Give Them Jesus

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The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, states:

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” Ephesians 4:11–15.

It is God’s intent that every person who comes into a relationship with him through Jesus Christ eventually grows up into maturity. And maturity looks like Jesus. He is the perfect human, providing an example of what we are meant to be. A mature Christian is one who resembles Jesus Christ in thought, attitude, emotion, and behavior. And one of the most significant ways by which we grow up into maturity is by speaking the truth in love to each other.

Many wrongly believe that speaking the truth in love is actually just speaking hard words to each other with loving hearts: “You have bad breath, but since I love you, I’ve got to speak the truth to you.” “We want you in our group, but you aren’t very kind to others, and as a result, people don’t want to be around you! I’m just speaking the truth in love.”

But that is not what Paul is talking about here. Sure, we do need to speak truthfully to one another, and do it with love for each other, but Paul has something more in mind.

The Truth is in Jesus 

We need to read just a few verses further to discover what Paul means. He clarifies the truth that we are to speak to each other in verse 21. He states, “The truth is in Jesus.” “Speaking the truth in love,” for Paul, is shorthand for “speaking what is true about Jesus” to one another— that is, speaking the gospel to one another. Paul knows that if people are going to grow up into Christ in every way, they need to hear the truths of Jesus (the gospel) and learn to speak them into everything.

Too often, when giving people answers to their questions or solutions to their problems, we give them something other than Jesus. If they are struggling with their finances, we give them the best budgeting plans we know of. If they are working through relational discord, we teach them communication techniques. If they are struggling with doubt, we challenge them to just believe, promising that all will get better if they do. But we fail if we don’t give them Jesus.

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n some cases, we encourage them to read their Bibles or pray, which, of course, are wonderful things. However, if we don’t teach them to meet and know Jesus through their Bible reading and prayer, we are dangerously close to leading them away from Jesus through very good things. This is the heart of idolatry— taking a good thing and making it a “god thing.” We take something God gave us to direct us to him and love it or depend on it more than him. As a result, we fail to come to him through it.

The Heart of Idolatry

I have met too many people who love their Bibles yet have no genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. They don’t really know him. They don’t really love him. They don’t worship him. Instead, they worship their Bibles. They are not growing up into maturity because they are not growing up into Christ.

If we fail to give each other Jesus, we lead each other away from Jesus. We might grow in Bible knowledge, but not in love for Jesus. We might become the most religious prayers of all and yet be talking to the wrong god. We could have our finances in order while our hearts are completely out of order, because we are doing it all for the wrong reasons. We might be great at communication and conflict resolution, but if we are not reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, then our relationships will be shallow and temporary in nature.

Think of it this way—if we are to help one another grow up into Christ in every way, we need to learn how to speak the truths of Christ into everything—every aspect of life, every situation we face, and every issue we address. This is gospel fluency.

(Taken from Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017)

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Gospel Parenting

Gospel Parenting

Train up a Child

Train up a child in the way he should go,
even when he is old he will not depart from it. 

PROVERBS 22:6

This verse could be literally translated as “Train a child according to his way,” meaning each child is unique and has an individual personality that God will delight to work through. As parents, we have a responsibility to train our children in light of their uniqueness. 

In other contexts, the word train refers to the process of teaching a newborn to eat. This is a beautiful picture of what God does with all of us. Scripture tells us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8). God wants us to get a little taste of Jesus so that we’ll want a lot more of Him. Then that desire grows throughout our lives. That’s the background of the word train

Parents train up our children with a gentle application of the goodness, beauty, and joy of Jesus Christ. We lead them to see how good the Lord is. We lead them to taste and want more. This is the best way to prepare them for adulthood. Training them in the way they should go means nurturing them with the good grace and satisfying substance that Jesus is to our souls. That’s what we do when we parent our children. 

Do you see yourself as the primary disciple-maker of your children, or have you delegated that responsibility to someone else? How is the Great Commission being fulfilled in your home? 

How can you intentionally train your children to walk in repentance and faith? 

How can you make time for conversations, spontaneous lessons, and explanations of the gospel? 

Consider the unique way the Lord has made your children. What might be the most effective way to train each of them according to their individual bent? 

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Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. 

PROVERBS 13:24

Discipline your son, for there is hope;
do not set your heart on putting him to death. 

PROVERBS 19:18

The concept of discipline in these verses isn’t a picture of punishment or harsh treatment. Rather, the rod should remind us of a shepherd who devotes his life to caring for sheep. He uses his rod to gently nudge the sheep toward green pastures where they could eat or toward quiet waters where they could drink. If the sheep were running in the wrong direction, the shepherd could actually throw the rod and strike the sheep’s legs to keep it from going off a cliff or into a dangerous place. If a predator came near, the shepherd could use the staff to fend off the predator so that the sheep wouldn’t be harmed. This is the idea of discipline in these proverbs: in love, we correct, rebuke, and protect our children. This is the way God disciplines us. 

How have you experienced God’s loving discipline in your life? What did you learn from His discipline? 

How can you discipline your children like a shepherd who guards and cares for his sheep? 

Lead Them in the Way

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

DEUTERONOMY 6:4-9

What are all the ways we should lead our children to know and follow the Lord? What would it look like to implement these instructions in your family’s weekly schedule? 

What are a few age-appropriate ways you can teach your children to implement some of the wisdom you’re gaining in their lives? 

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We’re called to lead our children in following Jesus. As we lead, we’re an example of what it means to be a man or a woman for them. We don’t simply talk to them about God; we demonstrate a life lived close to God in repentance and faith. When we fail, we point to Jesus as the perfect Son, the true humanity. 

Jesus is the perfect example.

How can your children encounter Him in the way you live your life?  How can you demonstrate repentance and faith with your children? 

Do you seek your children’s forgiveness or share what you’re learning and ways you’re growing? 

Every time we share ways God meets us in our struggles or redeems us in our brokenness, we point our children in the way. Every moment we share ways God’s grace has grown our faith, we lead them toward the way of abundant life. Our children need to know and see our need for Jesus. 

(Taken from Making Space by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2018 LifeWay.)

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Eating to Remember

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Growing in Gospel Fluency

If you and others around you are going to grow in gospel fluency, you need consistent immersion in a gospel-speaking community. This needs to be much more than a weekly gathering of the church where the gospel is preached (though it should include this). It also should be more than a weekly Bible study, small-group gathering,  or missional-community meeting (though I also recommend these). Growth in gospel fluency requires regularly being with others who know and love Jesus, speak about him often, and commit together to regularly remind one another of the gospel when they forget. 

Remember

From the very beginning of the story, the act of eating has played a very significant role in the worship and remembrance of who God is, what he has done, and who we are. God provided a great place for Adam and Eve to live, with all the food they needed. They regularly had the opportunity to remember God, his word, and his work, as well as who they were and what they were called to do. For them, every meal was a time to remember God’s abundant provision and express their worship of him alone. 

When we eat, we see that our food looks good. Some meals look like a painting by Monet, others look like a Picasso, but they are all works of art. We can smell our food. Just think of all the wonderful aromas of the best meals you’ve had. Don’t you love them! And as you put your food in your mouth, there’s an explosion of sensations—sweet, sour, bitter, salty. It’s like a party in your mouth! And you don’t just taste your food, you feel it as well. There are so many textures to experience. And then you hear it as it crunches, or sloshes or slurps its way into your body (some people are annoyed at this part of eating). Through all of this, you are nourished and replenished, strengthened and rebuilt. God wants us to eat and remember—enjoy and worship him—and, at the same time, have our needs met by him. 

Our Needs Are Met

Remember what he said to Adam and Eve: “Eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of that tree, you will surely die” (see Gen. 2:16–17). Every meal was an opportunity to remember, trust, and obey. Every meal was meant to be an act of remembrance and worship. But they didn’t remember, trust, and obey. They ate unto themselves. God designed them to trust in his ability to provide for them. Something outside of them was meant to take care of a deep need inside of them—and he would provide that something. They were not to look outside of his provision. 

All of this was meant to point us toward God’s ultimate provision in Jesus. Eventually, Jesus came to be God’s ultimate provision for us. He is the bread of life that meets our deepest needs and satisfies our greatest longings. Every meal is meant to cause us to remember and worship Jesus. 

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What if you took time at every meal—even very simple ones—to give thanks to God, praying not just at the beginning, but throughout the meal? Our family is trying to use our evening mealtimes more intentionally. We are presently rehearsing the Ten Commandments and going through the gospel with each one of them. We also have given each night a theme to guide what we do together at the meal. 

On Mission Monday, we remember together our family’s mission to glorify God and fulfill his purposes in saving us... Teaching Tuesday is when one of the children takes responsibility for our learning from God’s word at the meal... With-Family Wednesday is the night we eat with our missional community... Thanks- giving Thursday is when we take time to give thanks for all God has done... On Fun Friday, we go out to eat, or we eat together and then go to a movie, have a game night, or take a special outing... Serving Saturday often means we are with others for a meal or serving some people... And Sunday is when we remember Jesus through taking communion together at our church’s gathering.

Consider our normal, everyday meals: what if your friends, your family, your small group, or your missional community made it a point to make every single meal a remembrance and worship experience? What if you slowed down enough to remember Jesus at every meal? What if you savored every moment as an opportunity to praise God? 

(Taken from Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017)

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Display the Gospel

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In the true story, we learn that God has always intended to have a visible representation of himself on the earth. Adam and Eve failed. Then Israel failed. But Jesus did not. He is the true image of God—the fullness of deity in bodily form. Now, we, the church, are his body, the means by which he intends to fill every place with his embodied presence through our physical bodies (Eph. 1:22–23). We were not just saved from sin, Satan, and death. We were also saved for his purposes here and now.

Saved from and saved for. We were saved by the power of God for the purposes of God, so that God might be made known and Jesus might be glorified. We are God’s display people, showing the world what he is like. We are also a declaration people, who proclaim who God is and what he has done by proclaiming the gospel. 

In 1 Peter 2:9-15, Peter [tells] God’s people scattered throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) that they were called to live as God’s chosen people who loved others like family, just as God the Father had loved them while they were still his enemies. They were his royal priesthood, sent into the world by the Spirit to help people be reconciled to God and to each other through Jesus. And they were a holy nation, called to display what life can be like when Jesus is King. So are we. This is our identity.

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This is our calling. Show the world the love of the Father, the healing and reconciling power of the Spirit, and the sacrificial servanthood of the Son in how you live. Show them what God is like.

It has been said that behavior is more caught than taught. Every parent knows this to be true. Our children more often reflect what we do in front of them than what we say to them. The display of our lives is definitely more convincing than the declaration of our lips. In fact, if we say one thing and do another, our doing often trumps what we say in people’s minds. So what are we displaying to the world?

From time to time, I’ve led groups to embrace the practice of being a gospel display through an activity I call “Gospel Metaphors.” I encourage the group members to think about the gospel and what we come to know about God through Jesus’ work. Then I invite them to share the titles, attributes, and activities of God that we see in Jesus. Advocate. Sacrifice. Healer. Forgiver. Counselor. Prince of Peace. Restorer. Redeemer. The list could go on and on. While people are sharing, I write the words down on a whiteboard or poster-sized Post-it note. Often, many suggestions are given. And I usually select a few additional attributes or titles and ask how we could provide a picture of what God is like in those ways.

The apostle Paul said we are like living letters displaying the work of God to the world—gospel metaphors. As a result of an exercise such as this, I’ve witnessed fences repaired (Restorer); houses remodeled to make more space for people in need of places to stay (Hospitable); an empty lot that was used for drug and sex trafficking transformed into a community garden (Redeemer); debts paid off (Forgiver); college tuition raised (Provider); fatherless children cared for by men (Father to the fatherless); and many other displays of the character of God.

Small and big activities alike can display what God is like, as we’ve come to know him in the gospel. We are blessed by God to bless. Physical displays of what God is like show his glory in tangible form.

(Taken from Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017)

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Listening Well

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I recently observed a conversation a few Christians were having with a man who has yet to come to faith in Jesus. It was amazing to me, and saddening, to watch the Christians missing the point of this man’s struggle and questions. It seemed those speaking to him were more concerned about convincing him they were right than about listening to his heart. As a result, he walked away without any good news about Jesus, becoming even more convinced that this “religion” wasn’t for him. 

It isn't Just about Talking

It’s not for me either—at least, not what I saw in that conversation. We can do better. We must do better. We’re talking about people’s souls! And we’re representing Jesus. Gospel fluency isn’t just about talking. It’s about listening as well. This requires love, patience, and wisdom. I’ve found that starting with a posture of humility, standing in a place of need, and having a heart that is willing not just to give answers but to receive insight creates a welcoming place for people to open their hearts. The more open we are to listen and learn, the more likely people are to be open as well.

[Jesus is] a master at drawing out the heart. You notice this if you read the Gospels. Jesus regularly said just enough to invite further probing or create intrigue. He also loved to ask questions so that the overflow of the heart (belief) would spill out of a person’s mouth (words). 

Missed Opportunities

I’m amazed at how often well-intentioned Christians overwhelm people with a barrage of words. We go on and on about what we believe and what they should believe, assuming we know what others think, believe, or need. I often find that we are giving answers to questions people are not even asking or cramming information into hearts that are longing for love, not just facts. We fail to listen. We fail to draw out the heart. And we miss opportunities to really love people and share the love of God with them. They also miss out on getting to hear what’s going on in their own hearts. I have found that when people, including myself, are invited to say out loud what they believe, they come to realize something is wrong.

As we are changed by the gospel, we want to share how the gospel has changed us. It’s a great thing to do so. In fact, one of the keys to growing in gospel fluency is to regularly share what Jesus has done or is doing in our lives with others. Our stories are powerful demonstrations of the gospel’s power to save.

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It's Good News

However, if we don’t also listen, we tend to share the good news of Jesus in a way that applies primarily to our lives, the way it was good news to us, but fails to address the situations others are facing. We can become proclaimers of good news while being ignorant of the ways in which others need to hear it. This doesn’t negate how good the news of Jesus is at all. 

Our job is to testify to Jesus’ work in our lives while also listening closely to others so we know how to bring the truths of Jesus to bear on the longings of their hearts. We need to bring them to Jesus so he can meet their unique needs—fulfill their personal longings. In order to do this, we have to slow down, quiet our souls, ask good questions to draw out the hearts of others, and listen. Francis Schaeffer was known to say, “If I have only an hour with someone, I will spend the first fifty-five minutes asking them questions and finding out what is troubling their heart and mind, and then in the last five minutes I will share something of the truth.”

Soul-quenching Water

My regular counsel to Christians these days is to spend more time listening than talking if they want to be able to share the gospel of Jesus in a way that meaningfully speaks to the hearts of others. We all long for Jesus Christ. Everyone is seeking him, even if they don’t know it. They are looking for something to fulfill their longings and satisfy their thirst. However, they are likely looking in the wrong places. They are going to the wrong wells to try to draw soul water. They need to look to Jesus. But they will not come to see how he can quench their thirst if we don’t take the time to listen.

And as we listen, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can discern the longings of their hearts, the brokenness of their souls, the emptiness of their spirits. And then, we must be prepared to show how Jesus can meet them at the well with soul-quenching water—himself. 

(Taken from Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017)

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Making Space for Strangers

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Who are Strangers?

Hospitality is making space for people to be with us and to become within community—to be who they are and to become more like Christ. In Scripture strangers are people who live in a society other than their own. Elsewhere this word is translated “foreigners,” “aliens,” and “sojourners.” Strangers are people who aren’t yet assimilated into our community. Hospitality means making space for strangers.

How is God hospitable to you? How has He made space for you and loved you like family?

Wise people are hospitable to strangers because they have the physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational space to welcome others into their lives. If we don’t make space for what matters most, we won’t be able to make space for others. Our lives won’t have the bandwidth. Wise people welcome others into their lives as family and with the love of God.

Our Own Family

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:33-34

In this passage, God commanded His people to treat strangers with hospitality. It’s a cascading command, beginning with not mistreating them, then treating them as if they belong, and finally loving them as ourselves. God’s command is to love outsiders and strangers as we would love our own families.

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Who are the strangers, outsiders, and neighbors around you? How would you characterize your relationships with these people?

God loved us when we were strangers, outsiders, even enemies. He loved us as His own children. 

It is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10

John tells us that from an unending wellspring of love, the Father has called us to be children of God. Our displays of hospitality aren’t to prove ourselves, show off, or gain approval from others. As children of God, we already have His love. We freely love others with the same welcoming arms with which God has welcomed us.

What impact would a biblical view of hospitality have on our city or neighborhood?

(Taken from Making Space by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2018 LifeWay.)

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Training Our Children to Pray

Recently, as I was leading our family devotional time at the dinner table, I decided to use the four questions I often train on: Who is God? What has He Done? Who are we? What do we do? As we looked at a biblical text, I guided them through these questions. While doing so, it dawned on me that our answers could be helpful guides toward prayer.

Who is God?

As they answered the question, What do we know about Who God is from this text? I encouraged them to stop and pray prayers of adoration and praise: God we praise you because you are so powerful. God you are the Creator of all things. God you are in control.

What has He done?

Next, we asked What does this text show that God has done or is doing? And How is he doing that in our lives today? As they answered that question we took the time to pray prayers of thanksgiving for how God was and is at work: God, you have provided great gifts for us, especially Jesus. God, you gave us a sunny day today. Thank you for the sunshine. God, thank you for being in control of our lives and circumstances. You have done so many good things for us like providing our home, our friends and our healthy bodies to play sports.

Who are We?

Then, we asked What does this text say is true of us? As they answered that question, I encouraged them to ask if they were living like they believed it. Where they were not living in line with the truth of their new identity in Christ, we took some time to confess who God says we are and how we’ve fallen short. They prayed prayers like: God you say that we are your children whom you love very much but we don’t always act like loving children to others. Forgive us and help us to love others like you loved us in Jesus. God you say we are your creation and that you did good work in making us, but we don’t always believe that about ourselves or others. Forgive us and help us to see ourselves and others like you do.

What Do We Do?

Lastly, we asked the question If we believe these truths about God, God’s work, and our new identity in Christ, what would we do? As we answered this last question, I encouraged them to be very specific. As they shared, I encouraged each of them to turn their answer into a prayer of supplication, asking God to help them to obey him. God, I want to love my sisters better. Help me to think of them and their needs and not just what I want. God, I really get anxious and worried about my grades. Help me to trust that you are in control even of my grades and not to give in to fear. God, help me to be a better friend to my classmates who are often left alone without a friend.

By directing their answers toward prayer, I was able to lead them in prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, confession and supplication. And each of their prayers was grounded in the character and work of God in Christ and their new identity as a result.

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Making Space

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I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. One primary objection Christians have to living the full Christian life is their own busyness. In other words, we aren’t making space for the things that matter most because our lives are filled with other things. We’re also overwhelmed by the tension of being finite beings with infinite expectations for our lives and our families. We burn ourselves out working in our jobs, trying to be parents, and even doing good things in our churches. Most of us feel stretched so thin that we don’t even have space to think about our lives, much less follow Jesus intentionally.

Essentially, I hear many Christians say, “I can’t follow Jesus beyond Sunday because I don’t have time to do that.” The problem is, that’s true. We don’t have space to be intentional, faithful followers of Jesus. We need to create space in our lives to do the right things at the right time with the right people. That’s a recipe for wisdom! We need wisdom. Wisdom is applying the right truth at the right time in the right way. Wisdom always produces abundant life for ourselves and others. The result of walking in wisdom is a satisfied life, not a hurried life. Can you imagine a week when you’re deeply satisfied and experience greater joy in your work, family, relationships, and home? 

Following Jesus means living in His wisdom every day. 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

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Who is the LORD? 

Proverbs 1:7 is the guiding statement for the entire Book of Proverbs. Often when we read Proverbs, we’re looking for helpful nuggets to guide our busy lives. Many of the ways we look to conquer our chaotic lives is through organization, rules, boundaries, and new technology. But Proverbs isn’t about us. It’s about the Lord. Fear of the Lord means looking to Him with reverent awe. We can’t understand wisdom apart from an understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ. Proverbs places wisdom within the context of the fear of the Lord. Who is the Lord? Jesus is gracious, compassionate, hospitable, ever-present, hardworking, generous, loving, and brave. His character might be most readily expressed through His submission to the Father and Holy Spirit in every moment and aspect of His life. 

What has the LORD done?

Jesus is the true wisdom of God. Paul, writing about the power of the cross and the resurrection, declared this reality 1 Corinthians 1.

 … to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:24-25

Jesus faithfully pursued, listened to, and walked with God the Father and the Holy Spirit to the cross and into the resurrection. His work in the gospel displays and offers abundant life to everyone for every aspect of life. 

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Who are we?

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 According to this Paul, who are you because Christ is the wisdom of God? What areas of your life do you boast in yourself? (These are likely areas in which you’re trying to prove your own righteousness, fix yourself, and redeem your past.) What does it mean to be someone who boasts in the Lord and is in Him? How does that identity differ from someone who boasts in himself? If we want to be wise, we must acknowledge that we’ve been fools who need Jesus—the wisdom of God for us. Wisdom comes to us as a gift from God. Because God saved us, called us, and chose us, the wisdom of God has come to us in Christ. 

How should we live? 

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.
 

Proverbs 1:2-6

What are the activities of people who fear the Lord and seek wisdom? How could you pursue these activities in the areas of wisdom you want to grow in? How would that pursuit lead to wisdom? How can you implement one of these activities in the next week? What will you do? Jesus says if you look to Him and follow Him, He will be wisdom for you. That means you’re not only forgiven for your foolishness, but you also get the Spirit of wisdom, who comes to dwell in you, giving you power and direction for a new life. 

(Taken from Making Space by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2018 LifeWay.)

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

This is How We Go to War

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The Apostle Paul directs the church in Rome to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2). Then, while instructing the church in Corinth on how to engage in the spiritual battle around them, he directs them to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

In a world gone wild, surrounded by the enemies of our soul seeking to destroy us, we desperately need the truths of the gospel applied to our minds daily.

We need to: 1) capture and examine our thoughts; 2) bring our thoughts into submission; 3) consider the fruit they produce, and then 4) fight back with the truths of the gospel.

Capture & Examine Thoughts 

Have you ever slowed down to pay attention to what is going on in your mind?

What are you hearing? What are you thinking? What are you believing?

We are constantly being informed by words and ideas, worldviews and philosophies. Our personal stories are filled with disappointment, brokenness, and pain. And our hearts and heads have been informed by lies, deceit, and accusations from the world, the flesh and the devil. Throughout our days, we are being informed about God, others, self and this world. If our minds are not being daily renewed by the truths of the gospel, we will not be able to discern and walk in the will of God (see Romans 12:2).

We need to take captive our thoughts and examine them. To take something captive is to take control of it and put it in a controlled environment, like putting a ferocious animal in a cage. Then, we need to take a close look at our thoughts and consider what we are thinking or believing and why. As we do this, we need to consider if our thoughts line up with what is true of Jesus and our new life in him. Do our thoughts conform to the truths of the gospel, which will sound like good news to our souls if they do. Ask yourself: Am I thinking or believing good news about God, others or myself?

The enemies of our soul tell lies about God to tempt us; breed distrust in relationships to divide us, and speak accusing words to ourselves to destroy us. What kinds of words are you hearing in your mind?

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Bring Thoughts into Submission

As you capture thoughts invite the Holy Spirit to bring them into submission to Jesus and the truths of the gospel.

We have been given the Spirit to make known the truths of Jesus and convict us of anything not in line with the gospel (John 14-16). I regularly invite the Holy Spirit to witness to me regarding who Jesus is, what He has done and who I am because of his work. If the thoughts or beliefs I am having do not line up, the Spirit makes that known to me as he brings to remembrance what is true of God and of me in the gospel.

Here are some of the key questions I invite the Spirit to address in me:

  • Is this really true or is this a lie?

  • Does this sound like the Devil’s accusation or the Spirit’s conviction? 

  • What am I putting my hope in now – God’s word or work, or someone else’s?

  • How do the truths of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection address this thought or belief? 

  • What about Jesus do I need to remember right now?

Prayer is not only bringing my requests to God. Prayer is also submitting my thoughts and beliefs to God’s Spirit so that my mind can be renewed by the truths of God’s Word as I submit and listen.

Consider the Fruit

As we submit to the witness and direction of the Spirit, we will experience the fruit of the Spirit as well.

Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – a life that resembles Jesus. The work of the flesh, on the other hand, produces a life contrary to Jesus’ life, such as “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry (making a good thing a god-thing), sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Gal. 5:19-21). One of the ways we fight the war of the mind is by considering the fruit we’re presently experiencing or the fruit we would experience if we engaged a particular thought or suggested action. If the fruit doesn’t resemble the fruit of the Spirit or the life of Jesus, we can be certain that our minds are not presently in submission to the truths and person of Jesus. Instead, we are submitted to someone or something else.

This is where the Spirit brings conviction and leads us in repentance. Repentance is not a change of behavior but a change of belief that produces changed behaviors. We need the Spirit to reveal where we have believed lies and lead us to the truths of Jesus, granting both eyes to see and hearts to believe. As the Spirit does, we will experience a change of mind about God’s word and work in our lives.

Fight Back

The war of your mind is not a passive activity, but an active, vigorous fight with the power of God and spiritual weapons made available to us through the gospel. As the Spirit makes the truths of Jesus known to you, you must hold fast to them (1 Cor. 15:2), take cover in them and learn to proactively fight with them.

Paul exhorted the church in Ephesus: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11). He then went on to describe the armor made available to us through the gospel (vv. 14-18). We do battle by having the truths of the gospel around us like a belt, holding everything else up. Our hearts are protected by the breastplate of Jesus’ righteousness. We continue to believe that it is his righteousness that makes us right with God, not our own. We have a readiness – a quickness – to run from evil and chase after obedience because we know we are free and unhindered by guilt, shame, and fear. Because of Jesus, our guilt is removed, our shame is covered, and our fear is demolished, for he is victorious over our enemies.

Take up the shield of faith. Believe. In everything you face, believe in God’s word and work. Believe in all he has accomplished for us in Jesus Christ. Cover your minds with the helmet of salvation to protect you from the lies, accusations, and temptations you’re bound to face. And wield the sword you been given – the word of God. Speak the truths of Jesus to confront the attacks of the Devil. And in all of this, continue to depend upon the Spirit in prayer. The weapons will never be enough if you don’t walk in the power of the Spirit who empowers them all.

This is how we go to war.

Originally posted at DesiringGod.com.

 

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Be With and Become.

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Eugene Peterson paraphrased John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. Jesus fully related to everything we experience by fully becoming human and dwelling in our space.  I’ve been learning how to do that for many years, first as a youth pastor, then a church planter and now a church re-planter. I’ve learned to do the very thing every pastor must learn to do. Be with and Be-come.

In 1991 I moved to Seattle from Michigan to take a youth pastor role. The church that hired me was a very welcoming and hospitable community, but the city we ministered in was not known for warmth. In fact, many call what they experience in Seattle the Seattle Freeze. It’s not necessarily colder here, (though wetter), rather it’s the social and emotional chill you encounter. The freeze is especially compounded if you’ve come from a part of the country known for it’s hospitality. Transplants are often deeply discouraged when seeking to press into the lives of radically introspective, often emotionally disengaged, Pacific North-Westerners. It’s not that we are non-emotional. All you need to do is go to a Seahawks or Sounders game to rid yourself of that conclusion. We are full of passion. However, our passion is hidden behind a passive aggressive skepticism and passionately disguised angst.

Whether in the Puget Sound or the South for that matter, how do we truly love and serve the people in our place?

Become one of us.

Hudson Taylor was famous for being a British missionary who embraced becoming Chinese for the sake of the gospel. He dressed Chinese, ate Chinese, lived in Chinese housing, observed the local customs and etiquette and even refrained from receiving protection from British consular authorities. He was known to have gone to China a British man and returned to Britain a Chinese man.

I have been in Washington long enough now that when I return home to visit my family in Michigan, it is clear I do not belong there anymore. I am a PNWer. However, this did not happen overnight. I have immersed myself into this place for a very long time. I drank the coffee (yes, we’re all coffee snobs). I’ve got the rain gear (sans umbrella – sure way to tell who’s not from Seattle). I’m into natural medicine (I eat paleo or keto, depending on the season; I take my vitamin D and apply essential oils). I practice Blue Friday (I prefer jersey #25) during football season (go Hawks!). I raise my Sounders Banner and sing the songs. I’m religious about recycling and preservation of all God’s creation. I even have a dog (to be honest I was pressured by my wife and kids to get him). I could go on, but I think you get it.

I’ve watched many church planters and pastors move here from other parts of the country seeking to maintain what they had back home, wearing their ASU jackets or A&M rings, only to find themselves heading back home to warmer climates and warmer people. I’m convinced you won’t effectively reach and make disciples here unless you’re willing to stay long enough to become one of us. This is likely true everywhere, but I’ve found it’s especially the case out here with the freeze.
 

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Be Present

Recently, I was standing on the side of the football field watching my son Caleb’s practice. Next to me stood another father. As we struck up a conversation he asked me what I did for work. I thought to myself, I could tell him I’m an author or a consultant or a community developer…technically all are true of me. However, the Spirit wouldn’t let me.

“I’m a pastor.”

“I’m sorry for you” he said. “We hate you out here in the Northwest.”

I asked him why and he went on to say that most people out here are secular skeptics or burned out on religion. He told me that when he lived in Texas, he pretended to be a Christian because everyone is a Christian there. “I had to pretend in order to get and keep business.” As a result, he was very jaded about Christianity.

For the rest of the practice I asked him several other questions about his life, his marriage and work. At one point I asked him why, if he hated pastors so much, he kept talking to me.

“Well, you seem different than most,” he responded.

This is not the first time I’ve heard that statement here. Unfortunately, most people’s experience of Christians or pastors has repellent effect. We can tend to be overly talkative, pushy, judgemental, and lousy at being present and truly listening. Francis Schaeffer said, “If I have only an hour with someone, I will spend the first fifty-five minutes asking them questions and finding out what is troubling their heart and mind, and then in the last five minutes I will share something of the truth.” We need to cultivate an ability to be truly present with people and really listen. Through regular time in solitude and silence before God, I have learned to quiet my heart and mind enough to be fully present with another human and truly listen – not just to their words but to their hearts. I listen for the longings, the pains, the disappointments and the hopes. The more I do, the more open doors I get to show the good news of Jesus in tangible forms of serving as well as share the good news through words. I find the visible must precede the verbal here. People will not trust what you have to say unless they’re convinced you’re genuine. People can sense whether you really care or if they are a project. And, once convinced, they will gradually open up their lives no matter how cold their exterior might be.

I love the Pacific Northwest. It’s not as cold (or wet) as people think. If you stay long enough, become one of us, and work to bring warmth and listen to hearts; you become acclimated. You’ll see we’re all longing for the same love and mercy found only in Jesus. We just need his grace to break the ice and melt the freeze.

I expect the people near you are not so very different.  

 

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Weaving Gospel Fluency into Every Sunday Message

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The gospel has to be good news to me if I am going to preach it as good news for others.

The apostle Paul instructed the church in Ephesus that the means by which we help each other grow up in every way in Christlikeness is by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). What is the truth? In verse 21, Paul says, “The truth is in Jesus.” In other words, if we are going to grow people up into Christlikeness in every way, we need to learn how to speak the truths of Jesus Christ into everything.

I call this gospel fluency.

I believe God wants His people to become gospel fluent. He wants them to be able to translate the world around them and the world inside of them through the lens of the gospel—the truths of God revealed in the person and work of Jesus. Gospel-fluent people think, feel, and perceive everything in light of what has been accomplished in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The gospel becomes their native tongue because through it they were born again. It is by the gospel that they find themselves growing up into Christ, and they are convinced that the gospel will keep them to the end and perfect them into the true image of Christ one day.

As they believe this and grow in fluency, they also learn how to speak the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to the everyday stuff of life—into work and money, sex and relationships, marriage and parenting, rest and work. As they grow in gospel fluency, they not only grow into maturity themselves but also help others to grow as well. Fluency requires immersion. People must be immersed in a gospel community where gospel conversations happen daily and gospel preaching happens regularly.

Those of us who preach have a very important role to play in developing gospel fluency in God’s people. We are called to model being gospel fluent in our everyday lives, but we are also called to equip the church in gospel fluency through our teaching and preaching ministry. So . . . how do we do that?

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Always Preach the Gospel

We do it by preaching the gospel in every sermon, from every text, to everything.

Stop and consider the last three to four sermons you’ve preached. Did you talk about Jesus? Was He the answer to the question, the solution to the problem, the fulfillment to the longing? I have heard many well-prepared, creatively illustrated sermons never get to Jesus. I have watched preachers make the weight of the text land on us and our efforts and abilities, failing to lead people to Jesus as their true and ultimate hope. People leave these meetings weighed down by sin and guilt, aware of their inadequacies and failures or filled with self-assured optimism, supported by pride-filled self-talk. Either way, they don’t leave worshipping and depending upon Jesus.

Jesus said He was the fulfillment of the Scriptures (Luke 24:44–45). They all point to Him in some way. He also challenged the teachers of the law, saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40). If we are going to develop a gospel-fluent community, we must lead people to Jesus in and through our preaching every single time.

It Starts in Your Heart

However, we won’t do this if our hearts aren’t first captured by Him.

That’s where it begins. It starts in your heart. You talk about what you love most. Jesus said it’s out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. What do you love most? What do you treasure most? It will show up in your preaching. Try recruiting some people to reflect to you what they believe you love most from how and what you preach.

Several years ago, I was accused of manipulating the congregation in my preaching. The man bringing the accusation told me he could time my message and know when I was going to get passionate or tearful. He thought it was a technique I used to move people. I asked him to reconsider not the time of the message but what I was saying at that time. He said I always got most passionate and tearful when I was talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection. I told him that wasn’t manipulation. It was genuine affection. I couldn’t help it. I am deeply affected by Jesus, and I can’t hide it. It comes out because I really do love Him and still can hardly believe what He did for me on the cross.

You most talk about what you love most, and . . . you love what you talk about.

A few years into my marriage I noticed my love had grown cold for my wife. I had lost some of the passion that was there when I first pursued her. I was reminded of the Scripture that admonishes me to rejoice in the wife of my youth. As I did, I started telling her and others why I love her so much. Something happened. The more I expressed out loud why I loved her, the more in love with her I became. That is because by nature we are a confessional people. We don’t just confess what we believe; we begin to believe what we confess.

If Jesus is not overflowing from your heart to your mouth in your preaching, start confessing out loud on a daily basis why He is worthy of your worship and affections. If you have God’s Spirit, you will find that the Spirit will fill your confession with faith and love, leading to a greater passion for Jesus. That passion will naturally and supernaturally flow in and through your preaching as well.

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Passion in the Preparation

However, it’s not just passion alone. We also need preparation.

I don’t have time to write a course on gospel-centered preaching that leads to gospel-fluent people, but I will provide a brief overview of my process (for extensive study, consider Tim Keller’s book on preaching, Edmond Clowney’s many works, and Sidney Greidanus’ Preaching Christ from the Old Testament).

Most Bible study techniques and preaching walk through a text answering the questions: (1) What does this text say (observation)? (2) What does it mean (interpretation)? And (3) What do we do (application)? If this is all we do, however, we will lead people to themselves and not to Jesus.

I add a few more questions to my preparation:

Why don’t we do what this text leads us to? By doing this I want to reveal our brokenness and sin, leading us to awareness of our need for Jesus. I want to get to the heart of our problem.

How did or does Jesus do what we don’t? Here I intend to show how Jesus is the better (better son, spouse, worker, friend, etc.) and Jesus does better (better obedience, submission, serving, love, power, etc.) for us.

How does who Jesus is and what Jesus does affect us internally (change of heart) and externally (change of behavior)? This is where I specifically apply the truths of the Gospel to our sin, failures, inadequacies, and present situations, leading to our ongoing sanctification.

Through this process, I want to preach the “cut” and the “balm” of the gospel. I want to preach in such a way that we are cut to the heart (aware of our deep need for Jesus) and eager to receive the balm of the good news of forgiveness, healing, and Spirit-filled empowerment.

Good News to Me

It’s important to note that if I don’t personally believe and experience the cut and the balm myself, I will lack the urgency and the conviction to bring it with passion to others. The gospel has to be good news to me if I am going to preach it as the good news for others. I often ask myself: Does this sound like really good news? How can I preach it so it sounds like good news to my congregation and to the person new to Jesus?

If it doesn’t sound like good news to you, it’s likely not yet gripped your heart or you’re missing Jesus in your message.

I don’t believe preaching alone will create a gospel-fluent people, but I do believe preaching is one of the necessary elements for equipping God’s people to learn to speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life. If they don’t hear good news regularly and see how all of life is changed by the truths of Jesus, they will never be able to speak those truths to their coworkers, friends, and family.

Preachers, preach the good news from every text, every sermon, to everything. But before you do, preach it to yourself first so your heart overflows with good news for others.

Comment

Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

How Do We Transition from "Sunday" to "Everyday"?

If you fail to pray, you will have missed the most important element of transitioning from Sunday to everyday. 

When we first began training leaders to start and lead missional communities we were primarily working with church planters and new churches. Now we increasingly find ourselves coming alongside already existing churches looking to transition from a Sunday centric model to equipping for ministry every day. Presently, I am leading my own church family at Doxa Church through this same transition. Admittedly, I am still in process, but I am learning a lot about transitioning through both my experience and the stories of others. Before I begin, it’s important to state that I could probably write a whole book on the topic of transitioning. What I have to say here is only the tip of the iceberg, but I pray it’s helpful nonetheless.

Unified Leadership

The first and most important principle is unified leadership—leaders who share the same convictions. Those who give overall leadership to the church must be both convinced and committed to a new direction: convinced biblically that this is God’s desire for their church and committed practically to living it out as an example to the people under their care. You will not consistently lead the church toward a new reality if you are not convinced enough to lose people who don’t agree and committed long enough to learn how to work it out practically for those who stay to see and experience the change. Leaders must be unified and in agreement about what they are committing themselves and the church to for the long haul. This is not like adding a program or making a minor ministry shift. This will be a whole church transition, and the transition will take many years.

Repentance

As leaders become aware of ways they have not faithfully been examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3), they should be prepared to repent publicly. For instance, the Scriptures are clear elders are called to show hospitality, which is making space in their life, home, schedule, and budgets for outsiders. Hospitality gives a tangible expression to the truths and effects of the gospel showing how God welcomed us in through Christ. Leaders are called to lead the church in hospitality first by example and second through instruction. We will never move the church from Sunday to every day if leadership doesn’t lead the way in hospitality.

As elders come to see they have not been faithful in hospitality, they need to confess that to the church and ask God to give them the grace to change. Repentance will likely need to happen in many areas (i.e. being friends of non-Christians, discipling the flock under their care to be disciple-makers, showing radical generosity in all things, etc.). As leaders publicly confess and repent, they create a culture of grace in the church that makes it possible for the church to repent, as well.

I have found most people will not take new steps toward change unless they believe there is grace to acknowledge past failures and sin. Think about it, most churches are where they are today because the members choose to follow the example and teaching of their leaders. To expect them to change without leaders repenting publicly is an unhealthy expectation. They didn’t fail. Leaders did. If the church is going to turn corporately in a new direction the leaders will have to lead the way in repentance.

Preferred Future

However, we should not only look back on where we failed, we must also look forward to a preferred future. People will not change until the pain of staying and missing out on what could be is stronger than the comfort or familiarity of what is. Why did God’s people go to Egypt? Famine. They believed Egypt offered sustenance and a future. Why did Jesus’ disciples leave their careers to follow him? They believed He had something much better. If you are going to lead God’s people forward from Sunday to everyday, they will need to see that the better way is a life of full submission to Jesus in the everyday stuff of life.

Most people who love Sunday gatherings have likely experienced God at work in their hearts there. Leaders need to help people see they can experience even more of God’s presence and power in an ongoing way. Describe the life of a disciple filled with and led by the Holy Spirit on mission every day. Most Christians have not experienced much of the abundant life Jesus promised because they have not stepped out in faith to walk on those waters. I often hear people express their desire for a greater intimacy and acquaintance with the power of the Holy Spirit. However, I must inform them that the life lived in the Spirit is a life lived on the Spirit’s mission.

You won’t come to know the power of the Spirit if you live a life that does not require his power. To call people to transition from Sunday to everyday, I paint a picture regularly of a preferred future walking in the Spirit on mission with others who deeply love Jesus. If that life doesn’t sound better than only a weekly event on Sunday, people will not leave their present nets of comfort to venture out into the unknown. It’s true; there are significant costs in following Jesus every day, but the kingdom benefits far outweigh the worldly costs. Once again, this starts with leaders. If leaders are not convinced the future is better, they will not be able to convince anyone else either.

Program Support

Next, keep all programs that support the future direction, starve all that do not, and remove any that fight against it. I often use the analogy of a body when describing how to transition a church. The body has certain organs that if taken away will kill the body. It has others that the body can live without, and others, if damaged or infected, can kill the body. When making a transition, don’t get rid of the activities or programs that are the heart and lungs, skeletal supports, and nervous systems of the church. In most churches, Sunday gatherings and groups play vital roles in the transition to everyday mission. I’ve seen churches kill their entire church by shutting down all their programs to start missional communities. This is a fatal mistake.

At Doxa Church, we use the Sunday gathering to exhort, equip, and encourage people toward mission in the everyday. When I arrived here, they had community groups in place. I didn’t scrap them and start over; I decided to keep them and gradually transition them to missional communities. These two programmatic structures were and are vital structures for communication and care through which we can also bring equipping for the new direction. I also choose not to feed programs or events that do not specifically support the future direction. By starving I mean we don’t give leadership energy, coaching, or training to these ministries. We didn’t shut them down, but we don’t prop them up and work to sustain them either.

Each church has a limited supply of leadership and resources. We must steward our resources most effectively toward accomplishing the mission of making disciples who make disciples in the everyday stuff of life. We must do few things and do them well versus try to do everything mediocre. Finally, any program or ministry that is cancerous must be eliminated. A cancerous program is one that is fighting against the future direction or even poisoning others along the way. These cannot be allowed to continue or they will destroy the body.

Equip Pioneers

As you move forward you will find some have been waiting for this change. It seems God always has a remnant in the church being prepared to pioneer forward. As you discover the pioneers and early adopters, be prepared to give them the best support, mentoring, and training your church has to offer. They will need all you can give since this is new territory. Ideally, the overseeing leaders of the church are either in their groups leading by example or in other groups sharing their own learnings with others. The best way to move the entire church forward into a new direction is to have a few lead the way. People need to see and hear what life can be like from those who’ve gone before them.

We have found that placing pioneering leaders in pilot groups can be a very effective way to provide them with close training and development. A pilot group is made up of people eager to move forward into this new reality led by one of our equipping leaders who is most familiar with mission in everyday life. We presently are using the Saturate Field Guide as the curriculum for these groups. We call people to commit for a ten-week journey together through the Field Guild with the expectation that they will put into practice what they are learning along the way. We’ve done this both in singular groups and in larger groups that are broken up into 4-5 smaller groups. Through the pilot groups we have identified and equipped leaders, given people a taste of everyday mission in community and formed new missional communities as a result.

As leaders and others step out into everyday mission together, overseeing leaders must be present and available to coach and encourage them along the way. Most plans fail for lack of good preparation and ongoing support along the way. You can’t just launch people into a new reality. You need to provide ongoing training and evaluation along the way. Jesus didn’t just send His disciples out on mission. Prior to that He did it in front of them and with them. He pulled them aside regularly to explain what He was doing and to reflect on what they were doing. His training was hands-on and real-time. Then, when He did send them out, they returned with reports. Jesus provided additional training and coaching in light of their experiences or failures. We need to follow Jesus’ example of developing His leaders if we are going to expect people to lead from Sunday to everyday.

Smalls Steps and Shared Stories

I have discovered that the move from Sunday to everyday for some seems daunting. Some can’t imagine themselves making the trek up what seems to them to be Mount Everest. However, everyone can take a step on the trail. We have found that the vision of the preferred future is compelling, but without small steps being clarified, it can become paralyzing. Our job as leaders is to help people take small steps forward.

For instance, invite your neighbors over for a cookout, or call your group to pray weekly that God would open doors for the gospel. Take a prayer walk through your neighborhood once a week and ask God to open your eyes and open your neighbors’ hearts. Start going to the same restaurant once a week, and be gracious guests who learn names and stories of the servers and tip very generously. These are all small steps that anyone can take. Then share the stories of steps taken while gathered with the larger body on Sunday.

I know of one church that has a section in their weekly gathering called “I gave it a try.” During this time people share stories of giving it a try. I tried inviting our neighbors over for dinner last week. They denied, but we gave it a try. We try getting to know the story of the parents we sit next to in the stands while watching Joey’s football practice. We actually have a better idea how to serve them lovingly now that we gave it a try. At Doxa, we have a story each week from normal people in our congregation take small steps of faith in everyday situations. The people in our churches know what we care most about based upon what we do on the platform and what we regularly celebrate. Encourage small steps and celebrate each step taken.

Pray

Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for power from the Spirit before they went out as His witnesses (Acts 1:6, 8). The account of the early church throughout the Acts of the Apostles is one of consistent, prayerful dependency and Spirit-led mission. To lead our churches forward into everyday mission, we must become a prayerful people. Once again this begins with leadership. Leaders must pray regularly, consistently, and for significant periods of time.

We have adopted several ways of creating a prayerfully dependent culture here. We pray at 10:02 every morning for harvest workers. This is taken from Luke 10:02. We learned this from the leadership of C2C in Canada. We stop whatever we’re doing and take time to pray that our Lord will send more workers for the harvest and prepare the harvest for the workers. We also try to dedicate a block of time for prayer in most meetings. We also commit to “stop and pray.” If we are in a conversation where someone is in need of prayer, we don’t say we will pray. We stop and pray in the moment. We also stop and pray during a meeting when it is apparent we are lacking wisdom or direction. We have people praying during our gatherings on Sundays and more recently are asking our missional communities to commit to praying through an entire Sunday morning gathering to learn to pray together throughout the week. Our elders lead these times to both model our commitment to prayer and to actively train our people.

As our church grows in prayerful dependence they also grow in being led by the Spirit. Many Christians don’t know how to engage in the mission in everyday life because they haven’t yet learned how to follow the Spirit of God on mission in prayer. If you do all that I have already written and fail to pray, you will have missed the most important element of transitioning from Sunday to everyday. Jesus is building His church in the everyday stuff of life. Prayer is the key to submitting to Him and being empowered by Him to join in the work.

Speaking the Truths of Jesus

Have you ever tried to learn a new language? You know how hard and frustrating it can be translating every single word when you first start. But after awhile, something happens. Suddenly, you start not only to speak, but to think and feel in that language. You eventually start interpreting life through it. That’s fluency.

In many ways, the Gospel is like a new language. It takes time. We can be slow to learn, fast to forget, and unwilling to trust. But when the truths of God through Jesus become part of us, we start interpreting the whole world around us through the lens of God’s perspective. Slowly every aspect of our story starts to be affected by the redemption story—relationships, work, and even ourselves. Everything starts to have a new meaning. Even more, we are able to transmit the truth of the gospel in ways that speak to the real and present brokenness and longings of people.

Just like when you become fluent in a new language, you discover a new way to see the world; with the Gospel, you discover that Jesus is good news for everything.

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Bringing the Gospel to Our Lips

If you and others around you are going to grow in gospel fluency, you need consistent immersion in a gospel-speaking community.

This needs to be much more than a weekly gathering of the church where the gospel is preached (though it should include this). It also should be more than a weekly Bible study, small-group gathering, or missional-community meeting (though I also recommend these). Growth in gospel fluency requires regularly being with others who know and love Jesus, speak about him often, and commit together to regularly remind one another of the gospel when they forget.

From the very beginning of the story, the act of eating has played a very significant role in the worship and remembrance of who God is, what he has done, and who we are. God provided a great place for Adam and Eve to live, with all the food they needed. They regularly had the opportunity to remember God, his word, and his work, as well as who they were and what they were called to do. For them, every meal was a time to remember God’s abundant provision and express their worship of him alone.

When we eat, we see that our food looks good. Some meals look like a painting by Monet, others look like a Picasso, but they are all works of art. We can smell our food. Just think of all the wonderful aromas of the best meals you’ve had. Don’t you love them! And as you put your food in your mouth, there’s an explosion of sensations—sweet, sour, bitter, salty. It’s like a party in your mouth! And you don’t just taste your food, you feel it as well. There are so many textures to experience. And then you hear it as it crunches, or sloshes or slurps its way into your body (some people are annoyed at this part of eating). Through all of this, you are nourished and replenished, strengthened and rebuilt. God wants us to eat and remember—enjoy and worship him—and, at the same time, have our needs met by him.

Remember what he said to Adam and Eve: “Eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of that tree, you will surely die” (see Gen. 2:16–17). Every meal was an opportunity to remember, trust, and obey. Every meal was meant to be an act of remembrance and worship. But they didn’t remember, trust, and obey. They ate unto themselves. God designed them to trust in his ability to provide for them. Something outside of them was meant to take care of a deep need inside of them—and he would provide that something. They were not to look outside of his provision.

All of this was meant to point us toward God’s ultimate provision in Jesus. Eventually, Jesus came to be God’s ultimate provision for us. He is the bread of life that meets our deepest needs and satisfies our greatest longings. Every meal is meant to cause us to remember and worship Jesus.

What if you took time at every meal—even very simple ones—to give thanks to God, praying not just at the beginning, but throughout the meal? Our family is trying to use our evening mealtimes more intentionally. We are presently rehearsing the Ten Commandments and going through the gospel with each one of them. We also have given each night a theme to guide what we do together at the meal.

There is one meal specifically given by Jesus, to remember and proclaim the gospel—learn about that here. But for now, consider our normal, everyday meals: what if your friends, your family, your small group, or your missional community made it a point to make every single meal a remembrance and worship experience? What if you slowed down enough to remember Jesus at every meal? What if you savored every moment as an opportunity to praise God.

(Taken from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017 Crossway.)

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Listen to Your Heart

Part of our job in growing in gospel fluency is paying attention to the overflow of our hearts.

What comes out in the form of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors finds its origin inside of us. Too often, we focus our attention on changing the external rather than addressing the internal. But Jesus was very clear that what defiles us proceeds from inside our hearts—our beliefs and our motives. The fruit of our lives comes from the roots of our faith. Just as a thermometer detects a fever, what we see or experience tells us about the gospel health of our hearts. So we need to learn to trace the fruit back to the root.

Over the years, I have learned to ask four key questions in progressive order when forming people in the gospel: (1) Who is God? (2) What has God done (which reveals who God is)? (3) Who am I in light of God’s work? and (4) How should I live in light of who I am? I encourage people to apply these questions to their Bible study and to all of their discipleship processes.

When I am seeking to discern unbelief in the gospel, I reverse the order of those questions: (1) What am I doing or experiencing right now? (2) In light of what I am doing or experiencing, what do I believe about myself? (3) What do I believe God is doing or has done? and (4) What do I believe God is like? In other words, I trace the fruit back to the root. If the fruit is not like Jesus, that is an indicator that our faith is not in Jesus. Remember, we’re all still unbelievers in many areas of our lives. We do not always believe the truths about God as revealed in the gospel; therefore, we are living in unbelief.

How do we know if the fruit of our lives is like Jesus? Well, it helps to get to know what Jesus is like. This is why we need to continue to become more and more acquainted with him by reading the Scriptures, especially the Gospels, which describe how Jesus lived. The fruit of faith in Jesus is love for God and others. The gospel makes clear that this is not something we do on your own. Through faith in Jesus, each of us is made into a pure and holy dwelling place—a temple—where God’s Spirit lives. Jesus foretold that he would send the Spirit to help us know, believe in, and be connected to Jesus, so that we could bear much fruit.

In Gospel Fluency, I shared how Tim Chester teaches that beneath every sin is a failure to believe a truth about God. I’m convinced the same applies to what we believe about ourselves. Because we believe lies about God, we also believe lies about ourselves. We believe God is unloving, so we, in turn, believe we are unlovable—disposable, unwanted garbage. We believe God is not our Savior, so we have to be the savior to our friends, our spouses, or our children… We all fluctuate between the extremes of believing we are demigods sent to save the world and demons who are the scum of the earth, and everything in between. And the reason we believe what we do about ourselves is because of what we believe or don’t believe about God.

We need to learn to speak our beliefs out loud. So often, we are not even aware of what we are believing in any given moment. We just go along, living in false belief, and, as a result, we continue to engage in sinful behaviors. I am so blessed to have a friend and partner in Jayne who encourages me to speak out loud what is going on in my heart between me and God. She is in good company with the psalmists and the prophets in the Scriptures. They knew that our transformation comes partly through our verbal proclamation of our faith—speaking out loud what we are believing in the moment. This is confession.

So often, when people are led to confess their sins, they only confess their sinful behaviors. In other words, they confess the fruit. They say: “I’m sorry I lied. Please forgive me.” Or: “I looked at pornography. I know that’s wrong. Please forgive me.” The problem, however, is that they need to confess their sinful beliefs—the roots, the stuff below the surface that is motivating and producing their behaviors, the sin beneath the sins. All sin stems from wrong beliefs—lies we believe—and ultimately from our unbelief in Jesus. And because we generally don’t go beyond the fruit to the root, we end up aiming at behavior modification instead of gospel transformation. In the gospel, we come to see that sin is wicked and our world is broken. People suffer and will suffer because of sin. We are not promised a pain-free, trouble-free, suffering-free existence. But we don’t need more self-help and we don’t need denial. We need deliverance.

When we address only the behaviors and push people to change what they do without a change in what they believe, the weight falls on us rather than God to handle the problems of the world and deal with the brokenness caused by sin. Instead, we need to trust in God’s power to change us and change the world. [We need] gospel transformation, not just behavior modification. God’s Spirit is our guide, teacher, and counselor. When those of us who belong to God confess out loud what we believe, the Spirit is right there with us to convict us of our unbelief and lead us to the truth that is in Jesus. This is how God grants us repentance. He convicts us of our unbelief and leads us to believe the truth.

(Taken from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017 Crossway.)

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Distinguishing Truths from Lies

We are at war!

Bullets are flying. Bombs are dropping. The enemy is closing in. Destruction is all around. There are casualties everywhere. But in our war, you can’t see any of this. Well, you can see the effects of it all over the place in the brokenness, chaos, and pain around us, but this war is invisible.

We are not fighting each other. Our war is not against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). And we are not fighting with physical weapons. We fight what is unseen with weapons that are not wielded by human hands. Our battle is spiritual, and so are the weapons we use. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. And our enemies are the Devil, the world, and the flesh.

The Devil screams out: “God is evil. I hate him and I will do everything to oppose him and destroy what he has made.” The world screams out: “This world is best without God, and you are best when it’s all about you.” And the flesh screams out: “I don’t need God because I am god. It’s all about me and it’s all dependent upon me.”

So what are we to do in this battle? The Bible tells us to (1) take our thoughts captive and examine them, (2) bring them into submission, (3) consider the fruit, and then (4) fight with gospel truths. For now, we focus on the first.

What is going through your mind? What do you regularly hear spoken in your head? What are you believing about God, his work in Jesus, others, yourself, and what you should do? This is why it is so important to know the gospel, rehearse it in our minds, and remember it. We cannot defeat the enemies of our souls without becoming more gospel fluent. And part of growing in gospel fluency is learning how to recognize what is not from God—what is not in line with the truths of the gospel.

So how do you know if what you’re thinking lines up with what is true in the gospel? Well, remember that the gospel literally means “good news.” So ask yourself: “Is this good news that I’m thinking? Is it tearing God down or lifting him up? Is it tearing others down or building them up? Is it tearing me down or encouraging, exhorting, or equipping me?” The enemy of our souls [lies: Satan] brings to our minds thoughts and words that are lies about God… One good way to learn how to discern the truth from a lie is to continue reading Scripture. If what you hear disagrees with the Bible, it’s a lie.

Satan also accuses: He loves to tear us down with accusations. And most often he tries to deny what is true of us in Christ—what Jesus has done to change us. He doesn’t want us to live boldly for Jesus, so he accuses us of things that are not true of us so that we will cower in fear, guilt, and shame… He also tempts us with promises of fulfillment through sinful pleasures or pursuits. He tries to convince us that God’s ways are not good. And he loves to offer seductive short-cuts to fulfill our longings and desires. He often tries to make sin look attractive to lure our hearts away from obeying God… The enemy also loves to divide and isolate through gossip, slander, and bitterness.

The means vary, but our enemy loves to get us to turn against one another. He loves to erode our trust and give us reasons to separate or divide. And one of his greatest schemes is to isolate us as he does it. He wants us alone so he can pick us off one by one with no one around to encourage us or speak the truths of Jesus into our lives. Watch out for the schemes. In all of them, our enemy is dead set on our destruction.

The first step is to capture the thought and examine it. Train yourself to regularly stop and closely examine what you are thinking, feeling, or believing in light of the truths of the gospel.

(Taken from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017 Crossway.)

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

We All Live by Faith in Someone or Something


We all live by faith in someone or something.

Everything that we are and do is a result of what we believe. Our behaviors are the tangible expression of our beliefs. It is by grace you have been saved through faith. . . .

A gospel-fluent community that is growing in faith in the gospel is evidenced by people confessing their sins to one another regularly. A gospel-fluent community that is growing in confidence that Jesus fully atoned for our sins extends grace and forgiveness to one another. It is by grace—the gift of God in Jesus—that you are saved from the consequences and control of sin. And it is through faith—belief in Jesus’s work on our behalf. Every sinful attitude, motive, thought, or action is a result of unbelief in God’s word and work.

Paul teaches in Romans 1:18–32 that we all, like Adam and Eve and all their descendants, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and have worshiped the creation instead of the Creator. We put our faith in the things God has made or the things we can do instead of God. God gives us over to our wrong belief and lets it produce in us what all idolatry produces—sin, brokenness, perversion, and pain. He does this so that we will see the wretchedness of sin and turn back to him as the one who forgives our sin, cleanses us from unrighteousness, and heals our brokenness.

The gospel is not just the power of God to save, but also the revelation of God that we need to be saved and that the only one who can save us is Jesus. The Spirit’s job is to reveal to us our unbelief, grant us repentance, and lead us to know and believe in Jesus. That is the work we do. We turn from unbelief to belief in Jesus. Unbelief can take several forms: (1) we don’t believe because we lack the truth about God; (2) we believe lies about God; or (3) we fail to put our faith in what we know to be true of God.

First, many don’t know who God really is. They don’t know what he is like or what he has done for us. A person can’t believe in God if he or she is unaware of the truths about God. There is no salvation—no transformation—apart from knowing God. One of the reasons Jesus came—and one of the reasons why the gospel is such good news—was to reveal the truth about God and to bring us into relationship with him. In the gospel, we have the revelation of what God is like and what God has done. God is revealed through Jesus’s life, Jesus’s ministry, Jesus’s death, and Jesus’s resurrection. What is your God like? What do you believe about God? Growing in gospel fluency requires growing in our knowledge of God as he is revealed in and through Jesus Christ.

Second, in some cases, our unbelief involves believing lies about God. Satan deceived Adam and Eve into believing lies about God, and we regularly buy into his lies as well. We might know certain truths about God, but fail to believe those truths because we are deceived into believing lies. Jesus came to dispel the lies. Regularly, we hear Jesus say, “Truly, truly I say . . .” He is replacing the lies we believe with the truths of God. Not only does he proclaim those truths verbally, but he is also the ultimate example and display of those truths. Growing in gospel fluency requires regularly replacing lies we have believed with the truths of God revealed in Jesus. One of the reasons God sent his Spirit to us is to reveal the lies and help us believe the truth about God. I regularly invite God’s Spirit to do this in my life. You can too.

Third, we often say we believe something to be true about God, but our lives show that we don’t actually believe it. We know a truth we should believe, but in actuality, we don’t. For instance, we profess belief in a God who forgives our sins through faith in the death of Jesus, but we continue to believe we need to behave better in order to make up for what we’ve done. When we do this, we are living in unbelief in the gospel. The gospel is the power of God to save us not only because our sin of unbelief is forgiven through Jesus’s death on the cross, but also because in the gospel we come to know and believe the liberating truths of God revealed in Jesus Christ. And through believing those truths, the lies we’ve believed are dispelled and the truth sets us free to really live.

So what do you believe? The gospel won’t fluently come out of you to others unless it’s changed you first.

(Taken from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2017 Crossway.)

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Exposed by the Mission

Yes, we can pretend to have it all together while sitting in a pew on Sunday or while impressing one another with our knowledge of Scripture. But mission exposes our inadequacies and need for grace.

If you are in a small Bible study group, one of the best things you could do is move the study out into the neighborhood. When you read a command in Scripture, ask, “How are we going to obey this command together on mission?” In other words, ask yourselves what this passage says you should do together (life in community) and how you might do it in the middle of a mission held together (life on mission).

Doing this will bring up all sorts of opportunities for discipleship: excuses will be expressed, fears acknowledged, lack of confidence or courage realized, and inadequacies verbalized. Then you’ll be getting somewhere in terms of people’s discipleship.

In this process, you will discover the truth about everyone’s present state. When you actually get out of the comfort of your Christian community and onto the streets of mission (in your neighborhood, at a café, in the park, or at a local high school), you will discover together where everyone still needs to be discipled. The junk will come out, and then you will be able to disciple one another in the everyday stuff of life.

I was surprised by this on my first mission trip, but after a few of them, I knew it was coming. Soon, a part of me began to hate taking mission trips because I knew things would get bad—we would fall apart and we would be seen as needy.

Yet that was why I continued to lead them. Such brokenness has to happen if real discipleship is going to take place.

Sometimes I wonder if this exposure is why Christians avoid getting on the mission of making disciples together in the stuff of everyday life. We know we will be exposed. We will be seen for the needy, desperate people we really are. Our junk will come to the surface. Yes, we can hide and pretend to have it all together while sitting in a large gathering on Sunday or while impressing one another with our knowledge of Scripture in a weekly Bible study. But out on mission, the need for grace and power from God will never be more clearly manifested.

That’s exactly what we need. We need to see and know our need for Jesus. We need to see and know others’ need for Jesus. Then we need to give one another the truths of Jesus to change us, empower us, and allow His Spirit to work through us effectively. We also need to experience God using weak, tired, and broken people to do amazing work.

This happened in the early church as well. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His disciples to wait for power from God—the Spirit of God was going to come upon them and empower them for the work (Acts 1:8). The disciples were sent out with God’s power and presence with and by His Spirit. They faced persecution. Many died for their faith. They lost possessions and family members. Many messed up and grew in the grace of Jesus as a result. And they grew in their love for one another, their devotion to obey God’s Word, their prayerful dependence on God, and the powerful proclamation of the gospel. They all grew while on mission (Acts 2:42–47).

The mission revealed their need and required God’s help!

I’m amazed at how often Christians want to experience the presence and power of God apart from the mission of God. I’m also surprised at how many people believe they can grow people up toward maturity in Christ apart from getting them involved in the mission of making disciples.

This stuff can’t happen in a classroom. It does not happen in one-on-one meetings. And it does not happen if we just hang out together as Christians all the time. We have to get out on mission to fulfill the mission of being disciples who make disciples.

I used to think we should take people out on mission trips once or twice a year. Now I’m convinced we need to help people see they are on mission all the time.

Unfortunately, many disciples of Jesus don’t get beyond seeing church as just attending an event on Sunday or Wednesday or doing a Bible study together. They are not experiencing what it means to be on mission together in the everyday stuff of life. So they live with the facade that everything is OK. On the surface, they look as if they are all in for Jesus. But brokenness, pride, insecurity, and selfishness are all there under the surface.

(Taken from Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2015, Crossway.)

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

We Are Missionaries

What God has done to us, He wants to do through us.

We have the Spirit of God in us so that we might be empowered, just as Jesus was. We are His missionaries, filled and anointed by His Spirit. If you have the Spirit of God, you are a missionary sent by Jesus to tell the world who He is and what He has done.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” Everywhere you go, whatever you do, you are a missionary sent by Jesus to love like Jesus, overcome sin like Jesus, proclaim the gospel like Jesus, and see people’s lives changed by the power of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.

You are always on mission. Every part of your life, every activity and event, is part of Jesus’s mission to make disciples.

Remember, you are not alone on this mission. Jesus goes with you everywhere because His Spirit is in you to empower you to be His representative in the world. He wants to saturate your world in word and deed by His presence at work in and through you by His Spirit.

Our baptism is a reminder of our new identity in Christ. We have been saturated with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have a new name because we are new creations who can do new works by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. This is why Jesus places baptism first in the sequence of events of making disciples. He wants us to know who we are and what power we now have to do what He wants. His command for us to “[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you” comes after we establish people in their new identity (Matt. 28:19–20).

Since you do who you are, you need to know who you are in Christ.

Knowing and believing who you are in Christ leads you to obey Jesus’s commands.

The people in your church don’t need a new to-do list. They needed to be reminded of their new identity in Christ. The same is true for you.

  • We are the Father’s family; therefore, we love others like He loved us.
  • We are servants of Christ; therefore, we serve the least of these as He served us.
  • We are missionaries filled and empowered by the same Spirit that was in Jesus; therefore, we are always on mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Whatever He has done to us, He now wants to do through us to others.

(Taken from Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2015, Crossway.)

Join Me for a Gospel Fluency Crash Course

As a Christian, do you find it difficult to talk to others about Jesus? Is it possible this difficulty is because we're trying to speak a language we haven't actually spent time practicing?

On Tuesday, February 28 at 6:00 p.m. PST join me for a live crash course in gospel fluency on Facebook and Twitter. I'll be discussing how we can best become fluent in the gospel for the good of our neighbors and the glory of Jesus.

About Gospel Fluency

flu·en·cy / noun :the ability to speak a language easily and effectively

Even if they want to, many Christians find it hard to talk to others about Jesus. Is it possible this difficulty is because we’re trying to speak a language we haven’t actually spent time practicing? Is it possible we have neglected to understand for ourselves how the good news of Jesus impacts every facet of our own lives?

To become fluent in a new language, you must immerse yourself in it and commit to practicing it, over and over again. You must use it everyday until you actually start to think about life through it. Becoming fluent in the gospel happens the same way—after believing it, we have to intentionally rehearse it (to ourselves and to others) and immerse ourselves in its truths. Only then will we start to see how everything in our lives, from the mundane to the magnificent, is transformed by the hope of the gospel.

Challenging us to cultivate this counter-cultural mindset, Jeff Vanderstelt offers readers wise biblical insights, practical advice, and compelling stories aimed at encouraging and equipping Christians to speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life.

Find out more information here.

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.