A Conversation with Jeff Vanderstelt

Several of our Gateway Staff met up with Jeff Vanderstelt, the lead pastor of Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA. Here were some of his thoughts:

“‘Missional community’ has been used to describe a community on mission, a community that does service projects, and a community on mission together where ‘mission’ means reaching and discipling others. Jeff and Soma seeks to be the the third description.

The gatherings can be a powerful tool in reaching people and discipling people, but the Sunday gatherings should be informed by the missional communities. Otherwise those on the ground are always to try to catch up with those in the air.

Soma treated each small group as a potential core group for a church plant (even if they never become a church plant). At the beginning, rather than promoting their Sunday gatherings, they emphasized inviting friends to your home and parties but not to the Sunday services and didn’t send out flyers. Soma grew to the place where 500 held the DNA of being on mission before they started inviting others to their Sunday gatherings as part of their efforts to reach and serve the city. The missional community came first.

Discipleship means increasingly bringing all of our lives under the rule and life of Jesus Christ.

Our goal is to invite people into my life rather than inviting them to an event. Events are an excuse for building relationships.

Jesus sent out the 72 in part so they would come back wanting to be trained knowing they needed help; whereas before, they may not have felt they needed it. We need to do the same with our people.

Too often in the U.S. individuals reach individuals, but we need communities inviting people into a new community.

Missional Community for Soma measurements include:

  • Is your missional community baptizing the people they reached? (This takes place in the missional community and at the gatherings).
  • Is each person in your missional community taking a step towards growth? What is that step and how did they do?
  • Is each missional community raising up another team to be sent out next year?

Soma Communities measurements include:

  • How many people did we send away?
  • How much money did we send to other churches?
  • How many people are being raised up to lead our missional communities? (These are like their own local churches).
  • How much money did we spend on equipping? (We want people to see the staff as equippers of the ministry not doers of the ministry).
  • How many people came on Sundays? This is important so we can be more hospitable.

Here are notes from a micro-conference I attended with Jeff leading here a few weeks ago: Missional Leadership with Jeff Vanderstelt.



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