"Most people join a group because they simply like everyone there or because they have something in common. And that is a community of sorts. But add intentionalit, and it means that somebody seriously commits to a group of people and sticks with them even when there is tension and misunderstanding." Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald
I was a bit incredulous when I began reading Going Deep and realized it was going to be a fictional book. However I was quickly drawn in, especially when I read the quote above. Gordan MacDonald brings what are fresh ideas to me and my idea of church. He isn't changing the Bible or changing the message of Jesus, but he is suggesting that church needs to go a different route. I've been a part of several churches and I've never seen any of them do a program like this. Most churches focus on the number of people in the building, not the spiritual condition of the ones that are there (paraphrase of another line in the book).
I love several of his concepts even if they are presented in a ficitional setting. Basically he and his wife Gail take on a small group of disciples to meet with once a week and try to make "deep people" out of them. The difference from a typical small group or discipleship class is that they choose these people based on their spiritual "growability." They are looking for those that are on a path for Jesus already, not just leaders but those that have great spiritual gifts and are seeking Jesus in their lives. They make the class a priority, drop other church ministries for it, and ask for complete commitment.
The book hits on the ministry of Jesus as a rabbi and gives great information about what that meant and why his relationship with the apostles was the way it was. Now this is a ficitonal book so there was little discussion of opposition. He did reflect on a few negative or less than ideal situations. The book is also wordy. It took me about 3 days to read it and that's unusual for me. I wanted to devour this book and instead I had to take huge bites and then digest for awhile. I think he could've cut the book by 1/4-1/3 and not lost any of the important things.
I like his idea, I like his model, and I could see it working. I wish it had been a true life story where he could give us more concrete ideas of exactly how it would go down. I will be passing this book along to ministry leaders I know and I would recommend it to any of you that care about your church and want to see people really leaning into a relationship with Jesus.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”