I got a chance to sit down and read Andy Stanley’s Deep and Wide the other week and wanted to get my review out there. For years the knock on Andy has been that his church, Northpoint, has been wide but not deep. They are great at reaching unchurched people but those of us on the outside have wondered if those people have been able to move forward through discipleship. Andy wrote this book to speak to that tension. I both appreciated and enjoyed his candor.
Andy set the book up in five sections, depending on your church situation, certain sections will help you more than others. He acknowledges that and allows you to skip around. That’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about Andy, his desire for you, the reader, to learn comes through all of his books. The book is for you, not just for him to get his ideas out there. I deeply appreciated the first section where Andy lays out more of his backstory. I found out things I didn’t know from his past, things that must have been hard to share, but they were illuminating and they were vulnerable. It made me want to read more.
Another thing I’ll point out. I don’t know if it’s because he’s been doing for a long time or it’s his newfound friendship with Mark Driscoll but there’s a bit more of an edge in this book than I’ve seen in Andy’s books and teachings before. There were times were he basically told other people they were doing it wrong and they needed to change, they had to change for their church to move forward. He spends many sections “reading people’s mail” as he tells them how they’ve come to their conclusions and how those are wrong. Since I’m a Mark Driscoll fan, I enjoyed this edge.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It’s got a lot in it and is worth the time of anyone who is in some sort of church ministry. I was most challenged by all of his talk of the unchurched. Their vision statement at Northpoint is to create a church that unchurched people love to attend. They build their services around this, they build everything around this. I don’t know that that is what I want Chi Alpha at UVA’s vision statement to be, but it is an area I would personally like to grow in. To put myself in that situation, to try and think outside of my church box and to continue to press the envelope wider and deeper and continue to get out into the University. I found some good paradigms shifts for my own mind from the book, that I hope I will be able to put into practice.
So, can a church be both deep and wide?
It seems like it. I was convinced after reading Deep and Wide. And here’s why.
Their discipleship structure is the three anchors. They build their discipleship around the three anchors.
Andy has what he calls the five faith catalysts. Practical teaching, Private Disciplines (real devotional life), Personal Ministry (real responsibility), Providential Relationship (real community), and Pivotal Circumstances. (page 109).
I’ve seen these anchors work. I believe in them. I know that if a Chi Alpha student gets the three anchors I can send them anywhere to be anything and they would thrive for Jesus. So, if that’s what Northpoint’s model is then I have no doubt that they are building a church that is both deep and wide!
How cool is that?
Did you read the book, what are your thoughts?