When I finished reading Andy Stanley’s latest book Deep & Wide (kindle version), my first thought was, “This might be one of the best books I’ve ever read on church ministry or leadership.” It is chock full of wisdom, things churches can learn and ways staff’s can grow together to be effective. I’ll share a full review on September 25 when it releases, but over the coming week I wanted to share a few longer quotes from the book that pushed some thinking for me. Some I agreed with, others I didn’t, but ones I wanted to share with the My World community.
Other examples of our attempt to be a grace-and-truth church: We put people into leadership roles too early, on purpose. We operate under the assumption that adults learn on a need-to-know basis. The sooner they discover what they don’t know, the sooner they will be interested in learning what they need to know. We have virtually no formal leadership training. We have new believers attempting to lead beyond their maturity. We think that’s a good thing. At times, it creates problems. We like those kinds of problems. We encourage our teenagers to lead small groups with kids just two or three years younger than they are. We encourage nonbelievers to sign up for short-term mission trips. But we don’t let ’em lead. They don’t always understand that. We don’t always explain it to their satisfaction. It would be easier not to let ’em go at all. One again, we opt for messy over easy. We let nonbelievers serve in as many roles as possible. Sometimes too many. But we don’t let ’em serve everywhere. They accuse us of being inconsistent. We agree. We allow people to serve in the parking lot that we won’t allow to serve in children’s ministries. That’s confusing. We allow musicians to play on stage who we would not allow to lead worship. We allow people who are not ordained to baptize. We let women baptize. I’m not comfortable with that. I let ’em do it anyway. We confront sin. We do church discipline. It always take people by surprise. On occasion, we ask people not to attend a particular campus. On some occasions, we ask people not to attend any of them. They assures us there are individuals with worse sins whom we’ve not asked to leave. We agree and ask ’em to leave anyway. For a time, I give people permission to filter out the “Jesus” parts of my messages. Consequently, Jewish attendees often bring friends. They refer to me as a good motivational speaker. I’m fine with that. A Muslim attendee tweeted that he hums through the Jesus parts of my messages. I retweeted him. I preach hard against greed and sexual sin. I tell the men in our church to erase songs from their playlists that refer to women as bitches or whores. I told ’em that on Mother’s day. Once every few years, I preach on Jesus’ view of divorce and remarriage. It’s extreme. I remind all the remarried people that they committed adultery when they remarried. People get upset. Then they purchase the CD to give their kids when they are old enough to get married.
Do you agree with Stanley? Can a church go too far and give too much grace? Where is the line between grace and truth?