When Jesus told Peter to "Go out where it is deeper and let down your nets and you will catch a lot of fish!" Luke 5:4 (Living) he wasn't just talking about fish and fishing. He was laying down a principle about how to get a big catch.
This is made abundantly clear when in a few verses Jesus says to Peter, “Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (Interestingly, this is not exactly the same word for "catch", although it is a derivative. It includes the prefix that is the word we get our word "zoo" from. Taken together, the new word means, "to catch alive."
Jesus was teaching Peter a lesson about how to catch men--lots of men. To summarize Jesus' teaching, he was saying, "go deep."
Deep is where the big waves are. Deep is where the danger lies. Deep is where the risk is. But, deep is where the big fish are, and lots of them. Jesus wants his people to go deep.
Have you read the Prayer of Jabez? (There is also a video series I have used in my small group; it is great.) A central message is: go deep. The words of Jabez were, "Bless me. Bless me indeed." Not just a little bit. A lot.
I read a little booklet by Louis Palau years ago that forever changed my life. The title says it all: Dream Great Dreams. (It is out of print, but there are currently 2 available on Amazon. I am sure they will go fast.) He begins the booklet with the story of Robert Woodruff's dream to "see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents wherever he is and whatever it costs." They went on to make Coke a recognized brand not only in the United States, but world-wide. I have been in some of the most back country places in the Philippines--miles from the nearest paved road or telephone line and there was a tattered red sign reading, "Coca-Cola." A dream did that--a big dream. That is the power of going deep.
Rick Warren pleads for us to go deep when he speaks of the 40 Days of Purpose Campaign. One of the benefits of the campaign is exponential thinking: "This kind of thinking stretches your faith. It is thinking so big that you are forced to completely depend on God because you know you cannot reach your goal on your own power. This 'faith factor' is what takes the 40 Days of Purpose out of the realm of 'What we've always done' or 'What we think we could do' and instead expects God to do something that's never been done before in your church." - Rick Warren
One of my favorite stories of going deep is about Mrs. Disney. A commentator interviewed her on the night that Disneyworld in Orlando opened. By this time, Walt had died. "Isn't it ashamed that your husband never got to see this," he lamented. Mrs. Disney quickly corrected him: "He did see it. That is why it is here."
William Carey was the founder of the modern missions movement. One of his great sayings was, "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God." Carey was calling us to go deep.
This season, some football games will be won because a wide receiver goes deep.
What about you, are you ready to go deep for God? Are you ready to believe great things for God? Are you ready to set some goals for next year that would be impossible without God?
Set no small goals. Make no small plans. Dream no small dreams. Our God is worthy of more. The world needs more. Our souls need more. Dream great dreams. Go deep.
I am dreaming of doing more conferences than I have ever done before. I am dreaming of conducting 100 conferences and training 10,000 Sunday School teachers and small group leaders next year. I dream of these 10,000 teaching at least 10 people each and impacting 100,000 people.
I dream of seeing my own group that meets in my home double this next year.
What about you? Are you going deep, or are you just wading in the shallow water?
Will you dream with me of doubling your class next year? It depends mostly on leadership. Who will you give your group to? Who are you training? Who are you saying 2 Timothy 2.2 to? During what month will you reproduce this year? Could you do it twice? Go deep.
Could you be the one who would teach the teachers in your church to double? Perhaps you could gather a group together and walk through the Double Your Class video series together--not only watching, but discussing, planning and making it a part of your life.
I talked to one church this year where I was last year. They doubled the entire Sunday School in one year. That is what I would call going deep.
Let me invite you to embrace the idea of going deep in every area of your life. Dream great dreams for you career, your family and your church. Embrace the dream of writing that book, launching that venture, starting that business. Not a little venture. Go deep.
I recently talked to a Sunday School teacher in Fort Myers, Florida. This is the kind of story that keeps me logging 100,000 miles each year--because I know this is possible. He moved to Florida to retire, not only from his job, but from a heavy church responsibility. He said he planned to play a lot of golf. God had other plans. God planned for him to go deep. He took a class of 19. A year later they had a 130. He reproduced and started another class. And another. And another. I have asked him for a full report. Look for it early next year.
James River Assembly is another example of a church that went deep. They did a total church relocation. I am on record as saying I think this is a good idea and have never seen a church regret it. Their first year at the new site attendance jumped from 3000 to 6000. Reminds me of Peter's nets!
Dr. Steve Fultz of First Baptist, Concord, TN told me he dreams of starting 50 new units in the adult division in one year. I got an email from him this week that indicated he was getting close.
Steve Stege of First Baptist Church, Lubbock has a similar goal. They started 25 new groups last year and identified 31 new units for this year. In August they started 25 of them. hoping to start the remaining through the rest of the year. Results? Attendance is up by 14% in the last two years, and one of those years they were without a pastor. What about you? What goals to do you have? What are you dreaming about? What would you do for God if you knew you couldn't fail.
Secular studies have uncovered the power of going deep. One such study is written up in the book Built to Last. The authors speak of "Big, hairy, audacious goals"--BHAGs for short. My word is going deep. As it turns out, every great company, somewhere in its history had set a "bet the farm" kind of goal--a BHAG.
Kennedy did it on May 25, 1961 in a joint session of the congress when he said, "This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." (Hear Kennedy here.) What he was saying was, "We need to go deep."
There was a study done of the graduating class of Yale in 1953. They discovered that only 3% had written down goals. Twenty years later, they discovered that those 3% were worth more, in financial terms than all of the other 97% combined. That is the power of going deep.
Dream great dreams for God. Go out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.
Next week's article: Try lots of stuff. Help me write next week's article by sending stories of success and failures in trying to double. [email protected]