If you are looking for an example of letting your identity in Christ inform your community life pick up Jeff Vanderstelt’s first crack at book writing, Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life. Vanderstelt, the long-time sherpa of Soma Tacoma (a church movement based on missional communities) and now pastor of one of the former Mars Hill churches, has brought the values of Soma, of life-on-life discipleship to memoir form and you will be encouraged to write your own chapter in the story.
For many church leaders and those longing for something deeper than mere participation on Sundays and the occasional Bible study group, the missional community framework given in Saturate will be a breath of fresh air and a good starting point for reimagining existing small group ministries. Not only does Vanderstelt rightly see the biblical call of discipleship missing from much of Evangelicalism, but he presents a solution, Christians living on mission in their neighborhoods with others.
His vision is “Jesus saturation – every man, woman, and child in every place having a daily encounter with Jesus through words spoken and deeds done through his people.” Who in the church couldn’t get behind this?!
Vanderstelt has a pastoral writing style, conversational but always pointing you toward the focus of life with Christ, flowing into all of life. The book gives several accounts of his own missional community and by the end you feel like you have spent time with these families as they hash out how to live on mission together.
The most compelling portions of the book however are the calls to live out of our identity in Christ. For Vanderstelt this is key. Know who you are in Jesus, that he has sacrificed himself for you and calls you to new life. From there, take the story of God, his redemptive goodness, to others in all of life. May we all be saturated with the gospel of Christ so that the truth of our place in him moves beyond us to others and motivates us to realize our mission in community.
Thanks to Crossway for sharing Saturate with me. Here are some choice thoughts from the book:
“Jesus saturation can’t happen through you until it’s happened to you.”
“Jesus’s church celebrates and feasts together. His people live life to the fullest for his glory and learn how to do the normal, everyday stuff of life for his glory. Not just parties and feasts – everything!”
“Mission will squeeze you and the junk will come out. When this happens, you need others to walk you to Jesus.”
“Jesus didn’t come and die just to forgive us of our sins, leaving us helpless and powerless to live a new life. He rose again and is alive to enable us by his Spirit to live a whole new life.”
“If we are to be disciples of Jesus who are being re-formed and restored to become more like him, we need to have people in our lives, up close and personal.”
“Mission brings you back to Jesus over and over again because, after all, it is his mission. He will build his church, and therefore his mission is completely dependent on him. Jesus brings his disciples on a mission that changes them in the process.”
“Whatever God does to you, he also plans to do through you.”
“Normal life is lived with gospel intentionality for the sake of seeing others come to know, love, and follow Jesus in normal life.”