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.
James Wiebe – Denver, Colorado
My life and faith have been impacted by Soma Sending in ways I would never have predicted. I found out about Soma as an organization three years before I started Soma Sending, and I had attended Soma School two years beforehand. I had watched all the videos and read the books. I had studied and taught the identities and rhythms. We had already begun our first missional community and were watching it grow, both numerically and spiritually. At first, I was hesitant to commit two more years to something we had already started living out, but Soma Sending is much more than I first expected. It is a program uniquely constructed around each participant’s areas of strength and areas of need. It is an intensive two year immersion and coaching experience where you will absolutely learn in depth about the Soma DNA, but more specifically, the program is designed to help you grow in your relationship and discipleship to Jesus as you grow in the various skills and practices of church planting. If you’re considering Soma Sending, you need to know that you will be challenged to know yourself better by getting to know Jesus better. This is a critical distinction from simply learning ministry skills and practices. You will be pushed and challenged and stretched, but you will also be deeply loved and cared for as you do it.
I gained a theological grounding that I did not have before. I have been challenged to think systematically through the multi-layered process that is church planting. Through various means, I was asked to confront my own idolatry and to grow to believe in the person and work of Jesus at a more personal level. Soma Sending has helped me gain a much clearer and healthier set of expectations of what planting a church will entail over the long-term and has helped me prioritize tasks and goals that line up specifically with the place and culture of where we are planting. My personal awareness and practice of the Gospel in my family, friendships, and church relationships is vastly different today than before we started. Through this process I have gained a lot of practical knowledge about myself and about this work God has called me to, but more importantly, I know and love Jesus more today than I did when I started, and in my opinion that is perhaps the most important criteria for what is required to plant a healthy church where the power and presence of the Kingdom are being worked out through the everyday stuff of life in places and lives where Jesus is not yet known.
If you are considering church planting, know that healthy churches are planted by healthy planters, and the converse is usually also true. If you are feeling led to plant a church, even if a program like Soma Sending feels like a delay for what you envision, it is exactly the opposite of a delay. It will be time very well invested. Make the commitment to spend the time preparing on the front end, building a solid Gospel foundation for all the things that you’ll do specific to your plant. Along the way, you will find brotherhood, friendship, and accountability in the group of men who go through the process with you. Don’t overlook this as something that will just happen once you get started. Church planting can be hard and lonely at times, and having people from all over the country praying and supporting you as you take steps into this process is a huge blessing! If you are married, Soma Sending has done a great job of involving your wives in this process and providing them with specific content and support as well. (Trust me…this is a big deal!) Admittedly, going through Soma Sending took a lot of time, effort, vulnerability, and trust, but the investment of those things has been returned many times over to me, my wife, and the people we are seeking to love and bless as we plant. Lastly, plan to hold your dreams with an open hand towards God. The reality is that some people may go through Soma Sending only to have God show them that they aren’t ready to plant. There’s blessing and growth in that too because our churches exist for God’s glory and the people’s good.