First, let me thank Crossway Publishing for gifting the Publicans with an advance copy of Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt which released nationwide yesterday. It was one of the more unique books I have read on church ministry and how the gospel saturates our lives. If you are fan of the some of the books that use to be put out by Re:Lit then this is a book that will be right up your alley.So today I wanted to highlight some of the things about this book that stood out to me and why I would recommend this book to believers of all ages and spiritual maturities.
So, let’s dive into some of the content of this book and how it can be beneficial to us as we live out the Christian faith. First, Vanderstelt spends the opening chapter’s laying out the importance of understanding the concept of Gospel fluency before you even get into the meat of the text, and it is very helpful for his readers to be saturated by this new way of viewing a Gospel centered life. Basing the Gospel around the idea of fluency of language help to set it apart as the way one lives. If anyone saw the movie Arrival (which I highly recommend) language fluency as a transforming part of life is a central theme in that film leading to a total personal transformation. This is the case that Vanderstelt reminds us of about the Gospel. To be fluent is to be immersed, it is to think, speak, breath, dream in the words and ideas of this new language. Its not knowing a few words or being able to interpret, it is being transformed by it, to be fluent is in some ways to become consumed by it.
For believers the opening sections lays this foundation: do we strive to be fluent speakers of the gospel or are we content to come to class once a week and learn a few new words and hope to one day have put it all together. This is the central idea that flows through the text and why I think the book hits on all cylinders in the final two parts, not to discount the second section on the gospel, but for many this may actually be the weakest section, not because of the content, but simply because there begins to be a repetition that seems like a stretch to reach three chapters when one would have accomplished the task, But as a pastor myself I understand the desire to make sure that the point is solidly hitting home. For what it is worth thought these 50 pages are very helpful if you want a good section to walk through a new believer or to help you brush up on what the gospel is.
The concluding two sections make up the meat of the book and once I began reading it I wasn’t able to put it down, it does a fantastic job of pointing us to our need to become Gospel fluent not just as individuals but as a church body. The two things that stood out to me in these sections that I think most readers will find encouraging is that he is open and honest with his family’s own struggles in this area throughout their lives and current places in ministry. He does an superb job of connecting with the reader and showing that the task is not a simple one that just happens, it is a lifestyle and one that can be a struggle, but also be amazingly rewarding as we struggle together. Which lead to the second point, the use of massive application points. Vanderstelt doesn’t just give us a book with great ideas he gives us helpful tips and advice on how to apply this in our homes, churches, community groups, and neighborhoods. While I may disagree with his stance on taking communion in a community group setting, seeing how he applied the message of the gospel to each member in that moment gave me a new perspective on what pastoral care can look like, and the deep intimacy that a community group can have when it is surrounded by the gospel.
In Conclusion, to be honest in my own church we just began a study in our small groups looking at living our Christian lives with a purpose and a mission to reach the lost, and had this book come out a few week earlier, this would probably have been the text we went with, because it points to a robust gospel that transforms our lives, not simply something we say to non-believers or hear from the pulpit. The Gospel is Jesus and as such it becomes us. To reach a lost and dying world involves more than platitudes and curriculum, it requires lives transformed by the gospel resting in the truth that Jesus is better. It requires people who will love and listen and in the end share Jesus. These are but a small bit of what made this book so enjoyable.