I am on a call with missional thought-leaders and experimenters led by Alan Hirsch. The group is called Future Travelers. Today we are discussing the missional model developed by Jeff Vanderstelt at Soma Communities. I wanted to share three observations about the Soma model for you to benefit from in your own ministry leadership:
1) Great models all have great clarity. The Soma model has a uniquely formed language that drives it's culture. Two of the most common missing elements of vision (five questions of the Vision Frame) are modeled really well at Soma. The first is "when are we successful." Soma articulates a four-fold missional life-mark as "Identity: Who we are." The church is not successful based on attendance, buildings and cash, but on the development of identity. These are the kind of people, the kind of disciples, that the community produces.
The other missing piece in many churches is strategy or "missional map." How do we actually accomplish the mission on the broadest level? Soma has articulated a beautiful 6 component strategy that they call "Rhythms: How we live"
2) It is rare to see vision, thoughtfully integrated into communication.
A fantastic model of vision integration on their website is an EXTREMELY RARE and bold presentation of what I call "identity over activity" thinking, rather than the typical "activity and events drive everything" mindset of church. Simply stated, you don't find about the different types of church events and activities without first clicking on the identity. That is real vision integration!
3) When you learn, pay attention to the questions that you ask.
All of the questions of my group today had to do with tactics and product rather than process. This is where photocopied vision arises. No one asked, "What process did you follow to come up with a clear, beautifully articulated ministry model?" As you look at the Soma vision, let it motivate you to discern and articulate better what God is doing in your church and your community. Use the Church Unique Vision Frame to guide you.