After experiencing the joy of life together on mission, there is no going back to an isolated life or a faith that only has an expression for a few hours on a Sunday.
Eight years ago our church, Soma Eastside, transitioned from a Sunday-centered church to a seven-day focused church that encourages our members to live in community centered around a common mission through missional communities.
Many people have asked us what Soma’s paradigm for discipleship was, why we transitioned, and what steps we took as we transitioned. In this article, I will address the three primary reasons why we transitioned.
Family, Servants, Missionaries
I first came across Soma’s way of applying the instructions of the New Testament, through an apprentice who had joined us to learn about how to lead a church. He was attracted to the simple yet profound concept of doing life in community with a common mission. I joined him at Soma School so that he would have someone to process the information with. After a few days getting to learn about, and experience the way Soma was living their identity as the church, I was intrigued by how beautiful, sincere, and practical it was. To summarize the paradigm – Soma takes the scriptures seriously when it both shows and commands that we do life together (we are chosen and placed into a new family – Ephesians chapter 1), serve each other (just as Jesus modeled when he washed his disciples feet), and live our lives to display and declare the Gospel (Jesus sends us just like the Father sent him) as missionaries. This paradigm is not a checklist of things to do. It is simply each missional community taking the time to answer the questions: What would it look like if we lived like family? What would it look like if we served each other and the people around us? What would it look like if God was sending us to declare and display the gospel where we live, work, learn, and play?
Why We Transitioned
As we began to consider transitioning to this type of life as a church the following three reasons became the most persuasive.
The paradigm gives help with structure and systems that help people live out the commands in scripture.
We all had read the commands to love one another. But we found it difficult to truly love one another on Sunday mornings, at special events, or at small group Bible studies. We found that there simply wasn’t space. The Soma way of doing life together in the ordinary rhythms of life gave us the spaces to truly care for each other and therefore show that we are disciples of Jesus. This has proven true over the last 8 years. Neighbors have come to know Jesus as they’ve witnessed us love each other and them – in the ordinary places – like community dinners.
It provides the space to declare and display the gospel.
For years we as a church had looked for places to have deep conversations with people who don’t know Jesus. Soma helped us see that when we open up our homes to people it provides the opportunity to both live out our faith (hospitality is a great way to show people we care for them) and talk about important matters.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly it is a beautiful way of life.
Eight years ago we saw the potential of living out our faith in the ordinary rhythms of life. What we’ve found is that we had no idea how beautiful it would be. We’ve found that through God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, God has taken our tentative steps of faith and used us to bless hundreds of people. We’ve seen neighbors come to faith, we’ve gotten to shelter those that would have been homeless, we’ve seen many tears in the fabric of our neighborhood rewoven through the power of the Gospel. There are far too many stories to share all of them in a short article like this one, but after experiencing the joy of life together on mission, there is no going back to an isolated life or a faith that only has an expression for a few hours on a Sunday.
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