Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Notes - Deep and Wide

Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley
If you've been around my blog for a while, you know I love the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast - this book is along those lines. It's a great read for church leaders but just as much for anyone trying to lead any kind of team or organization. At the core, it's a book about church world, as the subtitle alludes to. So the main premise is:
Acts 15:19 - It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
I love that statement. Years ago I printed it and hung it in my study. I look at it every day. I believe James' statement should be the benchmark by which all decisions are made in the local church.
But there is a ton more in here. Here's what hit me, but if you are a church leader, you should read the whole thing.

+ On organizational innovation over time:
One of the fundamental realities of organizational life is that systems fossilize with time.

+ On measuring the success of your church:
Are we moving or simply meeting?
Are we making a measurable difference in our local communities or 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 allocation resources as if Jesus is the hope of the world or are the squeaky wheels of church culture driving our budgeting decisions?
Are we ekklesia [Greek term translate church throughout the NT - assembly of people called out for a specific purpose] or have we settled for kirche [Germanic term meaning house of the lord]?

+ On fairness when you are in charge:
I've worked in churches that tried to be fair. Eventually fairness became an excuse for non-engagement. The quest for consistency became an excuse not to help.... The better approach is to do for one what you wish you could do for everyone, knowing that everyone is not going to be treated the same way.

+ On the tension of policies:
We are inconsistent and at times unfair. Not on purpose. We just find that clinging to grace and truth creates tension. Tension we believe that should not be resolved, but managed. Do we have guidelines for benevolence and things of that nature? Of course. But they are guidelines. Not hard and fast rules. We have virtually no policies and lots and lots of conversations.

+ On growing leaders:
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.

+ On doctrine versus ministry practices:
Our doctrinal statement is conservative. Our approach to ministry is not.

+ On church culture:
It's a shame that so many churches are married to a designed-by-Christians-for-Christians-only culture.

+ North Point's Five Faith Catalysts:
Practical Teaching
Private Disciplines
Personal Ministry
Providential Relationships
Pivotal Circumstances

+ On leadership development:
I've been asked that question long enough to know that most people who ask it are looking for a program, a curriculum, or a series of classes. We have rejected that approach to spiritual formation from the very beginning. We don't believe classes create mature believers. Classes create smart believers. That's different. We have a menu of class options for those who want further theological education. But as you know, theological education and spiritual maturity can be mutually exclusive. They don't have to be. But they can be. So we have never approached spiritual formation as a cognitive exercise.

+ On too much responsibility too fast:
Since personal ministry is an integral component to spiritual growth, we are committed to involving as many people as possible, as young as possible, as soon as possible. Sometimes too young and too soon! But we intentionally err on the side of too fast rather than too slow. We don't wait until people feel 'prepared' or 'fully equipped.'

+ On training people:
One reason we are able to get people involved quickly is our approach to leadership development. Our entire leadership development model revolves around apprenticing rather than traditional classroom training.

+ On environments:
As I am constantly reminding our leaders, the sermon begins in the parking lot. By the time I stand up to deliver what is traditionally the message, everybody in our audience has already received a dozen or more messages.

+ On continuous improvement:
Time in erodes awareness of.

+ On presenters versus content creators versus group facilitators:
If your system depends on your staff and volunteers being proficient in two or three of these disciplines, you are always going to get mediocre results.... You need a system that allows engaging presenters to present, skilled content creators to create content and relationally savvy group leaders to facilitate groups.

+ On staffing:
Never assign a task that is gift-dependent to a staffing position.

+ On standards:
Our rule of thumb is that while it's acceptable to depart from the template on purpose, its' not okay to drift from the template by accident.

+ On preaching versus leading:
People ask me all the time how I handle the pressure of running a large, multi-faceted organization. I always chuckle. I would love to take a year and only run a large, multi-faceted organization. Compared to the pressure and stress of standing up thirty weekends a ear and facing a highly educated, successful group of congregants, some of who have been listening to me for seventeen years, the organization part of what I do is stress-free.

+ On generational models of church:
You don't have the luxury of babysitting the previous generation's approach to doing church. There's no time for that. Besides, you've only got one life to give to invest in this glorious cause.

+ On speaking to visitors:
When people are convinced you want something FOR them rather than something FROM them, they are less likely to be offended when you challenge them... When you get to those unusual verses and narratives, acknowledge them as just that: unusual. Hard to believe. As a general rule, say what you suspect unbelievers are thinking.

+ On change:
The catalyst for introducing and facilitating change in the local church is a God-honoring, mouthwatering, unambiguously clear vision.

+ On execution:
Marry your mission. Date your model. Fall in love with your vision. Stay mildly infatuated with your approach.

+ On leaders:
Teaching leaders leadership will result in better leaders. Teaching leadership to pastors, preachers and teachers results in pastors, preachers and teachers who've taken a leadership course.

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