn't work (and with almost 30,000 members what North Point does works)? This is a sly way to make utilitarianism the foundation of ministry instead of the work of the Spirit. The importance of this error can not be overstated. While his leadership and vision skills can not be dismissed, they must be taken in light of his incorrect theology of ministry.
Stanley sets out to answer a question which he rightly claims the church has been asking throughout its history. "Who is the church for?"He even rightly answers, "The unchurched." But he still misses the point.
Stanley is asking the question in the wrong way and so his correct answer gives him wrong information. The question of who the church is for is meant to ask who the church advocates for or who it exists for. Like asking a friend during the Superbowl, "Who are you for?" When he answers he is simply implying that he wants them to win, not that he only exists for them.
Stanley asks it as if it means "What kind of people use this service I am offering?" It is shocking that after such an excellent explanation of the history of the church he still manages to miss that the Church is believers throughout time and history with the mandate to serve the world. Unchurched people, by definition, can not be the church.
The church, as the body of Christ that exists throughout time and space, is for the unchurched, but the local expression of a meeting for worship is not. The unchurched are welcome and should be made to feel welcome in our worship, but in Stanley's attempt to make the church for the unchurched he advocates not asking people to worship. He asks,
"As a Christian, if you were attending a weekend gathering at a mosque, and the person upfront invited everyone to worship, what would you think? I know what I would think: Uh-oh! Can I do this? Am I betraying my faith? Putting unbelievers or differeing kinds of believers in situations where they feel forced to worship is incredibly unfair. It's offense. Its bait-and-switch. It's insulting (p. 215)."
Of course, if I were in a mosque for a religious gathering and they asked me to worship I would think "What did I expect? I came to a mosque during a time of worship."
Taking Stanley's approach, services are supposed to be as inoffensive as possible so that we can lull them into feeling comfortable so that the offensive nature of Jesus message and existence (Luke 7:23) can slip through their barriers. He plainly says as much when he writes "As a preacher, it's my responsibility to offend people with the gospel. That's one reason we work so hard not to offend them in the parking lot, the hallway, at check-in, or in the early portions of our service." Do you know what this is called? Bait and switch.
It is impossible for the church to operate in a way that makes reaching the unchurched the primary purpose of its gatherings without leading to a bait and switch. For all of Andy Stanley's attempts to make people feel welcome, uninsulted, and untricked, he plays the most insulting trick of all.
Ultimately, the problem with Stanley's approach is that it isn't new. He is trying to create churches that transcend what most people think about church, but over the last 20 years the seeker sensitive mega church has become so standard it is the new stereotype. Look at the above picture. Does that look like anything besides a church? Meanwhile, 1 in 5 people who leave the church say its because they didn't have any real experience of God (this was certainly my experience). Because of that the last decade has seen the decline of churches that downplay the religious jargon and the rise of churches that embrace it (Mars Hill, The Village, Mars Hill Bible, Bethlehem Baptist). The seeker sensitive movement put seekers above the One being sought. But when Christ is lifted up people come (John 12:32) and they stay.
In the same way Stanley's spot on history of the ekklesia and the kirche didn't keep him from missing the point of all of it, his transparency in early chapters didn't keep him from sounding arrogant and off putting. Some examples:on Pastors who don't value practical application: " . . . at the end of the day, you won't make an iota of difference in this world. And your kids . . . more than likely your kids, are going to confuse your church with the church, and once they are out of your house, they probably won't visit the church house. Then one day they will show up in a church like mine and want to get baptized again because they won't be sure the first one took. And I'll be happy to pastor your kids (p. 115)."
on Pastors who don't preach for the unchurched:
You may have no desire to tweak your communication style so as to be more appealing to the unchurch and biblically illiterate in your community. That's okay. There are a whole bunch of us out here committed to doing exactly that. And eventually we we will get around to planting a church in your community. And if you are like most church leaders, you'll have a bad attitude. And we won't care (p. 258).
to his children's future Pastor:
"Please don't steal their passion for the church because you are too lazy to learn. Too complacent to try something new. Too scared of the people who sign your paycheck."
The thing that bothers me about this kind of arrogance is that it is dismissive of his critics. It isn't an honest appeal to reach the unchurched, it is mocking those who disagree with him and don't have churches of 30,000 people. Their theological objections should take a back seat to his utilitarian success.
Read Deep and Wide if:
Those who have a strong theological foundation and want some insight on leadership and organization would benefit a great deal from looking inside the mind of Andy Stanley. I plan on sharing the last section, entitled "Becoming Deep and Wide," with leaders in my own church since it so clearly and concisely explains how to execute a change in your church based on vision, a topic on which Andy Stanley is an expert.
Don't read Deep and Wide if:
Those who are strong organizational leaders but not strong theologically should avoid Deep and Wide. Since Stanley misses so much theologically, I can't recommend it as a book to help develop a theology of ministry.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I was surprised when an advanced copy of Andy Stanley's new book showed up at my office. I opened it right away and began reading! Deep & Wide is a refreshingly honest and open explanation of Stanley's (and North Point Community Church's) approach to reaching people who would not identify themselves as Christians and then helping them grow in their faith. It's a thought provoking work that is sure to give any Christian leader ideas to chew on - especially if you're leading a church that is seeing little conversion growth. If you are trying to build a church that is effective at reaching unchurched people, this is a wonderful vision-casting book. I found it compelling, inspiring, and easy to read. Any volunteer could understand its message and every pastor will find a gold mine of ideas that could breathe life into their leadership and ministry.
Those who tend to disagree and disapprove of Stanley's approach will, no doubt, pick apart the ideas presented with simple sound bites removed from their context. Perhaps they do this to intimidate those who have yet to read the book in an effort to keep them from reading it and to justify their own lack of effectiveness of leading people into a relationship with Christ. I've found that when I disagree with someone the best thing to do is to take my thumb and first two fingers and then stroke them over my chin while saying "Humm." I've found that I learn more that way than just rejecting what challenges my opinions and approaches.
The ideas and principles Stanley presents have the potential to sharpen your own approach to reaching people far from God ... and deepen people who are already walking with God. Especially helpful was his explanation of their approach to discipleship (pp. 101-149). As someone who was once a "discipleship pastor" in a church with 3,500 attendees, I must say that I wish I had heard this approach years ago. I was always frustrated that we saw little true growth and transformation in the lives of our people. At the end of the day I felt as if we were just communicating information that helped them know more but did little to help change them. Ugh!
The section on cultivating a culture where truth and grace permeate every part of a church was eye-opening, challenging, uncomfortable and ... strangely helpful. It still has me thinking and processing. It is frustrating when I read something that I don't agree with but can't figure out why. When I pinpointed my disagreement, I didn't like what I found about myself. I have some work to do.
The section where Stanley describes (in great detail) their approach to creating irresistible environments (and Sunday services) is worth the price of the book. I've watched North Point's services online before and have always enjoyed them. Instinctively I knew they were different than our church's but couldn't put my finger on it. The chapter on "Rules of Engagement" was crystal clear and very compelling! It makes perfect sense. Also, as a pastor myself, the content on his approach to preaching was very helpful. Every week the crowds that gather at our churches have different kinds of people in them. I've always struggled to bridge the gap between the groups (Christian and non-Christian) and make the message helpful and convicting to both crowds. I have some work to do on this one.
The book is filled with helpful and challenging ideas. What may prove to be most helpful was the last section of the book where Andy walks the reader through some thoughts about how the ideas and principles in the book might be adapted/implemented by any church.
If you are a volunteer in your church and you believe in evangelism and want to see your church growing and being filled with new believers and growing believers, get this book and read it. Then get an extra copy and give it to your pastor.
If you are a pastor, elder, or other church staff member you can't afford to miss what Stanley has to say. You may not agree with everything you read, but there is plenty here to help sharpen your focus and increase your effectiveness at every level of your church. And you'll find a wealth of material that will help you cast vision to your church. It may even help your church populate Heaven.
38 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Deep and Wide: Creating Churches that UnChruched People love to Attend by Andy Stanley is a book that is about creating churches that unchurched people love to attend. Obvious I know. Here are some thought about the book.
What I Liked
Stanley does a phenomenal job telling the story of how North Point Community Church began. Many people over the years have wanted to know what went on between father and Son that prompted Andy's departure. With chapters one and two in this book the wondering is over. These two chapters were by far the best of the book. God granted Andy much courage to do the right thing even with the uncertainty that comes with leaving a church like FBC Atlanta. Following those fist two chapters there was little in the book that I found helpful other than Stanley's proverb like bits of one liners that He is so well known for.
What I did Not Like
In chapters 3 and 4 in the book Stanley asks and answers the questions "What is the Church?" and "Who is the church for". To answer these questions Stanley looked at the life and ministry of Jesus to see who it was that was spending time with Him. Stanly concludes that the church are the people that hanging around Jesus at his (Jesus gatherings). As an example, those who listened in to the Sermon on the Mount were the church, because they were gathered around and with Jesus. Stanley then answers the second question by declaring over and over again that the church is for unchurched people. Here are a few quotes that make this clear.
* And since people who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus, people who are nothing like Jesus should like us as well. Loc 58
* We were just the only church designed from the ground up to capture the imaginations of unchurched people. Let's face it, if you have the only hot dog stand in town, your hot dogs don't have to be that good. Loc 64
* We genuinely want to be a network of churches that unchurched people find irresistible. Loc 89
* We grade ourselves on how attractive we are to our target audience loc 90
* We are unapologetically attractional. In our search for common ground with unchurched people, we've discovered that, like us, they are consumers. So we leverage their consumer instincts. By the way, if your church has heating and air conditioning, you do too. When you read the Gospels, it's hard to overlook the fact that Jesus attracted large crowds everywhere he went. He was constantly playing to the consumer instincts of his crowds. Let's face it: It wasn't the content of his messages that appealed to the masses. Most of the time they didn't even understand what he was talking about. Heck, we're not always sure what he was talking about. People flocked to Jesus because he fed them, healed them, comforted them, and promised them things. Loc 106
So why do I not like these conclusions? The people Andy defines as the church were consumers in it for themselves. What happened to all the "Jesus Gathering" when Jesus stopped doing for them what they wanted Him to do? The answer is simple. Those same people (In the Jesus Gathering) ended up crucifying He and leaving Him. Using the miracles and parables of Jesus as a defense of any sort of "Seeker" model is seriously flawed. They ended up abandoning and killing Him. Stanley's definitions and understandings of the church are unique to him and the seeker movement. A simple look into church history will show that know that no serious theologian/author/ or pastor agrees with his definition of Church. The church is not just a group gathering around people talking about Jesus. The church is people Christ died for and purchased (Acts 20:28, Eph 5:25). Christianity 101 tells us that to be the church one has to become a Christian. The bible is also clear on who the church is for. The church exists for God not for unbelievers (Is 43:7, 1 Pet 2:9-10). The church is never to be about the salvation of sinners before we are about the Glory of God. We are about the salvation of sinners because we are about the Glory of God. The end is the sinner worshiping God not us celebrating and catering to the person.
I also found myself shaking my fist at the implications that follow Stanley's bad definitions. This plays out particularly in Stanley's view of preaching. Consider this "We are constantly asking our preachers and teachers: What do you want them to know? What do you want them to do? What can we do to create next steps?" loc 1254. See a problem? What law do you what them to know? What law do you want them to do? What are the laws to keep the laws? This view of preaching carries with it a fundamental view that humans can live out the law if we can just make it simple and practical enough. It is uncanny how similar this idea is to the teaching of the Pharisees. The Pharisees taught and believed that scripture is where to find life Jn 5:39. The problem is that Jesus told them that they were wrong. They missed the fact that the bible was about Jesus and not the end itself. A view of preaching that has as its goal law adherence instead of the Glory of God through the exhalation of Christ is seriously flawed.
Although there is much more that could be commented on I will wrap this up by pointing out Stanley's apparent distain for who he calls "Church People". I can't tell if he thinks "Church people" are unbelievers or believers. Either way he clearly does not like them or the churches they are a part of. He so strongly reacts to traditional church he grew up in that he throws all of them under the bus. If Andy thinks church people are Christians I would ask why he does not care for them. He seems thinks they are purposeless hypocrites. If Stanley believes these "Church People" are unbelievers it would seem that he would want them to repent and trust in Jesus. Here are a few quotes to consider.
* I grew up around people who believed the church was for saved people who acted like saved people. I'm all too familiar with that church brand. The catch was that they were the ones who decided what act like a saved person meant. Loc 767
* Churches designed for saved people are full of hypocrites. Loc 774
* You pretty much have to be a hypocrite to participate. Transparency and honesty are dangerous in a church created for church people. Loc 775
An unhealthy reaction is apparent through the whole book.
As you can tell I am not one of the readers who loved this book. I found it frustrating, boarder-line unbiblical, and offensive. Although Stanley clearly believes God has done what He has done at North Point BECAUSE of their model, it is more fitting to praise God for what He has done in spite it. My recommendation is to pass on this book or read with caution. I am not a fan of everything James McDonald has done but his recent, easy to read, book Vertical Church provides an alternative understanding of the church that is far more biblical. Contrary to what Stanley believes, there are faithful biblical alternatives to the North Point model.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
When I finished reading Andy Stanley's latest book Deep & Wide, my first thought was, "This might be one of the best books I've ever read on church ministry or leadership." It is chock full of wisdom, things churches can learn and ways staff's can grow together to be effective.
Essentially, this book is everything Andy Stanley has learned in ministry since starting out. Things North Point has done that has worked and things that have not worked.
Here are just a handful of highlights from my reading:
-I think every church should be a church irreligious people love to attend.
-We are unapologetically attractional. In our search for common ground with unchurched people, we've discovered that, like us, they are consumers. So we leverage their consumer instincts.
-It wasn't the teaching of Jesus that sent his followers to the streets. It was his resurrection. The men and women who made up the nucleus of the church weren't simply believers in an abstract philosophy or even faithful followers of a great leader; they were eyewitnesses of an event.
-An ekklesia was simply a gathering or an assembly of people called out for a specific purpose. Ekklesia never referred to a specific place, only a specific gathering.
-Churches designed for saved people are full of hypocrites. You pretty much have to be a hypocrite to participate. Transparency and honesty are dangerous in a church created for church people. Consequently, the casualty in a church for church people is grace. It's hard to extend grace to people who don't seem to need it. And it's hard to admit you need it when you aren't sure you will receive it.
-Jesus did not come to strike a balance between grace and truth. He brought the full measure of both.
-Grace doesn't dumb down sin to make it more palatable. Grace doesn't have to.
-The better approach is to do for one what you wish you could do for everyone, knowing that everyone is not going to be treated the same way.
-The church is most appealing when the message of grace is most apparent.
-God's grace is only as visible as God's truth is clear.
-Missional is not the opposite of attractional. Stop trying to pick a side.
-If you want to know what people mean by what they say, watch what they do.
-Churches shouldn't do anything that makes it unnecessarily difficult for people who are turning to God.
-There's a monumental difference in believing in God and believing God.
-Classes don't create mature believers. Classes create smart believers.
-Every leader should have a group they can point to and say, "That's who I'm pouring my life into."
-People are far more interested in what works than what's true.
-Every ministry communicates something.
-The sermon begins in the parking lot.
-Being organized is not enough. You must appear organized.
-It is not enough for your kids ministry to be safe, it must appear safe.
-To seek and save the lost, first, you must capture their attention.
-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.
To read the full review with links to other articles on this book, go to [...]
55 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2013
Most everything Stanley suggests in this book is true. One big exception: Jesus never catered to consumerist tendencies. We need to stop suggesting this untruth. Jesus met people's physical needs but never sold them the Gospel or provided personal healing to tenderize their ears to the Gospel. Jesus demonstrated the presence of the kingdom and guess what, in the kingdom miracles happen. Consumers are left empty because you can't consume the kingdom. There is no free lunch there.
As for 95% of this book, Stanley proves that environment is more powerful than message. I totally agree and so would Mr. McLuhan. I disliked this book because it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can build a mega-church with or without God. He is made irrelevant simply because a culturally astute salesman who understands "what people want" can create an attractive environment and people will come from all over to enjoy the consumerist bliss of having their needs met. This book does not take seriously the challenge that "what you win people with is what you win them to," nor does it come to terms with the notion that "we are the tools of our tools."
This book lacks soul but comes with lots of advice for filling stadiums. 90% of this book is about technique; 10% or less is about the stuff that really matters. The chapter on spiritual formation is woefully inadequate and I hope was simply understated. When 90% of a book is about production and maybe 10% about soul and formation, one doesn't have to wonder what values govern a specific church context.
One last challenge: I'm not sure someone can be defined as unchurched who has not gone to church for 5 years. They may be de-churched but they certainly aren't unchurched. Fact: Large churches are getting bigger because of the phenomenon of consolidation. We are witnessing the "Walmartizing" of the local church. The big church shows up and puts all the rural churches out of "business." Guarantee: If you put together the best show in town, you will experience exponential growth as this book demonstrates. Sadly, we don't need God to explain any of this.
Lastly, the title throws me a little: I get the wide part but didn't feel the water splash beyond soul of my foot. I expected more from this good man and I mean that with all seriousness.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Andy Stanley goes to some length to describe the difference between the church (meeting place) and the ecclesia (gathered together ones) and how what we do is supposed to be about the latter. He then proceeds to make it mostly about the former. This book, a primer in seeker-friendly (driven) mega-church-growth philosophy is nothing new. It finds its roots in the thinking of folks like Robert Schuller, and has been the zeitgeist of the American evangelical church for the last 30-50 years. Andy, though often winsom in his delivery, is unable to completely hide his scorn for churches that aren't doing it his way. All of the above aside, his ecclesiology is a barely proof-texted and poorly defended inversion of Biblical ecclesiology. Those that claim he isn't writing for scholarship are correct. However, this is not to suggest that he could as there is no evidence whatsoever that Christ's church (His ecclesia) was ever meant to create an attractive facade in order to attract the "un-churched". It is worth noting this term which Stanley defines as folks who have not attended church in 5 years or more. This is yet another element that is foreign to a Biblical ecclesiology. Bottom Line, Stanley insists that the church needs to adopt this church-growth philosophy in order to reach the world for Jesus, but Jesus commands that as we are going, we are to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that He has commanded. Jesus warns that we won't be attractive, that few will actually find the narrow way and follow him, and that we will be persecuted for the sake of his name. Ultimately, the real statistics about the Amercian church are most damning to this damnable heresy, after 50 years of this nonsense, the American church is at best flatlining, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars thrown into building these mega-personality cults. The church-growth movement is dead. Time to return to a Biblical ecclesiology.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Week before last I attended a Chick-fil-a Leadercast in my area. Andy Stanley was the first speaker on the docket. As always, he was engaging, humorous and motivational. He is a tremendous communicator. I have watched video from his services at North Point a few times and am always impressed by his ability to hold an audience captive to what he's saying. Despite that, I have been bothered by his approach and the content of his church services--not enough to try and figure out why, just enough to know that his model isn't one I would want to emulate. But during the Leadercast, everything about Andy Stanley's ministry became clear when he shared his vision for North Point Ministries. "Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend." That explained everything. I disagree with his premise. That was what caused my antipathy toward his ministries. But though I disagree with his premise, it amazes me how all aspects of his ministry are laser-like focused on their vision. They know who they are, why they do what they do, and how they're going to accomplish it. That laser-like focus is something all churches can learn from--whether we agree with Stanley's foundational premise or not.
That brought me to Andy Stanley's book Deep& Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. If you have a good understanding of what you believe God is calling your church to be (hopefully based on a biblical understanding of ecclesiology), then I commend this book to you. If you know who you are, you will be able to eat the fish without swallowing the bones. And there is some great fish among the bones in this book. It is divided into five sections, the first of which is somewhat biographical. If you bought the book to satisfy your prurient desire to know the "dirt" about the split between Andy and his father, you will be mildly disappointed. He quickly and graciously covers the difficult time, but quickly moves on to the heart of the book. One thing I did find disturbing was the fact that Stanley never felt called to the ministry. Instead, he asked his dad if it was okay to "volunteer", which is what he did. Spit out the bones. Enjoy the fish.
The second section of the book is full of bones--almost like trying to eat carp. I was close to putting the book down at that point, but was still intrigued at how Stanley is able to maintain such laser-like focus on his vision. So I pressed on. Thankfully, there was more fish in sections three through five. Those sections contain some wonderfully insightful tips on human nature, communication dynamics, pursuing excellence and leading change. Those tips alone made me glad I kept reading.
For those who have been steeped in biblical ecclesiology and whose shelves are lined with 9Marks materials and the like, read this book. Enjoy it. You will have the discernment to recognize the bones and spit them out as necessary. The fish will help you see things from a different perspective. For everyone else, build your solid foundation first--understand the biblical purpose and mission of the local church. Then read this book.
Understand that my differences with North Point Ministries stem from disagreeing with Andy Stanley's premise. But with a biblical ecclesiology in place, we can learn from him how to be laser-focused on a biblical mission and vision for the local church.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (September 25, 2012)
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2012
Book Review: Deep and Wide
Just finished Andy Stanley's newest book, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. In it, Stanley breaks down North Point's approach to "doing church" (including a detailed breakdown on why "church" isn't really a great word for it), cautioning the reader along the way that he's not prescribing a methodology that everyone should blindly implement, but principles he's learned that he believes are transferable. And I think he mostly accomplishes that.
I really enjoyed the book, giving it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I did a lot of underlining and note-jotting, and I felt like there were some excellent takeaways for anyone in ministry. I particularly found his section on leading change in the local church helpful. He suggests several groups of questions that church leaders should be asking themselves regularly (pp 302-304), which I thought were terrific and courageous. He is absolutely unabashed in his vision of creating churches unchurched people love to attend, and he obviously has done a fine job of it. When it comes to infiltrating vision language into a culture, something I believe is an essential leadership trait, Andy Stanley is a master. He uses dozens of little catch-phrases throughout the book effectively enough that they became ingrained in me, for Pete's sake, and I'm just a reader. I imagine the key influencers at his church have heard these things so often they can quote them in their sleep.
And when it comes to, you know, actually doing what they say they want to do (creating churches unchurched people love to attend), they just get it. Their understanding of creating "irresistible environments" and using "helpful content" is so spot on and makes so much sense, and yet it's so rarely applied. Their entire concept is really quite simple, but it's obviously not easy to execute. There is tremendous consistency and clarity between age groups, campuses, programs and personalities...It's abundantly clear that the church is united behind one vision.
I'm trying to think of a kind way to say what I want to say next...Let me try it this way: I hold Andy Stanley in very high regard, and, at times in this book, it appears he agrees with my assessment of him. Now, had I done what he has done in ministry, I imagine it would be hard for me to get into the average living room because my noggin would be so sizable. I believe Andy Stanley is an incredibly humble man who credits God for every good thing that has happened in his life and ministry, but there are times in this book his story-telling comes across as less than modest. And while he does reiterate along the way that what he's telling is just what North Point has done, and not what every church has to do to succeed, there were times when I felt those words were a little empty.
If his goal in writing the book, though, was to help churches narrow vision, communicate better, and lead change (and I think it's safe to say those were some of his goals), I'd say he was a booming success. I found the book incredibly helpful on both a personal level and as a pastor, and I think my having read it will be beneficial in both the short and long term.
24 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2012
Hard to sit and write a review of this book because I some mixed emotions. If I had to write a review on the first two chapters, I give this book an A+. As Andy shared the story of how his dad, Charles Stanley, became Pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, I thought I was reading the latest suspense novel. There was so much intensity, that it made me want to read more. Than we get to the story of how North Point Community Church was started including telling the story of his father's divorce. Felt like the first two chapters were a two part novel that made you look forward to the third part. I think this is how those who read Harry Potter and Twilight felt.
The rest of the book dealt with the church in general which took a drastic turn from what captured your attention to what is he talking about. The subtitle of the book says, "Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend." It was as if Andy wanted his readers to know that the church is suppose to have a service for the unchurched. Last time I checked, this was called a "seeker-sensitive" approach to ministry.
There were a few things Stanley said in the book I agreed with especially when he talked about the Greek word for church, Ekklesia, as to referring to a specific gathering, not a place. However the book is all about how make the church geared more to those who are outside the church. Do I believe the church needs to reach the lost? Yes. Do I believe we need to let the unchurched see what we are all about? Yes. However, we should not water down the Gospel message just so those who are lost can receive Christ and to make the service so appealing that Jesus is somehow forgotten.
To be completely honest, I have been disappointed with the last couple of books Stanley has written. I thought this book might be different because he has great leadership books, but this is not one of them.