We are a church community spread across the Blue Mountains and Penrith. We believe the Way of Jesus is good news for today, and our desire and ambition is to follow him together for the renewal of the world.
Our church started with a dream – the dream of becoming a truly missional church. We wanted to be a church not just for ourselves but for those around us, so that God is glorified. And we had a sense that, ‘this can’t be it’… this can’t be all there is in the Christian life. And we were yearning for something better, something more.
And we realised that many Christians share this dream. We hear about the early church in Acts 2, how they were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, and devoted to fellowship and prayer, and eating in one another’s homes through the week, and sharing all things in common, and God was adding to their numbers daily those who were being saved… We hear that and think – ’Could we be a bit more like that? Could we experience more of that?’ And many of us who’ve been Christians longer than a few years… we harbour a secret hope, a secret dream that something else is possible.
So what happened was, we set out to see if we could discover a better way to be a church on mission. And we didn’t know what or how. We just had this sense that somehow we could be something else, something more true to what we see in Acts 2.
And we were going… ‘Jesus show us.’ And we were also going… ‘Can we pursue this together?’ And we said to each other, ‘We don’t know what we can do, but let’s go on this journey together?’ And many of us said ‘Yes, definitely!’ We didn’t know what we were doing, but we knew we were meant to try.
So we started with a large team of people and we set out on this journey. And we began Soma Blue Mountains … and then Soma Australia … and we discovered that this is something that is bubbling up all over the world.
And inspired by the worldwide missional movement… we started to listen, and to dream about how we could be Jesus’ church on mission.
This is what we discovered:
We came to believe that above all else, we had to be absolutely centred on Jesus and the gospel. We wanted to worship him by imitating his life and ministry. We realised that both our theology and practice should be relentlessly Christ-centred. He’s our model, mentor, hero, mediator, saviour, judge, king and ruler of all. He’s our everything. All of our values flow from what we understand about his character, concerns, and the shape of his mission.
We came to believe that the most potent way of being church was very small. ‘The church released’ – not a big gathering where people come and watch one person, with many centrally organised programs to attend. There’s a place for that, and God uses that, but we believed Jesus was calling us to something different – something radically different in terms of releasing and empowering people.
So we got excited about this idea of small micro-churches, called ’gospel communities on mission.’ A group of people who worship and follow Jesus together – who give themselves to Jesus as the leader of their lives, and they have deep relational community with each other. And who are committed to the mission of God together in some form or other. That’s church in its most basic and potent form.
And we said, what if we started forming these, inspiring these, and then serving these small ‘micro churches’ on mission… and saying, ‘We’ll just be a family of those.’ And the heart behind that is we wanted to release… we wanted to release the most powerful form of the church, the most relational form of church, the most transformative form of the church… which is this small version of the church.
And yet thirdly, we didn’t want to give up all the advantages of being a part of a bigger community. I mean, if you look at churches with 200 or more, they have a lot of money to work with, because they work together. They have things like facilities, and theologically trained staff. One tiny micro church can’t provide all those resources.
So we thought… we want both. We want to be part of both worlds. We want the advantage and strength of these small micro communities as an expression of church, but we also wanted to be a part of a bigger family, where we get things that we need, like facilities. Where we co-opt together to get things that we can’t otherwise have… funding, that kind of thing.
So we’re supportive of the traditional church. And at the same time we’re a bit of a critique of the church as spectacle – as a thing that people just watch. Or a thing that others organise and we just attend – or serve on a roster.
And we took on the motto of ‘we don’t just go to church, we are the church.’ If you’re part of Soma, hopefully it’s because you want to play. It’s because you want to get in the game. Because church is not ultimately something you just attend, it’s a living community in dynamic relationship with God, led by him into a watching, dying, needy, broken world – to heal, to change, to redeem with the good news of Jesus Christ.
That’s what we are trying to do – to empower, equip, and send people out to be the church among every pocket of people that we can work among… where everyone is an active part of that.
And what we’ve discovered is… our version of church is hard… our way of doing it is harder… but it’s beautiful and it’s worth it!
Gospel Community Leaders – Jeff & Claire Meijnderts, Dave & Glenda Miles, Ro & Anita Miles, Annie & Toby Dedden, Andrew & Heidi Gombossy, Tom & Jess Arundel, Jabin & Laura de Keizer, Eleanor Allison & Leone Read, Glenn and Lisa Harding.
Elders (pictured) – Dave Miles & Stuart Brooking
Staff – Dave Miles, Annie Dedden (maternity leave) & Heidi Gombossy
Committee – Stuart Brooking (Chairman), Andrew Clark (Treasurer), Jess Arundel (Secretary), Melinda Kingsland (deputy chair), Dave Miles, Leone Read.
Child protection – Leone Read, Heidi Gombossy
Workplace Health and Safety – Heidi Gombossy
Kids – Heidi Gombossy
Website photography – Hadley England, Ro Miles, Lisa Grant