We’ve all heard people make statements along the lines of: “I just want to go deeper.” I have to be honest though, in my experience it’s one of the most misused and overrated statements in church, because without any kind of context, that statement can mean anything! Does that mean we’re not spending enough time mediating on the passage? Does that mean we didn’t include enough Greek word studies? Are we studying out of the wrong version of the Bible? The irony is that this kind of statement is often used as reasoning for why someone is no longer participating in group life! It’s often used as a veiled excuse for not pursuing true depth in Biblical community. At the same time though, pursuing real depth is one of the elements of group life most often overlooked by us as group leaders.
Because pursuing real depth is so important, but often hard to pin down, defining depth is where we need to start. What is depth?
Truth that engages people at every level (emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and even physically), leading to a more intimate relationship with Christ.
We often hit one of more of these elements, but fail to put it all together in our interactions as a group. Truth must be present, but it has to be truth that engages people at every level—not just some intellectual knowledge. And this interaction of truth and life must lead to a more intimate relationship with Christ.
So, the Gospel is central in our pursuit of depth. It is the result of recognizing and entering the battle that’s going on in the heart of each of us. To borrow terms from Dr. Larry Crabb, the ultimate battle is between my agenda and God’s agenda.
I want to do something that will make my life better.
I want to experience God through whatever means he provides and keep trusting him whether life gets better or not.
Sin therefore is any effort to make life work without absolute dependence on God. It is giving higher priority to my satisfaction than to God’s pleasure, it involves a follow-up commitment to find joy for my soul outside of God, a commitment rooted in the belief that there is something truly good that God does not provide.
That is the battle that is waged in the hearts and lives of each of us, all the time! Do I really want a relationship with God, or do I want what I think will make my life better? When my agenda is confronted with the truth of God’s Word a wrestling takes place that results in life-change. This is the kind of depth that we as group leaders are pursuing—the depth that comes only when the Gospel becomes integrated with the whole individual, and results in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
How do we then pursue depth in our group time? Next time we’ll cover some basic practices that help set the stage for this kind of real-life wrestling with truth.