If you have been around the church world for a while then you have had at least a few people come up to you and ask the question, “So pastor when are we getting to the deep stuff.” Maybe you have actually had people leave for “deeper” stuff at another church. As you will see this is a topic that gets me fired up because it flies in the face of the Gospel.
At a recent INCTampa gathering someone raised the question about environments for people to go “deeper in”. I have a few random thoughts on this if you have the time to read on:
First I think we need to redefine what “Christiandom” has defined “deep” as. They say deep is learning. It is information. It is the passing of knowledge. My good friend Hal Mayer says, and I believe the Bible actually defines deep as:
"Who are you serving and who are you influencing for Christ."
Jesus hated the religious people who walked around with their heads full of the Scriptures but their hearts were cold towards others.
I love what Perry Noble has to say about this: “I’ve heard it…you have too…”Christians” saying, “I just want to be fed!” It blows my mind! This would be equal to you and I going to an all you can eat restaurant and crying because no one would bring us any food. Food is all around in this environment…but if the person is lazy and self centered, wanting to be waited on hand and foot, then they could possibly starve to death when food is merely a few feet away.
Today as Christians we have WAY more information than we could ever apply. However, I think many people use “going deep” as an excuse as to not actually apply any of the knowledge they claim to be soaking up. I believe it breaks the heart of God when arrogant people claim intellectual superiority out of pride and stupidity rather than just seeking Jesus and trying to honor Him on a daily basis.”
He goes on to say, “Deep is not merely knowing information…because…judging by that standard Satan is actually deeper than most Christians…he KNOWS Scripture, but doesn’t apply it–which is dangerously similar to those in the camp of wanting to know more but not do anything…” I could not have said it better.
Second, I think we need to change the way we see the Bible. For too long we have taught that the Bible is a text book to be studied. I think that misses the mark of what God intended Scripture to be. I think we should get back to maybe something a little old school. Preach the Bible as the Word of God. It is communication!!! Living and active communication, not something stagnant like a history book.
We have to remove the stigma surrounding the Bible as something too hard to understand. Are there parts I don’t understand, heck I don’t get a lot of it, but then again I don’t get a lot of the stuff my wife communicates to me. But that doesn’t keep us from communicating. We have to get people into the Bible on their own, to feed themselves, and remove the exclusive rights people think pastors have on the understanding. People don’t need pastors telling them another Bible study on the architecture of the temple. People need to find the Living God in the pages of their own Bibles.
Finally, (and this was another point that came up at INCTampa) we need to tell people that it does “feel” different as you mature in your faith. Just like in any relationship the warm fuzzies will come and go that is why a relationship with Jesus is built on commitment and obedience. As you move away from the table from being fed to actually feeding others it will “feel” different. This is normal and not something that should send us running for the days when we gorged ourselves on the regular spoon feedings.
Here is deep for me. When I see set up guys arriving at 6:50am to set up a middle school so others can have a great environment to experience God. Deep for me is children’s volunteers giving up a Sunday worship experience for diapers and poopie little bottoms. Deep for me is the guy who begins to crack open his Bible on his own early in the mornings and really make his relationship with God personal.
Yes we should teach people. And we do at Church of the Suncoast. We don’t back down from any topic on Sundays but we preach for life change not information. I could care less if a guy knows about the color fabric in the Tabernacle if he is serving others at the local church and influencing the people around Him for Christ. That is DEEP and I believe Biblical.