Tag Archive - depth

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10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make More Disciples

No matter what label you put on it “Discipleship,” “Spiritual Maturity,” or “Spiritual Formation” it’s one of the most argued over and misunderstood issues in the church today. After all just because you know a lot about Jesus doesn’t make you a disciple and on the other hand being in a Small Group or “Biblical Community” doesn’t necessarily make you a disciple either. Over the years I’ve actually written quite a bit on the topic. Below are some of my more popular posts on discipleship.

Choosing the Right Small Group Model for your Church

There are pros and cons to every groups models, but the goal of all of this group stuff in churches is to simply make disciples. Check out these different group models and choose the best model that fits the unique personality of your church.

6 Keys to Successful Small Groups

In a conversation Chris Surratt who runs SmallGroup.com and serves as a Ministry Consultant with the Unstuck Group he mentioned 6 great questions that churches should be talking about if they want to have a successful small group ministry.

How to Convince your Sr. Pastor to Join a Small Group

One of the most common points of frustration I hear from church leaders around the country is, “My Senior Pastor wants Small Groups to be a big deal at our church, but they won’t be in a Small Group themselves.” And the natural follow up question that’s asked right after that statement, “How do I get my Senior Pastor to be in a Small Group?” In an attempt to answer that question, here are a couple of steps you can take to help convince your Sr. Pastor that they need to be in a Small Group.

Who is Responsible for the Spiritual Maturity of the Church?

I hear complaints by church attenders across North America that their church is not, “deep enough.” Essentially they’re saying that they’re hungry. And you want to know the first thought that passes through my mind when I hear comments like these? “If you’re hungry, eat. You know where the food is.”

Making Small Groups the Hub of your Ministry

NorthCoast Church is an outlier when it comes to small groups and you need to get to know these guys. While the norm across the nation is hovering at about 50% of weekend worship attendance in groups, NorthCoast is shattering that norm and boasts just over 90% of their weekend worship attendance in groups. That was enough for us to get on a plane and spend some time learning from these guys. Here are a few of my take aways:

Why the Church Wins when the Church Staff are in a Small Group

You’re as lonely as you want to be. Yes, relationships are risky. Any time you entrust your heart with others there’s a chance that it won’t be handled well. And I understand that church leaders often feel pressure to perform and live up to unrealistic expectations of perfection. But if the church staff chooses to shrink back from vulnerability and authenticity in relationship with others then you’ll build a culture of superficial pretending in your church. That’s why when the church staff takes the risk and jumps into a small group bible study the whole church wins!

Your Church isn’t Deep Enough

In my work consulting with churches and coaching church leaders this, “it’s not deep enough” phrase is becoming more common. And honestly it concerns me. Not because the majority of churches aren’t deep enough, but rather that a majority of people who are trying to follow Jesus misunderstand what spiritual depth really looks like.

5 Ways to Help your Small Groups be Successful

Whether you are starting from scratch at a brand-new church plant or blowing up a large system at an existing church, there are some principles that can help set up your new plan for success down the road. Here are five guidelines to think through.

Why Churches Don’t Grow #3: No Spiritual Maturity Pathway

Many churches are stuck or declining not because they have a difficult time attracting or introducing new people to Jesus but because they have no plan in place to move people towards spiritual maturity or the plan they’re working is broken. Here are a couple of indicators that there is a breakdown somewhere in your spiritual maturity pathway:

A Couple of Statements about Spiritual Maturity that will Mess with You Part-1

Simply put…these ideas will challenge your thinking on what spiritual maturity looks like and acts like. Happy reading! Bonus: here’s Part-2 of that post.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Your Church isn’t Deep Enough

If you’ve led in a church setting for any length of time you know that people will eventually leave your church. People leave churches for all kinds of reasons. Some get new jobs and move away, some disagree with a leadership decision and leave, some don’t like a change in worship music style, some go to another church because that’s where their friends go, some fall into sin and walk away while others leave because it’s not deep enough for them anymore.

In my work consulting with churches and coaching church leaders this, “it’s not deep enough” phrase is becoming more common. And honestly it concerns me. Not because the majority of churches aren’t deep enough, but rather that a majority of people who are trying to follow Jesus misunderstand what spiritual depth really looks like. In fact I’ve already written a couple of posts about this that you can check out:

I’ve heard a lot of Pastors get frustrated with this, “it’s not deep enough” phrase being flippantly thrown around. Now I get that it’s easy to take that statement a bit personally if you’re a Pastor. Yes, some of these people are consumers and need to “grow up” but some of them are genuinely interested in learning more about the Bible and what it teaches and simply don’t know how to express that without saying they’re leaving because your church isn’t deep enough. But people need to be led to greater clarity on what spiritual maturity looks like.

It might be that our content-centric model of church has taught people that content equals spiritual maturity. In other words, the way we are doing church may be contributing to the problem.

It’s not the first time in history that people got upset in a church because it wasn’t deep enough. People have been spouting this complaint since the moment the church started. The Apostle Paul actually addressed this same issue in a letter he wrote to the church at Galatia (it’s called the Book of Galatians). A group of people called Gnostics were telling these young Galatian gentile converts that their version of Christianity wasn’t “deep enough” and they needed to, in addition to the Gospel, observe Jewish law, in particular, they needed to be circumcised. Personally, I could see how that could be a bit of a deterrent to the spread of the Gospel and more people, especially guys, following Jesus.

There is nothing “deeper” than the Gospel. As Christians we’re invited to start with the Gospel and stay with the Gospel. Nothing needs to be added to the Gospel, it is complete in and to itself. There is no deeper teaching in the entire Bible or for that matter in all of history than the Gospel. Trying to add to the Gospel is what got the early Church in trouble and it’s one of the ways that Satan continues to attack the Church today.

So the next time you hear someone say that their church isn’t deep enough it might be worth asking them what they mean by “deep.” They may be trying to add to the Gospel without realizing it.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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5 Reasons Churches Don’t Grow

Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of a church. All kinds of churches across America are stuck. Large churches, small churches, old churches, new churches, Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Nazarene churches, Presbyterian church and even non-denominational churches are stuck. In fact Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that:

“Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.”

While there are all kinds of reasons that churches end up stuck, at the Unstuck Group we’ve identified 5 key contributors that lead to churches being stuck. Through working with churches across America we’ve observed these contributors over and over and over again. You can click on the following headings below to learn more about each of the 5 key reasons that churches get stuck. So here they are in no particular order:

#1 Lack of Vision

An old Japanese proverb says, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” There are a lot of churches out there living a nightmare because while there may be ministry activity, that ministry activity is not aligned to move the whole church towards accomplishing a clear vision.

#2 Inward Focused

One of the most dangerous places a church can be in their life cycle is when the ministry they are doing is having a big impact with insiders (people who already know Jesus and are inside the church) but a low impact with outsiders (people who don’t know Jesus yet). It’s dangerous because it’s comfortable. It feels like things are going well and you have momentum because people are happy, they’re regularly attending, and they seem to be “all in” with what you’re doing. But if you aren’t reaching new people, your church or ministry is already moving towards unhealthiness and decline.

#3 No Clearly Defined Spiritual Maturity Pathway

Many churches are stuck or declining not because they have a difficult time attracting or introducing new people to Jesus but because they have no plan in place to move people towards spiritual maturity or the plan they’re working is broken.

#4 Complexity

It’s exciting when you’re adding staff, adding ministries, building buildings, and more and more people are meeting Jesus. But it’s not as exciting when things get really complex and the fun stops and growth begins to slow down. Growth by it’s very nature leads to lids of complexity.

#5 Lack of Strong Leadership

The greatest crisis facing the modern day church is a crisis of leadership. The modern day Church simply doesn’t attract, develop, or keep leaders. Leaders by their very nature are change agents. Because the unstated goal of most churches is to preserve the past, church leaders often times find themselves fighting the family instead of fighting the enemy.

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Posted in Leadership

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Why Churches Don’t Grow: #3 No Spiritual Maturity Pathway

Today we’re continuing this series of blog posts about the 5 key contributors that lead to 80% of churches in America being stuck or in decline. These key contributors have been observed repeatedly in our work with churches at the Unstuck Group. While churches get stuck and decline for all kinds of reasons, these 5 key contributors are the consistent culprits.

Many churches are stuck or declining not because they have a difficult time attracting or introducing new people to Jesus but because they have no plan in place to move people towards spiritual maturity or the plan they’re working is broken. Here are a couple of indicators that there is a breakdown somewhere in your spiritual maturity pathway:

1. Content is Mistaken for the Solution

Neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul defined spiritual maturity as knowledge. Content is not the solution. It’s not what you know; it’s what you do with what you know. It’s an issue of obedience and application. Is your church actually helping people apply the Bible to their everyday life or are you just teaching bible classes?

2. There are Too Many Steps

If the road map to spiritual maturity has been defined at your church and it’s too long or has too many steps it simply won’t work. People will quit on you. Then you will have the tendency to think the few people you end up with at the end of the arduous process you’ve build are the spiritual elite. Meanwhile many people who could have been brought along with you have been left by the wayside to figure it out on their own. Jesus only spent 3 years with His disciples and then turned them loose to change the world. Most churches today would never let the disciples serve in a leadership role, much less lead the church because they hadn’t “walked with Jesus long enough.” We’re not building Fords, we’re building disciples. Disciplemaking is not an assembly line.

3. There is No Clear Next Step

When someone says yes to following Jesus have you defined the next step for them to take? Then what happens next? Is the process working? Each step in the process needs to be clear, natural and intuitive. Has your church taken the time to map out and answer the question of “What’s my next step?” Then ask that question over and over again until you’ve arrived at some point of “spiritual maturity.”

4. People aren’t Giving or Serving

You’re never more like Jesus than when you give or when you serve; because giving and serving are the very essence of what it means to live like Jesus. Does your church treat volunteering as discipleship? Does your church not only provide opportunities for people to give and serve but train them how to do both well?

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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what does spiritual depth look like?

The word “deep” is a dangerous word in church world today. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they’re leaving a particular church because it’s not “deep” enough for them. Or they’re going to go to a different church because it’s “deep.” I’ve even heard people criticize pastors because the sermon they gave that weekend wasn’t “deep.” In fact I’ve even been on the receiving end of a statement like that a time or two (ouch). But what does spiritual depth really look like? What does “deep” mean?

1. Emotionally moving:

For some people “depth” is an emotion. If they teared up and were moved during a sermon, then it was deep. If that’s really the definition of deep then I can show you a movie or two that are deep. I cried like a baby at the end of “Marley and Me.” Hey don’t judge, I also cried at Gladiator, Braveheart, and the list goes on. See I do have a soft side. If being emotionally moved is really the definition of deep then 2 year olds and teenagers going through puberty are really deep.

2. Academic exercise:

For some people “depth” is an academic exercise. It’s all about a particular method of studying the scriptures. Expository versus Topical…now there’s a good fight we can get into. You know this is at play when you hear people proudly use phrases like, “We’re a people of the Word!”  A scientific method of bible study sadly doesn’t make someone deep.

3. Intellectual information:

For some people depth is all about new information. Is there a new piece of information I can learn, a new fact, a piece of church history, maybe something from the original languages? While all of this may be very intriguing, it’s not all that deep. If knowledge and information = depth then you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who were the most knowledgeable of the Scriptures when Jesus was walking the earth?” Answer: the Pharisees. I don’t think crucifying Jesus was very deep.

4. Confusion:

For others still depth is about not being able to truly know anything. In other words, if I can’t understand it then it must be deep. If the pastor uses big words, cute sayings, sounds smart, but I can’t understand what the heck he’s trying to say, it must be deep. Unfortunately deep isn’t confusing.

If spiritual depth is about any of these above four ideas on this list then spiritual depth is all about the presenter. But in the passage below Jesus tells a parable about two houses that were built, one on a foundation of sand and the other on a stone foundation. In both cases the builders heard the Word of God, but only one of the builders put what he heard into action. Could it be that spiritual depth according to the Scriptures is simply putting God’s Word into action?

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Luke 6:46-49


Posted in Spiritual Formation