Swimming in the deep end: A review of Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald

Swimming lessons is a highlight of my 3-year-old’s week. In recent weeks, her teacher has been taking the kids to the deep end to jump off the blocks. Last week, I walked down there to encourage my daughter. I almost lost my nerve to keep her in swimming lessons at all.

The deep end scares me a little. I’m not a strong swimmer. I need the security of touching bottom while keeping my head above water. So seeing my little girl, with her backpack floatie wrapped around her torso, in all that water, makes me feel a little vulnerable. And helpless.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Spiritually speaking, the deep end scares me a little, too. But I’m encouraged and inspired after reading Gordon MacDonald’s latest book Going Deep.

He opens with this quote from Richard Foster:

“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”

Going Deep is both a work of fiction and a guidebook for ministry. In it MacDonald revisits the fictional New England church he created for Who Stole My Church? and what I love about these two books is that they read like fiction but with such realism that I forget the church and its congregants aren’t real. I find myself wishing I could visit this church and meet these people. (As a side note: I did get to meet MacDonald a few weeks ago. I hadn’t yet finished the book, but it was a joy to shake his hand and pass along my feelings about his writing.)

MacDonald and his fictional congregation take a journey to discover how to grow deep people — people who can make a difference not only in their church but in their communities and the world. The book is subtitled “becoming a person of influence” — that’s attractive. Who wouldn’t want to know that their life had influenced someone else’s for the better.

The catch is this: depth is not achieved easily or quickly. Maybe that’s a “duh” statement, but I was humbled and challenged by what the group learns about themselves and each other and the standard of commitment they held to.

As my husband prepares to finish seminary in the spring, becoming a deep person, a person of influence, holds great appeal. Beyond that, it’s a noble pursuit. But the people MacDonald chooses in the book to “go deep” are just that — chosen. They don’t apply or put their names in a hat or sign up. Others nominate them based on their lives and character qualities. I had to wonder if I’d be chosen.

And I’m thirsty for a teacher like MacDonald and his wife to pour into the lives of those who are younger — both in age and spiritual maturity.

Going Deep is high on my list of recommended books to read and, like Who Stole My Church?, will be a book I read often for spiritual insight, encouragement and refreshment.

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In exchange for my honest review, I received a free copy of Going Deep from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze.

I review for BookSneeze®

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