I wondered this when I read a recent post by pastor and writer Kurt Willems (@kurtwillems). Willems knows a lot of people who have left their church because it didn't go deep enough. This is occasionally a valid reason, but Willems suspects it's more likely to be a holy-sounding excuse for leaving a church that we just don't like.
What does "going deeper" really look like?
To challenge our thinking about what we're looking for (and not looking for) in our faith journey, Willems quotes from writer/pastor Alan Danielson's 3-point definition of going deeper:
1. Going deeper into my commitment to God's Church.
I can't be committed to Jesus (the head) without being committed to the church (His body)…
2. Going deeper into my commitment to the world.
…If I am to "go deeper" I must dive deeper into the muck and mire of a borken world in order to reach people…
3. Going deeper into my commitment to being mastered by Christ.
I'm a work-in-progress, and the more God works on me, the more progress I realize I need…
Danielson summarizes, "Deepening knowledge is not enough; it must accompany deepening commitments!" On Willems' post, commenter Craig Falvo reminds us that commitment will become visible in action: "At my last church, going deeper would mean … getting into the Word. Lots of talk about it, little emphasis on doing." Falvo then pleasantly surprised us by adding, "At my current church, we … are working our way through the Bible using Zondervan's The Story. The emphasis from preaching bleeds over into the small groups… The trick is going to be to keep the excitment going throught the year." (Incidentally, Falvo makes a good point that it can be a challenge to remain engaged throughout a year-long series. Soon we'll share some tips on how your church can make the most out of your year in The Story.)
My personal opinion of The Story is that it first targets Commitment #3. The Story helps people encounter the Christ of Scripture (#3); The Story also helps people unite as a church body (#1); the united body serves by spreading Christ's love and hope to the world (#2).
Which of the three commitments of going deeper do you find most difficult, and which is most energizing? Commitment to God's church, commitment to reaching our world, or commitment to being mastered by Christ?
Learn more about how The Story is taking people deep into Scripture.
(-Adam Forrest, Zondervan Internet Team. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its partners and representatives. The writer's opinions are his own, and he's sharing them for information and entertainment purposes only.)