NOTE: I had to change the title of this blog post because I was continuing to get spam because of the title.
Book Review: Going Deep — Becoming a Person of Influence (Thomas Nelson)
By Gordon MacDonald
Very profound and very true!
In today’s world, churches are scrambling to find a new and creative way to present the Gospel so that it will appeal to newcomers and unchurched people. They often have creative music, dramas, catchy series titles, and other visual arts so that people will come. They hope to appeal to people in the same way the world does, with technology and entertainment. Nothing is wrong with this approach if they lead people to the Lord and if they do not turn away the people who are more traditional and conservative. When this type of approach happens, churches often rapidly add to their numbers, which sometimes is their main goal in the first place unfortunately, and they end up with a very wide but often shallow congregation.
Bringing people into your church is a great goal. But it is just a start. These masses of people often rarely grow beyond the initial phase of Christianity. A congregation full of spiritual babies can be so new to the faith that they do not tithe and they require a great deal of hand-feeding. Often, the mentality is to bring in the lost and unchurched and let the pastor plant the seeds. This is where I have a problem with the modern church. The pastor should feel free to preach as God has inspired him in order to encourage his flock and give them something meaty on which to chew. He should not have to cater to a specific group of people.
In Going Deep, Gordon MacDonald addresses the issue of shallow churches with shallow believers. His desire is to grow deep people. The book is fictional and follows a pastor and his wife as they implement a “growing deeper” movement within their congregation. I believe part of the problem is the world we live in. Many people want a drive-thru, no-wait, no-effort kind of church experience and a no-effort relationship with God. Pastors today have a hard job when it comes to encouraging their members to desire to grow deeper. Let’s face it, it takes a lot of effort, time, and commitment. This is what the author’s main character attempts to do in Going Deep – he just wants a handful of committed people. He knows that if they grow, they will spread out and grow even more disciples.
It is hard for a church to grow deep if all you do is plant the seed week after week after week. The seed will burst forth from the ground but if you do not feed it and water it afterwards, the roots do not grow deep. The plant eventually withers and fades away.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that our goal is the Great Commission and reaching the lost. But the Bible says to GO into the nations and preach the Gospel to these people. Reaching typically involves action beyond sitting in a pew on Sundays. A pastor’s job is to grow a church deep and wide at the same time but he needs the help of the people, who need to be deep themselves.
I have witnessed all kinds of churches. Very sedate to very charismatic. At the end of the day, if the church members are provided with a scripturally-based, doctrinally sound message, and they desire to grow, they will grow. They will be inspired to go to that next level – join a discipleship group or a Bible study, volunteer, and get out there in the world to lead others to Christ (instead of expecting their pastors to do it for them).
So this book, to me, just hits the tip of the iceberg. I enjoyed reading it but I think it would have been more effective if it had been non-fiction and spent time on steps or ways to lead people deeper instead of being fictional and spending so much time on the individual lives of the characters. Mr. Macdonald’s concept for the book is great, but I did not see much in this story that was any different than common discipleship programs that have been in existence for generations.
Here is the description from the publisher:
The future of the Christian faith will not be determined by the number of people who fill the pews but by the spiritual depth of those people.
Pastor Gordon MacDonald revisits the fictional New England congregation of his critically acclaimed book Who Stole My Church to deal with a new dilemma: What’s his church’s story? What is it doing that justifies its existence? The importance of these questions is anything but fiction.
Through a series of e-mails and discussions with friends and parishioners, Pastor Gordon’s search for their story leads him to realize that the future of the Christian faith, and thus the church, is at risk. As MacDonald says, “We seem to know how to get unchurched people to visit our buildings. We even seem to know how to draw them across the line into a declaration of personal faith in Jesus. But what we do not seem to know is how to cultivate spiritually deep people. Tomorrow’s church could be headed for trouble.”
Deep people. People who possess spiritual awareness and maturity, people with solid, grounded, life-altering faith. MacDonald shows that the church needs people with a passion for God’s presence and a desperate hunger to seek him above all things.
Join Pastor MacDonald and his congregation on their quest to cultivate spiritual depth and grow into a community of believers whose hearts and minds are truly focused on God.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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