Jeff Vanderstelt, Saturate Interview

Jeff Vanderstelt, Saturate Interview

Why did you decide to title the book Saturate?JVanderstelt2015webres

Habakkuk 2:14 points to a time when the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. That’s saturation, and that’s why I titled the book Saturate.

Paul tells us in Colossians, it’s “Christ in us” that is the hope of glory. God’s intention is to fill his people and fill every place with his people, so that he would be glorified everywhere. My hope is that Saturate will help equip God’s people for this purpose.

Why does the world need Saturate in their hands?

Most Christians think Church is an event, not a People filled with the Spirit and sent on Jesus’ mission into the everyday “stuff” of life. I hope people who read Saturate realize who they are in Christ, and experience a paradigm shift based on that understanding.

In a time where many believers don’t know how to live their everyday life as disciples who makes disciples, I also hope the book will help readers get started on that journey.

On page 24, you wrote, “I recognize that the Spirit of God was showing me a deficiency in how the church was understood and structured and how discipleship was defined and practiced.” How did your church define discipleship in response to this realization?

We define discipleship as leading people to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering lordship and presence of Jesus Christ.

We define a disciple as one who desires to worship Jesus in all of life, is increasingly being changed by Jesus to obey him in all of life, and leads and teaches others to do the same.

Throughout the book you mention church being thought of as an event. What do you mean? How can others recognize this is happening in their church?

So many define church as an event they attend, “We go to church.” The problem with this thinking is it’s incorrect. We don’t go to church. We are the church – a group of believers who gathers together regularly. And, if we see church as only an event, we often become complacent observers instead of Spirit-filled sent ones in a world that needs Jesus. The church is the people gathered and sent by Jesus to make disciples in the everyday life. We gather together to be reminded of who God is, what He has done in Jesus, and in light of that, who we are and how we are to live.

One way you can identify if you or your church has wrong thinking is through your language. Pay attention to what you say; your words reveal what you believe. Do you or others refer to church as the building or event? Do you believe discipleship primarily happens by getting people there? Do people perceive the Sunday gathering as more important or effective in accomplishing Jesus’ mission than ministry in our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces?

Both the gathering of the church and the scattering of the church is necessary to accomplish Jesus’ mission for the church.

Jeff, the book is littered with stories of discipleship being seen, experienced and felt in life-on-life relationships. How has this shaped your understanding of Matthew 28?

A key part of Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28 is, “…while you are going make disciples”. When we look back at how Jesus made disciples, he didn’t do it in a building or a classroom. Life was the classroom and disciples where made along the way. The disciples needed to see Jesus submit to God in all of life in order to know what a disciple of Jesus looks like. Sure, Jesus had formal times of teaching and reflection, but it was all in the context of community, believers together in the day-to-day.

I also read, “… teach them to obey or observe all I’ve commanded you,” and realize Jesus isn’t telling us to teach his commands. He is calling us to equip people to obey them. This can’t happen in a meeting that happens once a week. We have to get into each others’ lives and worlds, not only to be an example of obedience, but to help others obey Him.

61u4W1UDoALA large portion of the text is given to finding one’s identity in Christ. How does identity correlate to discipleship?

Throughout the Bible, we see people being mobilized in response to God’s word and work. God’s  word and work always precede our work. In other words, we are before we do. God creates us in his  image and then tells us to be image bearers, for example. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham,  which means “Father of many nations” and then gave him many children. Later, after Jesus’  resurrection, He calls us to baptize disciples in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are  given a new identity: Family of God, Servants of the King and Missionaries sent and empowered by  the Spirit so that we will love, serve and proclaim Jesus. The commands follow and proceed from  our new identity.

This is an important contrast to the way the world teaches us; we’ve been told it’s what we do that determines who we are. In other words, it’s through our works that we are made significant, loved and accepted. As disciples of Jesus, we repent of this lie. We turn to Jesus and trust that it is by His work that we are saved – we are given a new identity to live a new life because of what he has done. God’s word and work in and through Jesus is sufficient for our justification, sanctification and glorification. The heart of discipleship is leading people to trust Jesus, not ourselves, to change them and enable them to live a new life. We don’t do good works to be saved. We do them because we are saved and are being saved.

At the end of Saturate you write, “I don’t want you to end…I don’t want you to close this book and go back to life as normal.”  How should things change for your readers? What should they consider the new “norm” after reading this book?

I want readers to believe they are the church. I want them to believe God desires to fill every place they walk with His presence, by his Spirit at work in and through them. I want them to move from seeing church events as sacred and everyday life as secular to seeing all of life as sacred – set apart for God’s purposes in the world.

I want those to understand that we’re always making disciples, but the question is: who are yours and who are you teaching them to follow? We are always leading people to something, and it’s my prayer that as each person grows in their love for Jesus, He would be the primary influence in their life. Then, by the Spirit, live a life that leads others to see what a Jesus-saturated life can be like.

I want “saturation” to happen for normal people, in everyday life so that every man, woman and child has a daily encounter with Jesus.

What common responses have you heard from your readers?
People have said the book is inspiring, accessible and paints a compelling picture of how everyday life could be lived differently. Some people who classify themselves as “nonreaders” say they were able to get through the book easily and some even said it was hard to put down. That was my hope when I penned it. I wanted an accessible, easy-to-read book for the everyday person, because saturation won’t happen if only church leaders “get it”. We need everyone to catch a vision for this kind of everyday Jesus saturated life.

Bio: Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of the Soma Family of Churches and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the U.S. and 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.

You can purchase Saturate on Amazon. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter.

Can you do me a favor? If these ideas resonate with you, would you:

  • REACT. Do something.
  • RESPOND. Leave a comment on this post.
  • REPOST. Repost this link on Twitter, Facebook or your blog.

If you enjoyed this post, get updates. It's FREE!
Robby Gallaty is the Senior Pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN. He was radically saved out of a life of drug addiction on November 12, 2002. In 2008, he began Replicate Ministries to equip and train men and women to be disciples who make disciples. He is also the author of Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples (2013), Firmly Planted: How to Cultivate a Faith Rooted in Christ (2015), Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words Our First Work (2015), Foundations: A 260-Day Bible Reading Plan for Busy Believers (2015), and The Forgotten Jesus: How Western Christians Should Follow an Eastern Rabbi (2017).