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'm 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?
Today, let’s look at the second question:
Why Sojourn Network specifically?
1. Pre-Existing Relationships
As stated in part 1 of this series, we want to be relational in all that we do. Even though there are many good church-planting networks in the U.S., we wanted to find one that we already had some relationship with. There are two men on the board of Sojourn Network that caused us to reach out in the first place: Brad House and Tim Beltz. I (Aaron) worked for Brad in 2012 at Mars Hill, and Pastor Shane spent lots of time with Tim back in 2008 when he was in the re:Train program. Since we first reached out, we have also gotten to know Dave Harvey, the director of the network, over multiple visits to Seattle. And lastly, there are a handful of churches that we have relationship with who are either already in the network or are pursuing adoption like us.
Needless to say, there is much natural relationship and connection with Sojourn.
2. Theological & Mission Alignment
We wouldn’t even consider joining a network that we didn’t see eye-to-eye with on important matters of biblical doctrine, philosophy of ministry, and values in the church. I won’t belabor this point, but suffice to say that we feel very strongly that we highly align with Sojourn in these important matters. Also, I believe that they have much to teach us and stretch us in when it comes to living out our doctrine and values. If you want to read more on their beliefs, you can do so here.
3. Focus on Arts, Culture, and Creativity
Another one of our values as a church is to engage our culture with art, music, and creativity. This is an area where Sojourn shines. Sojourn Community Church (the local church that started the network) has been a leader in gospel-centered music for gathered worship for years. Even back when I was a worship pastor in Alaska, we were singing Sojourn songs. Joe Day (our former worship pastor) has had relationship with Mike Cosper, a Sojourn leader in arts and music, for a few years. As we continue to grow in these important areas, we are confident that Sojourn can help us immensely.
4. Focus on Healthy Churches, Pastors, and Teams
While some networks seem to focus exclusively on the health of the lead/preaching pastor, Sojourn Network is committed to helping the entire church leadership learn, grow, and experience health. While there is a yearly conference/retreat for lead pastors and wives, there are also many other opportunities for the whole elder team, staff, and key leaders to enjoy relationship, training, and support, including conferences, online cohorts, and resource pools.
5. Already Impressed by Their Care and Support
One of the nice things about seeking to join Sojourn Network is that we don’t have to hope that they’ll come through on their commitments. We have already witnessed their support, love, and care for other churches that we have relationship with. We have been particularly impressed by their support and care for Foundation Church in Everett and Redemption Spokane, both of whom have already formally been adopted into the network.
Not only have we seen these churches cared for well, but we have also seen the network love us, call us, check in on us over the last eighteen months—even though we have not formally joined! This type of support and care is impressive and something that we want to be a part of.
In part 3 of this series, I'll address the question "what does this mean for us practically?" 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.