A transgender re-naming. Residential schools for indigenous children. Same-sex marriage. A pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. At first glance, the stories may have little in common, and yet, when put into conversation with the ancient stories of our faith, their shared lot is to give birth to sacred meaning and an experience of the divine. To preach out of the stuff of our lives is to speak in what we may call the wisdom tradition, a way of speaking that relies on the conviction that God is present and active, here and now. We look for meaning in the unexpected encounter between an ancient story and the present life of the community. Then, we speak.
The Rev. Mark Whittall is the pastor of St. Albans Church and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa. He is an engineer by training, and obtained graduate degrees in Theoretical Physics and in Development Economics from Oxford University. His first career was as an engineer and executive in the high-tech sector, rising to the position of CEO and earning recognition as Ottawa’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. Soon afterwards he left his business career and turned to the study of theology. He served as Professor, History of Science at Augustine College in Ottawa from 2002 to 2007 and was ordained as an Anglican Priest in 2008. After a brief stay in a rural parish, he was tasked with building a new congregation at St. Albans Church in downtown Ottawa in 2011, where he currently serves as pastor.
In ReInvention: Stories from an Urban Church, Mark Whittall shares the insights and wisdom he and a small-but-dedicated team gained as they worked to establish a new congregation in St. Albans Church, the second oldest Anglican parish in Ottawa.
The challenges the team faced were not small: the renovation of the original building, negative reaction from the community to the placement of a day program for the homeless, creating new liturgies and a new kind of church experience, and learning how best to reach out to and involve people with little or no prior church involvement. The result of all these efforts, however, has been the transformation of St. Albans into a vibrant centre for worship, a beautiful venue for the arts, and place of shelter and safety for many of the city’s most vulnerable inhabitants.
With surprising candor and transparency pastor Andy Stanley explains how one of America’s largest churches began with a high-profile divorce and a church split.
But that’s just the beginning...
Deep and Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely love to attend. Andy writes,
“Our goal is to create weekend experiences so compelling and helpful that even the most skeptical individuals in our community would walk away with every intention of returning the following week...with a friend!”
Later he says,
“I want people to fall in love with the Author of Scripture. And while we can’t make anyone fall in love, we can certainly arrange a date.”
For the first time, Andy explains his strategy for preaching and programming to “dual audiences”: mature believers and cynical unbelievers. He argues that preaching to dual audiences doesn’t require communicators to “dumb down” the content. According to Stanley, it’s all in the approach.
You’ll be introduced to North Point's spiritual formation model: The Five Faith Catalysts. Leaders responsible for ministry programing and production will no doubt love Andy’s discussion of the three essential ingredients for creating irresistible environments. For pastors willing to tackle the challenge of transitioning a local congregation, Andy includes a section entitled: Becoming Deep and Wide.
If your team is more concerned with who you are reaching than who you are keeping, Deep & Wide will be more than a book you read; it will be a resource you come back to over and over!
“Couldn't be prouder of my son, Andy. And I couldn't be more excited about the content of this book. I wish a resource like this existed when I was starting out in ministry.”
- Dr. Charles Stanley, Founder, In Touch Ministries
“Deep and Wide pulls back the curtain for all of us to see what is required behind the scenes to build a prevailing church. I was both challenged and inspired by this book.”
- Bill Hybels, author of Just Walk Across the Room
“The most common question I get from pastors is, ‘How do I get the people in my church to be open to change?’ From now on my answer will be, ‘Read Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley’. Thanks Andy. Great book!”
- Craig Groeschel, Pastor, LifeChurch.TV, author, It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It
“No one has given me more practical handles for establishing a focused vision than Andy Stanley. Deep and Wide is a rich resource to help all of us stay intentional about the main thing - building a church that reaches people who are far from God.”
- Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor, Elevation Church