After 15 years of serving as a pastor, I still get mildly aggravated when someone says they wish I would teach on deeper topics and not camp out so often on the stuff the mature already know. I do believe there are a handful of scholars sitting each week in a crowd our size and I can see their point. I have never been mistaken for Wright, Peterson or Nouwen, although I read their stuff. What most people are really saying is this: “Would you speak more often about the narrow list of topics in Scripture that I think are most important.”
I will pause here for a moment for you to repent. Selah.
When I stand before my fellowship, I see a big swimming pool, with a shallow end, a deep end and a kiddie pool off to the side. The shallow end is full of young, wide eyed, babies and toddlers. Some of them of them have those giant floaties that make their arms stick straight out. Their parents were wise enough to not take them down to the deep end and just throw them in the water. That would be at best foolish and at worse, lethal.
Most of these parents are expert swimmers who could easily navigate the deeper end, but they are actually content down in the shallow end, splashing about with the young they have produced, hoping the water will not frighten them away from an aquatic world of fun.
The kiddie pool off to the side is there for the very young who probably are years away from learning to swim. Most of them them are lugging around a diaper that’s as large as a Scion. They probably tried the shallow end, but all the amateurish splashing scared them away so they retreated to the safest of all places which was only few feet away.
Before you tell your pastor you want deeper teaching, consider a couple of questions.
1. When was the last time you brought a spiritual baby to church and saw them get the baby stuff for the first time? In fact, instead of asking your pastor for deeper teaching, go ask him who you could help teach. I promise he will have a long list of candidates for you to prayerfully consider helping.
2. Are you solely depending on a 30-40 talk once a week to go deeper? Because of the internet, we literally have millions of hours of study from the worlds best scholars. At New Life, we have small groups, an extension campus for Kings College and Seminary plus other classes taught by really smart people who tackle some of the deepest stuff imaginable.
Most pastors I know are fascinated by the deep topics and would love nothing more than to explore these with you each week. But the deep end is not for everyone, not yet. Because I am pastor of the expert swimmer and the toddler with the floaties and Scion diapers, I need to spend time in both ends of the pool every week. Splashing babies almost always become swimming adults, I promise.
June 20, 2011 at 6:58 am
Love the pool metaphor.
We all should want to “go deep.” The “way” to go deep is to dive in on your own and bring more people to the pool. Great illustration.
June 20, 2011 at 7:40 am
Great word Brady – I reposted this on our FB page to that our fans wouldn’t miss what you have to share. Blessings, Jim
June 20, 2011 at 10:18 am
Good word! John Wimber reminded us, back in my Vineyard days that Jesus taught in the Gospel of John, “My meat is to do the will of the Father,” or as he used to rephrase it, “The meat is in the street!” I see the Dream Centers and so many other things as ‘evidence’ of the ‘meat of the Word’ that you are teaching!
June 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm
Thanks Brady- at 56 yrs. young and walking with the Lord for decades, i’m still trying to live out the simple truths i learned as a kid; i.e. “Jesus loves me this i know; for the Bible tells me so.”
June 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm
YOU ARE THE MAN! SUPER BRADY!
June 21, 2011 at 8:19 am
Hi Pastor, As I think of this metaphor you are using, I think of the River of God that proceeds from the right side of the throne…Ezekial 47. I don’t want to stay in ankle deep, I want to be immersed into the love of God….Sometimes we need to be coaxed to go deeper, and maybe some of us even need a push…..After losing my husband, I have realized that all that remains between he and myself is the eternal covenantal love of God….everything else has passed away, but love remains. All truth shared in the House of NLC should lead us deeper into the knowledge of His love….and as we demonstrate this, we are going to turn upside down this city, and the nations….The love of God (Eph 3:14-15) comes from above, is not manufacured, and the counterfeit is miserably sorrowful….May the River of God flow from this house, and be the catalyst behind every word we speak,every song we sing and every action we do….This love will compel all of us to go deeper…..His continued healing….
June 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm
RE: depth/shallowness of teaching:
I wonder if we’d call Jesus’ teaching “shallow” or “deep?”
It seems to me that shallow/deep may come more from a (potentially sterile?) intellectual hunger than from a desire to walk more closely in step with the heart of our Master. We in evangelical America seem too often to crave Pauline-based teachings, perhaps because it appeals to our intellect, while allowing us (inappropriately) to walk away feeling fed (even though our lives are rarely transformed, many might say.)
Most of the teachings of Jesus seem to be followed up with an imperative — a command to act in one way or another in obedience to the Father’s call. Perhaps the Holy Spirit’s way to keep me from falling prey to intellectual demands is to convict me / make me squirm in the pew to such an extent that that I’m unable to flee into mere intellectual critique.
Please keep making us squirm in the pews under the leading of the Holy Spirit. God’s looking less for theological giants, I’d propose, than for men and women so attached to His heart that we can’t help but follow Him more closely, more obediently.
Upon arrival at the pearly gates (sorry 🙂 I’m expecting I’m less likely to be issued an IQ test than an EKG.