The past ten years has seen the rise of a massive amount of conversation about the gospel in books, at conferences, in articles, and in sermons. This trend towards focusing on the gospel is a good trend in the church. For far too long, we’ve been driven by a pragmatic approach to ministry that saps the strength of men and women in our churches and their ability to lead their families in a manner worthy of the gospel. Writing out of deep experience and practice in the white-hot fields of gospel ministry, Pastor Jeff Vanderstelt wrote Saturate Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life to share not only his heart and story but also about the multi-faceted ministry of discipleship that Christians have been invited to and the how the Church can make disciples of Christ that make, mature, and multiply to the glory of Christ.
In part one of his book, Jeff looks at the beginnings of his journey towards understanding biblical discipleship. He then shares how he moved to Tacoma, Washington to start Soma, a network of local churches that would seek to implement the gospel into everyday life. In part two, Jeff teaches on the sufficiency of Christ and shows how Jesus did it better: We have been saved, Jesus does it better: We are being saved, and finally, Jesus will make it better: We will be saved. In part three, the author explores the need for discipleship in all of life, life on life, life in community, and life on mission. In part four, the author considers our new identity looking at how God has taken our hearts of stone and given us a new heart, with new affections, and desires for Himself. He also considers the Trinitarian nature of salvation and it’s implication on how we are a part of the family of God, called to be servants of the Son, and missionaries sent and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Part five considers the everyday rhythms of life, an everyday plan, and everyday people on mission, to the glory of God. The two appendixes consider a missional community covenant template and a missional community sample.
As I read Jeff’s book I was deeply blessed by both the content and the tone of his writing. While I’ve never had the opportunity to meet Jeff I felt like after reading this book that I have begun to get to know him. Jeff has a powerful story of how God took him from Willow Creek church in Chicago, Illinois as a youth pastor to the Pacific Northwest and radically transformed his paradigm of ministry from being pragmatic in approach to being more focused on the gospel.
As I read this book I was deeply blessed. Jeff’s model of ministry resonates well with me not only because I grew up in and around the same area where he’s currently a Pastor but because his story is also my story. I was raised in a church that held to the Purpose Driven model. As I came out of that church I saw how pragmatic it was. Not that all of it was bad. Being intentional in ministry is good. Moving people through processes can be helpful. At the same time, it felt to me like the model of ministry was more important than building relationships with people. Sure there was great teaching. Our world is craving authentic relationships. People want to be known and cared for. Jeff’s book resonates deeply with me because it is a call to not just knowing the right answers. Instead, it’s a call to model sound doctrine in one’s life as the New Testament teaches. This is exactly where I think where Saturate shines the greatest.
We live in a church culture in North America where the greatest need is not for more information, it is to have that information transform our lives. It’s to take the Word and not just be hearers of it but doers of it. Yes, we have a biblical illiteracy problem as well. But even more than that, we have a transformation problem. We have many people who have grown up in the Church who are still baby Christians. They have no idea how to disciple another Christian let alone how to teach to one another.
Jeff’s book is one of the finest discipleship books I’ve read. This book is the story of how one man is striving to take biblical discipleship seriously. Biblical discipleship is messy. It means getting it people’s lives and modeling sound doctrine, not in theory. It’s easy to talk a big game. It’s easy to be able to answer people’s questions. It’s another thing to model what it looks like for men to love their wives, and neighbors. We have a great need in the Church to have teaching and examples that model doctrinal, theological, and especially relational maturity. It’s the relational maturity aspect that this book models so well through Jeff’s personal example. It reminded me of my own pastor’s model of ministry which is to befriend people for the purpose of imparting God’s Word to them. Jeff models this excellent in his book.
I highly recommend Saturate. Wherever you are at in your Christian life this is a book you simply must read. While having answers is good those who have been a Christian a long time need to teach others. Older men, us young men need you. We are confronted every day with a culture that is moving away from God. We need your guidance and your wisdom. Young men, your church needs you. It needs you to stand up and be counted and to share the gospel of grace with your generation. Wherever you are at in your Christian life, Saturate has something for you. I believe as you read this book you will be deeply blessed and helped greatly as I was.