I’ve Moved!

As you can see, I haven’t posted here in a while. There are reasons for this. I’ve moved!

Recently, we launched the new Soma website. I’ll be blogging over there from now on. So, this blog will stay open only to inform people of the move. I will not be posting any new content here any more.

Follow me on Twitter.

Let’s be friends on Facebook.

Check out the new Soma website to stay up on the current happenings in our Soma family.

I look forward to connecting with you at these other places very soon!

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities

On Mission This Halloween (reposted)

Tomorrow offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and it’s roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween this Wednesday. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage you not to miss out on the opportunity.

If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to present you with a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.

BE HOSPITABLE…Don’t just give out candy

  1. Give out the best Candy. Please, don’t give out tracks or toothbrushes or pennies…kids are looking for the master loot of candy. Put yourself in their shoes.
  2. Think of the Parents. Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible.
  3. Be Present. Don’t hide out all night. Come out to the door or hang out on the porch and if they stop to have some cider, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.
  4. Be Encouraging. Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building others up with words.
  5. Party. If you’re really into it, you may want to throw a pre-Trick or Treating party. Provide dinner and drinks. Then, send the dads out trick or treating with the kids while the moms continue hanging with some hot apple cider, coffee or tea. Then reconvene with the parents and kids together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids the loot).
  6. Learn the Stories. If you are out T or Ting with the kiddos or staying back with the other parents, ask questions…get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later. This is how I first got to know Clay (while Jayne was hanging with Kristi and the other moms). I learned his story while we were with the kids and Jayne got to know hers. This led to both of them eventually coming to faith in Jesus.

GO TO THEIR PLACE…Join what is happening elsewhere

  1. Attend the Party. If others are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Then, serve by helping to clean up.
  2. Join the Community. If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you (then get to know their stories along the way). Our area has a trick or treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc… We go with a group of friends to this each year and consistently meet more people to reach out to.
  3. Head to the “Watering Holes”. If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in the Trick or Treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants or clubs near you for their events and get to know the people there. Make it your goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus and walk away with some next steps on how to serve them. You will want to do this with others so that you don’t go it alone.

BE PRAYERFUL…Ask for the Spirit to led, guide and work

  1. Pay Attention. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs around you.
  2. Stay Dependent. Ask the Spirit to help you listen, care and serve those around you.
  3. Open Doors. Ask the Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations

SHARE YOUR IDEAS…Let us know what you’ve done or are going to do. Please share your ideas with us…what have you done? What are you planning to do? Let’s learn and prepare together…

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities | 3 Comments

Introducing Soma San Ramon Valley…

For more information go to: http://www.somasrv.org/

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities | 1 Comment

On Mission this Halloween

This coming Monday offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and it’s roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween this Monday. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage you not to miss out on the opportunity.

If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to present you with a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.

BE HOSPITABLE…Don’t just give out candy

  1. Give out the best Candy. Please, don’t give out tracks or toothbrushes or pennies…kids are looking for the master loot of candy. Put yourself in their shoes.
  2. Think of the Parents. Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible.
  3. Be Present. Don’t hide out all night. Come out to the door or hang out on the porch and if they stop to have some cider, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.
  4. Be Encouraging. Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building others up with words.
  5. Party. If you’re really into it, you may want to throw a pre-Trick or Treating party. Provide dinner and drinks. Then, send the dads out trick or treating with the kids while the moms continue hanging with some hot apple cider, coffee or tea. Then reconvene with the parents and kids together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids the loot).
  6. Learn the Stories. If you are out T or Ting with the kiddos or staying back with the other parents, ask questions…get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later. This is how I first got to know Clay (while Jayne was hanging with Kristi and the other moms). I learned his story while we were with the kids and Jayne got to know hers. This led to both of them eventually coming to faith in Jesus.

GO TO THEIR PLACE…Join what is happening elsewhere

  1. Attend the Party. If others are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Then, serve by helping to clean up.
  2. Join the Community. If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you (then get to know their stories along the way). Our area has a trick or treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc… We go with a group of friends to this each year and consistently meet more people to reach out to.
  3. Head to the “Watering Holes”. If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in the Trick or Treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants or clubs near you for their events and get to know the people there. Make it your goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus and walk away with some next steps on how to serve them. You will want to do this with others so that you don’t go it alone.

BE PRAYERFUL…Ask for the Spirit to led, guide and work

  1. Pay Attention. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs around you.
  2. Stay Dependent. Ask the Spirit to help you listen, care and serve those around you.
  3. Open Doors. Ask the Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations

SHARE YOUR IDEAS…Let us know what you’ve done or are going to do. Please share your ideas with us…what have you done? What are you planning to do? Let’s learn and prepare together…

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities | 85 Comments

What is Missional and a Missonal Community?

Jeff Vanderstelt // The Meaning of Missional from Newfrontiers USA on Vimeo.

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Story of One MC by Seth McBee

I want to introduce you to Seth McBee, on of our Missional Community leaders in Maple Valley, WA. I have asked him to share a little about his MC and I hope it encourages and spurs you on. This is from him:

In two weeks, in a suburban town outside of Seattle, we’ll be celebrating God’s grace and the Spirit’s work through baptizing a new disciple of Jesus.  The question that comes up the most when you speak about the evidences of grace we are experiencing is,”How did all this happen?” Now, some might read and not be overly impressed that we have one new baptism after living in our neighborhood for 7 and a half years, while others read and can’t imagine ever seeing a new follower of Christ emerge from their sphere of influence.  I write this to both of you.   But, my main audience that I want to impress this upon are those who desire to make disciples in their neighborhood, or sphere of influence and would like to just see an example of someone that is currently doing it.  Not only that, but most that will read this are reading this on a work break, during their kids nap time or before they go to bed so that they can wake up and enter the work force on what seems like just another Thursday.  You see, I am like most followers of Jesus, I am a husband, a father of two (with one more on the way in 2 months) and a business owner.  But, my desire is to see my neighborhood look like the book of Acts, where disciples are made and we teach and preach from house to house…but what does that look like in today’s context?

Let’s back this truck up some.

We moved into our housing development 7 1/2 years ago and for the first 6 years, we didn’t know anyone that didn’t live directly next to us.  I am serious.  I didn’t know the guy across the street.  By the way, his name is Trevor, he’s getting baptized in my backyard in two weeks.  But, for the first 6 years, the extent of our reaching out to our neighbors was handing out bibles door to door and singing Christmas carols in the dark because people shut their lights out on us and the youth group I was leading.  Sometime while standing in the dark singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” I started to think, “maybe we need a different modus operandi for the gospel to my neighbors.”  As I decided to leave my one church to seek out help from people who have done this before, I landed with Soma Communities.  Now, I am very prideful in the way I do things.  Whether it is my orthodoxy or my orthopraxy, I feel like I have it down to some degree, which is a spillover from my success in business.  It is wrong thinking, but I do know this about myself and so I purposely decided to be learner when coming to Soma Communities.  What I thought was, “if you know so much, how come no one around you is repenting and being baptized?” So, even though I was asked pretty quickly to take a lead role in our Missional Community out in my suburban city, I decided to just sit back and learn.  As I learned, as I listened, I began to be intrigued, and I finally had to act on it.  So, I simply asked a new friend of mine, Caesar, “How should I start? Where should I begin in my communiity?” He suggested, “Ask the Spirit, ‘What’s next?'” Now you have to realize that I rarely asked the Spirit to guide me and empower me for mission, because I was doing nothing that would require the Spirit.  Before I was insular, hanging around only Christian people, and rarely ever actually engaging anyone with the gospel, or showing them the affects of the gospel and how that might look in our community.  So, there was no reason to pray.  It would have been like asking God to help me flip the channels on my television.

Well.  My wife and I prayed…Spirit, what’s next?

If you want to open the power of the Spirit like a hungry lion out of its cage, then ask the Spirit what’s next with a desire to show others what he’s like for the sake of making disciples.

The Spirit answered by simply telling my wife and I this: On July 4th, instead of having your BBQ in the backyard, move it to the front yard.  Now, I know this isn’t earth shattering.  But, as Luke 16:10 puts it, he who can be trusted with a little, can be trusted with a lot.   We agreed with the Spirit, and decided that would be a good idea.  Then he pressed.  We ended up putting together a 4th of July wiffle ball tournament and cook off and going door to door to hand out flyers.  The response was overwhelming, not to mention this was the first time I met Trevor across the street.  He entered a team, they won it.  Whatever.  In the end, we had about 40 people play in the tourney and around 150 people at the 4th of July festivities.  People continued to come up to me and tell me that it was the best 4th of July they had ever been to and it reminded us all of the Wonder Years.  But, we didn’t want this to only happen once a year.  So, we started throwing BBQs all the time and inviting people over to have dinner from the connections we made from the 4th.

As summer was drawing to a close, my wife and I knew one thing: we needed help to build this community to reflect the community of God.   We started praying that God would send helpers and had other leaders within Soma praying for us as well.  God answered.  He ended up moving another couple to our city from a different Soma Expression and then sent us another couple from our old bible study.  It was beautiful.  We came together with a plan that we felt was from the Spirit.  We sought to continue this with these new couples by hosting Saturday morning breakfasts at our house.  We wanted these other couples to be there with us to engage our neighbors and become part of our community.  To do this, they had to be willing to lay aside some of the things that they might be more comfortable with to pursue our neighbors.  But, our goal was to have these breakfasts with an eye on going through the Story of God at some point with those people we were building relationships with.  We figured this might take a year or so to build these relationships strong enough to engage them on a deeper spiritual level.

This whole time, my wife and i kept asking the Spirit, “what’s next?” Now, we were able to put names to these prayers.  We started the breakfasts in October and by the end of the month the Spirit was opening doors for the gospel like I’ve never seen.  People were asking us, “Why do you do all these things for the community? (we had also arranged a Halloween party, game nights, etc.) Do you sell Avon? Are you Christians? What church do you go to? etc.” We answered those questions, but then merely asked, “Would you be interested in walking through a dialogical study of what the Bible says about God and why we feel compelled to bring about this type of community?  We can do it our house and have fun and eat like we always do anyways and then have this Story time with dialogue amongst friends.”  We ended up asking about 6 couples from our neighborhood and 4 said yes, including Trevor and his wife.  After 10 weeks of engaging in story and having a lot of fun, Summer was back.  We told those who went through the story that if you wanted to continue with us to dig into the Scriptures to see what they said about making disciples, we’d be happy to have you.  Trevor and his wife agreed and really started to delve in.  We again threw a huge 4th of July party with wiffle ball, cook off and fireworks, and kept following up with BBQs and studied the word together as a missional community.

Now, this entire time, we have, as a group, been praying that God would put on our hearts those people in our lives that seemed to be pushing into the kingdom.  We’ve been praying, and are still praying, because we are going to once again be doing the Story of God coming up in January.  We then hit a study on baptism, and two things came out of Trevor’s mouth.  1.  I want to be baptized 2.  I’ve been praying and talking to my brother and his fiancé and they desire not to only come to the BBQs, but also to the Story of God when we start it.

Praise God!

In two weeks we’ll be having Trevor’s whole family, some friends & our MC in our backyard for a BBQ and a baptism.  He’s being commissioned to make disciples, but because he has been watching me and I’ve been walking this out with him day to day in normal everyday life for a year and a half, he’s already doing it.  To him a disciple of Jesus naturally makes more disciples.

Our missional community started the day I put aside my own comforts and moved my BBQ from my backyard to my front yard.  We went 6 years without knowing anyone.  Now, if we throw a BBQ we have 70 people showing up, we have 6 couples in our missional community, we are doing pre engagement for one couple and trying to save another couple from going through a divorce.  We think we might have to multiply coming up in January because we could have close to 40 people that desire to go through the Story of God with us.

I’m no saint.  I’m nothing special.  I’m not paid by the church.  I’m not paid by by community.  But, God pays me money through my business, not to hoard it, but so I can be making disciples who make disciples in the neigbhborhood I live in.

This story isn’t crazy.  This story isn’t outlandish.  It’s pretty normal.  My family is pretty normal.  That’s the beauty of it.  I will also say that this is a small taste of what has been happening in our neighborhood and also in our own spiritual development.  You’ll notice as you live this out, that life, as usual, isn’t perfect.  There are times of much difficulty and, as a dude in our MC put it, “You only get really irritated with people if you actually get to know them.  It’s hard to get irritated at others if you merely wave at them when putting your garbage at the curb.”

If you’re reading this, what is holding you back from going to your knees tonight and just asking God, “what’s next?” But, be careful, because once you let this Lion of Judah out of the cage, he’ll take over the neighborhood.

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities | 11 Comments

The Dancing Guy – How to Start a Movement

This video has some great insights on how to lead and start a movement. Watch it and share your insights as well. Imagine if each missional community leader were willing to do this with those God brings around them in their missional community.

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Gospel Fluent Thinking

This past Sunday I spoke on Wise Thinking from the Proverbs (Proverbs 4:2-5:6). You can listen to it here if you’d like. The content is part of some work I am doing in preparing for my book on Gospel Fluency.

I have found that many of us don’t follow the advice of the wise father to his son: “Ponder your path”. To Ponder is to slow down and examine what you are thinking and doing. The father tells his son that the wayward woman (foolishness personified) does not ponder, but wanders aimlessly down the path to destruction, while remaining ignorant of what she is doing.

How many times have you found yourself asking: “Why did I say that?” or “Why am I saying this?” as the verbal diarrhea overflows into a toilet of regret. Or “What was I thinking?” while you stand in the debris of your foolish missteps. And, “How did I get here?” as you astonishingly wake up to the reality that your lack of careful pondering has snowballed into a pitiful, mess of devastation. Maybe you just know someone else to whom this is true and now you just need some good advice for them ;)

During my message, I shared some thoughts about how we can take the time to Ponder – slow down – and let the gospel shape our thinking, which I believe will lead to steps down the path of wisdom as a result.

First of all CAPTURE your thoughts.

It was springtime in Chicago and I was at the McCormick Place to speak at the Christ & City event at the end of the Gospel Coalition conference. I walked into the large auditorium that was four times as wide as it was deep to hear Tim Keller teach. Previously there had been around 6000 in the room for the Gospel Coalition event. At this moment, there were now probably 3000-4000. I was scheduled to teach a breakout session in this same room later. As I listened to Tim teach, I found myself making notes and scratching out some of what I had intended to say. “How did he get my stuff? He had stolen a bunch of my material!” I forgot how much his teaching had influenced me – some of my notes sounded like what he was presently saying. That wouldn’t have been so bad if I were teaching much later or somewhere else, but I was going to speak right after him in the same room to many of the same audience. So, I quickly started reworking all my notes.

After Tim was done, I was ushered back into the green room to wait my turn to be called up. I finished making some final notes and then was brought up on stage. As I walked up, I realized they had forgotten my white board for the diagrams I was going to draw while teaching. Then, I turned to look out into the room and I couldn’t see anyone. Oh, people were probably there, I think, I just couldn’t see them because the lights were so bright. Now, one thing about me that is important to note, I am a relational teacher – I love to see people and adjust my teaching in light of what I sense the Holy Spirit is doing and how I see people responding. I had absolutely zero visible knowledge of what was going on in the room. As I began teaching, I wondered if there actually were any people in the room at all. It was hard to tell because there was almost no discernible response (I think they were all overloaded with information because we were at the end of a long conference with some very heady material…or asleep because they were so tired…or just saving seats for the LeCrae concert happening later in that same room). I did my best and hoped that it helped some people. Then after I was done, they ushered me away from the people who wanted to talk to me afterward because I had to make it to a dinner that was about to start. Zero feedback. Zero knowledge as to whether I was helpful or hurtful in my teaching. I was flying blind and the radio signal was off.

I went back to my hotel room later that night very discouraged and depressed. I played my talk over and over in my head and it only seemed to get worse the more I did it (the snowball started rolling and gaining size and speed – this is what happens when our thought lives are not brought into submission). I began to think I had wasted people’s time and in turn the resources of the kingdom. At one point I started believing that I must have said a bunch of heresy and D.A. Carson, one of the theologians and leaders of the Gospel Coalition, was going to have to call me in and confront me. Then they would have to publish an apology for having me speak, acknowledging that I don’t represent what the Gospel Coalition believes. I felt like a failure.

Have you ever experienced something like this? A time when you felt like a failure? Or, a time when you began to be filled with self-doubt or fear? Maybe you haven’t experienced anything like this, but have you ever found yourself consumed with some destructive thoughts? Like thoughts of hatred and rage that begin to dominate your mind crowding out all other thoughts? What about impure, lustful thoughts that seem to keep pushing you to think of women or men in inappropriate ways? Maybe your thoughts have gone more toward pride and self-righteousness, leading you to think you are better than others and to despise others that just don’t seem to live up to “the standard”.

What do you do with these thoughts? Maybe you’ve never thought about thinking about your thoughts. Its possible that you aren’t even aware of what is going on in your mind most of the time because you’ve never stopped to think about it. Have you ever paused and thought about what your thinking? Feeling? Contemplating?

STOP. What are you thinking right now?

Most of us are moving too fast to stop. Or, the idea of listening to our thoughts, paying attention to them is scary – we don’t really want to pay attention to what is going on inside. Many of us go on vacation and stay busy so we don’t have to acknowledge the murmur of restlessness, anger, resentment, anxiety, fear…or any other number of frightful thoughts and emotions. And then we need a vacation from our vacation because we ran ourselves ragged trying to avoid hearing ourselves. Some of us never take a break because the noise of a busy life is more comforting than the contemplation of the heart around the gospel.

Paul told the church in Corinth (2 Cor. 10:5) to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. To capture something requires taking it under control and holding it in a place. We have to stop and ask “What am I thinking?” “Why am I feeling or thinking this?” “What is going on in me right now?” Lately, I have been asking my son Caleb, “What are you doing?” He responds: “Nothing.” To which I reply: “You’re always doing something.” The same is true for thinking: You’re always thinking something.

STOPWhat are you thinking right now – Capture it – Control it – Examine it.

Most of us don’t STOP to capture and examine our thinking. However, the apostle Paul says this is how we begin to experience transformation – by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). Our minds will not get renewed if we don’t pay attention to what we’re thinking and then…

COMPARE your thoughts to What is True of God; What He has done for you and Who you are in Christ Jesus.

That night in my hotel room with my wife on the phone, we took time to compare my thinking to…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8). This meant comparing my thinking to what is true of God, His work through the person and work of Jesus and who I am now because of faith in Jesus. Jayne reminded me: “This is not about you Jeff! This is about Jesus! He is glorified in your weakness AND your ‘success’. What if God wants to glorify himself through your failure. Are you OK with that? Anyhow, remember, you aren’t the one who changes hearts. God does. Besides, you don’t want people to be impressed with you. You want them to be impressed with Jesus.” I shared more of what I was thinking, feeling, believing… and she kept comparing my thoughts to what is true, lovely, pure, etc… “God is in control, even if you failed Jeff. You don’t need the approval of man. You are accepted by God! He is your Father who loves you. What else do you need?” We continued on as she exhorted me in the gospel and the truths of God’s Word.

How often do we slow down to compare our thinking to what is true of God and what we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

And do we have people around us we can turn to for this? I hear of way too many Christians living life alone – God didn’t save us for a personal ALONE relationship with him. He saved us from ALONENESS into a community – His Family. I believe if we did this more often with one another in community, we would not only have lives that better reflect what is true of Jesus, but our hearts would also be full as worship as we become overcome by the grace of God in the midst of everyday life.

Finally, CONFESS your unbelief through genuine repentance and replace the lies with truth.

In over 20 years of ministry I have heard plenty of confessions, but rarely do I hear people confess their sin. People regularly say “I’m sorry” and rarely say “I’ve sinned”.

We generally regret the consequences of sin and then desire that they go away as quickly as possible. We say, “I’m sorry I hurt you (…and that you are so weak and hurt so easily)”; “I’m sorry that this offended you (…you should not be so easily offended) or “I’m sorry I did that (…because it doesn’t feel good right now). True confession of sin, confesses sin.

I have found there are generally two reasons we walk down the path of foolishness, leading to destruction – two reasons why we don’t do what is right and good:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Unbelief and Rebellion

My daughter Haylee has been struggling with fear and anxiety. She is nine. We didn’t rebuke her for this (“Stop worrying. You shouldn’t worry. That’s a sin!) We instructed her about who God is and how powerful he is. We have been teaching her not only that he is great and in control, but also good and loves her. We reminded her that Jesus overcame sin, death and Satan – the three sources of all of our fears. And that He is both with her and for her. Along the way we have been teaching her to not be anxious, but to offer her concerns to God in prayer with thanksgiving, trusting that God can guard her heart and mind in Christ Jesus, granting her peace.  Haylee was ignorant. Not any longer. Now, if Haylee refuses to bring her concerns to God and prefers to deal with them on her own, she is no longer ignorant, but rebellious, walking in unbelief. I know that sounds harsh to some of us, but it is true. We either humbly submit the truths we know about God or we pridefully ignore them or outright reject them.

Paul says the same thing to the people in Athens after he describes the unknown god to them as the True living God who made them and everything they enjoy – Acts 17:30-31: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Many of us or the people we care for and shepherd need to be informed so they no longer stand in ignorance. Our job in many cases is not just to confront sin, but to inform people with the truth of God and the good news of Jesus Christ. If they don’t know the truth, how can they take captive their thoughts, compare them to Him and then respond in repentance.

However, once informed of the truth, we are no longer ignorant but informed. And when we take the time to capture a thought, compare it to Jesus and see where it is not in line with the truth of the gospel, we have a choice to make – repent or rebel. And repentance not only owns the sin, confessing it as such, but also owns the truth of God, confessing it in faith as our only hope.

That night, in my hotel room, on the phone with my wife, I repented. I saw that I was a prideful man and I was living for people’s approval not God’s glory. I wanted to do well, not just to help people, but to help myself. I wanted to be liked, accepted, approved of by man. I had believed the approval of man was more sufficient than the approval of God. It was unbelief in God’s Word and unbelief in the gospel. I was sorry…not for the state I was in, but for the state of my heart before God. I acknowledged my sin of pride and unbelief in the complete work of Jesus that made me acceptable before God. As I confessed this sin, I also acknowledge my belief in his grace to forgive as well as my acceptance because of what Jesus had done, not for how well I spoke. I experienced healing and refreshment from his Spirit. God opposes the proud but he gives grace to the humble. We say that, but we are afraid to humble ourselves. I experienced his grace that night again.

After all of that, the Spirit confirmed that he did indeed use my talk, despite my weakness and brokenness. God does that – he works in and through our mess to show his power and glory. Crazy!

If we are ever to become a gospel fluent people, we must first of all become a gospel familiar people – we must experience it changing us first before we will have the confidence that it can change others as well. Take the time to capture your thoughts, compare them to the truths in the gospel and confess any and all unbelief and rebellion as sin and put your faith again in Jesus and his sufficient work for you!

Posted in FAQs on Missional Communities | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Serving the MC (Jayne’s Perspective)

Matthew 20:28 “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”

Missional Communities can be tricky. I can give you the rundown of what a “perfect gathering night” looks like or I can give you the real, unadulterated, hardcore truth that usually includes food on the floor, the dog puking (or getting out the front door and running toward the street), toddlers running around in diapers, loud thumps coming from the upstairs, water mysteriously all over the upstairs bathroom floor, multiple interruptions, clogged toilets, cell phones ending up in a mug of tea, and sticky spots on the floor that I will not notice until the next morning when the beautiful sun comes beaming through my clean (I mean sticky fingerprinted, and cloudy) front window…which illuminates memories of the night before. The smell of grilled meat and sweet potatoes are still ruminating in the house. Ahhh…I think we talked about Jesus??? Or maybe that was everyone else while I was running around the house…with joy in my heart…chasing a dear little boy named Finn. Finn is the active toddler of a couple in our neighborhood who loves Jesus and hopes to host their own MC one day. Finn’s mama and daddy were tired and needed to be with the adults tonight. I took my cue from the Holy Spirit and put down my Bible…and played with this little one upstairs for the next hour, while the older kids were happily entertaining themselves in the basement playroom. Finn and I played with legos, cars, balls, superheroes, looked at books, talked, tickled and laughed for a little over an hour while his mommy and daddy had a glass of wine and interacted around God’s Word discussing all the texts surrounding the Deity of Christ. Finn’s mom is a woman who loves Jesus and who loves to pray.

I can’t tell you what all the adults talked about because I wasn’t present in that discussion. But…I can tell you what was going through my mind while playing with Finn…like the fact that I am so thankful to have a home where people can openly talk about the Lord, and that Finn has a mommy and daddy that love Jesus and are partnering with us in this neighborhood to lead people to Jesus.  And that Jesus was with me in that upstairs room and I am not “missing out” on anything else happening in the house. I am part of a great call from Jesus to serve.  And most fondly, I was thinking of how God has given me a new mind and perspective on what it really means to serve…in the moment. I am humbled and grateful that He has revealed these things to me.

Many of us would like to think that we are “that kid” sitting in the front row of all that are gathered at the feet of Jesus while He is teaching. We are drinking in every word He says, feeling ready and eager to do anything He asks. Then…He says, “I need a volunteer!” All of our arms go up, we’re still sitting, but not really, we’re kind of half standing…and we shout “Pick me! Pick me!” But when He calls our name, we pull back, second guess, cower and say…”Nevermind…”

When Jesus calls on us, it always involves serving. Jeff was serving the adults tonight by teaching, instructing and leading in the main room. My task of watching Finn for this night was no less important to Jesus.  We, as hosts of our MC Gathering, are here to serve…period. If you are able to posture yourself with this attitude…and truth, you will experience joy in serving and be able to adjust to whatever task the Lord gives you for that evening.

Serving is not a gender specific, gifting or “personality” thing. It is a command in scripture and it looks different at different times. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love theology and I especially love interacting around God’s Word.  But tonight, God called me out of my chair to a different task. Serving is not always a premeditated, predictable act, but one that is recognized and accommodated at a moments notice. It’s a heart attitude of contentment, and it leaves you not exhausted, but filled with joy! Most of us can work up a desire to serve, but how we respond, in the spur of the moment, really exposes what is inside of us.

Jeff and I are on the same team. We are watching each other as we lead and we are filling in the gaps for each other. It’s like playing soccer. A team player doesn’t run down the field right next to the person with the ball, they open themselves up, watching and waiting for a pass.  Anyone who knows anything about the game of soccer, knows this is crucial. You position yourself in a strategic way so as to assist the other…and the goal is to score a point, not compete with each other as to who is in the “most important” position or debate who actually is responsible for the goal.

So…my charge to all of you would be to devote yourselves to prayer on this subject, not that God will help you be a good host, or that people won’t mess your house up…not even that God will “sustain you and get you through each week,” but that God will transform your hearts and minds to be filled with His Spirit and learn what it means to really “Serve wholeheartedly as if serving the Lord!” (Eph. 6:7)

God bless you all!

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Soma MCs and Soma School create a Sacred Space

Check out what Soma’s Missional Communities along with Soma School participants accomplished to show a tangible picture of transformation…

Soma Communities Sacred Space – Thea Foss Waterway, Tacoma, WA from Soma Communities on Vimeo.

One of the ways our communities love and serve their neighborhoods is by restoring things that are broken. Here, Soma family, friends and neighbors work together to restore a small park on the Thea Foss Waterway in downtown Tacoma, WA.

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