Recently some of us have been listening to and reading some material from Soma Communities. I am trying to flesh out some of the concepts in my head and would love your feedback. There is a ton of stuff on this website, but I am focusing on the “mercy” portion for now.

I chose this for a few reasons… we have done probably the least to equip our mercy extender’s directly & I think if we really grab onto some of these things God could use us to make a big difference in the world for His Glory!

MISSIONARIES

Listen: carefully and submissively listen to God alone and together to gain clarity on the

mission He has called you to lead people toward

ACTIONS:

  • Take some extended time to listen, pray and journal
  • Do pray walks or prayer drives to discern what God is saying
  • Pay attention to His calling as demonstrated through personal convictions, passions, ongoing leadings
  • Let the Spirit of God check your heart – what are your motives?

Story-formed: as you gain clarity on the mission God has called you to, begin doing the

work to understand the story of that context and how best to bring the gospel to bear within it

ACTIONS:

  • Do a historical study of the neighborhood, city, people groups, etc...
  • Look for things that already exist that demonstrate the story of the culture (civic groups, social services, educational strengths/weaknesses, businesses, housing structures, people groups, etc…)
  • Identify things that exist that are open doors for the gospel and those that are demonstrations of gospel barriers
  • Overall, look for where the Story of God and the Story of the Culture can intersect

Celebrate: identify and join the celebrations that already exist within the culture God is

sending you to and look to develop new forms of celebration that bring the gospel to

bear in a culturally appropriate way

ACTIONS:

  • Identify the celebrations that the culture is engaged in that you can participate fully in and still display the gospel
  • Identify the celebrations that exist that need redemption and look for ways to enter in and redeem them
  • Identify the celebrations that do not exist, ask God if they should and if so, how you should go about developing culturally appropriate forms for celebrating
  • With a team of leaders/workers begin to engage in present celebrations and prayerfully plan out culturally appropriate ones for the community

Bless: determine the most appropriate forms through which the community you’re called

to would feel blessed and it would be “Good News”

(Consider one of the Seven Pillars as a starting point: Education, Business, Media/Arts, Health Care, Government, Service Organizations, Disenfranchised)


ACTIONS:

  • Determine what is broken or missing in your community
  • Find out what exists to deal with those things and determine how you could serve
  • If it doesn’t exist, discern with God and in community whether you are supposed to start something and who you should work with to see it started

Eat: begin to identify the “watering holes” in the community God is sending you to and frequent them often

ACTIONS:

  • Determine the watering holes by paying attention to where the people you’re sent to hang out often
  • Regularly eat/drink there and pay attention (listen to others, ask questions, learn)
  • Become known as people who live out good news (tip well, bring more business by leading others to join you, etc…)
  • If a good gathering spot does not exist, prayerfully consider starting one

ReCreate: learn about the work habits of the community and what they do for rest and play

ACTIONS:

  • Get to know the kinds of work people are doing and what connection points you might have with them
  • Discover their weekly/monthly/yearly rhythms of work/rest/play and begin to align with them
  • Prayerfully consider how you might demonstrate Creation/Rest to your culture so they might see Gospel through you and with you

Adapting a theology of mission from missiologist Leslie Newbigin, George Hunsberber, develops 3

relationships that must occur between the church, gospel and culture:

What thoughts, questions, answers, does this bring to mind?

Sometimes it helps us to reflect and remember what our roles are as we are serving. Over the past several years I have put together the following list of expectations for our servant teams. If you are unclear about your current role or expectations, are new to a servant team, thinking about being on a servant team, or just need a reminder about how to focus… please read on…

Growing individually and collectively as learners, lovers, and givers we expect to …

o       Grow and depend on Jesus

o       Accept and extend His healing when we are weak, afraid, and broken

o       Pray, dream, and work for the healing and transformation of our city and world

o       Embrace and develop our role in the body of Christ

o       Identify, encourage and release the gifts of others

o       Bring unity to the body by appreciating and valuing one another’s differences

Servant Team expectations…

o       Foster above expectations in your life and home group

o       Have genuine friendships with people outside of the church

o       Develop common vision for community life (set clear goals considering purposes for the home group)

o       Communicate openly with other servant team members (develop and stick to a plan that works for your group.)

o       Pray and dream together about seeking and showing God’s face to the world

o       Meet for quarterly coaching meetings

o       This is a minimum 1yr commitment and a maximum 2yr service role, the idea is to replace yourself and take a 6 month break from servant team at the end of 2 yrs

Teachers

“Lead Learners”

o       Pray for your group

o       Encourage a learning environment that provokes thought and application to real life

o       Help the group become learners of God’s story and their place in it

o       Identify and develop the gift of teaching in others

o       Continue to develop your own teaching gift

o       Make Jeff’s teaching meetings a priority

Mercy Extenders

“External Eyes”

o       Pray for your group

o       Encourage a generous environment where people recognize and work towards meeting the needs of others

o       Help connect the group with opportunities to serve the community—work with other group members (ST and not) to follow through

o       Identify and develop the gift of service, giving, and mercy in others

o       Open your eyes to where God is moving

Shepherds/Pastors

“Internal Eyes”

o       Pray for your group

o       Encourage an authentic environment that promotes healing, celebration, and trust

o       Welcome and follow up with group members

o       Help group members to discover and find ways to use their gifts

o       Identify and develop the gift of pastor, shepherd, and encouragement in others

o       Be proactive about identifying and helping the group to meet the internal needs of the group

o       Make Traci’s shepherding meetings a priority

Organizers

“Follow Through”

o       Pray for your group

o       Create structures that help the group to focus on and accomplish group vision

o       Communicate expectations and details to group members and among the servant team

o       Communicate church wide announcements with the group

o       Identify and develop the gift of administration in others

*One person in each team will be the main point of contact for new people who are interested in coming to the group. In most groups this is the shepherd, in others it is the organizer or other group member.

*One person in the team will become the servant team leader in the sense that they hold the group to vision and move the servant team towards thinking strategically and consistently about meeting the purposes of the home group. This person can be in any of the servant team roles. – In some groups it will be obvious from the beginning who this person is and in others this person may emerge over time. Each servant team should encourage and look for this person to emerge in the group.

This Sunday a variety of Christian communities around the world will be reading the following passage… Mark 4:35-41

5On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Many of our lives have a bit of uncertainty right now. Jobs? Families? Money? Relationships? Balance? Purpose? Missional Calling? Time? Etc…

How often do you look at all of the things going on around you and feel a bit trapped on a boat that is being toppled by waves? It happens to me sometimes. Often when this happens I do a couple things… I pick up a bucket and start throwing water overboard (this doesn’t usually work as the rain continues to pour in), then I move to freak out…

This may be a bit of what the disciples went through, on their own strength wanting Jesus to get up and start throwing buckets of water out of the with them, but he was what?? sleeping??

I get the opportunity to spend time with a lot of leaders at Visio Dei talking about our faith journeys. Sometimes we feel like Jesus is sleeping and don’t really know how to wake him up. Sometimes we are shouting at God for an answer or direction and don’t really see it. Sometimes we are just too overwhelmed to realize that Jesus is still peacefully with us. Sometimes we try out all sorts of ‘buckets’ before we realize our capacity isn’t enough.

When I read this, I am reminded that when I am afraid, uncertain or trying to hard to do things on my own. I need to run to Jesus, to trust Jesus, to seek his word, to pray, to put down my bucket long enough to listen to him calm the storm and sit in awe of his command.

I’m not suggesting that when we do this we will automatically have all of our questions answered, I don’t believe God works that way. But, when we do this, we become more connected to our God, Jesus, Love, Hope, Peace, Passion, Mission…

We need Jesus. Run to him, cling to him, learn from, find others to help you do this too, allow him to fill you with the power to do what you are called to do.

What do you think about when you read this passage?

A few years ago I remember hearing a sermon somewhere about “eating the word”… for some reason that phrase stayed with me. I believe it was talking about how we are to approach the scriptures, to taste it, to chew on it, to meditate on it, to digest it, to allow it to nourish and change us… something like that??

Anyways, today I started out with my memory verse: So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Gal. 6:9

Then, I went and started to read Galatians, started with ch. 6 and then added 5. In light of the shepherding training that we had on Sunday and the teachings from Corinthians, I thought this passage would be applicable to our community, a passage to eat, a passage to digest, a passage to consider. 

So, I am going to type out this passage here and bold the parts that stood out to me. I may interject some thoughts or questions along the way. I think it would serve you well to eat this word! 

 

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of not benefit to you. I say it again, If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. 

  • maybe its not circumcision for us, but there are other things that we look to for justification… what is it for you? — let it go! 

But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. 

  • so what does that look like? 

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. The false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been confusing you. 

  • What are you confused about? What do we need to be cautious of? 

Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised–as some say I do– why I am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. I just wish that those trouble-makers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves. 

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead use your freedom to serve one another in love.  For the whole law is summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. 

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 

  • anyone ever feel this way? 
  • I have this thought that if we are pursuing our spiritual gifts and using them, we will be more filled with the spirit and less filled with the sin nature. as we are practically, prayerfully and actually running towards who God has created us the sinful desire will loose power! 

But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that kind of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God! 

  • this isn’t a check off list, it can’t be in light of the beginning of the chapter, its an observation of what happens to us. the sickness of sin invades our life, we must pursue “faith expressing itself in love”

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. 

  • what can we learn here? trust! prayer! humility! — we ALREADY have freedom, we need to believe that we do. 

ARE YOU STILL WITH ME? I’M ALMOST AT 1000 WORDS, SO I KNOW THIS IS GETTING LONG, BUT WE JUST FINISHED GALATIANS 5 AND HAVE THE WHOLE NEXT CHAPTER TO GO THROUGH. IF YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK AND COME BACK, IF YOU NEED TO TAKE A COUPLE DAYS TO EAT THIS WORD, PLEASE DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU…. moving on…

Dear brothers and sisters, if another brother is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 

  • there it is… share each other’s burdens, this is the law of Christ! 

If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important! 

  • i just love that part! 

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 

  • anyone else ever struggle with comparison? anyone else ever feel responsible for others? 
  • there must be a difference between sharing in each other’s burdens and taking over responsibilities of others… maybe some learning on boundaries will be helpful! 

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled– you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially those in the family of faith. 

  • there it is again… this communal aspect to living out our faith in love… this encouragement to not give up, this tension between resting in our freedom and what the Spirit does and a call to persevere by our actions… Got to love the gray and the mystery… Got to pursue the Spirit and allow it to surprise us!

NOTICE WHAT LARGE LETTERS I USE AS I WRITE THESE CLOSING WORDS IN MY OWN HANDWRITING. Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised want to look to good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. And even those who advocate circumcision don’t keep the whole law themselves. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples. 

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have  been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle: they are the new people of God. 

  • Wow! Do we believe it? Do we see ourselves as new creations with new trajectories for life? We have spiritual gifts, we have gifts that God makes powerful by his grace, we have freedom from external pressure to measure up with the world or to get our status from our stuff, our relationships, our crowds, our abilities. 
  • Humility, graciousness and love seem to be the theme here to me. Its all about God! 

From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus. Dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen

  • I’m not quite sure about that part, but it seems to me that Paul really wants the Galatians to get this idea of freedom and new life, to pursue the Holy Spirit and to let go of the legalism without falling into temptation… 

SHADES OF GRAY… THESE CAN ONLY BE DISCOVERED AS WE LIVE LIFE TOGETHER IN COMMUNITY. THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART OF OURS! 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of this. My prayer is that as we learn together we can encourage each other to engage with what our own issues might be and how we can humbly help each other to truly believe and act on the truth that we are made new through Christ alone.

I just finished reading Leadership Essentials by Greg Ogden & Daniel Meyer. Over the past several months I have been considering how the lessons learned in the book could help me with my own leadership at Visio Dei, my personal life, and equipping others for leadership. It has been a huge help. Its one of those books where I will go back and need to review the material over and over again. 

 

It is broken up into 12 lessons, each starts out with a key point, then has a memory verse, then a scripture passage to go through, then some commentary, then some reflection questions and action steps. It is set up to do each lesson in a week, but I took a little longer than that. 

 

Anyways, if you are looking for a new guide to studying scripture and a good probe into your faith and leadership journey. This is the book I would recommend. 

 

Here is a quote that I will need to take with me…


In order to overcome temptation we need to internalize how much we are already loved by our Father in Heaven. 

Today I got to sit down with one of our new shepherds. Every time I talk with one of you I get reenergized and reminded of why we are doing things the way we do them. Reminded that God is the one who gets the glory and reminded that he makes each one of us uniquely to participate in what He is already doing around us.

I am working on concisely communicating the “job” of shepherds… here is a stab at it…

 

Three main things shepherds are responsible for:

1) Welcoming Environment

Consider the culture of the group and work to make it place where new folks are welcomed and included. Things to consider… Are new people getting connected? Notice who is there… Who is not there? When the group has large social gatherings, reach out to those not as easily included… Look at the group through the filter of the newcomer or the uncomfortable…  Set an example… Incorporate and encourage activity that helps to create an inviting environment (i.e. prayer requests, stories, social time, etc.) 


2) Gifts

Work with others on your servant team to help group members discover and act on their gifts and talents.

Notice who needs be followed up with, and follow up with them. Give encouragement to people when you see opportunities to use gifts and talents. Work with me to effectively use the assessme website. *I’m still working on developing ongoing processes to help you guys with this*


3) Internal Needs of the group

When things happen in group members lives, help with celebration, mourning, organizing care for, etc. (meals, visitation, cards, parties, money, prayer). 

 

Does this make sense to you? Any questions, comments?

Each time a [person] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., from an address given to South African young people on their Day of Affirmation, 1966

Where have you seen this in action lately?

Lets Celebrate and continue!