Jeff Vanderstelt has just released a new book. It’s called Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life.
I caught up with Jeff to discuss the book.
Enjoy the interview!
Instead of asking, “what is your book about,” I’m going to ask the question that’s behind that question. And that unspoken question is, “how are readers going to benefit from reading your book?”
Jeff Vanderstelt: My hope is that they would come to a fresh understanding of the gospel and have the affections of their hearts so stirred by it’s beauty that they would fall in love with Jesus over and over again. Then, with their hearts overflowing with affection they would both want to, and commit to, learn how to speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life.
What do you mean by “gospel fluency”?
Jeff Vanderstelt: Fluency happens when a person becomes so immersed in a language that they think, feel, dream, and speak in that language. They interpret all they see and experience in that language and their response is shaped by the stories and culture of that language whenever they speak. Gospel fluency is the same thing.
The gospel should become the mother tongue of Jesus followers. We should think, feel, dream, and speak in the truths of Jesus. When we see and experience the world, it should come through the lens of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. The gospel of the Kingdom of God should shape how we live and speak more than any other culture or worldview. In this sense, Gospel fluency happens when people have been equipped to speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life.
What specific problem does your book seek to solve?
Jeff Vanderstelt: Presently more and more people are growing in showing the good news of the kingdom of God in tangible forms—displaying the implications of the gospel in everyday life. However, when given the opportunity to share the hope that is in them—the reason for the life they live, they are not well equipped in speaking the truths of Jesus that can transform hearts. Some know how to share a gospel presentation, but not one that speaks to the actual longings of the heart of a unique individual. I believe we need to provide a vision for the gospel being good news to every situation and we need to train people to learn to speak the gospel in a way that actually sounds like good news to the person in front of them.
Tell us a bit about the experiences that shaped the insights in the book.
Jeff Vanderstelt: I went through a very difficult time in my early thirties and some godly counselors led me to the truths of the gospel, which truly set me free and brought great healing to my brokenness. Then, as an evangelist, I found myself sharing the gospel out of a full heart of gratitude for God’s great love for me in Christ. Each time I shared the gospel it took on a different form—same gospel, but different forms. I found that I grew more and more in both believing the gospel for everything in life and sharing the gospel to the everyday stuff we face.
At the same time, I keep watching people give canned gospel responses that seemed to lack love, care, and effectiveness. It seemed they didn’t know that the good news of Jesus could be shared and applied uniquely to every situation, question, and problem. Along the way, I was introduced to Tim Keller and Edmond Clowney who significantly impacted my convictions about the gospel being for all of life. This led me to work hard at developing tools for equipping normal, everyday people to become fluent in the gospel.
You have a chapter called “give them Jesus.” (I have often said to those in ministry, “Give Them Jesus.”) Tell us what you mean by the phrase “give them Jesus” and how—practically—does one give Jesus to another person in your view?
Jeff Vanderstelt: So often when we counsel, instruct, or problem-solve, we give people pragmatic principles or good advice, when what they need first is the good news of Jesus. They need to know that who Jesus is and what Jesus has done is what they most need for purity, financial security, significance, relationships…for everything.
The apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus (Eph. 4:15, 21) that the way to grow people up into Christ in every way is by speaking the truths of Jesus in love to everything. I am convinced that every question or problem can be addressed in some profound way through Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. Giving them Jesus is about sharing one or more aspect of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection to the situation they are facing.
Give us 2 or 3 insights from the book that will be practically helpful to those reading this interview.
Jeff Vanderstelt: In order to become fluent in the gospel we must first come to believe it and be convinced ourselves that it truly is the power of God for salvation for every aspect of our lives. It won’t naturally flow out of our lips until it has taken deep roots in our heart. As Jesus stated: It is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. With that said, you most talk about what you most love. The degree to which Jesus is on our lips reveals the depth of love we have for him in our hearts.
If you don’t talk about him much it is likely your love for him is lacking or has become cold. If you want to grow in your affections for Jesus remember regularly what he has done for you. Rehearse and talk about how amazing he is and how precious the gospel is. Speak the good news to yourself daily and invite the Spirit of God to make these truths come alive in your heart. The truth is, you not only talk about what you love—you also grow to love what you talk about most. So talk about him and your love will also grow for him.
What do you hope readers will walk away with after they finish your book?
Jeff Vanderstelt: I hope they will become more convinced that the gospel is really good news for them first. I want them to believe Jesus is the best gift they could ever receive. Then, I hope they will start speaking of him regularly with those who love him and continue to be transformed in every area of their life as a result. Lastly, I pray that it leads to them sharing Jesus with many people who don’t yet know how good the good news really is, leading to many coming to know, believe, and love Jesus.
What else would you like readers to know about the book?
Jeff Vanderstelt: I wrote this book as a fellow unbeliever. By this I mean I am one who struggles to fully believe the gospel in many areas of my life. I need the truths in this book on a daily basis as much as anyone. I am hopeful that this truth not only rings true for my readers, but also helps them see that we are all the same.
We all struggle with unbelief. We all forget or fail to believe the powerful truths of the gospel regularly. And the good news is that God is not dependent upon how well we believe. Our confidence is not in us but in Jesus Christ—both his behaviors and his beliefs granted to us by grace through faith—even if it’s a mustard-sized faith. I believe there is really good news for everyone in this book and I pray reading it leads many to share how good the gospel is to many other unbelievers who need it just like I do.
Order Gospel Fluency on discount.