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.
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