Many people in Walnut Creek, Danville, and the East Bay have stopped going to church. Maybe more people need to stop going to church. I believe that’s true . . . which sounds strange coming from a pastor! What our communities need are people who are the church all week long loving God by serving their neighbors. We seek to do that at Soma through our Missional Communities.
My friend Jeff Vanderstelt, the founding pastor of Soma Tacoma, just wrote a great blog post about this important topic at www.vergenetwork.org.
“It all began in a boat on a lake with a few fishing poles. It was there, surrounded by the lazy water, my dad and I would have a key conversation that would change the trajectory of my life. My dad was giving me a simple update on his life and shared that his church was hiring a discipleship pastor. After I pushed past my internal dialog about how hiring a pastor for discipleship betrayed that the church didn’t see everything they did as discipleship, I heard my father say he was excited to learn how to make disciples—finally.
I was thankful for my father’s surge of energy toward Jesus’ commission but also a bit troubled. My dad didn’t seemed to realize he raised me in a home where daily life was engaged as intentional ministry. He owned several small businesses and believed his business was meant to be a blessing to people and the city we lived in. As a result, we joined our parents in countless acts of kindness, generosity, and hospitality.
It was not uncommon for one of us four boys to give up our room for a season to make room for a young man getting a fresh start, a broken husband whose marriage was on the rocks, or a runaway teen who needed some stability. My dad would love and mentor these men during the day at one of his businesses while my mom would nurture and care for them like one of her own.
I watched young and old come to know the love of Jesus and receive very informal but effective training in how to become responsible, hard-working, loving men. Because of my parents’ ministry at home and at work, many men still call our family “their own.”
However, the church never called this “ministry.” They didn’t see that my mother’s gracious hospitality and my father’s mentoring through work created both the environment and means for discipleship to happen.
I was not saddened simply because my parents’ ministry was never legitimized; Jesus was working through it all along, and God the Father was pleased to watch His children at work. What saddened me was that many churches (and many in the church) don’t view their homes as one of the best contexts for ministry, and their workplaces are some of the most overlooked places for mentoring and mission.
Most people will spend one third of their lives at work and at least another third in or around their homes; that means that more than two-thirds of our lives are considered non-ministry space. In addition, most still believe church is a place you go for one-to-four hours a week where most of the discipleship happens. This means a very large majority of Christians see only a very small percentage of their lives dedicated to the mission of making disciples. It’s no wonder so few believers are fruitful in ministry.
What if we could help everyday people live with gospel intentionality in everyday life, both at work and at home, to make disciples? What if every workplace, school, neighborhood, and café were filled with Spirit-filled, Jesus-loving, disciple-makers every day? We might just see cities and towns saturated with the presence, power, and love of Jesus through everyday people like my mom and dad.
Pastors and church leaders were not called by God to do the ministry for the many. They are given to the church to equip the many for the ministry in the marketplace and the home. It’s time to equip and mobilize Jesus’ church out of the building and into life. Let’s stop just going to church and start being the church every day and everywhere!”
Soma is a Danville Church, San Ramon Church, Walnut Creek Church, and Concord Church, because we gather as the church in Missional Communities in all of these communities. You can also visit us at our Sunday Gathering.