Hope and freedom through the gospel, community and mission
Throughout God's Story, we see that hurt, pain, brokenness and sin have been a part of the human experience since Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. Often, the response to a person who is struggling with these things is, "You need counseling."
Jesus came to undo all of the effects of Adam and Eve's choice. He came to redeem and restore "all things" (Colossians 1:18-20). Jesus' work of redemption is full and complete, and has far reaching implications for every human being. Therefore, when someone expresses a need for counseling, we affirm that the truth of the gospel addresses every challenge they are facing.
The only question that remains is "what is the best context for a person to be immersed in a gospel perspective that will help address their issues?"
We believe that God has designed the Body in such a way that the needs of people can be met by the Body. Our Missional Communities are communities of ordinary people who, because of the gospel, are organizing their lives around Jesus' mission of making disciples. As they live a gospel-centered life, the deep needs and hurts of people can be addressed with great effectiveness. We call this process Gospel Shepherding.
Gospel Shepherding begins within the context of Missional Community. Our number one priority is connecting people with a gospel-centered community on mission who will encourage a hurting person with the gospel daily (Hebrews 3:12-13).
As a Family, we will work together to help ensure that people get connected to a Missional Community in a timely and effective manner. The Missional Community leader will provide a new person with an opportunity to share their story, as well as help connect them with a DNA group.
Volunteer Gospel Shepherds
The Missional Community leader may determine that a person in their group needs an increased gospel focus, a more trained eye that can see the deeper nature of the challenges people often face. Each expression has a few trained Volunteer Gospel Shepherds who can meet with Missional Community leaders and anyone in their group who is struggling.
If after meeting with a VGS for 2-3 times, further gospel focus is needed, we have an 11-week experience called Redemption Group (RG). RG involves sharing your story with a small group of men or women who are also facing tough circumstances, and then talking together about how Jesus can redeem the broken parts of our lives. Leaders who've been through the RG process lead the discussion. A weekly gathering involving some singing and teaching sets up the group conversations. (Please note that RG is only available to people who are in MCs.)
If after participating in RG, even further gospel focus is required, the Missional Community leader can seek the input of one of the elders. Abe Meysenburg, our elder who oversees Gospel Shepherding for the Soma family, is available to consult and coach MCLs through these situations, and often meets with people who are facing significant life challenges.
Finally, we understand that we will encounter some very significant challenges that may require the services of an outside trained professional counselor. If necessary, we can refer people to a trusted professional who employs a gospel-centered counseling approach, and who will work together with our community to help shepherd hurting people.
Anyone desiring Gospel Shepherding, regardless of how long they have been a part of Soma, should send an email to gs at somatacoma.org.
Also, please check out You Can Change, by Tim Chester, for a simple and helpful approach to applying the gospel to problem areas of your life.