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When we speak to one another, we would hope sufferers would say, “yes, that’s right.” We would want victims to say, “yes, they understand.”

What we mean by depth is that when we preach, teach, counsel, and comfort we do so in a way that makes sense of human experiences—in a way that has integrity to it. We aim to resist trite and superficial answers and explanations. When we speak to one another, we would hope sufferers would say, “yes, that’s right.” We would want victims to say, “yes, they understand.”

This kind of depth comes not simply by reading books (though that helps!), but through the formation of love and empathy. We use the word “formation” intentionally because this kind of depth is not simply learned but formed in us, in a way that you can be taught carpentry but you become a carpenter through experience and trial. You grow into knowing how to use tools, your hands, and how the wood responds to your maneuvering.
We want our church to have a theological, emotional, and relational depth. Framing depth in this way has a few meaningful implications:

First, weakness, limitations, and suffering are not hindrances to effective and fruitful Christian ministry. In fact, partnered with our spiritual giftings, they are what qualify us and empower us for ministry opportunities that Christ uses towards a depth of healing (Isaiah 40:29).

Second, because we resist trite and superficial explanations, we will resist the false hopes of our worldly culture (Psalm 146:3; Matthew 6:19-20). We resist the sentimentalism and cynicism of our culture for a depth of living that is informed by Christian hope.

Lastly, for those of us still young in age or in faith and who may not have the depth of experience that provides the depth of living and ministry, we step into the weaknesses and sufferings of others. We learn to see people as objects of our love rather than means to our ends. This work might even help us make sense of our own weaknesses and limitations that we have resisted acknowledging. This is not just true for Christian ministers, but for all Christians.