deepAndWideThis first faith catalyst explains why we do several things in our churches. It underscores why we are so adamant about our content being helpful, not simply true. Jesus wasn’t content with saying true things. We shouldn’t be either. Truth without handles is static. Truth with next steps grows people’s faith. This faith catalyst is why we create topical sermons or message series instead of simply teaching through books of the Bible. On those rare occasions when I do teach through a book of the Bible, we look for a practical angle that ties the series together.

We close every message and every series in every age group with a specific call to action. Sometimes we assign homework. Jeff Henderson, one of our lead pastors, did a series recently entitled Climate Change. His big idea was that everybody has a climate. When people see you coming, they know what to forecast. At the end of week one, his assignment was for everybody to ask three people this question: “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” Ouch. After my first two conversations, I was ready to resign. It was a painful application. But extremely helpful. Helpful for believers and nonbelievers alike.

Our children’s ministry creates an activity for the entire family around the virtue or principle they are discussing that month. Middle school and high school communicators close their talks each week by previewing three or four application-oriented questions kids will discuss with their small group leaders. All of this is our way of driving our communicators toward action-oriented teaching. We are constantly asking our preachers and teachers:

• What do you want them to know?

• What do you want them to do?

• What can we do to create next steps?

All of this with the goal of growing people’s faith.


Stanley, A. (2012). Deep and wide: creating churches unchurched people love to attend. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.