Last week my wife and I made our first trip to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to spend a week learning from Soma Communities. “Soma School” is a week long immersion into the life of Soma Tacoma, a church that has had major influence on what we are doing at Redeemer. The week included lots of teaching from Soma’s leaders, sharing meals with the people of Soma, interacting with other church planters from around the world, a house concert, and experiencing missional community life. I’ve got an entire moleskin full of things that I learned last week, but here at my top 3 takeaways.
1. Soma is messy. I mean this in the most positive way possible. In fact, this was the most encouraging thing I took away from the week. There is no squeaky clean method when it comes to leading missional communities and making disciples of your neighbors. Anyone coming to Soma School hoping to get a “handbook to missional communities” left empty handed. There is no such thing within Soma. Instead we got to see both paid and unpaid leaders who believe in the power of the Gospel and trust in the work of the Spirit. There is certainly structure to Soma, but it’s a structure that you can’t see or feel. Instead you see and feel a people who are being changed by Jesus and are intentionally sharing Him with others around them. Hanging out with Soma felt freeing, fun, sincere, and messy. The difference between Soma and most of us is…they don’t hide their mess. They use it as a way to point to Jesus.
2. I’m a “methodolator”. It is easy for church planters and pastors to fall in love with methodology. When you start to love a method of church more than the savior and head of the church you are committing “metodolatry”. God showed me I have been guilty. Thankfully at Soma School we spent more time talking about who God is and what He has done (the Gospel), rather than talking about what we should do (methodology). This was good for my heart and ignited my love and passion for the Triune God.
3. I was schooled in hospitality. From the moment that we arrived in Tacoma we were greeted with hospitality. Our hosts for the week, Mark and Roseanne, excelled in hospitality. Everything that was theirs was ours for the week. They were thoughtful, kind, and treated us like family. They not only cooked us meal after meal, but opened their life to us. There is a culture of hospitality amongst the people of Soma wasn’t just a show for us. Every morning the homeless who were sleeping on the doorsteps of Soma’s building were woken up with a smile and a warm cup of coffee. The city of Tacoma felt the hospitality as the whole church came together to clean up a local park. The waiters and waitresses in Tacoma experienced hospitality as every person I shared a meal with tipped like crazy. I was reminded of how much the little things matter when it comes to creating a “gospel-culture”; and hospitality is a little thing that’s a huge thing.
If you are planting a church or intrigued by missional communities I encourage you to look into Soma School. God is doing some exciting things through @WeAreSoma throughout North America.