We at The Exchange Community are taking a number of our MC leaders and members down to Jonesboro. We’ve learned a lot from Jeff, Soma, and the GCm Collective. So we thought we’d share this great opportunity. Here is what is publicized about the training:
We believe that communities centered around mission are the heart of what God has called His Church to be and do. Soma has helped developed successful missional communities all around the world. This one-day training with Jeff Vanderstelt will tackle the nuts and bolts of living and leading missional communities. Our recent One Day focused on the “Why” and “What”. This training will focus on “How”…
- How to make disciples with your family
- How to love and bless your neighbors
- How to live everyday life with gospel intentionality
- How to make disciples out of the overflow of the gospel
- How to listen and follow the Spirit for fruitful mission
MEET JEFF VANDERSTELT
Jeff Vanderstelt is one of the leaders of Soma Tacoma, a multi-expression, church-planting church. He is the Visionary Leader of Soma, a family of churches spread throughout North America. Jeff is married to Jayne and together they love and shepherd their three children in gospel, life, and mission.
This event will take place on Saturday from 9am-4pm at Fellowship Jonesboro, with registration from 8–9am.
The cost is: $49/individual or $69/couple and includes lunch.
Please register for this event by 10am, Friday September 13.
You can register at Eventbrite
I’ve learned a whole heck of a lot from Soma Communities, on Church Planting, Sharing the Gospel, and missional communities that we are implementing in the creation of The Exchange Community in Jackson, Mo. Recently Soma did a fast track training for their missional community leaders. This is some great material to go through if you’re leading a missional community or are interested in starting a missional community
Here’s the links to Soma’s Fast Track Training Audio/Video and their notes:
1. The Story of God // Caesar Kalinowski
2. Vision for Missional Communities // Jeff Vanderstelt
3. Gospel, Power & Purpose // Jeff Vanderstelt
4. Gospel DNA // Jeff Vanderstelt & Abe Meysenburg
5. Gospel in Everyday Rhythms // Jeff Vanderstelt
6. Gospel Fluency // Jeff Vanderstelt
7. Creating a Disciple-Making Enviroment // Jeff Vanderstelt
8. Gospel Shepherding // Abe Meysenburg
9. Missional Community Covenant // Jeff Vanderstelt
10. Spirit Led Life // Jeff Vanderstelt
11. Spiritual Warfare // Jeff Vanderstelt
Here’s a link to all of their materials
Picture found here along with the post: Ten Reasons Missional Communities Fail
The Scriptures are often full of calls to humble oneself, take up your cross, deny yourself, decrease in importance so Christ can increase, to lose your life in order to find it in Christ, to become less of a focus so more of Christ can be seen through you. We often don’t find fulfillment in Christ or success in mission because we desperately are afraid of dying. Watch this short video from Jeff Vandertelt:
We’ve got nothing to really lose, and, surprisingly, nothing to gain either, in living life on mission. We have everything already! In Jesus we already have the eternal love, favor, and kingdom of our Heavenly Father! We have his unconditional acceptance no matter how we perform, no matter what we accomplish, no matter how we fail. The only thing we DO have to gain in dying to ourselves and living for God’s purposes is the precious life of someone lost who can be found through YOU. And what’s funny, is when we lay down our lives, desires, and preferences for the good of God’s kingdom and the benefit of others, we actually find life that if abundant, full, and meaningful! Our doubts, anxieties, and problems fade away because our eyes are off ourselves and are placed where they were created to be, on our Savior and on others. We’re then filled with the greatest joy of being on the grandest adventure of all as we join in Christ’s mission.
- If what Jeff says in this video is true, how should it change your life, your ministry, your priorities?
- What do you need to die to in order to live for God’s glory and the salvation of others?
- How is Jesus the answer to all the fears in your heart on this issue? How is he greater than the things you will give up?
Purchase the full talk from the Verge Network here for $2.99.
The other night we gathered our two Missional Communities together to do a little training and to celebrate what God has been doing through our Church planting efforts. At the end, I shared this video from Soma communities because I wanted to remind our MCs what they were working towards, why they were reaching out, why they were sharing and stretching their lives.
Spend a few minutes of watching the video below and dream of what church could be:
- Oftentimes there’s a disconnect between what we read about the Church in scriptures and the church as we know it in 21st century America. How does this video challenge you? How does it give you hope?
- It takes time to plant a church and to share life in a missional community. Much of what we do is to invite people to share life with us, by inviting them to join us in what we’re already doing throughout the week. Still, sometimes to add something we need to let go of something. What is keeps you from having time to share life with members of your MC, or the people you’re trying to reach? What do you need to give up to give of yourself to this new life in Christ as His Disciple?
- Think of all the people in your life. Think of the people in this town and region. For whom is God breaking your heart? How can you start inviting them to share life with you?
- Is there someone who has been discontented with the church that you can share this video with and invite them along on the mission?
In this Short 3 Minute Video below, Jeff and Caesar talk about how to make disciples. What they have to say is really important to starting, sustaining, and growing Missional Communities.
We’ve spoken before about inviting people into our lives before we invite them to our churches or to our MCs. Jeff and Caesar encourage us to invite them into the life of the disciple before they even become committed followers of Jesus.
- Why is it important to connect our acts of service to the people who we’re making disciples of?
- How does leading people in the ways that Jesus tells us to help open the doors to Gospel Conversations?
- How are you and your MC serving the unchurched around you and serving with the unchurched around you?
- Think of the neighborhoods, the people groups, the organizations in which your prospects live, work, and interact. How can you serve in those contexts and how can you invite others along?
A passion of mine has always been how to reach the unreached, how to give a credible Gospel witness, how to share the Gospel in such a way that the current generation hears and understands it. I’ve studied church planting for years and have studied Missional Communities for the last couple years. Yet I’ve found that often times it’s difficult to put what you learn into practice. I wish I could give 6 months of my life to join a church that did MCs well and then come back and do what I’ve experienced. However, we often don’t have the luxury of that. We simply have to try what we’ve read about and adapt as we need to along the way.
Over the last four months we’ve been involved in the business of planting a church. In late September, our sending church approved of our mission plan and funding. In October we gathered a core team. We began this blog so that we could share many of the things that we’ve studies and discussed.
Where We’ve Been
Here’s what our Core Team has been doing as we’ve gathered weekly:
- In those meetings we discuss a chapter of the Gospel-Centred Life over a meal. This volume, written by Missional Community pioneer, Tim Chester, does a great job of sharing how the Gospel addresses everyday life and how we’re called to live in Gospel Communities on Mission. Most of our MCs will use this material at some point.
- After each meal, we’ve gone through The Story Formed Way, a ten week session of interactive dialogue and story telling through the key narratives of scripture. The idea behind it is to give the participants a biblical and systematic theology yet be equally accessible to the novice and the mature Christian.
- Almost every week, I’ll also put up a blog post entitled Missional Training. I ask that our core team review that video or post and we often discuss those posts in our meals as well. I recognize that not all people have time to watch the videos, but it gives the self-learners some direction and also posts that our future leaders can point their MCs to for training.
Where to begin with starting MCs?
We are near the conclusion of our training and are ready to plant our first two Missional Communities. For the mean time, we’ve called these MC East and MC West. As each MC gathers and discusses where meeting place and their mission, they will probably take on a more specific name for a neighborhood, development, or street they meet on. We’ve divided the members of our Core Team into these groups based off of their proximity to one another and their affinity. We have diverse ages in each group. Yet we chose to keep our three guys in their early 20s together and our three families with young children together at this time.
My wife and I will attend the group with young families since we have a 9 mo old daughter. Since I’m the pastor, I plan to be at both MCs initially for the first 4-6 weeks to guide, mentor, coach the leaders and be present to answer (if I can) any questions that come up. (I wont need to do this at the beginning of each MC, but my initial leaders felt like they needed me present since we’re really learning what it means to be a Gospel Community on Mission. After that initial period, My wife and I will probably take a few people back to our neighborhood, or somewhere else, to help start another MC.
So, As we seek to launch these MCs, there’s a few things that will need to be done.
- The leaders of each MC will pick a date for starting The Story Formed Way. They will consult their MC members and pick a date about 4-5 weeks out.
- In the mean time, the leaders will work with their team to make sure that there are social and/or service events planned for the weeks leading up to The Story. They will invite their prospects to those events to introduce them to other members of their MC.
- As well as big social events, they will make personal plans with those prospects as well. We’ve been talking about this from the beginning. Most members of our core have been trying to engage their unchurched friends and neighbors. We’ve encouraged our members to invite them into their live before inviting them into their MC.
- At some point in those 4-5 weeks, their to invite their prospects to come to The Story. They’ll explain that it will include many of the people you’ve been hanging out with. It’s low key, in a home, with no expectations of biblical knowledge. Trust the spirit on when to invite them and how to invite them. If they say, “No,” keep inviting them to social and service events. You might have to build your relationship a little further before they trust you enough to open up.
- Who should you invite? We’ve been talking about those people in our lives who need Jesus. Each member should have been trying to build relationships with someone that is unchurched or dechurched. Are they family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers? Who can you engage? Who have you engaged? Who has asked you about the Church Plant? Who has shown interest in joining us? Are there members of St. Paul who have left the church in the last year or so for various reasons, but might be engaged in a Gospel Centered Community on Mission?
In the mean time, my core group will continue to meet weekly. After listening again to Jeff Vanderstelt’s Gospel Fluency, I realized that I had made a near fatal mistake in our core group training. I hadn’t been asking my core to rehearse the Gospel. I simply asked them a couple weeks back, “What is the Gospel?” I received blank looks, the names of the Gospel books in the Bible, and “Jesus on the Cross.” Now my team knew the Gospel. Yet they weren’t prepared to share it.
So in the following weeks, we will be asking “What is the Gospel?” and will look for an answer that speaks of the whole story of God: Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration. We will also bring up hypothetical situations and role play by asking, “How does the Gospel Address this. We have been studying the 4 Gs since the beginning, but last week I made up cards with the 4 Gs and how to use them. We’ll encourage each member to actually memorize them and use them in explaining how the Gospel addresses sins and anxieties in life.
A second big mistake that we made was that we’ve talked a lot about reaching out to our unchurced family, friends, neighbors and acquantainces, yet we were not intentional about keeping each other accountable. Because of this, it was easy to think about making plans to grow in our relationships with these prospects, but not actually get around to doing it all that much. In the future, we will share with one another who are prospects are, ask one another how we’ve engaged them in the previous week, and we can also pray for those people our fellow MC members are working to win over.
Again, we are learning how to church plant and launch Missional Communities as we go along. I hope what I’ve shared here might help some future church planter or MC leader. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.
We are made Christians through the Gospel. As Christians we’re called to share the Gospel. Yet so many of us don’t know how. This is an excellent teaching from Jeff Vanderstelt about what the Gospel is and how to permeate your Missional Community or church with it. Watch the following video. Consider the questions below.
- How does walking in repentance and belief in the Gospel make you humble? How does it make you bold?
- Why do we need a community to help us believe and walk in the gospel?
- Jeff said, “Every excuse is a gospel opportunity?” What does he mean by that?
- How does Jeff’s explanation of the Gospel expand your own view of the Gospel? How is it helpful?
- Jeff shared 4 questions that help us talk about the Gospel, our beliefs, and lives. He asks, 1. Who is God(His Character and nature)? 2. What has He done (Christ’s Person and Work)? 3. Who are we (as a result of who God is and what he’s done)? 4. How do we live now (as a result…)? How is this helpful in calling us to true belief and action?
- Jeff lays down a storyline: Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration. How does this storyline help you understand your’s and other’s stories? How does it help you understand false stories in yours or other’s lives?
- How is Christ’s life, death, and resurrection a benefit not just for salvation, but in everyday life?
Here’s some great notes from Jeff on Gospel Fluency that covers much of what he’s sharing in this talk.
The Soma School Notes also fill in much of what Jeff speaks about in this video which is missing from the Gospel Fluency document.
Since I’ll be in Joplin next week with Camp Noah, I’ve given you a longer video to watch. This is from Jeff Vanderstelt and Caesar Kalinowski from Soma Communities. Watch the video below and consider the questions to help you process what you hear.
- Apologetics are a systematic defence of doctrine usually concerning the truth and validity and reliability of the Christian story, especially the resurrection. According to Jeff, What is the strongest apologetic for the Gospel?
- What are our four identities as Christians according to Caesar?
- What does it mean that “Our being proceeds our doing”?
- What’s the danger of seeing Missional communities as primarily a Bible study or support group, activist group, etc?
- Why is it important that mission or service is connected to a people?
- How are we the church?
- Caesar quotes what a disciple is according to John Piper. How is that different from what you were taught about being a disciple?
- How many people do Jeff and Caesar suggest for each missional community? Why are those numbers beneficial.
- Why does the Gospel work we’re in cause us to grieve?
Note: You can get the Soma School Note’s Here which flesh out some of the ideas that they talk about such as Gospel identities and Rhythms.
For my Core Group, continue reading the Gospel-Centred Life with Chapter 3, A Life of Change
A few weeks ago I got to travel to Huntsville Alabama to attend the GCM conference at Summit Crossings Community Church. Summit Crossings is an awesome church, are wonderful hosts, and are passionate about the spreading and living the Gospel. The only difficulty the whole week was when the plumbing broke and I had the pleasure of peeing outside with 300+ other men (only in Alabama). All-in-all we learned much about the Gospel and how to commend the Gospel with our lives. Below are the best audio from the main sessions that I wanted to share.
Update: you can now go to the GCM Website and download 12 breakout sessions for free.
If you’re passionate about living a Gospel-centered life, missional communities, or missional living check out the GCM Collective. GCM stands for Gospel Community Mission. Their purpose stated on their website is:
“The GCM Collective exists to promote, create and equip Gospel Communities on Mission.
A gospel community[or missional community] is a group of believers that lives out the mission of God together as family, in a specific area to a particular people group, by declaring and demonstrating the gospel in tangible forms. Regular people, living ordinary lives, with great gospel intentionality.
The GCM Collective is a community that allows people to exchange ideas, resources and encouragement around topics that relate to creating gospel communities on mission.”
The GCM collective is a great community with a very active forum on various topics dealing with Missional Communites and Gospe-centered life. The conversation is lead by Steve Timmis, Tim Chester, Jeff Vanderstelt, Caesar Kalinowski, David Fairchild, Drew Goodmanson, Jonathan Dodson You should check them out.