What we do

GOSPEL | We focus on Jesus, his gospel and his mission. 

MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES | We’re passionate about missional communities which we believe are an incredibly powerful way of bringing the kingdom of God into the community. We want to give people the ability to plant and lead missional communities, and to plant and lead churches of missional communities.

Missional communities aren’t everything, but they’re foundational for us. We also believe in Gathering together regularly as a whole church, and also in small discipleship triads called DNA groups.

MOVEMENT | We’re not just trying to build our organisation. We want to see kingdom movement beyond our family of churches. We’re not restricted to a particular denomination, region, or size of church. And we’re not restricted to lots of detailed doctrinal statements – though we are gospel-centred. This is because we don’t want too many boundaries around who can or can’t be part of this movement. In fact, you can access our resources for free without joining, and apply them however you want.

ADAPTIVE | We believe in missional communities, but we’re not seeking to give a rigid method of how to do things. We want to help you build your own ministry expression, and to apply some of our tools in your context. 

AUSTRALIAN | Some friends in the USA started Soma, but we’re not a cut and paste model. We’re a well thought through theological vision expressed in the Australian context. We’re a movement led by Australian pastors who have a lot of experience in kingdom movement.

FAMILY | We’re big on relationship – we’re family. That’s core to what we’re about – at every level of how we operate. Our DNAs and missional communities work at being family. Every church works at being family. And every church leader works at linking in with the wider Soma family. We take responsibility as pastors to encourage each other, learn from each other, and care for each other.

RESOURCES | We create simple, adaptable and reproducible structures and tools for growth.

STRENGTHEN | Becoming part of Soma Australia means you won’t be isolated, you’ll be connected with pastors in your city and across Australia, as a kingdom learning community. We work with City to City Australia, to provide coaching and resources, run retreats, establish pastor cohorts.

JOINING | You can join us in either of 2 ways – family or friend. Join the Soma Australia family of churches, or just be a friend – use our materials for free – join in where you can but without the deeper commitment of being family.

Missional communities

What is a Missional Community?

We understand a Missional Community (MC) as ‘a family of disciples on mission, who gather around Jesus and the Gospel in the everyday stuff of life.’ MCs often go by different names such as ‘Gospel Communities’ or ‘Kingdom Families,’ but they are distinguished by their willingness to work out together how to love God, love each other, and love their neighbours.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said to his disciples – ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

Jesus gives us his priorities for the kind of communities that his followers would form:

  • As a spiritual family, adopted by grace, as sons and daughters of God, we must love and serve each other sacrificially, just as Jesus loved us by laying down his life.
  • As disciples of Jesus we must learn what it looks like to apply the Gospel into the everyday stuff of life, and learn how to speak the Gospel to each other in order to build up the church.
  • As missionaries we must become witnesses of Jesus to the people the Holy Spirit sends us to live among, showing the Gospel in how we love them and each other, and sharing the Gospel in our willingness to give Jesus as the answer to every human longing. Jesus never sent his disciples on mission alone, so as a missional community we always works together to see the Gospel go out.

What does a Missional Community look like?

There are many sizes and shapes to a Missional Community, but we’ve generally found that groups of 6-8 committed Christians work really well. It’s big enough to establish a good rhythm as a group, with still enough space to invite others in.

Missional Communities commit to life together, gathering at least weekly, but connecting in all kinds of other ways throughout the week. For example, seeing each other at the wider church body on Sundays, being involved in missional activities together, and gathering in smaller groups, called DNAs or Gospel Growth Groups, made up of 3-4 men or women who regularly meet to study the bible and apply its truths to their hearts.

Every Missional Community will look different. Each one takes time to listen carefully to the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how best to use their time and capacities to faithfully live out their life together as a family of disciples on mission. Here is a video by Cornerstone Community Bendigo. They are not a Soma church but their ideas are essentially the same.

So why are we so committed to Missional communities?

First of all, there is so much joy in simply the Body of Christ being the Body. Jesus took his disciples with him to learn how to follow him. He taught them and showed them what it means to live godly lives. A missional community, with the guidance of God’s Word and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, seeks to do the same. And it turns out that it’s great fun! Gathering as family around the table, sharing in each other’s lives, practically serving each other’s needs and the needs of the community, seeing people come to faith in Jesus… it’s just a wonderful thing to be part of.

That’s not to say it’s easy! Our sin means that the closer we get to each other, the more our failings become evident. We experience conflict, and hurt, and pain and disappointment. We’re tempted towards pride and selfishness. But we’ve found that in Gospel-rich environments, these difficulties become glorious opportunities to see repentance, forgiveness and change. It’s in the cut and thrust of real life in community that God does his best work.

But Missional Communities aren’t just great for Christians. Australia has become a post-Christian nation, where many people are increasingly suspicious of the Christian church. Missional Communities can become a place where non-Christians can build relationships of trust, and experience the love of God, often long before they ever go to a Sunday service.

If we believe that the most important missional thing we can ever do is build relationships of love with people, then an MC can be an incredible space to see that happen.

Missional Communities are not a silver bullet. They can’t fix our problems. Only Jesus can do that. But they can be a space to start becoming the sort of churches and the sort of people that God has called us to be.

Our Story…

Soma Australia began 7 years ago, with a lot of help from Soma in the United States. Over this time, several info nights and training events, as well as developing a supportive network, have enabled many churches to be planted across the country who are applying key Soma concepts in contextually relevant ways. We have churches in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth.  

We’re now ready to expand our influence by joining City to City Australia, including through the various denominations where our various member congregations have affiliation. We also want to assist many other churches who are growing in their interest in these concepts. Our hope is for Soma Australia to be a thought leader, supporter and resource for churches around Australia passionate about being on gospel centred mission. 

City to australia

Soma Australia is a family of missional churches within the City to City network.

Soma Australia has officially joined City to City Australia. City to City is a global church-planting movement emanating from Tim Keller, NYC. It provides best practice training and support for church planters, church plants and networks of church plants.

We have already been encouraged by the mutual benefits of this new collaboration for seeing gospel growth in Australia!

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Soma US

Soma US is a family of churches. They make disciples, strengthen one another, and plant churches of Missional Communities towards Gospel Saturation…until every man, woman, and child has a daily encounter with Jesus in word and deed.

The Soma story begins in Tacoma, Washington. God led Jeff and Jayne Vanderstelt to start Soma Tacoma, a church committed to equipping and sending every believer on the mission of making disciples in everyday life. Soma has grown from one church to a family of churches all across North America and into Eastern Europe, Asia, Australia, and beyond, all committed to Gospel Saturation.

Find out more