A Review of
A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for Deeper Faith
Reviewed by Sara Sterley
While Brandon Hatmaker’s newest book, A Mile Wide, does not cover much new ground, it is nonetheless a refreshing voice to come out of (what I tend to think of as) the evangelical celebrity culture. I’m coming off of a tiring season of striving, so when I saw the subtitle in Brandon Hatmaker’s new book, A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for Deeper Faith, I was thirsty for this “deeper faith” Hatmaker promises.
Hatmaker encourages the reader to dig deeper into a fuller faith, alleging that most Christians today have a faith that is, borrowing from a common axiom, “a mile wide and in inch deep.” The first section of A Mile Wide focuses on redefining a more rooted discipleship. Hatmaker uses several of Jesus’ parables and his own experiences to invite the reader into “a bigger Gospel.” Hatmaker invites us to think more broadly about the good news of the Gospel, about the traditional spiritual practices, and about building community. With so many churches today focusing on outreach, Bible studies, and all sorts of other programming (all of which are good things in and of themselves), I particularly appreciated his redefinition of mission:
True mission recognizes that where we are is where we’ve been sent. Mission is all around us. The people around us, the influence we have, and the places we go are our mission field. Our mission is to listen to people, steward our influence, and utilize our position to advance the kingdom.
In the second half of the book, Hatmaker turns to how, when we dig into this deeper faith personally, the good news flows out from us organically into our communities. Hatmaker spends the latter half of the book telling stories about what this fuller faith has done for him personally and in his community. He warns,
And in order to live a fuller faith, we must go on one of the greatest journeys of a believer’s life:
a journey down. As the rest of the world challenges us to keep climbing the ladder, Jesus repeatedly challenges us to descend. In an ironic twist, it’s there in the depths that we find full life. But it doesn’t come naturally. We have to check every motive, evaluate every decision, and be intentional with every pursuit. It’s a constant discipline we have to learn to apply, and it starts with recognizing and understanding our need for depth.
I first started this book right as Brandon Hatmaker’s wife, the enormously successful Jen Hatmaker, came out in favor of same-sex relationships and said in the interview that she thought same-sex marriage could be as holy as heterosexual marriage. This seemingly benign interview placed the Hatmakers in some serious hot water among their typical audience, spurring Lifeway to pull Jen Hatmaker’s books. Honestly, I was a little bored by A Mile Wide, but both of the Hatmakers’ humility in their responses to the situation motivated me to give Brandon Hatmaker’s book another chance.
I’m glad I gave it a second chance. A Mile Deep does not cover much new ground, but Hatmaker is a nonetheless refreshing voice encouraging the reader to trade up for the deeper waters our faith offers.