Once we’ve clarified our mission, we walk through each of the identities, asking how we live in light of our identities in the everyday stuff of life. We generally spend at least one of our weekly meetings talking through each identity and how the gospel of Jesus informs who we are and how we should live out that identity in everyday rhythms (Eat, Listen, Story, Bless, Celebrate, and ReCreate). These discussions generally start with a short study from the Scriptures on the identity statement that week (for example, “We are God’s family, who love like brothers and sisters,” Ephesians 1; John 1:12–13; 13:34–35; Rom. 8:14–17; 1 John 4:7–8), followed by discussion about how we are going to live this identity out together. We usually have someone take notes so that we capture all that we come up with.
At the end of our three- to four-week process, we put the plan together and formally commit (some actually sign a document), with God’s help, to faithfully fulfill it (note: we clarify that none of us will do this perfectly and that we all need the grace of the gospel to do it at all).
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?”
In light of our missionary identity, we might ask: “How are we going to share meals with the people to whom God is sending us? Will we eat out at certain restaurants, have people over for dinner, do regular cookouts, or eat with them in other ways? And will we set aside regular time to pray for those we want to see come to know Jesus? When and how often? How do we expect to get to know their stories? When will we invite them to go through The Story of God2 with us as a way of introducing them to God’s redemptive plan through Jesus? In what other ways do we plan to share the gospel? Should we commit to ask God to give us at least one opportunity a day to share Jesus with someone else? And how has God blessed us to be a blessing to those to whom he is sending us? What do we have and what do they need? What celebrations are going on in this context and how can we bring the better wine to them? Finally, how can we engage in forms of recreation in our missional focus? What activities can we participate in? What needs beautification or restoration, and what will we do about it?”
Then, in light of our servant identity, we might ask: “How will we serve others through providing meals where necessary (the hungry, new mothers, the grieving)? How will we create space to listen to one another? From what we know of the story of this missional context, what are people’s needs? How can we bless them in tangible ways and show them what the kingdom of God is like? Where do they need us to bring the servant towel to the celebration? Where are they lacking celebration, and how might we bring it? Lastly, who needs to experience rest? How might we serve them by providing opportunities for them to rest?”
If you engage in this activity with a group, you will find it very difficult and hugely beneficial.
It will be difficult because people will not immediately agree on everything. But they don’t have to. In some cases, some in the group will want to commit to something, while others won’t. That is fine, as people are in different places spiritually. The process will reveal levels of maturity and commitment, as well as fears, insecurities, selfishness, and pride.
It will be beneficial because, if this process is led well, much discipleship of one another will take place. Issues and concerns will come up, revealing where people need to be reminded of the gospel and its implications. Remember, conflict is not bad. It provides a context for discipleship to happen.
Keep in mind that you may not want everyone in the group going through this process together. You may have a core that is very committed to the mission and eager to engage this process, while others don’t really want to. Don’t necessarily try to get everyone to walk through these steps right away. Some just aren’t ready.
Jeff Vanderstelt, Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).