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Going Deep: Becoming A Person of Influence

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Overview

Jump into the Deep End

What is a deep person? If you’d like to become one, wouldyou know how? Would you like to help others becomedeep? If so, you have come to the right place.

In this fascinating book, best-selling author Gordon MacDonalddiscovers that his small New England church could be headed fortrouble. Why? Because of a serious shortage. There are plenty ofgood people, well-meaning people, sincere ...

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Overview

Jump into the Deep End

What is a deep person? If you’d like to become one, wouldyou know how? Would you like to help others becomedeep? If so, you have come to the right place.

In this fascinating book, best-selling author Gordon MacDonalddiscovers that his small New England church could be headed fortrouble. Why? Because of a serious shortage. There are plenty ofgood people, well-meaning people, sincere people—but not enough deep people.

In his celebrated and engaging style, Gordon transports you backto the fictional setting from his critically acclaimed book, Who StoleMy Church? He identifies the crucial missing component in hiscommunity: people of true depth, people of real influence. Andhe offers unforgettable insights on how to cultivate spiritual maturityand exhibit life-altering faith.

As it turns out in Gordon’s town—and probably yours—what’s neededis people who are willing to seek Christ passionately with a hungerto go deep. This may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785226086
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/18/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 523,965
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon MacDonald has been a pastor and author for more than fifty years. He serves as Chancellor at Denver
Seminary, as editor-at-large for Leadership Journal, and as a speaker at leadership conferences around the world. His books include Building
Below the Waterline, Who Stole My Church, A Resilient Life,
and
Ordering Your Private World. Gordon and his wife, Gail, live in New Hampshire.

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Read an Excerpt

GOING DEEP

Becoming a Person of Influence
By Gordon MacDonald

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2011 Gordon MacDonald
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7852-3249-0


Chapter One

JULY 6

The First Summer

To: Hank Soriano From: GMAC Subject: Re: Red Sox

Hank, Gail and I really enjoyed the game yesterday. But most of all I appreciated the chance to spend time with you and Cynthia. Thanks so much for lunch, the game, the conversation. I've thought about your question and here's my first-draft answer. I think it can be read in twelve floors.

It was on July 6, at an evening baseball game In Boston's Fenway Park, that the great idea first started coming to life.

Gail and I were the guests of our next-door neighbors, Hank and Cynthia Soriano. Hank's company—he's a VP for sales—has season tickets just behind the Red Sox dugout, and that evening we four were the beneficiaries of his boss's largesse.

The game was at the midpoint of the seventh inning and the women were involved in a conversation of their own. Hank and I (typical of most men) had been silent for a few minutes, watching the action on the field. Suddenly, he asked me this question: "Hey, what would you say is your church's elevator story?"

You should know that, except for weddings and funerals, Hank Soriano hadn't gone to church since he was a kid. Cynthia, once a casual church attendee, dropped out completely when she married Hank six years ago. For both of them, this is their second marriage.

If Hank and Cynthia are what some call unchurched, then Gail and I are the opposite: churched up to our eyeballs. I've been a pastor for forty-plus years, before that, the son of a pastor.

Despite our contrasts in church involvement, the Sorianos and the MacDonalds are good friends. Proof ? Well, to borrow a biblical comment: "Greater love hath no man than he who provideth his friends with Red Sox tickets." I'm sure Hank and Cynthia know a lot of people, but when it came to sharing an evening at Fenway Park, they chose us.

Being "unchurched" has never prevented Hank Soriano from showing interest in my work. He has always been curious about how various kinds of organizations, even churches, operate and, even more so, how they are led. So when we get together, it's not unusual for him to ask some off-the-wall question about my current activities. I should add that he likes answers couched in business language.

Actually, my neighbor, Hank, does not visualize me as a pastor or priest; rather, I am, in his eyes, something like a company president. Let me illustrate. One day he asked me how my compensation package was structured. Did my contract with the church—he assumed I had one—include a percentage of the offerings? For Hank this was not an unthinkable possibility. "Hey," he said, "I hear the church is growing on your watch. Revenue's got to be up ... you're due a bigger piece of the pie. Understand what I'm saying?"

When I related Hank's comment to our church leaders (we call them elders) in our next meeting, they thought it was funny ... and then dropped the subject immediately.

Now, here at Fenway Park, Hank had hit me with another of his wild questions. This one was about our church's "elevator story," which, to be honest, I wasn't sure existed.

I was silent for a moment and then sheepishly confessed to Hank that I couldn't tell him our elevator story. In fact, I further admitted, I didn't even know what an elevator story was.

Did that ever bring Hank Soriano to life! Instantly the ballgame was forgotten.

"You saying that you don't know what an elevator—" Hank got that far, paused, and then started again. He knew a teachable moment when he saw one.

"Well, say you and another guy get on an elevator at the Pru together ... first floor." Hank was referring to Boston's Prudential Center, a few blocks away. "You've both punched the thirtieth-floor button. Get what I'm saying here?"

I nodded that I did ... so far.

"So as the doors are closing, the other guy sees your company pin on your jacket's lapel and says, 'So, what's that company of yours do?' Got that? Huh?"

I indicated a second time that I got that. I should mention that sometimes Hank tests your patience with his filler phrases like "Got that?" and "Understand what I'm saying?" It's a verbal habit, part of his Boston brogue, which, if you're short on patience, can drive you nuts.

Hank went on. "Okay, here's the point of an elevator story. You've got the time it takes to reach the thirtieth floor to tell this guy exactly what your company does." Then with a big Soriano smile, he added, with a hint of drama, "And let's just say that if—if, I said—your company story is dazzling enough, this guy'll pull out his card and suggest getting together to talk about doing a twenty-mil deal with you. Twenty million dollars! Get it?"

I assured Hank that I got it.

"So." Hank sat back and folded his arms as if satisfied that he'd thoroughly instructed me. "What's your church's story? Dazzle me in thirty f loors. Pretend there's twenty mil on the line here."

Put yourself in my shoes. You're in sold-out Fenway Park. The score's tied. The Red Sox are coming to bat, and the crowd is singing "Sweet Caroline (Oh, Oh, Oh)," a nightly Fenway Park ritual. And suddenly, the guy who brought you to the game asks to be dazzled by your church's elevator story. And remember that you only learned a minute ago what an elevator story is. Understand what I'm saying?

The first thing that came to me as I struggled to respond to Hank was the doctrinal statement on the nature of the church that I'd hammered out years ago in a seminary theology course. But it is hardly a dazzling document, especially for someone like unchurched Hank. Besides, it would have required at least six hundred or more floors to rattle off, and his elevator apparently only went up thirty floors. I also thought about our fifteen-word mission statement—"to point people toward Jesus Christ and his invitation to a full and purposeful life." But that wouldn't have dazzled Hank either.

Here's what Hank Soriano was asking: What is your church doing today that would cause anyone (maybe even your neighbor, Hank Soriano) to be attracted to it?

I finally dodged the question by asking for a day or two to think about it. That experience at Fenway was not my finest hour as the "president" of our church.

July 6 – 8

The First Summer

To: Tom O'Donnell From: GMAC Subject: Elevator Story

Tom, question for you. What's an elevator story?

To: GMAC From: Tom O'Donnell Subject: Re: Elevator Story

Hey, Pastor Mac. Where'd you find that in the Bible? I thought elevator stories were only for business types. An elevator story is a brief description of an organization, its products or services, and how it gets the job done. Some businesses go mad trying to formalize one and get everyone to agree with it.

Over the next few days, I kept thinking a bout what our church's elevator story might sound like. Several times I sat down with my laptop and tried writing one. But when I read some of my drafts to Gail, she was decidedly undazzled. I came to realize that Tom O'Donnell was right: thirty-floor elevator stories—the dazzling kind, anyway—are not easy to produce.

Finally, determined to get a story written if for no better reason than to redeem myself in Hank Soriano's eyes, I forced one into existence to which Gail reluctantly gave a passing grade. I remember her saying, "It's okay, I guess ... but don't spend the twenty mil, or whatever, until the cash is in your hand."

Our Church Elevator Story

Our 175-year-old church is composed of people who, through the generations, have shared a common commitment to Jesus Christ. Following his example, we regularly worship God. Studying his life and the lives of those who followed him, we do our best to emulate him in the way we live in our community. Believing that God's central message is about love, we try to assure that our relationships (God, marriage, family, friendships, strangers, even enemies) all reflect what he both taught and did. Finally, aware of his intense compassion for people who lost their way spiritually and physically, we attempt to represent his mission by serving others in the larger world when we become aware of their needs.

Having completed my final version, my imagination went to work. What if my elevator story—despite Gail's lack of enthusiasm— garnered some version of a twenty-mil payday? Exactly what would that payday be? In this case the answer was obvious. The payday would be Hank and Cynthia Soriano visiting our church, deciding to follow Jesus, and wanting to become a part of things. No doubt about it: that would be the equivalent of a twenty-mil deal.

Finally, I pasted my elevator story into an e-mail I'd written to thank Hank and Cynthia for taking Gail and me to the ballgame, then began awaiting his response.

I will confide to you that the dreamer in me anticipated an almost immediate text message that might sound like this: GMAC, Read your ES. Never knew a church could sound so exciting. I'm really dazzled. How quickly can Cynthia and I get involved?

That message never came.

But there was a result of sorts that I would never have anticipated. It came in a conversation Hank and I had when we unexpectedly bumped into each other on the way to our mailboxes the next day to get our morning newspapers.

"Hey, I read your elevator story several times," Hank said. "Not too bad. Never read anything like that before ... pretty religious ... but we probably need organizations like yours that do some good in the world. Tell you one thing, though. It's sure different from my store."

Hank often refers to his company as "the store" for reasons I've never understood.

"Well, anyway," I said, "now you know a little bit more about what I do."

"Yeah, I guess so. I can see why you might enjoy your job."

"What makes you say that?"

And then Hank Soriano said something that—now looking back with perspective—began to define the final years of my pastoral life.

"Mac, I'm in marketing and sales. The largest part of my job is training people, which I love doing. I read your story, and I said to myself, That stuff he writes about can't happen unless somebody's constantly training people. If you're going to keep that story honest, training, training, training is going to be your most important job. Understand what I'm saying here?

"You may be president of your store, but you should also be the chief training officer. And that combo would come close to being the greatest job there is: discovering who's trainable and teaching them to make that elevator story of yours happen. You know ..." Here Hank seemed to almost get nostalgic. "I could really love a job like yours."

July 9

The First Summer

From my journal

Fascinating conversation with Soriano this morning. He actually liked my elevator story. At least he didn't blow it off. And he had the insight to see that the key to an organization like a church begins with training leadership. He said something that amazed me. "Training, training, training: that's what'll keep your story honest."

This morning I'm wondering what Hank would think if I told him how poor a job we do in training leaders. Truth is that we do some training in our church for leaders, but it's optional and is usually treated in a cavalier way. Anyway, Soriano has managed to get my mind spinning. Is our elevator story honest? What does training, training, training mean?

Writing that elevator story for hank Soriano ended up dazzling me more than it did him. I say this because it started me—and ultimately others—on my search for the "great idea."

Let me explain what I mean.

During the several hours I invested in writing my elevator story, I tried my best to describe what our church did in language that would enlighten someone who hadn't the vaguest notion of what a church was. In Hank Soriano's case, the challenge was to offer a story that was faithful to the sacred nature of what we sometimes call the body of Christ yet comprehensible to a person who could only think in business terms.

Before I started writing my first of many drafts, I tried whittling down the concept of a church to its irreducible minimum. Where could one go in the Bible to see this done? I think I found my answer in these words attributed to Jesus: "Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."

I concluded that these words were like the DNA—a building block of sorts—of the church. All that's necessary is for two or more people to come and bond together in a common loyalty to Jesus, the Savior. Result? He becomes present in that gathering. That's all one needs to certify that a church exists for a short or long time: Christ is here!

But how would one know that Christ is present? How about these evidences? Lives would begin to change; that's conversion. People would begin to love, to care for, to enjoy one another; that's community, or fellowship. A spirit of generosity would start to fill the air as each person invested his or her energies and resources in the life of the gathering; that's servanthood. Children would be instructed; youth mentored; adults of every age would be encouraged; older people might be appreciated, even listened to. That's love.

And from there? There might follow an apostolic spirit in those people that would begin to burst outward, beyond the church, into the larger world so that others might experience the redemptive love of Jesus in all sorts of ways. That's being missional.

I found it inspiring to imagine this chain of events, and I was refreshed in the thought of how much I have loved the church when it has operated like this over the years. I have enjoyed the friendships, the things people did together, the way we all supported one another when there were difficult times. I thought of those I'd seen come to faith in Jesus and experience a marked renovation of life.

I wondered what the biblical equivalent of an elevator story might sound like. The Ephesian church came to mind because we know as much about that church as any in the New Testament.

If the Ephesian church has an elevator story, this is it: you can read it in just five floors.

When [miracles in the church] became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly.... In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Now, there's an impressive story. But did the Ephesian church stay honest? Only a few decades later, this church with its wild beginning became the recipient of one of the sternest judgments a church could imagine. A prophetic angel said to the church: "I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Remember the height from which you have fallen.... If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."

It was as if the angel was saying, "You people are just inches from losing (losing!) the thing that most marked you in the beginning. In fact, Christ's blessing (your lampstand) is about to be taken from you. Think about that ... long and hard!"

The angel could have added, "And once the lampstand is gone, you're no longer a church."

I read these lines of Scripture, thought about them several times, and asked myself how this could have happened. How could the Ephesian church have lost so much momentum?

Remember the height, the angel had said. What I called the Ephesian church's elevator story must have described the church's peak moments, its height. But from that point forward, it was downhill all the way. The story lost its honesty.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from GOING DEEP by Gordon MacDonald Copyright © 2011 by Gordon MacDonald. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
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  • Posted January 20, 2012

    Highly Recommended if you want to becoming deep!

    Have you ever wanted to be a deep person? I have. Ever since I started really living for the Lord in college, I've wanted to be deep. I've wanted to be educated about the Lord, welcoming to His people, in sync with the Lord. I've wanted a mentor - a deep person to teach me to be a deep person.

    When I had the opportunity to pick a book to review, I was drawn to Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald. I can't say I chose the book by its cover but I definitely made a good choice choosing by its title. This book was just what I was looking for to challenge me.

    Mr. MacDonald writes about a fictional church in New England. In the period of two years, you learn about Pastor MacDonald (GMAC) and his "great idea." This great idea turns into a group called Cultivating Deep People which is lead by him and his wife, Gail. They choose (not taking volunteers to the dismay of a few congregants) participants who they felt had what it took to be a leader in the church. Not in the way of being on pastoral staff (and not necessarily meaning that) but being a leader in a wider way. In a Christian, evangelical, spread-the-gospel kind of way. A leader who could later cultivate their own deep people.

    I found so much about this book interesting. First, that I have never seen something like this in any church I've attended. I actually have set up a meeting to talk to our pastor about women and the lack of mentors in that aspect of our church. I so badly want someone to mentor me and I know there are other women in the church who want that - and others still who are capable of doing so. Titus 2 teaches the older women to teach the younger women. But where is that in the church today?

    I think that if enough people read this book, they would want this and start forming CDP (Cultivating Deep People) groups in their churches. They would grow deep people who would grow deep people who would grow deep people and on and on. People that could be leaders in the church and in the wider world. I know that I want to be a deep person and the only bad thing about this book is that they don't offer the resources used. Well, MacDonald offers the resources he used but not the ones that he made up for his fictional CDP group (Paul/Titus connection).

    The coolest thing about reading this was a friend of ours went to Denver Seminary where GMAC is a chancellor. Him and his wife could have taken a marriage class with MacDonald and his wife, Gail. That would have been even cooler.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    A Book for Seasoned Minister?

    This Book is a moving, practical, fictional story written by a pastor at heart. Although the story pans out quite perfectly in the book, (real life may not be so smooth) the focus is there. Are the churches today willing to pull every resource and manpower to cultivate deep people for greater influence in the world? Gordon MacDonald has provoked thoughts from both young and old. The elders and the leaders must continue to learn and then be available to cultivate deep people of the church, especially the younger generation. They are to be patient with them. The younger generation must be willing to be cultivated. Anyway, it takes two hands to clap. The author makes it clear that not everyone would love to be cultivated or willing to go deep in God. Some obviously are not ready.

    While I love all the practical lessons learnt, somehow, I still think this book is written for those whose age in ministry has caught up on them. These elders must now pass on the mantle. Nevertheless, the book has brought out a sharper focus on discipleship, albeit through some new captivating words.

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  • Posted May 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This book has great concepts and has some great ideas, however I

    This book has great concepts and has some great ideas, however I really found it to be really slow moving. At times I felt like I was reading the memoirs of a pastor than something that was very instructional. There were a lot of names thrown around that I couldn't follow. Overall, if you don't mind a slow pace, you will probably get some good tidbits.

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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    When I was looking through books to read this one immediately ca

    When I was looking through books to read this one immediately caught my eye. I loved not only the cover, but the concept behind the book. However, once I got into the book, it was hard to read. The author takes the time to carry on full conversations about ideas discussed throughout the entirety of the book, which makes it a little slow moving. I really enjoyed the message portrayed in the storyline, but could not read more than a chapter at a time without becoming distracted by something else. It might just be that I have been reading a lot of fiction lately, and this non-fiction type book just couldn't capture my attention to draw me in. I have set the book aside to try to re-read at another date. I know I can get more out of it that I did :) I learned some great concepts and have taken on some of the "tasks" of becoming a deeper person, but would definitely like a twice-over for this one. I think this would be an awesome idea starter for pastors and their fellowships, but as a mere sheep in the flock of millions, this was a bit too much for me.
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Posted February 23, 2012

    Great for Pastors & Church Leaders...

    What is a “deep person”? It is interesting that we recognize in others this characteristic yet often times it is difficult to describe. Many long to move from being “shallow” in their faith to being a person of depth whom God uses to influence others for the Kingdom. Going Deep describes a fictional church family and in so doing develops a clear picture of how we becoming deeper people. MacDonald reveals helpful insights for any Christ follower and churches as well desiring to develop and disciple people to a deeper spiritually maturity. I found Going Deep thought provoking and solid in approach. This book is a great tool for any church desiring to grow spiritually and not a quick fix for attendance. While I did find Going Deep to be insightful, it was a struggle for me to read. I found it slow-moving and with much greater detail into the life of a fictional church than I was expecting. The details of the fictional church in some ways distracted from what seemed to be the author’s purpose for writing it. I give Going Deep three out of five stars. I recommend it for pastors and church leaders as we develop churches of spiritual depth to address the challenges of our day. I received this book free from the publisher through Thomas Nelson Publishers BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

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  • Posted January 22, 2012

    Very Interesting Thoughts

    This is the first book of Gordon Macdonald's that I have read. I received it free from Book Sneeze to read and review. These are my opinions.
    I think it is very well written about a fictional congregation in New England area. The pastor, GMAC feels a need to cultivate Deep People in the Church and he journals a two year attempt to do this. After reading this I feel it would be wonderful to be a part of a church that knows how to accomplish this goal.

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  • Posted December 27, 2011

    Review of Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald

    In Going Deep: Becoming a Person of Influence, Gordon McDonald explores the process of a deepening faith in the average Christian. Through a fictional narrative, McDonald provides the reader with one pastor's experience in developing a small group that would produce future Christian leaders. Not satisfied with simply bring people into the church, this pastor wanted to see his church members' faith grow so that they would be a positive influence on the church and the world in the future. In forming this group, the pastor discovers the aspects of a ¿deep¿ person, along with the methods for developing such a person.

    Going Deep is an easily readable and fascinating insight into church and faith development. While I have little experience in what draws people into the church¿and I must admit that I have not read this book's predecessor¿I do see the wisdom in McDonald's methods, including the creation of a small learning group and the mentoring of younger people by older members of the congregation. The process described in the book is rooted in the ancient rabbinical practices but incorporates newer practices gained from the fields of business and psychology. Although this book may not be appropriate for all Christians in that it focuses on group and church development, it would be a good read for those in authority in the church so that they can help create ¿deep¿ leaders in their own communities.

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  • Posted December 24, 2011

    Going Deep is a Great Book for Pastors and Leaders

    I just finished Gordon MacDonalds 383 page book, Going Deep: Becoming a Person of Influence, the longest book I read in 2011. I received Going Deep for FREE as part of the Book Sneeze program. They will send you free books in exchange for an honest review. This happens to be my first review with this particular program, but be on the look out for my post next week titled How Not to Pay for a Book Again.

    I¿m not sure why, but I¿m very reluctant to read fiction books. Maybe it¿s because I don¿t think fiction books can help me grow as a person or I don¿t want to be entertained when I read (I sound like a fuddy dud!). Not sure, but Going Deep has changed my perspective. I¿ve heard a lot over the past year about Gordon MacDonald¿s Who Stole My Church and never got around to picking it up to read, but I found its sequel Going Deep on the available books to review, so I decided to request it.

    This book was a fantastic read, that enhanced my personal vision and clarified in more ways than one something God has been stirring in my heart for the coming year, 2012. Though Going Deep is a thick book, it reads better than most 150 page books I¿ve read. It has short chapters that are written in a journaling style that keep the pages turning, yet if you need to take a break most entries are as little as 3-5 pages making it easy to start and stop.

    Going Deep is about Gordon MacDonald¿s fictitious pastoral journey of cultivating Christ¿s deepening work in a small group of hungry people that will one day be the next generation of leaders in an aging church. Though the book is fiction, there are just some fantastic observations and conversations among the characters in the story that provide a roadmap and motivation for pastors and small group leaders to live their life on display in order to disciple those that want more out of their Christian life. I especially think that this is a great read for leaders that are close to the finish line and desire to leave a legacy of leadership at their churches instead of resisting or resenting the people God is wanting to raise up and release. We can learn and live so much more effectively when men of God will do what GMAC (Gordon Macdonald¿s nickname in the book) and his wife Gail do in this story, by pouring your life experience into those that our desiring more!

    I highly recommend you pick up this book for your staff and small group leaders. Merry Christmas!

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  • Posted November 25, 2011

    Some great tips, but falls short as fiction.

    "Going Deep" provides a terrific account of what must be included in a leadership training program. Those new to leadership will find this book as a good way to start understanding what should be involved with becoming a leader. The point that churches must be deliberately cultivating leaders is a significant one and should be considered by all current church leadership. While the book provided a good outline of a solid leadership training program and also made a significant point about the future of church leadership, there are two major disappointments to consider. First, the leadership training plan could have been given in about half the amount of space, perhaps in a training manual/program, and it would have been more effective in that format. Additionally, I could not get past the fact that this book is a work of fiction. The story played out too much like a script in a "feel good" movie, and I just found believing that this could happen as it was written quite difficult. This was very distracting. The fact that this book is fiction seriously detracted from the effectiveness of the training outline provided throughout.

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    Not "Deep", disappointing

    I was very disappointed with this book. The material in this book could be covered in half the number of pages. Not only was it drawn out, the concepts in the book were not "deep".

    Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald is a story of fictional church implementing a supposedly new and innovative idea of Cultivating Deep People (CDP). A group of people are chosen to commit to meeting once a week to learn to be deep. But I did not see anything innovative nor deep in its idea or methods. While the premise is good - "Strengthening and enlarging the core congregation by cultivating growable men and women to be rooted, built up, and strengthened in Christ and to become competent and confident in their call to serve others in his name" - the way it was done is nothing more than a typical discipleship group that was rather shallow. I was hoping to learn something more about "cultivating deep people", such as challenging people to live out their faith, but the people in the group were not challenged in any way that is radical.
    Disclosure: Thomas Nelson provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for this review. Opinions are entirely my own.

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very Shallow, Boring, So "Blah"

    Going Deep is a fictional story that uses real life preacher Gordon MacDonald and his wife in a story of fellowship and church growth. The two come to the realization that their church should be filled with deep people and set out to create a program to train deep people. After setting up their program, they take several years to impliment the program and grow depth within a number of select individuals.

    The idea is great - a church of deep people will glorify God by their Christlikeness more than a church of shallow people who don't know much about their beliefs and don't live fully committed lives that produce spiritual fruit: joy, kindness, faithfulness, patience, etc. This idea probably would have made a good "how-to" instructional non-fiction book. I think the fiction format could have worked if the story had been well-thought and more realistic.

    When I pick up a book about "deep people", I expect to find something deep within its pages. Instead of giving readers an "Ah-ha" moment, this book is dragged across 400 pages in a painful diary format: Pastor woke up, ate breakfast, talked to Joe, went home, ate dinner. Next day, pastor called Pete, went home, talked to wife. The book drags on like this and by the time you are 50% through the book, they still haven't even decided how to impliment the learning program. The last part of the book is rushed through 2 years of "implimenting the program" by skipping weeks at a time between meetings. Prayer is described as "a one sentence "I'm thankful for..."." When there is a cultivating depth meeting, it's all that unrealistic corny dialogue that Christian books and movies are notorious for and there is no depth to the meetings or dialogue.

    Example of rushing through growth meetings without any details: "AS THE WEEK SPASSED [Yes, that's an error in Kindle ebook], WE STUDIED THE LIVES OF OTHER biblical heroes...AFTER WE'D FINISHED STUDYING TEMPERAMENT, THE GROUP began studying the so-called spiritual disciplines. Gail and I outlined some of the ways the Bible called people to a life of devotion... We spent time talking about how to read various parts of the Bible and internalize what we were reading. We even looked at the structure of the Bible, its division into Older and New Testaments. One night we reviewed the sections of the New Testament and talked about the purpose of each of the small letters that Paul and the other apostles had written. Then there was the subject of meditation, or reflection, something more easily understood by the introverts and harder for the extroverts."

    After completing the book, (without any disrespect towards the author) I must wonder if Gordon MacDonald took the time to sit down and actually think about what a real life successful program would look like. If he did, all those details that would create a successful program in real life, are left out of this book. This book has the feel of the author coming up with a good idea, not wanting to put much thought into how the idea would be carried out in real life, and just banging out a warm fuzzy fictional story, while he left out all the "deep" details.

    I would not recommend reading this book. If you are looking for any good ideas on becoming deeper, you won't find it here. This isn't a bad book, but it isn't especially good either - long, drawn out, boring, slow to accomplish anything. By the end, I'm left going &quot

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    A Great Read for Church Leadership

    In Going Deep Gordon MacDonald uses a fictional story about him pastoring a church to illustrate how to cultivate deep people. Through the story, MacDonald explores the necessity of cultivating deep people in his church give it a future. Deep people are ones who follow Jesus as His disciples.

    Through the story, MacDonald learns from a rabbi how rabbis in Jesus' time invited disciples to follow them to learn their ways. He invites a small group of people who have deepness potential to spend one day for forty weeks spending a few hours under the discipleship of MacDonald and his wife, as well as mentors once a month.



    The lessons from MacDonald's story have potential to change churches and people. It's a great read for pastors and church leaders as well as anyone seeking a deeper life.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    An entertaining book on leadership & discipleship

    Don't be intimidated by the title of this book. When I selected to review the book Going Deep, by Gordon MacDonald, I had no idea that the book would shake me awake from my doze into the land of mediocrity. Tomorrow's church is headed for trouble without an abundance of "deep people," according to the author, who bases the premise of his book around Richard Foster's statement that there is a desperate need today "not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people." Through a fictional account of a pastor and the people in his New England church, the author explains his points in an entertaining style. The idea of what it means to cultivate deep people and how to accomplish it is illustrated through the dialog of a core group of people who have a dream of ensuring their church is sustainable in the years to come. The story continues in sharing the steps of how this church took action into growing deep people through a diverse group of people with differing personalities. While this book was long, it was a joy to read. The short chapters and writing style made it easy to pick up and read a few minutes here and there. Besides, I always think it is fun to study and learn when you don't even realize you are doing it - to get lost in a story of another life but find perspective and ideas to pull back into my own. If you are looking for something to inspire you to be a better spiritual leader or searching for ideas on how to disciple people, I highly recommend this book. BookSneeze® provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Shallow Book, Unbiblical/Wrong Interpretations

    Going Deep is a FICTIONAL BOOK about some characters that go about wanting to create deep people within the church. In a growing Christian community of deep seekers, thinkers and the rise of New Calvinists like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and John Piper, the idea of this book is great and perfect for the times. Especially the 18-30 crowd is looking for depth and more to life than fun music, fiction, reality tv and are seeking deep readings, like the huge resurgence in Puritain authors like Jonathan Edwards.

    Too bad this was a fictional book and not a non-fiction book. Most of the book was wasted on following the characters around in their daily lives and I feel like the book was a quick easy read and not deep. It is a thick book, but most of it is just fluff, so I was able to finish it quickly. Although the author has included some neat ideas inside his story, their implementation in the story is SHALLOW. For a book called "Going Deep", it was disappointing to see the book really isn't deep at all.

    Although this book was insightful and made an interesting read, READERS BE AWARE!!! I don't agree with Gordon MacDonald biblically or theologically. Example: He took the verse "where two or three are gathered together, Jesus is with them" to mean Jesus is ONLY present with believers if two or more believers are present! This is completely false! This interpretation declares that if I'm all alone, Jesus won't be with me! Or if I'm marooned on a desert island, Jesus won't be with me! This is completely incorrect. This verse means, when we are applying God's teachings in the case of discipling or helping other Christians, Jesus is there guiding our application of God's teachings to our lives.

    I was disappointed to watch the characters determine "the desperate need of today is for deep people." Deep is important, but I also believe Loving is right at the top for Christians. If we can't show people the love of Christ, all the Deepness won't help us to help others. The main characters are said to "know how to love people" but the congregation also needs to be able to touch others with love.

    I enjoyed some of the ideas the book put forth, like the "elevator story" - you have the time it take to go from the 30th floor to the 1st floor to tell someone about your church or your faith or Jesus. What would you say? I am now inspired to write my own elevator story! But the examples of elevator stories in the book were so dry and boring, no one would EVER want to come to the guy's church or seek a Christian life based on the shallow, dry, boring, churchy stories.

    Another think I did like about this story was its reminder to us that "nothing happens without training, training, training!" We need pastors to train up the body of Christ! We need to become more than just baby Christians sitting in pews, listening to sermons we forget as soon as we step outside the church doors. We need training and DEEP training! Too bad this book couldn't deliver on the DEPTH level. I could not say I would recommend this book. Save your time and read something else, would be my recommendation.

    Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for this unbiased review. I am giving my honest review, as positive reviews are not required.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    Interesting book

    In Gordon MacDonald's Going Deep, we enter a fairly large New England Church and follow their journey to start and implement a new discipleship program. The book is written in an interesting format. It's almost a fictional book, but MacDonald's really written a non-fiction book using a narrative style to introduce the concepts he wants to address. This allows the reader to translate the methods and reasoning to their own situation.


    Several times during the book I would furrow my brow and be uncertain as to whether or not I liked where MacDonald was taking this... but every time, he did redeem himself.


    First and foremost, MacDonald wants us to recognize the need for churches to have intense discipleship programs. I think that the need for discipleship should be evident, but that in many cases in my Christian experience churches have not been the ones to implement discipleship, but instead it's happened time and again in deep personal relationships, small groups, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and also just between Jesus and individuals or couples in the time they spend with him.


    I was intrigued several times by MacDonald's approach to things. For example, he saw Barnabas as an obvious 'deep person' but had trouble seeing Mary of Bethany as one until it was explained to him (I think she's the primary example in the New Testament). I was also surprised he'd never previously appreciated Jesus as a rabbi. While I didn't know everything about a rabbinical contract, I think every believer needs to come to Jesus to 'learn at his feet'.


    Also, MacDonald kept turning to businesses leadership and training programs for inspiration. For a while I was afraid he'd embrace their methodologies, which usually have to do with 'bottom lines' and obvious production, and are rarely in line with the description of Jesus' ministry. However, MacDonald showed wisdom in gleaning the good and not incorportating the bad. The discipleship process he detailed would be beneficial to many churches, and I wouldn't be disappointed if it was widely adopted. I just hope, however, that those who take such a project on do so humbly and with the understanding that Jesus, not they, is the main Teacher.


    MacDonald would switch writing styles often, which didn't confuse me, but did sometimes disrupt the rhythm of the text. I also was sad MacDonald didn't tell how the fourth part of his discipleship program was implemented "Pointing [disciples] toward leadership opportunities in the church or in the larger world" (p. 162), something which I thought exciting when towards the beginning of the book was mentioned. That is something very few leadership/discipleship programs make a priority and I was looking forward to that section in the narrative.


    All in all though, I thought this was a fascinating read.


    I received this book from the publishers in exchange for my unbiased review.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This book does exactly what the author felt challenged to do;

    Reviewed by Lori M for Readers Favorite

    This book does exactly what the author felt challenged to do; it explains the idea of cultivation of new generations of deepening people who will rise to positions of influence in and beyond their
    congregation. Author Gordon McDonald presents some wonderful examples of this challenge and for those of you who don't already know what an elevator story is, you'll love how he talks about this concept. He masterfully weaves personal stories into the mix to help the reader understand the Richard Foster quote at the beginning of the book, "The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people." His introduction describing a sermon he gave at the Cadet Chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point made me want to visit and experience a service there. With so many books on the topic of leadership flooding the market, it was refreshing to find a book that talks about character and the spiritual parts of a person as being the foundation of leadership. As a business professor, I can say that there are far too many "business" authors that see things strictly from the perspective of a corporate view. As a Christian, I appreciate McDonald's analysis of this topic from a biblical world view. The author talks about how different an 80 year old Moses is from a 40 year old Moses and how leaders are better when they lead from the soul. It's a wonderful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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