I have enjoyed following and learning from Soma communities over the course of the last 5 years, I was excited when this book “Saturate” came out. Jeff Vanderstelt author of Saturate has written an excellent book on what it looks like to saturate our everyday lives with Jesus’ presence and power.
I greatly appreciate the way Vanderstelt writes with openness and honesty about living for Jesus in the everyday stuff of life. Many people separate Sundays and the rest of the week. Or at best sprinkle in events of following Jesus. This book will challenge your perspective on areas of your life that God is challenging and calling you to live more fully in Him. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from this book.
I may compile a separate post of key lessons. For now here is a fairly detailed summary overview of the book and the contents of the chapters.
Can you imagine every city, every neighborhood, every street, and every house saturated with Jesus’s presence through his people? This book is written to encourage the everyday Jesus follower to engage in the everyday stuff of life with the goal of seeing Jesus saturation for everyone in every place.
Part 1: Beginnings
Chapter 2: Jesus Goes to Poker Parties
What if we were to start a church that feasted and celebrated around Jesus together? All of life was to be done as an expression of their love for God. Jesus did everything for his heavenly Father’s glory. This is what Jesus does. Jesus makes life better. Jesus brings the better wine. Jesus takes empty religion and ritual, and brings it to life for everyday people. He takes what many deem holy (like the water in the ceremonial cleansing jars) and brings it to the party. He breaks down the barrier between what people might call sacred and secular. Jesus makes all things sacred—including wine at a party. We don’t go to church. We are the church sent out into the world.” Jesus didn’t live, serve, suffer, and die so we could just attend a Christian event. He lived and died so we could become his people who are sent into every part of the world on his behalf.
All of life counts and everyone matters.
It’s not activities and events that are primarily Christian. It’s people. Activities and events, by themselves, are not sacred, but people are. The word holy in the Bible means to be set apart for God’s purposes in the world. “The role of Jesus’s church—his set-apart people—is to increasingly bring all of life under his leadership so that he is the center of everything,” Have you ever taken time to dream about what God might want to do in and through you where you live and work? Jesus prefers normal, weak, and broken people.
All God’s people, everywhere, filling everyday life with his presence. This has always been God’s vision for his people.
Part 2: Jesus
Chapter 3 Jesus Is Better
Our job is not to be Jesus. Our job is to believe Jesus, depend on Jesus, and submit to Jesus working in and through us to accomplish his work. We are not meant to carry the weight of the world or the mission of Jesus on our shoulders. Jesus came to seek and save. He doesn’t expect us to become the saviors. Jesus is better than any strategy. He is more faithful than your promises. He is more able to bring real, lasting, heart-level change. He is the greatest missionary ever. Jesus is better. He’s better than you. He’s better than your small group. He’s better than your pastor. He’s better than anyone or anything else.
We take a good thing and demand that it be a “god thing” for us. We do this with sex, friendships, food, alcohol, work, and even our children and spouses. But, Jesus offers us a past, present, and future salvation. And it’s all available to us by faith. We come to experience the effects of God’s salvation by believing the gospel. You need Jesus—for what you’ve done, for what you’re doing, and for what you will do.
We all need the better Savior. Jesus is that Savior, for he did better than us, he does better than us, and he will make everything better than we ever could.
Chapter 4 Jesus Did It Better: We Have Been Saved
To sin is to think, believe, or act in any way that is not like God or in submission to what God commands. Paul says that our lives are now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). That means that if, by faith, you have trusted Jesus as the One who perfectly obeyed God on your behalf, God sees Jesus’s performance as yours. He accepts you because of Jesus.
Jesus didn’t just live a perfect life for us. He also died in our place.
If we don’t believe we need the gospel, we will not believe the gospel. If we don’t believe the gospel, we won’t proclaim it either. Paul uses the language of being saved in describing what the gospel is still doing. Yes, the gospel is good news about a past event—Jesus lived and died in a definite time in history to forgive us of our sins. Yet the gospel is also good news about what God continues to do in us and through us.
Chapter 5 Jesus Does It Better: We Are Being Saved
In the present, he comes into our lives by his Spirit to give us a glimpse, a foretaste, of the future so that we will live differently today. Trying to be Jesus without Jesus working though us is not the life he rescued us to live. It’s not a life of faith. It’s a life that will crush you. He wasn’t asking us to try to be like him without his power and presence. He was asking us to let him work in and through us. We have not just been saved. We are being saved by Jesus today—he is alive and he is at work in us right now.
Jesus does it better than you. And he wants you to do it with him, with his power and his presence.
Chapter 6 Jesus Will Make It Better: We Will Be Saved
Fear is an interesting thing. It’s not about what is happening. It’s about what we believe will happen. It’s connected to what we believe about the future. What you love most, you also fear losing the most. And whatever threatens what you love most controls you. The thing that matters most cannot be taken away from us, and nothing can happen to us to prevent us from inheriting it. Our If our faith is in Jesus to save us, we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.
Jesus really is the better Savior! He did it better. He does it better. He will make it better.
Part 3: Discipleship
Chapter 7 All-of-Life Discipleship
That is what discipleship is all about. It is the ongoing process of submitting all of life to Jesus, and seeing him saturate your entire life and world with his presence and power. It’s a process of daily growing in your awareness of your need for him in the everyday stuff of life. It is walking with Jesus, being filled with Jesus, and being led by Jesus in every place and in every way. Jesus didn’t call us to merely make a decision for him. He doesn’t need our vote of approval. He doesn’t want deciders. He wants disciples—people who are devoted to becoming more and more like him in everything, everyday.
But here’s the kicker: you have to shift from the passive idea that it is someone else’s responsibility to grow you up to be more like Jesus. You need to take your own discipleship seriously. If you love Jesus, trust Jesus, and have Jesus’s Spirit, you can start to grow up in following him and ming more like him yourself.
This is what disciples of Jesus do—they make disciples who can make disciples. Those who don’t yet believe the gospel of Jesus and those who are new believers in Jesus certainly need someone to feed them. They are spiritually unborn or newborn. Most American Christians still believe they have to bring their friends to hear their pastor teach the Bible and proclaim the gospel. But a large percentage of people in our country will never go to a gathering on Sunday to hear someone preach.
Read, listen, and obey—then pass it on. This involves submitting to and obeying God’s Word in three key environments: life on life, where our lives are visible and accessible to one another; life in community, where more than one person is developing another; and life on mission, where we experience making disciples and, while doing so, come to realize how much we need God’s power.
Chapter 8 Life on Life
“It’s a lot easier to cover up brokenness than to restore it.” But what is broken is still broken even after it is covered up. Covering up doesn’t change the problem. It just masks it so that not everyone can see it. However, God sees. He knows. Most people have been trained to believe that conflict is a bad thing. But we have found that conflict pushes what is already in the heart to the surface. Therefore, it often serves to remove the facade.
I regularly tell my children I’m not their real Father, God is. He just brought them into the world through me and placed me over them for a while to direct them to their true Dad.
Chapter 9 Life in Community
I need a community. I need to live among people who will press into me. I still need to be discipled. I’m still in process. Jesus is not finished with me yet, and he has given me a community to participate in making me more like him. DNA groups engage in three activities: discover, nurture, and act.
So we read (discover), repent of ignorance, unbelief, or rebellion, and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (nurture). Then we obey and tell someone (act).
Chapter 10 Life on Mission
The residency training we have to offer is the people of God on the mission of Jesus together. To grow toward being a disciple maker in all of life, you need on-the-job training, and that’s what life on mission is about. The best training for mission happens while on mission. He taught them about God’s kingdom—how his rule actually works. In the midst of the mission, he taught them that God doesn’t need us; rather, we need him. He has all the resources necessary to do his work. Our problem is that we are lacking. We need him and his help.
If you are in a small Bible study group, one of the best things you could do is move the study out into the neighborhood. When you read a command in Scripture, ask, “How are we going to obey this command together on mission?” In other words, ask yourselves what this passage says you should do together (life in community) and how you might do it in the middle of a mission field together (life on mission).
This stuff can’t happen in a classroom. It does not happen in one-on-one meetings. And it does not happen if we just hang out together as Christians all the time. We have to get out on mission in order to fulfill the mission of being disciples who make disciples.
We use to take people out on mission trips once or twice a year. Now I’m convinced we need to help people see that they are on mission all of the time.
Part 4: New Identity
Chapter 11 You Do Who You Are
Whenever the people in the churches that Paul influenced went sideways, Paul didn’t just confront their wrongdoing and tell them what to do. He started by reminding them of who God is, what he had done for them in Jesus, and who they were in light of that. Then he reminded them of how believing the truth about the gospel and their new identity would lead them to.
Paul knew that all of our behaviors are the result of what we believe about who God is as revealed through what God does, leading to what we believe about who we are. God’s work in Jesus Christ grants us a whole new identity, and this new identity leads to a whole new way of living. Being precedes doing. Sometimes we lose our jobs, our places in life, and our relationships. And if they define who we are, we also lose our identity. Who are you when all that you can do, produce, or manage is gone? Most of us don’t know, so we keep doing more to gain some sense of identity.
Do you see the progression? Who God is (Creator) is revealed through what God has done (created), which leads to who we are (image bearers created in God’s likeness) and what we do (display God and co-create more image bearers). We only need to believe, that is, to trust in (1) what God has revealed about himself (his Word), (2) what he has done (his work), and (3) who he has made us to be (his workmanship). If we believe in his Word and work, we will do what God would have us do (our work). This is how it always works.
Everything you or I do comes out of what we believe about God, God’s Word, and God’s work. Our behaviors reveal what we believe about these things.
Chapter 13 We Are Servants: Baptized into the Name of the Son (the King)
God’s intent was to fill the earth with his image—his glory on display—so that all of creation would show what he is like. That’s saturation. Who is God? He is our King (the Son). What has he done? He came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Who are we? We are servants of the King of kings. If we believe this, what do we do? We serve the least of the people of the world as an act of worship of our King. This is what it means to be the soma (“body”) of Jesus.
What if we started believing that Jesus is our true and better boss? What if we went to work all day for him?
Chapter 14 We Are Missionaries: Baptized into the Name of the Holy Spirit
How many times have we tried to play the role of the Holy Spirit in another person’s life? Sure, there are times when we need to speak directly to one another about sin, but why not try speaking to God first, asking his Spirit to do the work? Who is God? He is Spirit. What has he done? He sent and empowered Jesus the Son to take on flesh and to seek and save what was lost. Who are we? We are missionaries, sent and empowered by the same Spirit. If we believe this, what do we do? We make disciples of Jesus through proclaiming the gospel in the power of the Spirit.
The Spirit is so much better at this than we are. He is the better missionary and the better discipler. The people in our young, growing church didn’t need a new to-do list. They needed to be reminded of their new identity in Christ. The same is true for you. We are the Father’s family; therefore, we love others like he loved us. We are servants of Christ; therefore, we serve the least of these as he served us. We are missionaries filled and empowered by the same Spirit that was in Jesus; therefore, we are always on mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
Whatever he has done to us, he now wants to do through us to others.
Part 5: The Everyday Stuff
Chapter 15 Everyday Rhythms
We eat, work, play, rest, celebrate, create, interact, give, and do many other things. We ended up with these as our rhythms at SOMA: Eat, Listen, Story, Bless, Celebrate, and ReCreate. What if God’s intent in having us remember Jesus through a meal was to help us remember him through every meal? So the first question is this: Are you listening to God’s Spirit through his Word, his community, and his personal communication to you directly? Second, who or what is the loudest voice in your life? Is it God’s Spirit, or is it someone or something else?
People are interesting. If we will listen, we will discover this. They are image bearers of God. They are broken, marred, and not fully together, just like us—but they are image bearers nonetheless. It’s amazing, when you take the time to listen, how much you can learn. Quiet your soul and listen to God. And close your mouth once in a while and listen to others. Do both together, and you will find yourself joining in with the activity of the Spirit working through you as his dwelling place. Remember,
Let’s recap: Eat meals together with disciples of Jesus and with those who need to be. Listen to the Word, to others, and to the Spirit of God, and pay close attention. Know and rehearse God’s story, learn others’ stories, and consider how aspects of God’s story can bring redemption and restoration to theirs. And tell your story, making sure Jesus is the hero. As we eat with one another, we listen and learn about one another’s stories. Sometimes we need to speak a better story into their lives. Sometimes we need to bring a blessing as a demonstration of how God’s story has changed our lives. When we really come to know one another’s stories, we also come to know how we can best bless one another, because we know what others really need.
What’s the reason for blessing? Jesus. We bless because he first blessed us. Now he blesses others through us. Listen, and then bless with words, actions, or gifts. Are you able to play and create? Do you take a vacation, only to need a vacation from your vacation because your heart is screaming that you need to work, work, work to gain something?
Too many of us can’t rest and create. But we should be the most playfully rested people on the earth, because our Dad has it all taken care of for us!
Chapter 16 An Everyday Plan
We all experience mission drift. We can tend to forget who we are and what God has called us to do together. Yes, all of life is mission and everyone is a missionary. Life is the mission trip. However, we’ve found it’s important to also identify a collective mission—a missional focus. Too often, groups primarily talk about being on mission, but then the members leave the group meeting and find themselves alone on mission. As a result, many don’t engage in mission, or if they do, they are lonely missionaries.
So, for instance, after studying about our identity as family, we might ask: “If we believe we are the family of God, how will we live like family in how often we eat together? How will we make time to listen to God through his Word and prayer? We all need to know his story; do we? If not, how will we all commit to grow in the study of God’s Word? We also need to know one another’s stories. How will we ensure that happens? In what ways do we believe we should bless one another with what we have? How will we celebrate God’s grace together regularly? What kinds of celebrations will we have together, and how often? And how are we going to recreate through taking vacations, playing together, creating beauty, and restoring brokenness around us?”
We agreed on three meals out of our twenty-one meals a week. eat together as a community (we eventually called this our family dinner); one where each of us would eat with some others during the week (this could be a coffee, a drink, or a night out as couples); and one where we would eat with some people who didn’t yet know and believe the love of Jesus.
Chapter 17 Everyday People on Mission
The Spirit was tugging at their hearts. You know it, too, if you have Jesus’s Spirit in you. If you belong to Jesus, his Spirit will do that in you. You are a new creation, so you have a new heart that wants to do what Jesus wants (Rom. 7:15–25). And his Spirit is in you, urging you to obey Jesus and join him on his mission.
Don’t be a spectator. Get in the game and watch him do great things through you!
The question isn’t, “Are we sowing?” We are sowing seeds all of the time. And the question isn’t, “Are we making disciples?” We are always making disciples. People are watching, learning, and listening to what we believe and how we live, and we are discipling them toward someone or something.