Deep and Wide

“Deep and Wide.” It’s the name of a children’s song and also the title of a book by Andy Stanley. For the song, click here.

Stanley’s book, Deep and Wide, is the story of his personal faith and ministry journey, as well as an explanation of the vision, values, and strategy of North Point Community Church. North Point’s aim is to be a church that unchurched people love to attend.

Deep and Wide 
is about “how to make your church more appealing to the people who are put off by all the shenanigans that give churches, big churches in particular, a bad name – people who can’t imagine that the church holds any clues” for them. Specifically, the author’s approach is that churches should be theologically sound (deep) and culturally relevant (wide).

Andy Stanley begins by raising questions for church leaders. Some of these are:
–Are we making a measurable difference in our local communities, or are we 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?

The rest of the book provides North Point’s approach to answering the above questions. Church ministry, for Stanley, is grounded in five foundations for faith development. These are referred to as “The Five Faith Catalysts.”

–Practical Teaching: “Jesus taught for a response. He taught for life change. He didn’t come to simply dispense information. We rarely find him chastising people for their lack of knowledge. It was almost always their lack of faith evidenced by a lack of application. ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’”

–Private Disciplines are those behaviors in one’s private devotional life. They include prayer and Bible exploration and memorization. Questions for church leaders include: “1) At what age does your church begin teaching the importance of private spiritual disciplines? 2) What devotional and personal Bible study resources do you make available, and how accessible are they? 3) How difficult is it for people in your church to get a Bible? 4) When is the last time you did a weekend message on spiritual disciplines?”

–Personal Ministry…“is an integral component to spiritual growth… involving as many people as possible, as young as possible, as soon possible… We don’t wait until people feel ‘prepared’ or ‘fully equipped’… Our entire leadership development model revolves around apprenticing rather than traditional classroom training.”

–Providential Relationships are part of almost everyone’s faith journey. “At every critical juncture in our faith journeys, there are individuals whose paths intersect with ours.” Because of the importance of relationships, leaders should ask questions like these. Does our ministry model connect people quickly and keep them connected? Does our model have easy, obvious steps into community? Is it easy for nonbelievers to find their places? Are we ‘classing’ people to death? What can be done programmatically to create more relational connections?”

–Pivotal Circumstances refers to ‘defining moments.’ These are experiences in life and ministry that can be faith-developing or faith-damaging. Church leaders minister to individuals throughout the circumstances of their lives. They lend support for spiritual and practical development in growing through the challenges of life.

The above five principles provide a framework for church ministry and leadership development. They relate primarily to the “deep” parts of ministry. Note: The remainder of the book goes on to cover the “wide” or culturally-contextual aspects of ministry.

Church Leadership Center has an affinity, appreciation, and affirmation of the approach to ministry described in Deep and Wide. Courses are structured to emphasize practical application. Mentors and facilitators build relationships with participants. Class sizes are kept under six, as well as options for guided study. And, we see leaders emerging as a result of the relationships that participants have with leaders who encourage and mentor them.