Archive for the ‘Jeff Vanderstelt’ Category

Jeff Vanderstelt at this year’s Verge conference:

“At Soma we act upon the assumption that every saint is a full-time paid staff member to do the work of ministry. It doesn’t matter whether the check we receive has our church’s name in the upper left hand corner, or Microsoft, Boeing, etc. Wherever the check comes from, it is God’s channel of bringing his resources into your life to enable you to do your full time ministry as God’s sent one.

A critical question we must ask is, ‘Have we structured so that everybody becomes a ‘carrier’ of Jesus and see all of life as the ministry they are called to?’ The most effective carrier of discipleship is not an event. It is doing life together.

No one gets equipped in meetings. We may get informed, motivated, etc., but equipping requires us to be doing, not just hearing. We must live life together in community or we cannot equip each other. How do we know if a man is faithful? (2 Tim. 2:2) We know that only if we are doing life together.

We do not put on a lot of events that extract people from life…instead we equip for life with one another. Unless we call people to focus on mission, they will ultimately become internalized and segregated from the world. We must reorient our whole lives around reaching out to people. Do whatever it takes to be a missionary to a particular people group.

When we started Soma, it was not about a big launch service. We launched people and commissioned them to start their own groups. Each leader has an apprentice. Those who lead small flocks well are those who become entrusted elders of the congregation.”


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Jeff Vanderstelt is one of the leaders of Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington – one of the more intentional missional communities I’ve been exposed to. Recently Jeff did some training for church leaders in Phoenix who passed along some of the lessons they learned from Jeff.

Here are a few:

20. Is the church really equipped? Every church would say, ‘Everyone is a minister’. Few actually structure and live that out. Will we do that?

21. People you disciple need to see you living the gospel out in your real life.

22. Every Missional Community sees themselves as the core of a potential church plant.

23. If you teach people the Word but do not train and equip them to obey it, you have not made a disciple.

24.. The power is not in your status or stature, but in your life. Jeff’s church is around a 1000. Not a megachurch by any means. He is 5 foot nothing. And he does not have a great preaching voice. But I’d listen to him all day because he says what is true, and his life backs it up. Did you hear how he told stories from “last week”. And they were names of people on his street? This isn’t “once upon a time I led this random guy to Christ.”

Read the rest here – would love to hear which of these encourage and challenge you.

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As followers of Christ, we want to take ownership of our own discipleship as we learn to live as missionaries to Oconee County, Athens-Clarke County and UGA. We find that learning from others outside of the Christ Church community is helpful in affirming and challenging our assumptions and actions.

Here’s an example: Cornerstone Church in California recently hosted a conference about the gospel, with main sessions being led by Francis Chan (lead pastor of Cornerstone) as well as David Fairchild and Jeff Vanderstelt, both of whom lead A29 churches in San Diego and Tacoma, Washington respectively.

Check out the lineup below and make time to listen or watch these sessions. The links take you to downloadable MP3’s and MP4’s.

:: Francis Chan | Audio | Video
:: Jeff Vanderstelt 1 | Audio | Video
:: Jeff Vanderstelt 2 | Audio | Video
:: David Fairchild 1 | Audio | Video
:: David Fairchild 2 | Audio | Video

(HT: Tim Brister)

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I found myself tearing up when I read the post from Jeff Vanderstelt that I’ve reprinted below because this is what I want my family’s life to be in our neighborhood and we are so very far from it. I know that every context is different but God is breaking and reshaping life – what if this kind of rhythm was taking place in every neighborhood in Oconee County and Athens-Clarke County? What if this was happening in your neighborhood…at your house?

When we first arrived and got settled into our neighborhood, we had a house warming party and invited our friends and neighbors over for a party with good food and drink. We were very intentional to ask them about themselves, how long they’d been in the neighborhood and general questions about their life. Each time, we were careful to listen well looking for the opportunity to be a blessing to them with what God has given us.

Eventually, Soma began using the first Sunday of the month to do “scattered gatherings” in our neighborhoods instead of gathering in a building together. We trained the church in Hospitality and encouraged our people to open their homes on Sunday mornings for a brunch and invite neighbors to join them. Each of us served as host and provided some main dishes (not just some cheap donuts). Surprisingly, a majority of our neighbors attended (most were not a part of a church). And once again, we asked questions, listened and got to know our neighbors better. One of our goals was to get to know the stories of our neighbors as well as our neighborhood, always looking for an opportunity to be a display of God’s grace to our neighbors by the way we hosted and served and eventually through acts of grace according to their needs.

We realized that we needed regularity to this kind of activity so during the Spring and Summer we started doing a BBQ/Party every Friday night. The regularity was a key to making this happen (Too many settle for doing a party a couple times a year…this will not do it…there needs to be consistency to your hospitality). Eventually, everyone in the neighborhood had joined us and there was a genuine sense of connection and warmth between us relationally. Over time, others volunteered to host the parties so that our neighborhood started sharing the responsibility.

All of this would have been good neighborly activity, but not enough all by itself. It led to us getting to know the felt and real needs of our neighbors. We eventually started working on our neighbor Nicki’s home together since her home had fallen apart after the passing of her husband 15 years prior. During our times of serving together, we would often look for opportunities to share the Gospel reason for why we were serving. Most often, after serving we would invite people over for dinner and the conversations continued.

Our home became known as the house where you could find a party or a place to rest, converse, share a struggle or receive some prayer. We let people know that we had an open door policy – if you wanted to stop by and visit or join us for dinner, you were always welcome. This led to people stopping over after a bad day, losing a job, looking for advice on child rearing or crying over a broken relationship. If we needed to be alone for a particular reason, we would politely make that known, but many times the Spirit prompted us to set aside our own interests and pray for strength to love our neighbors when it wasn’t always convenient for us.

Some people took us seriously…Nicki was one of those. She started coming over several times a week. Eventually, she became part of our family AND part of the family of God (this past November). Our neighbors across the street and down the road have also become a part of our family (eating with us at least once a week and often more)…not yet believing the Gospel…but hopefully on the way (three of them just showed up at our gathering the past couple of weeks after several years of parties, brunches and serving together).

There is so much more I could share about this…

As I was just talking to Jayne about this she said many people are willing to do the basics of hospitality, but shut down once it gets difficult and messy. It is at this point, where the Gospel gives us strength to continue AND where the opportunities to give a reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15) open up because most people (believer and unbeliever alike) know how to be “good neighbors”, however, very few are willing to “suffer” (if we can call it that) for the sake of others.

We have found that the mess and the difficulty of loving hospitality done in the power of the Gospel is one of the most powerful witnesses we’ve had to our neighborhood.

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