In Deep and Wide, author/pastor Andy Stanley tells you everything he knows about leading a church that unchurched people love to attend. For the last decade, Stanley has been a leading voice on church leadership in evangelical circles. He has written many books, hosted leadership podcast, and even throws his own church leadership conference each year. This book covers it all.
As someone who has read most of his books, listens to his monthly podcast, and has downloaded the sessions from many conference messages, I was fairly familiar with most of the content. There weren’t too many things he said thatcame across as fresh insights. I don’t say that so much as a criticism, but to make it clear that this book really does cover all that he’s been saying over the last ten years. This book really is a one stop shop for how Andy Stanley leads his church.
THE GOOD STUFF
When it comes to the practical side of doing ministry with excellence, this book has lots of great insight.
The book starts off with Stanley telling his life story and experience with church. His story alone may be worth the price of the book. The legend of Andy leaving his dad’s church in the midst of his father’s divorce has been running the rounds for years in evangelical circles, but no one seemed to really know what exactly went down between the two of them. I have even talked to people who were either in Atlanta or at the church when everything went down, and they didn’t seem to know.
This book sets the record straight, and gives a pretty surprising amount of detail.
As for the content of the book, Andy Stanley is the best at his way of doing church. Certainly we can argue about whether church should be done his way, but it’s difficult to argue about the quality of what he does. Here he really does go point by point through the why’s and how’s of their model. This book, coupled with his book, Seven Practices of Effective Ministry, give a great foundation on how to improve your ministry. Each chapter is insightful and helpful.
The only significant criticism I have towards the book is in regards to Stanley’s methodology. You don’t have to get too far into the book before you start to realize that much of what he does is a reaction against church done badly. On a pragmatic level, he makes amazing arguments for everything he does, and you can see the results of their commitment to their method. Unfortunately, this leads to methodology which feels very “effective” but not necessarily biblical. Instead of starting from scripture and building upward, he starts with ineffective churches and offers effective strategies. There aren’t many specific things he says which I disagree with but, on the whole, I have an uneasiness about fully embracing his model.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is involved in ministry. It’s an enjoyable and insightful read. While I have some reservations about his model as a whole, he has a lot of wisdom to offer people in ministry.