I’ve been to Ghana, West Africa four times on mission trips and I still don’t know any of the languages. I remember a few phrases like “How are you?” and I know how to answer that question in the Twi language with, “By God’s grace, I am well.” But that’s about it. I am nowhere near being fluent in the Twi language after 4 trips. Can you believe that? What a loser! It’s silly to think that I could become fluent in any language after 4 trips.
I like to think that I’m fluent in the English language, but having teenagers in my house proves that I’m not. The English language is always changing and adding new phrases that it’s hard to keep up. And the teens in my house like to remind me that I’m out of touch with what’s happening in the world.
Being fluent in the Twi language would go a long way in helping me if I was in Ghana. And being fluent with current slang words might help me better communicate with my kids, like if we’re listening to a Lecrae song and I reply with, “That beat tho!”
But before I better my understanding of West African languages or master every word on Urban Dictionary, I need to be more fluent in the Gospel. And Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly have written a few resources that have helped me and I believe will help all Christians become more fluent in the Gospel.
Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life
Gospel Fluency Handbook: A Practical Guide to Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life
While the Gospel Fluency Handbook was written to accompany the Gospel Fluency book, it can be used without the book as content from the book is summarized in the handbook. Here are a few quotes from Gospel Fluency to whet your appetite:
We need the gospel and we need to become gospel-ﬂuent people. We need to know how to believe and speak the truths of the gospel— the good news of God— in and into the everyday stuff of life. In other words, we need to know how to address the struggles of life and the everyday activities we engage in with what is true of Jesus: the truths of what he accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection, and, as a result, what is true of us as we put our faith in him. The gospel has the power to affect everything in our lives. (p. 23)
Most believers have become gospel-snippet people, who speak gospel catchphrases. They’re speaking gospelish, but not the actual gospel in a way people can hear and believe. (p. 39)
People need heart change— not just once, but over and over again, because their love grows cold. People need to be deeply affected by the incredible news of Jesus on a daily basis. What affects you greatly creates in you great affections. And those affections lead you to express verbally and physically what you love most, because you talk about what you love. Furthermore, you love what you talk about. And we all talk about what most affects us— what most powerfully works to create change in our lives. (p. 94)
We can all slip in and out of believing the good news of the Gospel. And we all have areas in our lives where we need the Gospel. On one of his podcasts, Paul Zahl said this about the late pastor and theologian J.C. Ryle.-
“Yet like many spiritual people, there were still ‘unevangelized dark continents’ inside him.” (PZ Podcast, Episode 108: J.C. Ryle Considered)
You see, no matter how much you have grown as a Christian, no matter how long you have been a Christian, there are still “unevangelized dark continents” inside every one of us. There are places in our hearts where the light of the Gospel is still needed. There are places in our hearts and minds where the radiance of the glory of God has not penetrated. There are places in our hearts and minds where the love of God has not penetrated. There are places, territories, dark continents that need to be blasted with the Gospel.
That’s where the Gospel Fluency book and handbook are helpful. The Gospel Fluency Handbook is an 8 week study designed for small groups, classes, etc that help identify those “unevangelized dark continents” in all of us. Each week’s chapter includes 3 weekly readings followed by reflection questions to be read between meetings. Then, when your group meets, there are group discussion questions and a group exercise.
Jeff Vanderstelt said-
“I struggle with unbelief on a daily basis. I slip in and out of believing God’s word about me and trusting in his work for me. Jesus gave his life to make me a new creation. He died to forgive me of my sins and change my identity from sinner to saint, from failure to faithful, and from bad to good and even righteous and holy. However, I forget what He has said about me. I forget what He has done for me. Sometimes it isn’t forgetfulness. Sometimes it’s just plain unbelief. I know these things. I just don’t believe them. I am an unbeliever. Not every moment, of course, but I have those moments. So does everyone. I’m certain of it.”
And because we all slip in and out of believing God’s promises, then it would behoove us to read Gospel Fluency and go through the Gospel Fluency Handbook with some friends. Who doesn’t want to be more fluent in the Gospel? Who doesn’t want more peace? Who doesn’t want all that God has for us in His Son Jesus? It would be foolish for any Christian to spend their days and not be fluent in the good news that has saved them.
But what does it mean to “be fluent” in the Gospel? Here’s how the authors Jeff and Ben answer that question:
Jeff: When I think about fluency I think about unconscious competence. I am answering this question in English not consciously trying to think through a vocabulary list or stumbling over how to put together thoughts. I am fluent in English. To be fluent in the gospel is to know it so well it becomes like a mother tongue. I am able to filter all of life through the truths of the gospel and am readily able to speak those truths into any situation or struggle we are facing at any time.
Ben: As with any other use of the term “fluency,” gospel fluency is a growing ability to see all of life and consider the many situations in our day-to-day through the lens of the promises of God and the good news of Jesus. Just like learning a new language, most of us start with an unawareness of how the gospel can apply to the hard and mundane aspects of daily life and conversation; in this way, the gospel is “unnatural” to us. As we rehearse basic truths of the gospel, as we practice different disciplines and as we ask God to give us more and more knowledge of Himself, His promises and His truth, the hope is the gospel becomes more and more “natural” and automatic.
Are you wanting to become more fluent in the Gospel? Then I cannot recommend these resources enough. Heck, after going through the Gospel Fluency Handbook, you might look at your small group or Bible study class and say, “That book tho!”
Why? Because these resources will remind you of Jesus. And isn’t that what you’re looking for in a good book? When you finish the last chapter of a book, don’t you want to walk away believing what Jesus said, “It is finished”? You might even respond like the apostle Paul and say,
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17
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* I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for writing this review.