Tim Keller or Andy Stanley: Who's right?

Leadership Journal recently interviewed both Tim Keller and Andy Stanley.  Both have recently written books on reaching communities.

But Andy and Tim are very different from each other in their approach.

This LJ article shows the differences and the similarities that you might find interesting:

Geographically, New York and Atlanta are less than 900 miles apart. Culturally, they occupy different universes. New York is fast-paced, cutthroat, and secular. Atlanta, by contrast, is southern, faith-friendly, the last big loop on the Bible Belt. • Like the cities in which they minister, Tim Keller and Andy Stanley are markedly different as well. Stanley is a pragmatist, a leader’s leader known for his vision and commitment to creating environments where the unchurched feel welcomed. Keller, on the other hand, is a professorial presence, a skilled theologian who effectively addresses the doubts of intellectual urbanites. • Both have new books explaining their distinctive ministry philosophies. Tim Keller’s tome is Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Zondervan, 2012). Andy Stanley’s magnum opus is Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend (Zondervan, 2012). • We spoke with Keller and Stanley about what they’ve written. Their answers uncovered some deep differences—and surprising similarities.

First, the book trailers:

Read the article here…


  • Dean Johnson November 13, 2012 Reply

    I need to listen to Andy Stanley occasionally to be reminded to be enthusiastic and visionary. I need to listen to Tim Keller to be reminded to be deep and serious about my theological thinking.

    • Bob Ewing December 5, 2012 Reply

      Excellent analysis of the two. Thanks, Dean.

  • Tye Male November 13, 2012 Reply

    Love both communicators. However, based on these trailers alone, I am drawn towards “Deep and Wide.” If the trailers reflect the books accurately, I doubt I’ll buy Keller’s.

  • Steve Miller November 13, 2012 Reply

    My first notion is to say it isn’t a “this or that” question, but to say “both” are legitimate paths. God creates unique Christians and unique leaders with individual styles.

    After reading the article and hearing both pastors share their intentions I would lean much more toward Tim Keller’s take. My experience is if you give people the option of going deep or wide (or imply you want both deep and wide) they will just keep going wider without doing the hard work of going deeper. As a leader if you have ever come into a church environment where the existing leadership made it very easy for anyone to join with few expectations placed on members you end up with a flabby church which hasn’t been unified, motivated, and disciplined by the Gospel; they just become nice moral church folks. Even if you set up programs for folks to go deeper (like small groups or missional outreach), people tend to take part in a very superficial manner-they attend and the leaders confuse that for going deeper when it is just going wider. In Andy Stanley’s version I would be curious to see where a Matthew 7:21-23 type messages would fit in, one of those messages that is difficult, uncomfortable, and tends to thin the herd.

  • andy andrews November 13, 2012 Reply

    It is my opinion that the odds of a non believer coming to church is next to zero. In fact if he does it is because he wants to be redeemed from his sin not put into a program or be treated shallow with his sin. He wants to be saved and he wants to know that you care about him and that you believe what you preach and that your practice or testimony by your actions matches what you say and finally he wants to know that you are kindly disposed to him so that he will be willing to let down his shield or guard and listen and participate. There is no magic but there is power in the Gospel, Jesus blood and your testimony both as a individual and a group. No one is saved by programs or methods but they are saved by the Gospel and your testimony as the Holy Spirit moves on the individual either through you or the body of the church. Now as to which is correct in one sense they both are. Culture, people communities vary drastically so what works in one area may or may not work in another area. The primary is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is given and the church, i.e. pastor and leaders testimony aligns with the gospel. That means all are in Christ and Christ is in them and they have fellowship first with Christ, the vertical aspect and second to one another, the horizontal aspect center in the will of God with Love for God is primary and then love of self and neighbor. This is true community and it plays out differently in different areas and cultures.

  • Harry Court November 19, 2012 Reply

    I purchased Center Church and read it completely. This book is very broad, technical, and detailed and I feel would be most useful for those in Bible College. It does serve a particular purpose.

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