WHAT IS SOMA SENDING?

Management consultant Peter Drucker said that church leadership was the most difficult and taxing profession he was aware of. The apostle Paul said of ministry, “We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death” (2 Cor. 1:8–9). But study after study shows that quality training, assessment, kingdom prayer, and trusted peers all exponentially increase pastoral sustainability.

To that end the Soma Family of Churches — in collaboration with other like-minded churches and organizations across North America — is honored to host Soma Sending Regional Residencies. 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.

RESIDENCIES FOR DIFFERENT STAGES OF YOUR JOURNEY

Regional Residencies are not for general leader training; they’re for men who feel compelled to plant and/or lead a gospel-centered, Spirit-led, missional church, and whose “raw materials” have been affirmed to that end, by your wife and by ministry leaders. Each region offers two types of residency, tailored specifically for candidates on a different step in your journey toward planting/pastoring:

> A 12-month “Ministry & Leadership Residency” exists for potential planters ~3-5 years away from planting. The interactive training helps you discern if you should plant or pastor, your fit on a team, and your best fit for mission and ministry in the Kingdom of God. 

> Then a 10-month “Church Planting Residency” equips potential planters ~1-2 years away from planting, and begins with a formal church planting assessment carried out by your sending organization. You’ll gain knowledge and experience in  various competencies that will help you start a sustainable church, in your context and according to your specific giftings and vision.

You must be embedded into a local church as an intern during each residency. Both residencies are designed for the “working man,” to fit within ~5 hrs/wk. You are welcome to apply for either residency, and if you are hoping to jump into the Church Planting Residency, you must be assessed before you are accepted.

2020 REGIONAL RESIDENCIES

While each Regional Residency is contextualized to the part of the continent it occurs, all residents glean from many trainers in a cohort of peers, as you gain knowledge and experience in proven leadership and planting competencies. Sending churches and organizations have specific time for their own assessments, and to train their residents in organization-specific doctrine, philosophies, etc. But churches who partner for Regional Residencies believe that we are better together, so in each region, many organizations bring our different strengths to the table as you learn, experiment, discuss, and grow.

Select your region below to download details on a Soma Sending Regional Residency.

*Still accepting Midwest Applications

ACADEMIC CREDIT

Through a unique partnership with Western Seminary (based in Portland, OR), participants who meet Western’s admission requirements, and who complete all Soma Sending components, can earn Master’s-level credit, which can a) result in a Graduate Studies Certificate in Church Planting from Western Seminary, b) be applied toward a Master’s degree within Western Seminary, or c) be transferred as credit to another institution. Seminary credit adds to the cost of Soma Sending, but comes at 65% less than Western’s current tuition rate.

Learn more about receiving credit for Soma Sending.

SOMA Sending FAQs

An applicant for the Church Planting Residency should be a man, at least 25-years-old, with confirmed ministry leadership experience, and who is hoping to plant within 1–2 years (or is within 12 months of having planted). 

An applicant for the Ministry + Leadership Residency should be a man, at least 23-years-old, with confirmed ministry leadership experience, and who is hoping to plant within 3–5 years. 

You must be involved in local church life, ministry, and mission during either Residency, within a sending denomination/ organization. And you must display the character, competency, and capacity to plant, as well as humility and teachability. You must be able to commit ~5 hrs/wk during your residency (plus Lab Weeks), and hold to the Lausanne Covenant.

All applicants must have attended Soma School, or be committed to doing so during your Ministry + Leadership Residency.

All applicants must display evidence of the character, competency, and capacity to plant a dynamic, healthy church of disciples making and maturing disciples.

All applicants must be affirmed as a proven servant-leader by a sponsor minister, and affirmed in ministry direction and specific timing by your wife

Applicants to the Church Planting Residency must have successfully completed a formal church planting assessment.

Through applications, formal and informal assessments, and assignments, each resident’s internship provides you with an annual Personal Development Plan contextualized to your specific areas of need/growth throughout the Residency. Some common ministry areas that are covered by internships are pastoral counsel, biblical-theological competency, elder qualifications, marriage and family leadership, missional community/church leadership/follow-ability, and team development.

 

Regional Residency Lab Weeks give each resident training, resources, and hands-on practice in over 30 church planting competencies. 

> The Ministry + Leadership Residency covers foundational competencies like gospel-centeredness and Spirit-ledness, marriage and family, self-awareness and personal leadership, and one’s mission field (including disciple-making, ministry in the margins, hospitality, and core-team building). 

> During the Church Planting Residency, residents build a ministry philosophy (considering fundraising and budget, creating and casting vision, discipleship in community, and organizational culture) and look at the detailed practice of ministry in a missional, community-based church (such as preaching, communication strategy, pastoral shepherding, and care in community) before considering personal sustainability (self-care and thriving in ministry “for the long haul”).

  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 ~$3000 USD per Residency year. Tuition includes access to online and print materials, administrative and coaching costs, and all Lab Week expenses (incl. 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 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.

Most Lab Weeks begin at 9:30a Day 1 and end at 4:00p Day 2, and participants stay overnight together. A sample Lab Week schedule looks like this:

> You arrive Day 1 for intentional coffee and catch-up. Then you spend time in scripture and prayer together, before discussing your prep work then having lunch. A regional or national expert in that class’s competencies leads an afternoon training session, which includes Q&A and exercises. Then we leave for dinner, a little fun, and an evening to hang out together.

> Day 2 begins with a resident’s sermon and peer feedback, then a morning of experiential learning and lunch. The afternoon involves more discussion, training, and exercises. Then you’re sent out with prayer and assignments.

Yes! Through a unique partnership with Western Seminary (based in Portland, OR), participants who meet Western’s admission requirements and who complete all Soma Sending components can gain 16 hours of Master’s-level credit, which can a) result in a Graduate Studies Certificate in Church Planting from Western Seminary, b) be applied toward a Master’s degree within Western Seminary, or c) be transferred as credit to another institution. Seminary credit adds to the cost of Soma Sending, but comes at 65% less than Western’s current tuition rate. Learn more about receiving credit for Soma Sending.

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.