Book Review: Deep & Wide

Who is the church for? 
Have you ever asked yourself this question?

When people find out that I am a Pastor, they always ask where the church is located, and comment on the facility if they have been by the place. The second question that almost always follows is something like: Who comes to your church? Or, more specifically: "Are there any people at your church that look like me?" And finally: "Is your church a place where I would be accepted?"

Andy Stanley, author of "Deep and Wide" and founding Pastor of Northpoint Church in Atlanta Georgia declares that he unashamedly wanted to create a church where unchurched people love to attend. His goal is to aim in worship to get as many people through the doors of the church as possible so that they may hear what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. 

Stanley leads a church that is without question "attractional" in its approach to drawing people to their church every weekend, and can appear on the surface to become Biblically shallow in doing so.  "Deep and Wide" however, is a good read that talks about some of the ways his church is being very intentional about creating environments where true life change occurs, and deep rooted Biblical discipleship happens. Pretty exciting stuff. Pretty specific stuff however, for the mega-churches of America. Pretty different from our context here in Buffalo, NY.

So, to ask the question again, with our local church context in mind... Who is the church for? Who are we trying to reach? Who are we pinpointing to help you "find your place?"

Where we differ from Stanley, who has a primary focus on the unbeliever, is that we believe the exclusive purpose of the church Is to glorify God, and make disciples. We must, above all else, be certain to  make everything we do about Him! Who is the church for? Why, its for Jesus Christ!

We don't believe it's purpose is to make the spiritual seeker feel comfortable, and unchallenged in their current state. Jesus warns his followers, that the Gospel will cause division. The Message of Christ will require a choice: to follow or to turn away. You cannot be neutral about Jesus. You're either for Him or against Him. You either follow Him or you oppose Him. He will not allow you to be indecisive.

That said, I believe churches should be both theologically sound, and culturally relevant. We must not be a stumbling block to those who would hear and respond to God's greatest gift. Hardly a month goes by without another article being written analyzing who is leaving the faith and why. While there is no one-size-all answer for why people reject Jesus, a recent article by Doug Ponder at listed Religious Hypocrisy (when Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle) and Gospel Inoculation (when a person thinks they’ve heard the gospel and rejected it, when in reality what they rejected was not the gospel but a dead, false, form of the real thing) as the primary barriers for those far from Christ.

Let us be a people who keep the main thing, the main thing. We will always preach Christ, crucified. We will however, also be intentional about rejecting religious hypocrisy and calling out a counterfeit Gospel... just like Christ did. This will always be a bit of a balancing act, but may we never become the barrier, for those seeking Christ. May all who would come to Him, be motivated to do so! May we not be a hindered effort to that calling. That, is really who the church is for! 

Just as I am, though tossed about 
With many a conflict, many a doubt 
Fighting and fears within without 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come 

Just as I am, and waiting not 
To rid my soul of one dark blot 
To thee whose blood can cleanse each spot 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

- Pastor Milo


Post a Comment