Book Review: Going Deep

We all know people who could best be described as “deep.” They know who they are; they live their lives with wisdom; they give good advice; they respond to life’s difficult situations in a way that most of us could only dream of.

How do you become a deep person? If you’re a pastor, how do you cultivate deep people in your church? Gordon MacDonald sets out to answer these questions in the book Going Deep: Becoming a Person of Influence. He does not answer the questions directly, but instead explores them in a fictionalized format. He tells the story of himself and his wife Gail (the only real-life characters in the book) as they attempt to grow deep people in their church. Over the course of the book, they explore what it means to be deep, look at models of how to cultivate deep people, come up with a plan to cultivate depth in a small group in their church over the course of a year, and execute that plan, dealing with bumps and challenges along the way.

I enjoyed the fictionalized format of the book (which MacDonald tried earlier in his book Who Stole My Church?), and I appreciate that MacDonald decided to explore the concept of cultivating depth this way. It made the book easy to read, and I think it gives readers a tangible idea of what cultivating depth might look like and how long it might take that would be harder to pull off in a non-fiction format. My only criticism is that the story started off slowly. I was not really hooked until probably a third of the way through, which, in a 383-page book, is a long time. Early in the book, there was no conflict that I wanted to see resolved, and no mystery that I wanted to see solved. I think that MacDonald could have done a better job of hooking readers early by cutting down on introductory matters and getting into the action more quickly.

In spite of the slow start, I’d recommend this book, especially to those pastors who are interested in growing deep people in their churches.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for a review copy of this book. I was not asked to give a positive review.