If you’re a bit older and grew up in church, you may remember a Sunday school song called “Deep and Wide.” Here are the complete lyrics:
Deep and wide, deep and wide
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide
No one ever explained to us what the song meant, and we didn’t ask. I suppose that as a child I had a vague idea that it had something to do with salvation or God’s goodness. I had heard the adults sing “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” To this day, I don’t know that I could give a very coherent explanation of that old Sunday school song.
Somehow, though, that long-forgotten song title came to mind recently as I thought of the church’s critical needs regarding discipleship and unity.
Instead of “deep and wide,” the state of today’s church is more accurately “shallow and narrow.” Shallow with respect to spiritual maturity and diversity, and narrow with respect to isolation of congregations and thus no visible unity in the world. Please understand that these are generalizations, and I praise God for the exceptions.
If we really desire to see God’s glory (more on glory in another post) displayed through the church in the world, we will make every effort to be disciples who make disciples, and we will nurture connections of friendship, service, and mission with nearby congregations.
If a believer is growing as a disciple and as a disciplemaker, an observer should be able to see positive changes in that person’s life as the years pass. Here are some areas where we might expect to see change as growth occurs.
We might mistake good things like fervent worship, mutual affection, kindness, mercy, and mutual prayer for depth, but these things alone, without progressive teaching, training, communion, and surrender will not lead to the depth of unity that Jesus desires.
As we pursue deep discipleship in our own church families, we will be motivated to embrace other church families, thereby showing the world how Jesus unites us, and bringing glory to him.
How might we do that? Here are a few thought-starters:
We rightly lament the disunity and the lack of spiritual maturity in much of today’s American church. And we are part of the problem. Our Master’s directives remain clear: Make disciples and love one another in a way that the world will notice. It’s not one or the other. We must go deep and wide.