I choose to read and review Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend because of my positive experiences with other Andy Stanley and North Point books and videos. Andy’s book Communicating for a Change was foundational for me.
For years now, attractional or seeker sensitive churches have taken a beating. Even by their own admission, some have been guilty of gathering a crowd instead of growing people. To me, Deep & Wide is a chronicle of one church’s journey to fulfill their mission to “lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.” As Andy says, to grow their faith and confidence in God. Along the way, Andy describes—in a real and transparent way—the pain and challenges that accompanied him on the journey which continues today.
I’ve been involved in church splits. I have seen and experienced the extraordinary pain that can take place. I have also seen the joy mixed with loss when a brother feels called to leave his church of 25 years, beginning again in a new church plant. Even when those that leave to plant a church are only a handful of miles away, the relationship is never the same due to the busyness of life and the inevitable focus on one’s own calling.
Andy sensitively shares the pain that he, his father Charles and their entire family suffered through the process of North Point’s birth. Not pretty, but real and compellingly human. I appreciate his willingness (and his father’s) to not candy-coat or over-spiritualize the process that took place.
Another element of this book that makes it worth reading is Andy’s generosity in sharing the valuable resources that helped make his efforts successful. Starting with North Point’s Survey Cards and Results Sample, Andy hands over the “how” and the why of their success in creating a church for the unchurched.
I believe the most important part of Deep & Wide is the commitment to “Deep.” The “Wide” can be taken care of, to a large degree, by simply giving consumers what they itch for. It’s fairly simple marketing. Start with a dynamic communicator, take care of environment, and guest processes, and you’re halfway to “Wide.” Take a little bit of Nordstrom, McDonald’s and Southwest Airlines and combine it with cutting edge multimedia and “Wide” can happen. “Deep” is a different story.
Not that Andy even took that approach to “Wide.” His focus on “Wide” is stated clearly:
So church leaders, let’s get out there and do what Jesus died to make possible. Let’s heed James’ advice. Let’s rid our churches of anything that makes it difficult for those who are turning to God. Let’s proclaim God’s liberating truth. Let’s create communities characterized by grace. Let’a get comfortable with the tension, the inconsistency, and the messiness that ensues. Let’s be the church.
For Andy, “Wide” is as much about what you don’t do as what you do.
You’ll need to get the book to catch Andy’s heart on his commitment to developing the people that call North Point home. I found his Five Faith Catalysts to be a compelling foundation to the growth in faith and discipleship.
- Practical Teaching
- Private Disciplines
- Personal Ministry
- Providential Relationships
- Pivotal Circumstances
(He says that the “P’s” were not forced but were a rare case in the history of list making when someone didn’t have to force a word to fit the motif. Really, Andy?)
A final element of this book that I heartily endorse is the “Measurable Ministries Wins” concept. Determining our church’s Primary and Measurable Wins keeps us focused on the individual ministries that help us to execute Kingdom purposes where He plants us.