Failing Faith by Wade Bearden, Free for CAPC Members
In Failing Faith, Wade Bearden invites us into his life so that we might find a faith that can hold up under the weight of real-world realities.
Discipleship is hard. On the one hand, the charge in the Great Commission entails teaching all that Jesus commanded. On the other, life is busy and getting together on a regular basis with other people doesn’t come easy. Even in a one-on-one scenario with both people committed to the process, discipleship isn’t easy. Jeff Vanderstelt’s book, Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life, doesn’t ignore these realities, but provides insight for working through them. And thanks to Crossway, Saturate is available for free to Christ and Pop Culture members.One-on-one Bible studies may be part of how we learn about Jesus’ commands, but sharing day-to-day life with others is how we see it in practice.
Throughout Saturate, Vanderstelt demystifies the process of discipleship by showing how it can be integrated into everyday life by any believer. As he explains,
[T]his is not a leadership book, though I hope leaders will read it and benefit from it. Rather, 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. This book is for you—the normal, unimpressive, everyday person, young or old, male or female—because Jesus means to carry out his mission of filling the world with his presence through you. You are meant to do this. (14-15)
This passage also helps ground the meaning of the book’s title. Discipleship is presented as a process of being progressively saturated with the ways of Jesus. By being intentional, we can use the mundane moments of daily life within a community of Christians to help disciple each other along the way.
Discipleship, in Vanderstelt’s telling, is more a mindset than a method. Through Vanderstelt’s stories and examples, we see that discipleship often entails entering into other people’s lives and inviting them into yours. While it can have the formal dimensions of sitting down with coffee for a one-on-one Bible study, it is much more than a simple meeting. Vanderstelt helps dispel the myth that a formal meeting is the essence of making disciples. By focusing on Jesus’ ministry in the early parts of the book, he lays a foundation for seeing discipleship’s informal dimensions. One-on-one Bible studies may be part of how we learn about Jesus’ commands, but sharing day-to-day life with others is how we see it in practice. As Vanderstelt puts it, “This is what we call life-on-life discipleship—life that is lived up close so that we are visible and accessible to one another, so that others can gently peel back the layers and join us in our restoration” (95).
Elsewhere, Vanderstelt offers a gentle indictment of the state of the American church in its disciple-making:
This is one of the reasons we Americans are not making as big of an impact in our country as we could. 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. If we are going to fill every place with the gospel in word and deed, we need to take seriously our own discipleship and ability to study, know, and teach God’s Word. (89)
He later goes on to say:
We should take the development of disciples—and disciple makers—as seriously as we do preparing doctors for surgery. 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 (112).
Saturate is an excellent resource for layman and leader alike, and it’s suited particularly well for communities both online and offline. For example, in the Christ and Pop Culture Members Forum on Facebook, we engage one another in discussions about real-life issues, providing opportunities for building each other up through scripture, advice, and other encouraging truths. While we might not typically think of this as discipleship, if it is helping us move toward more Jesus saturation in our lives, then it is very much that.
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