I hear it all the time. “We want our ministry to go deeper.” In fact, “going deeper” is a phrase we throw around in all kinds of areas of our lives. The desire to go deeper is the hope that we will make a greater difference or whatever we are doing will have more meaning. A recent study in marine science estimates that there are 230,000 species of life in the ocean. In order to find this out they had to do a 10 year study and go to the deepest depths of the sea. Pretty amazing. I’ll bet they had to go to some pretty scary places. Life and ministry is like that isn’t it. We often stay on the surface because going deeper means getting messy and there are places that we may need to go that are down right scary. But in the deep is where we find the power of the cross, the depth of God’s love for us. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in terms of what many churches are going through. I’ve had countless conversations with church leaders who end up frustrated because they feel their people are reluctant to go deeper in their faith journey because they are too busy, don’t feel equipped, are afraid of the mystery of what they might find or maybe they just aren’t interested.
Just what is it that will help people to go deeper in their pursuit of God?
My first experience snorkling in Jamaica several years ago I was very excited. In this particular location, all we had to do was walk into the water from the beach and we were able to see all kinds of beautiful fish. But then a friend asked if I wanted to go out into the deep water. I hesitated because I know I’m not a strong swimmer and I’m afraid of what lurks out there. I mean, I watched Jaws in the theatre in junior high. But he encouraged me. He said he would be right there with me and it would be fun. So off I went. And he was right. While it was indeed scary as we held our breath and dove down into the deep water, the colors and coral and thousands of fish were absolutely beautiful. It was a whole different world than close to the shore. Every time I looked over to my friend he had a big smile and a thumbs up. My eyes were opened to a whole new world that day and I’ll never forget it.
So what helps us go deeper in our faith? It’s people. People who encourage, listen, ask important questions and walk (or swim) alongside us and promise not to leave us. They don’t point out how “shallow” our faith is, they honor the place we are and challenge us to explore new depths in our relationship with God. When we take the risk of going deeper, God reveals to us some incredible things. Will you go?