Easter celebrations are over. You’re not sick of hard-boiled eggs yet, there’s still Easter grass in the corner of the carpet, and the kids are still hopped up on sugar. You’ve celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ with your church family and friends, and now it’s time for daily life. The thing is: how much does this world-changing historical event impact your daily life?
I believe that the reason we are left here on earth after we come to know Jesus and are adopted into his family is so that we can tell others about him. Knowing Jesus should change every single aspect of how we live our lives, from how we respond to small things like irritating cashiers or drivers who cut us off, to our attitudes towards the poor or to refugees, to even rethinking our political views.
Saturate Field Guide is a new study put out by pastor and church planter Jeff Vanderstelt, along with his co-author, Ben Connelly. In it, they invite readers to experience something deeper. They not only make the case that knowing Christ should change our entire lives, which is, um, kind of what the Bible says, but they also have put together a small group study to help you and your friends or family grow in this area.
For far too many Christians, the idea of being part of a church simply means attending a Sunday morning service, maybe a small group or a sprinkling of special events each year. Is that what God had in mind for his bride, the Church, when he sent his son to save her? they ask. And if you are squirming a wee bit in your chair right now, as I am, you already know the answer.
What follows is part of an interview with the two:
Q: You start the Saturate Field Guide with Habakkuk 2:14. Share that verse with us and how it captures the spirit and message of this book.
Jeff Vanderstelt: Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” This verse is referring to the saturation point of God’s glory everywhere, every day with everyone. Paul tells us the hope of glory is Christ in us (Colossians 1:27). Jesus, in us and working through us by his Spirit, is the way God intends to accomplish this vision. Our hope is that Saturate (both the book and Field Guide) will serve to help people discover who they are in this work and how to live it out together with others in the everyday stuff of life.
Ben Connelly: There is no greater goal, for any Christian, than God’s glory be an ever-growing reality that seeps into every crevice of every life on earth. Saturation, by definition, cannot be relegated to a certain day of the week or a separated “clergy class” among God’s people — it’s a pursuit that must involve every Christian in everyday life.
Q: Why do you think there is often such a disconnect between what Christians say they believe and how they actually live their lives?
BC: At least one reason is that in many traditions, the fullness of Christianity seems to be taught as a past event that greatly benefits my future. It is a past event in the sense that Jesus was a historical man and that for every follower of Jesus there was a point where they “became a Christian.” It’s also a future event in that through Christ, Christians will be restored to right relationship with God the Father and live with him forever in eternity. Praise God both the past and future elements of our faith are true! There’s a present element of Christianity as well that often seems forgotten. Our faith can too easily become separated from our daily lives, relegated to certain days or events and left out of the everyday decisions and realities of life. Obedience, sanctification, holiness, mission, the pursuit of God’s kingdom and other “present realities” of our faith can be lost. In many cases, the disconnect starts with forgetting the Bible is filled with present ramifications for our faith.
Q: How do you think Christians’ view of discipleship need to change?
JV: Many people see discipleship as a set of curricula you go through and master, a class you attend or a one-on-one relationship you’re engaged in. These are all good and important things. However, when we see the example of Jesus making disciples in the Bible, we see something more inclusive of all of life. The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 4:15, “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” If we are to grow up every way into Christ, we need to learn to speak the truths of Christ into everything and help others walk it out every day.
That is why I define discipleship as leading others to submit all of life increasingly to the empowering presence and lordship of Jesus Christ. To do this, we have to be visible and accessible to one another in the everyday stuff of life. We need to see discipleship as a community experience in which we are on mission together. After all, the best way to learn something is to do it with others.
Q: How are discipleship, community and mission found in everyday life situations?
JV: I encourage people not to add more events and programs to their already busy lives. Instead, I tell them to do what they’ve already been doing with more gospel intentionality. In other words, look at the everyday rhythms of life like eating, working, celebrating and resting and begin to engage them more intentionally. For example, they likely eat 18-21 meals a week. What if they ate one or two of them with other believers and took time around the table to celebrate Jesus? What if they opened up a seat at their own table for a neighbor or friend who doesn’t yet believe in Jesus and introduced them to the family of God through a meal? Ask the Holy Spirit to turn that meal into a gospel opportunity to listen well, get to know another’s story and find ways to bless your guest.
Q: A lot of discussions in the church today revolve around developing strategies to make the church more relevant and effective — particularly to the new generation of young people reaching adulthood. What are your concerns with that focus on strategy?
JV: I do believe we need to be open to many changes in how the church operates presently, especially in light of the Millennials’ growing disinterest in or distrust of the present-day church. We need to listen more, humble ourselves and be open to how the Spirit is leading the church into the future. With that said, one of my biggest concerns with many of the conversations is they seem to leave Jesus completely out of the dialogue or plan.
I’m amazed at how many talks on leadership, strategic planning and new methodology are presented with very little or no discussions about Jesus, the gospel or the Holy Spirit who make it all happen. There is no human strategy that saves or changes the world if it doesn’t have “Christ in you” at the heart of it (Col. 1:27). At the end of the day, only Jesus saves, and only Jesus will bring eternal change to the world. Granted he does it in and through us, but we can do nothing apart from him.
Q: What is our greatest hope for reaching those who are lost?
JV: Too often I hear leaders and teachers call Christians to go and be Jesus to the world. The only problem is we aren’t Jesus. There is only one Jesus. We don’t need to try and be Jesus; we need to ask Jesus to fill us with his Spirit and work in and through our lives so the world comes to know him in our “clay jar-like” lives.
Paul said to the Colossians in Colossian 1:27, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Our hope for the world coming to see and know Jesus is not us being another Jesus, but Jesus being Jesus in and through us. That’s better than any strategy we can come up with.
Q: How is working through Saturate Field Guide, chapter by chapter, different from simply reading a book?
BC: The goal of the FG, as implied by the title, is to help translate a belief in the gospel into action and fruit. Books are generally designed to give information and to be read cover-to-cover, sometimes in just a few days. Instead of simply providing information, the FG gives you principles and practices, helping you apply the information and obey God’s words. It also asks readers to bite off a small piece every day for eight weeks and interact with the content each day. Over the course of the FG, they’ll marinate on Scripture, immerse themselves in prayer, dive deep into introspection, carry out practical exercises, discuss and debate and more. Ideally, it will also be completed within a group of individuals who are interacting with the content each day.
Q: Why should this guide be used in a group setting? Can it be done on an individual basis?
BC: The FG can certainly be tackled alone. However, there are multiple benefits to working through it in a group. First, others provide accountability to make sure each day’s/week’s content is done. On a deeper level, as different people struggle with different concepts or need help translating certain beliefs into actions, two minds really are better than one. Finally, no aspect of Christianity or discipleship is designed to be an individualistic pursuit. While our relationship with God is, of course, personal, it’s never designed to occur in isolation, outside of the community of God’s people. The best way to pursue sanctification and discipleship is to lock arms with others, working toward the same things and equipping/supporting one another along the way.
Learn more about more about Saturate Field Guide at book.wearesaturate.com,