HOW DOES SOMA PLANT CHURCHES?

Soma is committed to planting missional communities and churches amongst the unreached until every man, woman, and child has a daily encounter with Jesus in word and deed. Missional Communities are the seed form of church planting. We believe in the Small/Big Principle of faithfulness (Lk 16:10)…those faithful to make disciples in a smaller Missional Community are ready to be trained for a larger disciple-making enterprise. We are committed to making disciples of all nations, mobilizing everyday people, training faithful disciple-makers church planting, and sending teams of missionaries to start new churches of missional communities among the unreached. 

Serial Church planter and trainer Peyton Jones has observed that much of what passes as church planting in N.America is actually “church starting.” Even more descriptively we may term this “church service starting” which increasingly has proven to be less evangelistically effective with modern generations. Jones makes the following distinction, Church planting means starting with the seeds of the gospel itself and letting them grow organically. Reach the lost with the gospel. Church planting starts with the lost. The seed of the plant is the gospel itself. When those seeds are sown and watered, the fruit of that will be a church plant. When you start with the lost, you start where God starts. That was Jesus’s mission, after all, to seek and save the lost. Church starts, by contrast, is beginning with the church in mind, which neither Paul nor Jesus ever did. Both of them just started with the gospel and people. Churches begin naturally when we engage people in meaningful spiritual conversations that center on the gospel. 

To that end the Soma Family of Churches — in collaboration with To Every Tribe, a global missions agency that excels in training for Apostolic Region reaching church planting. We mobilize local Soma Churches to train proven disciple-makers to be sent as a team to plant churches that will partner to reach regions. Our prayer is to help potential pastors and planters thrive in your unique ministry giftings, make and mature disciples in your context, and start and lead sustainable, multiplying churches for the sake of gospel saturation.

We see church planting as an integrated step within the broader Missionary Pathway of the Soma Family of Churches. 

  1. Telos – Begin with the end in mind: I Tim 1:5 The Goal of our Instruction is Love
  2. Be a Disciple (building on Gospel foundations we are becoming mature in love) 
  3. Making Disciples in Missional Community (life on Life, in community on mission) 
  4. Multiplying MC’s + Coaching (Expression Leadership) 
  5. Church Planting (Soma Church Plant Residencies) 
  6. Establishing and Strengthening the Local Church (Greek “Storidzo” in Acts – Soma Strengthening – Strong Church + Strong Leader) 
  7. Apostolic Teams leading Areas towards greater multiplication
  8. The Goal of our Instruction is Love – multiplying communities filled with disciples mature in love. 


We network churches to reach regions in a coordinated way. We believe that local churches plant churches. Area coordination amongst churches can lead to even strong outcomes when done in skillful way.

Resident planters in training need apostolic fathers in the spirit of Paul described in 2 Timothy 3:10-11. We train with D.E.E.P.E.R immersive training experiences as the backbone to ensure planters are practicing, getting exposed and developing along the way. 

We train in mission, for mission. Life-on-Life, Life-in-Community, Life-on-Mission. Sitting in a classroom is cross purposes with doing the work of church multiplication in mission. We utilize the proven Apostolic 8 Phases in Pioneer Church Planting developed by Steve Leston from To Every Tribe. 

We send missionary teams with examined, complimentary giftings. Jesus and the NT Apostles who followed His example sent out missionaries in teams. Perhaps the Enemy’s greatest victory in recent memory has been the pastor-centered, pulpit-centered, Sunday-centered church. The NT present APEST diverse equippers who train and mobilize the entire church to make disciples that make disciples in the everyday stuff of life. 

AR-LA-TN-KY-NC-SC-GA-MS-AL-FL

The South Leaders:

Brad Dunlap – brad@mercyhillmemphis.org
Chris Bennett  – cb@renewalmemphis.org

TX-OK-NM

The South Central Leaders:

Duke Revard – duke.revard@wearesoma.com
Chuck Gschwend – chuck.gschwend@gmail.com
Randy Moore – randy@somaaustin.org

MO-KS-IA-NE-SD-ND-MN-WI-IL-IN-MI-OH + Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan

The Midwest Leaders: 

Mike Ely – mike@somadetroit.org
Aaron Goodrich – aarongoodrich1@gmail.com

CA-NV-UT-CO-AZ-NM

The West Leaders: 

Brad Watson – brad@wearesoma.com
Kevin Platt – kevin@missiomesa.com

VA-WV-PA-DC-MD-DE-NJ-NY-RI-CT-VT-NH-ME + Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

The Northeast Leaders: 

Scott Osborne – ozzysoccer11@me.com
Stephen Weeks – weeks.stephenj@gmail.com

WA-OR-ID-MT-WY + BC, Alberta

The Northwest Leaders:

Paul Dean – paul@somaeastside.org
Jeff Vanderstelt – jeff@saturatetheworld.com
Justin Westcott – justinwestcott@gmail.com

Mexico

Familia Soma Leaders:

Atanasio Segovia – atanasio@wearesoma.com
Mario Vera – mario@wearesoma.com

Soma Church Planting Residencies FAQ’s

Soma Residencies are not general leader training; but for those who feel burdened for unreached people and called to plant a gospel-centered, Spirit-led, missional church. You must be embedded into a local church as an intern during each residency. 

An applicant should be a man, At Least 27 Years Old, with confirmed Ministry Leadership experience from the elders of his church, and who is hoping to Plant. Applicants must display the Character, Competency, And Capacity to plant, as well as Humility And Teachability. You must Commit About 5 Hours Per Week (+Lab Weeks), and Affirm The Lausanne Covenant.

  • All applicants must have attended Soma School, or be registered to attend one in the immediate future. 
  • All applicants must display evidence of the character of an elder, competency as a faithful disciplemaker, and capacity to take on a greater responsibility of planting a dynamic, healthy church of disciples making and maturing disciples.
  • All applicants must be affirmed as a proven disciplemaker by his local elders and the elder are affirming him for church planting and the specific timing for he and his wife. 
  • Applicants to the Church Planting Residency must have successfully completed Soma’s church planting assessment. Apply Here

Strong Area Residencies – contact area leader above for region specific training options. 

 

The Cross Cultural Residency – Los Fresnos, TX

Two-years of hands-on training at the Texas/Mexico border which includes: classroom training, field experience in Mexico and amongst remote indigenous tribes, Coaching. The focus is on: Crossing Culture, Planting Churches and Endurance. This training is broken down into two tracts:

 

The Missionary Year

  1. Church Planting: Personal Readiness
  2. Perseverance in Mission
  3. Theology & Exposition in Mission
  4. Team Building
  5. The Gospel 
  6. Spiritual Warfare
  7. Truth in Life

The Mission Year

  1. Keys to Pioneer Church Planting
  2. Crossing Cultures
  3. Cross-Cultural Disciple-making
  4. Cultural Analysis
  5. Assimilation
  6. Evangelism & Apologetics
  7. Ecclesiology
  8. Exposition in Mission: New Testament

 

We are currently praying for 6 Soma Couples to take part in this training to come back as trainer mobilizers in each of the 6 Soma Strong Area nodes in our family of Churches. 

  1. Arrival – Showing people you are here and you care by living and engaging the community that you are serving. Help them solve a problem. 
  2. Trust – Building trust between you and the people through your actions and conversations
  3. Spiritual Conversations – Taking time to understand how people process God, religion, and spiritual things. 
  4. Gospel Conversations – As the LORD opens doors, share the whole gospel, taking the time to show how Jesus personally saves us by His power and has overcome the evil in the world through His Kingdom. 
  5. Nurture – As the LORD provides the converts, it is important to nurture new believers in what it means to live as a follower of Jesus.
  6. Help – For many converts, following Jesus can cause problems in their lives. They can find themselves at odds with family, cultures. It is the missionary disciple-makers job to help walk with new believers through the complexities of following Jesus. 
  7. Discover – Throughout the discipleship process, it is important that the missionary seeks the wisdom of the LORD to help converts understand their gifts and their role in the work of the gospel and in the Body of Christ. 
  8. Affirm – Once a disciple has discovered their gifts it is important that the missionary publicly affirm that gift in front of all. We must also affirm the emerging leadership.
  1. Initial Application & Interview: You start your process by filling out an initial application at saturatetheworld.com/apply, after which you will participate in a phone/video interview, to ask and answer initial applicant questions.
  2. Personality Profiles & Endorsements: After the successful completion of Step 1, you will complete Church Planter Profile assessments ($99), and your wife and a sending church complete separate endorsements. 
  3. Final Interview(s): After receiving your assessments and endorsements, you participate in a final interview with Regional Residency leadership.

Church Planter Assessment: Applicants to the Church Planting Residency must successfully participate in a formal assessment before beginning your residency.

The Regional Residency tuition cost may vary slightly per region. But once accepted, you should plan to pay about $3,000 USD per Residency year. Tuition includes access to online and print materials, administrative and coaching costs, and all Lab Week expenses (including food, lodging, etc. from Day 1 lunch though Day 2 lunch). Tuition is paid at the start of the residency or in installments. Residents/churches cover travel costs to Lab Weeks, and any expenses for your local church internship. As part of the training, we strongly encourage you to raise the entire cost of your tuition.

Additionally, assessment costs and planter stipends vary per sending organization. For example, some Assessment Centers cost $1,500, and upon commissioning a sponsor organization offers a start-up grant with your commitment to “pay it forward” to future residents over time. Alternatively, another sending organization may offer monthly support to help cover your tuition, at least during the Church Planting Residency, then gives start-up and monthly funding plus additional resources during your plant’s early years. We are happy to discuss funding and support options with you.

Learn more + apply for Soma’s Discernment Center

Overview

Our assessment process takes into account several factors that help determine the skills, ministry approach and field type that is best suited for the potential church planter.  

The assessment process has several interlocking parts. 

  1. Are your local elders recommending you for church planting? (Elder Greenlight)
  2. Current ministry in their local church – what do you naturally run to and what do you naturally run away from? 
  3. Why do you want to plant? What’s your burden? Do you love the church or hate the church?
  4. What is your source of authority? (epistemology)
  5. What church planting ministry gifts do you possess? (gifting)
  6. How do you learn? (learning styles)
  7. What is the best kind of field of the four fields? (contextual fit)
  8. What is your operating emotional Image of God? (GIDA assessment)
  9. What is your current degree of self-awareness? 
  10. What are your current spiritual pace and practices?

Atanasio Segovia – Leon, Mexico

From a lion’s den to lentil field, God uses places and events to draw us closer to Him. God used Soma Sending to change my life and draw me near. I joined a group of strangers and walked away with a band of brothers.  The content, classes, speakers, and trips were great. Seeing how God used all to build up His church was better.

My life looks different today because of Soma Sending. I am in an unexpected place with an unclear future. Yet, I am hopeful because of how God prepared me through Soma Sending. I am thankful for the godly men he introduced in my life. The coaching, mentoring, and support has been a source of encouragement.

Soma Sending is where church planters become shepherds and strangers become brothers. It is a great program to equip and mature followers of Jesus to proclaim the Gospel and start healthy churches.



Dawson Jones – Nitra, Slovakia

I went in to the Soma Sending residency thinking that I was signing up for two years of growing in competency, but thankfully, at the end I realized that it was primarily about growing in dependency.  I went in thinking that I would acquire some needed skills, which I did, but I came out recognizing that what I needed more than anything was to be aware of my neediness as a pastor, a leader, a husband, a father, and a human being.  I needed to be needy. I had been trying to do the work of God without the power and presence of God for over seven years.

The way the residency is structured allows for many opportunities for these kind of heart issues to surface.  The combination of an immersion into a local church while being in a national cohort led by a centralized team allows for exponentially more than what a local church residency or a coaching cohort could provide on their own.  There is a very intentional and close feedback loop between the leadership of the immersion church and the Soma Sending team that are both committed to developing and nurturing residents. The outsourcing of the curriculum, assignments, speakers, and summits to the Soma Sending team allows these aspects to be of much higher quality than something a local church could provide on its own.  This structure then allows there to be a more deliberate and careful focus on the less tangible aspects of development: calling, character, and chemistry.

Though this is a development program for church planters, the end goal is not to manufacture church planters, but to help every participant better understand in what way their story and gifting fits into the mission of God. This happened for 100% of our cohort.  My cohort brothers and their wives will be lifelong friends and partners of ours who are committed to the flourishing of our marriage and our ministry as we are to theirs. Now, pastoring a church in Eastern Europe that is currently planting another church, my wife and I bring up our thankfulness for these formative years often.  We did just a couple days ago. Jesus cared for us and is caring for us still through this residency. I continue to grow in my neediness, and Jesus continues to provide what’s needed.