Deep & Wide review

deep & wideLast night I finished reading Andy Stanley’s latest book, Deep & Wide. It was written to tell the story of North Point Ministries, how they started and why they do what they do. While Stanley doesn’t insist that the way they do it is the best way or the way everyone should do it, he does explain their philosophy, core values and how they evaluate what they do. He also makes a point to explain how they continually look at what they are doing so they don’t stray from their intended purpose.

What I heard most about Deep & Wide when it was first released was the opening chapters where Andy Stanley reveals some of his personal life, including his parents’ divorce, and how his life experiences lead to the start of North Point. It was a pretty transparent telling of events and more than most pastors would reveal. If you have been through a divorce or are close to those who have, you are familiar with the pain and lasting impact it has on those involved. Stanley’s sharing of his story illustrates that God can redeem even the most difficult circumstances.

Deep & Wide shares a lot of good insight for those who work in the church, whether in a leadership role or serving in a specific ministry. Stanley offers some challenging thoughts and intentionally creates discomfort for the reader in some of what he writes. He shares some of the things they have learned at North Point in regards to creating a welcoming environment, communicating to both church and non-churched (or de-churched) people, leading a church through change and the importance of leadership.

Stanley is a good communicator and has some good statements in the book. Here are a couple I highlighted:

“The most ineffective way to begin a conversation about change is to talk about what needs to change. You should never begin a conversation about change by addressing where you are now. You should always begin with where you want to be.”

“Knowledge alone makes Christians haughty.  Application makes us holy.”

“We ask of every environment:  Was the presentation engaging?  Not, was it true?  Churches aren’t empty because preachers are lying.”

Deep & Wide is a good read and a good resource for those involved in the local church.  Andy Stanley’s passion comes through in what he writes and he offers some good insight, questions and suggestions for church leaders to consider and then implement in their setting.

Good Insights for Parents

I have mentioned in previous posts some of the podcasts I listen to on my iPod. I started listening quite a bit a couple of years ago when I had about a 35 minute drive to work. It beat the radio and I was able to take in some good messages.

I listen regularly to Andy Stanley from North Point in GA and Dave Stone and Kyle Idleman from Southeast in KY. In May, Dave Stone did a series on the family and in September Andy Stanley did a family series as well. As they talked specifically about parenting, they both said similar things that obviously came from the same source. The first time I heard it I thought it was good. The second time cemented it. While no one has all the parenting answers, I thought these were good insights.

While I’m not sure of the original source, they both shared the Four Stages of Parenting.  I think Dave made the comment not to get hung up on the age break down, but to focus on the process.  Both of them remarked that the stages need to be done in order and it becomes very difficult to go back and cover a missed area.

  1. Discipline Years (ages 1-5)
  2. Training Years (ages 5-12)
  3. Coaching Years (ages 12-18)
  4. Friendship Years (ages 18+)

Both speakers who have children in the final stages, so they could speak with experience on going through each one.  They pointed out that each stage builds on the other as you see a progression toward maturity, independence and a change in the relationship between parent and child.  Andy and his wife shared one of their goals as parents was that when their children were adults, they wanted to come home and spend time as a family.

When it comes to discipline, there was an added insight thrown in.  Andy and his wife shared this from another couple’s philosophy of discipline.  As a parent with young children, you may feel you are disciplining all the time.  One couple shared their three nonnegotiable when it came to discipline.  Discipline was enacted for one of these offenses:

  1. Disobedience
  2. Dishonesty
  3. Disrespect

This is just an excerpt of what each speaker shared.  I think the four stages provide some good direction for parents.  You can listen to all the message online or through podcast.  You can listen/watch Southeast’s “Faithful Families” series on their website and listen/watch North Point’s “Future Family” series on their website.

This would be a great resource to check out and to share with others.

Circles are Better Than Rows

For the past couple of weeks, we have been promoting small groups to our students.  Last Sunday we had a meeting with parents and explained our approach to small groups.  Yesterday, I heard the perfect message on small groups.  Andy Stanly at North Point Community Church is one of my favorite speakers.  A recent podcast of his dealt with importance of being involved in a small group.

I loved the analogy he used – circles are better than rows.  We can sit in rows (or pews) Sunday after Sunday and never really be known.  If we commit to be in a community of small group, we will be known.  When we are hurting, we have someone to share it with.  When we are missing, someone notices.  And when the rough spots of life come, we have people there to help pick us up.

We are still encouraging our students to in a small group and I am grateful to those adults who have committed to lead one.  So, are you in a circle?  It is much better than sitting in a row!