For the past eighteen months, the elders of Sound City have been in conversations with the leadership of Sojourn Network, a church-planting network based out of Louisville, KY. After many months of prayer, discussion, and meetings with Sojourn leaders, we are very excited to announce that we are pursuing adoption in this network. Even though we feel confident that this is the direction that God is leading us, this process is not finalized or set in stone. Because we value a well-informed and bought-in membership, we wanted to put this information out so that you—the Covenant Members and attenders of Sound City—can have time to pray about it, get to know the network, and (as always) ask questions or clarifications from the elder team.
In this three-part series, I'll be working to answer three major questions:
- Why should we join a network in the first place?
- Why should we join Sojourn Network specifically?
- What does joining Sojourn Network mean for us practically?
So, let’s address the first question:
Why join a network at all?
1. Intentional Relationship
As a church, one of our values is the priority of relationships. Put another way, we believe that relationship should be at the core of what a church is and what a church does. Not only is this true at the personal level, we believe it is also true at the church level—churches should be relationally connected to other churches!
Now, of course this can be accomplished in a variety of ways. After all, the elder team collectively has relationships with pastors from dozens of churches, both in the Seattle area as well as across the country, even some international connections. While these relationship are valuable, there is something special about making a commitment to a specific group for the purpose of intentionally partnering together for a specific purpose and mission. Like community groups or covenant membership, we believe that intentional relationships are highly valuable.
Our conviction from the Scriptures is that a church should be led by a plurality of elders who can keep one another accountable and who can lead the church as a team. However, we also know that it can be possible for a whole team of elders to sometimes grow insular or to get off track together. While we certainly don’t ever plan to do that(!!), we believe that joining a network can provide a level accountability that we as an elder team long for and need.
It should be noted that a network is not a denomination, so any such network has no formal place of authority over our church, but our intention is to make ourselves accountable so that we can grow and learn together.
3. To Be Part of Something Bigger Than Just Us
Let’s face it, our tendency as humans is to become self-focused. Even as a church, it can be easy to only look at ourselves: our services, our needs, our finances, our missional engagement. Being a part of a network is a built-in way to constantly remind ourselves that we are not the only church in the world that is preaching about Jesus and seeking to make disciples. Joining a network is not the only way to guard against self-focus, but it is a highly effective means to do so.
4. Resources & Help
One of the disadvantages of being a church re-plant is that we look much older than we actually are. When people walk in, they see a decent-sized crowd, professional-looking graphics, quality music & kids programs, etc. But the reality is that we are still a young church and we have many areas where we need help and coaching. How do we do international missions? What’s the best way to approach benevolence? What’s a good process of training biblical counselors in the church? A good network can not only provide ministry “experts” who can coach and train us, they also provide a network of other churches who themselves have resources to share.
5. We Can Contribute Too!
I have to admit something personally. For the past year or so, I had been approaching the question “why network” exclusively from the perspective of seeing what the network could do for us. In my mind, I wasn’t being selfish as much as I was trying to love and serve the people of Sound City the best that I possibly could. But a few months ago, as I was praying, I felt God speak to my heart clearly: “you’re only looking at it from one angle. Sound City has something to contribute too!” This moment was very convicting to me, and I took it to the elder team at our very next meeting.
We all agreed that God has been exceedingly gracious to us as a church, allowing us to have people, leaders, resources, money, experience, and processes that are all well-beyond the average two year-old church. Not only can we benefit from a network, but I believe that God wants us to be a blessing as well!
In part 2 of this series, I'll address the question "why should we join Sojourn specifically?" We will take time at the Family Gathering on October 2 to talk more about this process, and to take questions from those in attendance. In the meantime, please pray for our church, for Sojourn Network, and for Jesus to do amazing work in the north Puget Sound area.