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Q&A: Practical ideas for implementing Deep & Wide ministry

Eric Groezinger writes with the following question:

I’ve been challenged and motivated to consider [implementing the Deep & Wide ministry strategy]. My challenge is discovering how to implement this in practical, weekly meeting formats. I’ve watched how you’ve modified your weekly meetings to be more intensive with study and discussion – did you just jump in and do this, how did you share this burden/passion with your volunteers, adjust their thinking, student thinking, etc.

The short version is that my high school youth group had already started drifting in this direction before I even intentionally did anything with Dare 2 Share and Deep & Wide. The shift from “games and fun with Bible study thrown in” to extended periods of in-depth Bible study took place naturally on its own. Significant theological discussions were going overtime every week, forcing me to shorten fun and games a bit more every week to make more time for study. Sometimes kids hung around afterwards for a half-hour longer just to continue their study together! The results of kids becoming more passionate about their walks with God and inviting friends to hear the Word was an unexpected result of that (embarrassingly so). It wasn’t until after this discovery that Greg Stier again encouraged me to check out Deep & Wide. Although Greg and I both agree that the thesis itself needs to be rewritten (the second revision should be released this fall), the main idea of Deep & Wide put words to what we were already experiencing. So, in other words, Deep & Wide fit what was already happening in our group — we did not change our group to fit Deep & Wide. Starting this fall, however, I will communicate Deep & Wide to the entire youth ministry as the intentional direction our ministry is taking. Right now the discussion is just between me and some of my adult youth workers, but that will change in August.

I realize most youth groups and churches may not “stumble” across this like we did and will instead have to make an effort to make the shift to a Deep & Wide approach to ministry. The danger is that youth leaders will see Deep & Wide as just another philosophy of ministry or an approach to try to coerce God into performing a certain way in your group. Nothing could be more detrimental to your view of ministry! Deep & Wide is partly a ministry strategy, but even moreso it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just something you DO, it’s something you strive to BECOME. That means it has to start with you, the youth leader. Unless you first dig deep into the Word on a personal level, become passionate about your walk with God and sharing it with others, any changes you make to the youth ministry to be “Deep & Wide” will be completely superficial. After your own spiritual appetite is fed with the Word and your personal evangelism is on fire for God, only then can the Deep & Wide passion become contagious to your students. Otherwise it becomes just another program instead of a lifestyle. So, if you’re looking for practical ways to implement Deep & Wide in your youth group, start with yourself. At that point, how to implement it in your ministry will be evident because it’s become an ingrained part of you. Nothing else will sit well with your conscious. That’s where I’m at now.

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Have a youth ministry question you’d like me and other readers to answer? E-mail it to me! Please keep your question brief and to-the-point. Thanks!


Posted on June 4, 2008

  • I would back Tim up on this and even add a little to it. Deep and Wide is not something that you can just start doing with any success unless it is a part of your own lifestyle. No one can successfully take someone else where they haven’t been themselves. The reason Tim’s group “drifted” into, I would guess, is because they were being challenged and directed into it before it was a strategy. Knowing Tim as little as I do, I would bet he started asking some questions about faith and its practice before the strategy came about. I think the best way to start this type of approach would be to start it with yourself and then start expanding it with small groups. It will probably naturally begin taking over the whole ministry because they won’t be satisfied with a shallow meeting.

  • Tim,

    I’ve been to a few D2S so this is a new product because I know that we did the GOSPEL journey and at that time it was about the E-team that Greg shared with the youth leaders, so I know that Greg is all about the wide part as he is an evangelistic freak (this good) but for the deep part is that just up to you on how you dig into the bible with students are does he have materials to follow?

    I personally like what student life bible study is doing with a 6 year plan where students get to see the whole bible and have a solid base to work out of by the time they leave high school years.

    Maybe you can’t go into details because we need to purchase the product, but I pretty much know about the wide part of Greg’s ministry, but tell me more about how the deep part is integrated.

  • @ Paul: Thanks for the backup, and yes, you’re correct.

    @ Steve: Just so we’re clear, D&W is not a marketing technique for D2S to sell more products, whether that be for the Deep aspect or the Wide aspect. Again, D&W is a lifestyle more than anything else. However, they do have a lot of great materials for the Wide part for those looking to get started. The Deep part is much trickier because everyone is at a such a different place spiritually. What’s “deep” for some will be “shallow” for another, ya know? It’s really impossible to produce a generic curriculum and say, “This is deep” when some people will read it and think, “I have no idea what this stuff even means” and others will say, “This isn’t deep! I learned and have applied these principles since 4th grade!” It’s such a subjective area to address, which is partly why I think the depth needs to happen on a personal level with the youth leader first. Only then are you properly equipped to take students on that journey, after knowing what “level” they’re at on that same spiritual journey.

    That said, D2S does have some free “Deep” materials on their website, including Culture Commission and Soul Fuel. Again, you’ll have to be the judge of whether it’s deep for your kids or not.

  • Oh, and here’s another resource from D2S for Going Deep called “You’re Next.”

    But again, it starts with us. Ezra 7:10 is my model example: For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

    He studied the Word first, applied it to his own life second, and only after that did he teach it to others.

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