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.

4 Ways To Be Missional In The Everyday Stuff of Life

A few years back a friend of mine challenged me to run the Chicago Marathon with him. I’d never run a race before, but my competitive edge led me to take on the challenge, and I got to work. I never trained so hard in my life. Hours of my days were devoted to getting into shape and preparing. I ordered running magazines, researched workout plans, learned about proper diet, was schooled on shoe tech, and even discovered how important it is to think about proper clothing. I became a disciple of marathons because I was going to run one. 

When I ponder the reality that most Christians have never made a disciple who has also, made a disciple, I have harkened back several times to my experience with the marathon training. I got into shape because I HAD TO – it was a matter of necessity and survival.

Not only have many in the church never made a disciple who has then gone on to make a disciple, but many Christians would say they don’t feel equipped to do so. It seems to me that we could address the matter of “spiritually unfit” Christians from one of two approaches. We could address it like we address our problem with physically unfit Americans – build more health clubs (read: buildings and events), sell more fitness products (read: curriculum), host more seminars (read: classes) and work hard to make sure everyone has a personal trainer (read: mentor). No one would argue that we are lacking any of this in America. We have plenty of access to the resources necessary to be fit.  However, all of us would agree – we are not much healthier as a result (read: not making disciples).

Or, we could look at it from another angle – what if we called every believer to get ready to run a marathon? (The apostle Paul was on to something here.)

Is it possible that the reason that the church is not spiritually fit is due to the fact that many church leaders are merely calling people to sit around and observe other spiritually fit missionaries perform in front of them? Let’s ask ourselves: “What are we calling people to that requires them to be spiritually fit?”

What if we called every believer to run the race of Jesus’ mission? What if every Christian believed they were called to full-time ministry in their schools, while at work, and interacting in their neighborhoods. What if they believed that life was the program and every moment is an opportunity for gospel ministry? What if Christians started to believe that the small group they were involved in could potentially be a core group of a new church in their community. And, that they might just participate in leading?

What if the church once again called her people, young and old, male and female, to get ready to be sent out as a disciple who makes disciples; to potentially start new churches everywhere? In fact, what if they all believed in two years they were going to be sent out to another city or country to not only make disciples but raise up new ones to do the same some where else?

I wonder - would they take their spiritual fitness and training a little more seriously?

To train in the race for spiritual fitness, study the gospels and learn from Jesus, then begin to engage in what you’re already doing in everyday life with gospel intentionality:

1. Make every meal a worship service. As you eat and drink remember Jesus as God’s provision for our deepest hunger and the Spirit as the thirst quenching presence of God in our lives. If every meal became a worship service, you would be attending about 21 worship services a week! Start eating with others more often. Eat with those who love Jesus and encourage and remind each other with the truths of Jesus at the table. Eat with those who don’t yet know Jesus and ask the Spirit to grant opportunities to bless them over a meal in deed and word. Invite people to join you at your table and serve them a meal as a picture of Jesus’ service to us. Eating is just one example.

2. Consider seeing your job and vocation as a place for ministry to happen. You spend about one third of your life working. Why not work with all of your heart unto Jesus as your ultimate boss. Worship him through your work. Engage in sports and recreation as ministry.

3. Rest and play in light of the Gospel. We can truly be at rest because of Jesus’ work and be playful because God is sovereignly in control. Start seeing life as the program and every moment an event Jesus wants to work through and invite others into your play. Relax on your front porch and pray for opportunities to connect with your neighbors. Prayerfully throw a party, host a game night, or a backyard BBQ and invite those God has laid on your heart. It’s simple, Jesus isn’t calling us to do more, but instead to simply invite those who don’t yet know Jesus into the things you’re already doing.

4. You don’t have to change your church or leave your church, just start being the church wherever God puts you. And honor the leaders he has placed over you. The tendency when learning new things is to be critical. Remain humble and thank God regularly for the leaders he has given you. Pray for them. Encourage them. And share with them what you’re learning as well. I don’t know a pastor who doesn’t want the people under their care to be on mission in the everyday stuff of life. They will be encouraged to hear how God is at work in and through your life everyday.

Maybe the reason why many aren’t growing up and becoming equipped is because they don’t have to. The life we are being called to doesn’t require us being spiritually fit.

There is a race ... the mission is on. Let the training begin...