Come on, do you really want to spend your life managing what was lost to the neglect of what’s still lost?
Andy Stanley likes to ask questions that create tension. This one certainly does. Usually, though, these questions come shortly before he strikes a well thought out point in precisely chosen words that instantly and memorably cut to the heart of the matter. But this question came after all the points had been made, after 300 some pages of carefully crafted statements and stories – and started the tension all over.
In the concluding chapter of Andy Stanley’s Deep & Wide, this question for church leaders funnels everything back to “creating churches unchurched people love to attend” (which is the book’s subtitle). For those of us placed into (or being drawn into) church leadership, this question is critical. We really need to get this right. But it’s so easy to accidentally shift from our original commission to something else. Our focus can slide away from the search for the “one lost coin” to the preservation of the “coins” already in our grasp.
In conversations with other youth ministers over the last decade and a half, I’ve heard (and expressed) a lot of frustration at this tension. Why are we spending so much time and effort and resources trying to keep committed people from leaving when there are so many other people growing up and living with no idea who Jesus even is? Are we so busy caring for our safe and found sheep that we don’t make time to go and find the lost ones?
Thankfully, this isn’t an either/or situation. Reaching wide doesn’t have to mean going so shallow that church people aren’t challenged… And digging deep doesn’t have to mean we ignore the majority who are missing the most important relationship they could ever have. This book is a great resource for those who want to lead a church that’s not just there itself.