Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book review Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald

Going Deep: becoming a person of influence by Gordon MacDonald
383 pages
I was inspired to read this book, because I think it is vital that Christians become deep people, strongly rooted in God’s Word, eager to become more like Him, and willing to constantly share with others what He has been teaching them. But sadly, this book, in contrast to the seemingly strong title, is actually quite shallow.

The story runs as follows: A pastor is praying for a "great idea" to train future leaders and to grow some influential Christians in the church. The end result is "CDP: Cultivating Deep People." A few people from the church are selected to be a part of the CDP group, and they spend a year of discipleship with the pastor and his wife (meeting every Monday night for 40 weeks). The book follows the formulating of the plan and the first CDP group's experience.

As I began reading, my first disappointment came when I realized the book was written in entirely fictional form with the pastor Gordon MacDonald and his wife being the only ‘real’ characters in the book. I consoled myself with the thought that maybe it was still a very inspirational book, like Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps, which is also a fictional work! So I continued reading, an activity which, quite frankly, became more and more tedious. When I say tedious, I don’t mean I that was intimidated by the length of the book. Usually three hundred and eighty-three pages is nothing to me, since I love reading. But I found that this book was too simply written, tedious, and very repetitive. The constant use of modern language, phrases and technology exasperated me. It is already obvious that Americans as a whole are losing their rate of literacy and intelligence. Why encourage that by writing and reading books written in the style of conversations and thoughts of the 21st century- badly constructed, with poor vocabulary?

Still, I could have forgiven the writing style if the book had taught me some valuable lessons; if it had inspired to become a deeper person in the Lord. Which I have to admit, it did not.

I feel that the author is coming from a totally wrong angle. Instead of cultivating deep people for God’s glory, he tries to train deep people for further use in the church, as if it were a business. Maybe I am misunderstanding the book and the author himself, as I come from a different background. I never had to deal with a large church organization. But even for those in charge of large Christian organizations, or churches, I don’t see how this book could teach, help or inspire!
I suggest you stick to the Bible, or the fabulous authors and preachers of past centuries: A.W.Pink, C. Spurgeon, J.Edwards, J. Calvin, etc!
If you are looking for a simple fictional book to inspire you to live more for Jesus, read In His Steps by Charles Sheldon.

Lastly, two more thoughts on parts that bothered me in the book:
- I do not agree with the rĂ´les women play in the fictitious church in this book. The pastor ‘’Mac’’ finds himself subject to learning from several wise women in the church, which his wife should have done, but not he. And some of these women have prominent roles in the church, such as deacons. That wasn’t right.
-One phrase bothered me: ‘there are wonderful younger people, but they have a whole different take on church and faith. They resist highly structured organizations. They say they follow Jesus, but they don’t like to subscribe to doctrinal statements. They love community, but they dislike authority. They say they believe in the importance of personal salvation, but sometimes they’re not sure how salvation happens.’
This is true, and those poor young people need to change! But the pastor ‘’Mac’’ goes on to leniantly state that the older people can learn something from these young people, as well as teach them. Hmm…in the above sentence about the young people, I don’t see anything good they can impart to their elders. Just a thought.

There ARE true points in this book:
-The future of the Christian faith will not be determined by the number of people who fill the pews but by the spiritual depth of those people.
-“There are plenty of good people, well-meaning people, sincere people — but not enough deep people.”
-It is TRUE that Christians need to be DEEP, spiritually-minded, and strive for the BEST.

I just wish the book had emphasized that MORE!

By the way, I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review, instead encouraged to write what I think. 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.” Thanks for reading!