Jeff Vanderstelt, one of the pastors of Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington echoed much of my own conviction about implications of the Body as God’s missional people. Soma Communities is a church planting church and I first learned of Jeff and the Soma family while in Riga, Latvia. There I ministered along side a young church planter who had attended Soma School in Tacoma. Jeff Vanderstelt and the body of Soma are making an incredible impact globally as they equip and empower believers to minister the Gospel and start missional communities.
Jeff began by reminding Verge 2010 participants of the position of Christ and the role of the Body. Referring to Ephesians 1, he said, “Let’s understand the position and inheritance we have in Christ. He is at the right hand. He is the head of the Body. God has put all things under his feet. There is no other senior pastor than Jesus Christ. It is not us building a church, but Jesus building His church through us.”
He went on, “At Soma we act upon the assumption that every saint is a full-time paid staff member to do the work of ministry. It doesn’t matter whether the check we receive has our church’s name in the upper left hand corner, or Microsoft, Boeing, etc. Wherever the check comes from, it is God’s channel of bringing his resources into your life to enable you to do your full time ministry as God’s sent one.
A critical question we must ask is, ‘Have we structured so that everybody becomes a ‘carrier’ of Jesus and see all of life as the ministry they are called to?’ The most effective carrier of discipleship is not an event. It is doing life together.
No one gets equipped in meetings. We may get informed, motivated, etc., but equipping requires us to be doing, not just hearing. We must live life together in community or we cannot equip each other. How do we know if a man is faithful? (2 Tim. 2:2) We know that only if we are doing life together.
We do not put on a lot of events that extract people from life…instead we equip for life with one another. Unless we call people to focus on mission, they will ultimately become internalized and segregated from the world. We must reorient our whole lives around reaching out to people. Do whatever it takes to be a missionary to a particular people group.
When we started Soma, it was not about a big launch service. We launched people and commissioned them to start their own groups. Each leader has an apprentice. Those who lead small flocks well are those who become entrusted elders of the congregation.”
Theirs is an equipping and empowering process that has the Acts of the Holy Spirit written all over it!
*Photos provided by the VERGE 2010 Media Team