Think Big, Start Small, Go Deep
I was a college student at Samford University when I first heard Curtis Tanner, the Director of Campus Outreach, say the phrase, “Think Big, Start Small, Go Deep.”
At the time, he was referring to a discipleship movement of God on smaller college campuses around the Southeast. Twenty-five years later, I have seen the truth of this motto in churches around the world.
This motto is true for any family, company, organization, church or movement of any kind.
Since I train and coach senior pastors who desire to see a life on life missional discipleship movement in their churches and communities, I will share some thoughts about how this motto impacts a discipleship movement.
I have observed many churches who have an unspoken strategy motto of “think small, start big and go shallow.”
As you read, think about where you are and how this “think big, start small, go deep” motto could apply to you.
Most of us busy our lives with thinking about our own life or immediate family. Leadership requires that we think for others and the larger group which we are associated with.
What could happen if something really big happened in your family, business, organization or church?
Jesus thought big about the grand vision and his people from every tongue, tribe, people and nations.
Many senior pastors I have spoken with about a discipleship movement have a “think small” vision for their church or maybe their denomination, but this vision is too small. Even if the church is large in size, a vision which only considers that church is too small.
When we think big, it causes our faith and prayers to also go big and that is when great things happen.
It is a valuable exercise to think big in the presence of God and see what happens in your heart!
As Americans, the idea of starting small is counter-intuitive to our cultural values. We like to start big! Leadership requires that we build any movement on a strong foundation, one which has the potential to last.
What could happen if we start small and are faithful in the small things in your family, business, organization or church?
When it comes to how pastors start things in the church, it usually starts with the question of “how can we get everyone on board?” We go big or we go home. This requires that programs must be started, staffed, funded and maintained for anything to happen in a church.
This start big approach is what has made many of us pastors weary of the next “bring out the dancing bears” discipleship program. The “anti-program” happens when a few people are trained well and then are able to train others.
The principle of multiplication says that you can make and train more disciples this start small way than if you simply preach and teach them from pulpit and podium.
This start small approach is exactly what Jesus did. Can we improve upon his strategy? Many pastors are coming to realize that marketing principles can gather a crowd, but they can’t make mature and equipped followers of Christ.
What could happen if you started intentionally influencing a few faithful people and helped them do the same with others? Who are a few faithful men you could invest in?
The quick fix is what is valued these days. Spreading the peanut butter as thin as possible will make more sandwiches. We want the most impact for the least amount of effort.
What could happen if we had more quality in our products, services, and people?
Because of the programmatic way of thinking, many churches have a go shallow approach. We count numbers of attendees not quality of disciple’s lives. We love to count the ABC’s of church -attendance, building and cash. We need to add the D being -disciple-makers.
What would happen if our target and measurement of success as a church was the quality of making mature and equipped disciple-makers?
Most discipleship programs are shallow and short.
We are presenting discipleship with a “put the cookies on the lower shelf” theology. We have a six-week sermon series on discipleship. We have an eight-week course on discipleship. We have 40 days of spiritual this or that. We also have an unsettling and unspoken suspicion that this approach is not working very well.
Going deep with a few in vision, character, knowledge and skills will produce the type of leaders we are hoping for. This depth will multiply potentially for generations.
Jesus went deep into the heart and lives of the men and women he trained. No wonder these followers turned the world upside down!
What are some ways you could go deep with a few?
How does this motto apply to you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about how this motto of “think big, start small, go deep” could positively affect your family, company, church or organization.