Prioritize Depth Over Breadth in Ministry

There is so much more wisdom from the 1909 sermon by Walter W. Moore, titled Religion in the Home, to share. This passage is near the end, as he is exhorting the ministers in attendance to pursue fewer ministry goals that go deep, rather than spreading themselves and their churches too thin.

This is still an all-too-common problem today. Churches expand their ministries past the point of effectiveness and to the point of busyness. We can justify all that we’re doing by the fact that we’re doing it!

But that’s not the way Jesus operated. He was a one-to-one, small group, depth of relationship minister. He could have picked hundreds people to be His closest disciples, but He picked 12. His goal was to make sure the message sank deeply into their hearts and that all of His works were focused on the key goals of glorifying the Father and the Son, and also of rescuing His lost sheep.

So these words from 1909 are a great encouragement to us today, as we battle the temptation to fill our church calendars with activity rather than strip them down to the point of almost nothing so that we can go as deep as possible.

As Rev. Moore shared:

“A keen observer of our modern Church activities speaks of the ‘diffused triviality of many of our meetings,’ the spending of our strength on minor purposed which might be serving a greater, the covering of the whole field with a multiplicity of little, shallow mines which only scratch the surface, instead of sinking a limited number of deep shafts with concentrated strength and equipment to reach the buried ore, and he adds: ‘There is nothing which would so revive the modern Church as to diminish the oppressive multitude of our meetings and to concentrate upon more radical aims and labor. We might appear to be doing very much less while, in reality, we should be doing infinitely more.'”

What are the areas of your ministry or even your life that could be reigned in or dropped altogether in order to lead your church, your family, your community deeper into communion with Christ? Rather than making small, indiscernible differences in the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people in your community, could you reorient your priorities to make a tremendous, lasting impact in the lives of a dozen or two dozen?

These are questions that take prayer and wisdom and deep humility, but they are worth serious consideration for the Christian leader. Our resources are not unlimited. We must weigh the opportunities in front of us against the cost of what will be sacrificed by pursuing those opportunities.

Much of the time, when we take sober stock of our activity, we’ll see that it’s time to let much of it go for the sake of deep, lasting impact in the areas that matter most.


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