Sojourn Story: A Faithful Presence

We need stories. They help and they heal. They challenge and they change us. And the good news is we all have a story to tell!

In this Sojourn Story, Brandon Shields, Lead Pastor of Soma Indy, shares a bit about the start of Soma Church, what drew him to a partnership with Sojourn Network, and how they are seeking to be a faithful, gospel presence in Indianapolis.

Transcript —

I'm Brandon Shields. I'm the lead pastor of Soma Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. My family moved to Indianapolis in December of 2011 from South Florida. And our hope was just to join God and His work of renewal. We didn't really have any grand aspirations to be a large church or to change the city, transform the city in any kind of crazy way, but we wanted to just be a faithful presence, kind of a stabilizing force for the gospel there, and to see if God would allow us to, through a faithful presence over a long period of time, become a hub for both making disciples and multiplying disciples.

As we thought about planting this church, we really wanted to kind of step into something that was more personally sustainable, and I think that's what drove us to this idea of really living out of a gospel identity, that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, kind of inviting us into health and renewal. And you know, coming along side and learning from Daniel and the Sojourn Network, that was really attracted us, I think, to the Sojourn Network, was this idea of healthy church and soulful leadership and renewal driven ministry that, was not able making stuff happen, but really watching to see where the spirit of God was already working. That kind of converged right around the time that we were a year into the plant.

God began to bring around us people who share this vision for healthy, soulful leadership, renewal driven church. That's how we met Aaron Lence. Aaron was a guy who was coming out of an internship at one of our partner churches, The Village. He came to Indianapolis to plant a church in Columbus, Indiana, which is just south of us, so they led a missional community, were very fruitful in their time with us, and we sent them out in Easter earlier this year to plant Athens Church. And then we met Duane Gibbs and his wife Kelsey, who had moved up recently from South Florida to plant a church on the northeast side of Indianapolis called The District Church. And he's been in residency for us for the last year, and this fall, hopes to plant The District Church with some of our staff actually, and a few of our members who've left and been sent out of our church to help him. So it's been really neat to see God faithfully provide and sustain this movement of the Gospel in Indianapolis.

My hope for pastors and church planners here is that we would see church planting as an opportunity to encounter God's presence. That the invitation from God for us in planting or pastoring church is as much about what God is doing in us as what He wants to do through us. And then out of that kind of deep reservoir of inner life that really is deeply resonant with God in His presence, that we would then be present in our neighborhoods and with our families, and our children. And that's really my hope for the cities of the future, is that we can be this sustainable, faithful presence that people are attracted to. It's compelling. As Peter says, that we keep our conduct honorable so that people glorify God on a day of visitation, that's my encouragement to anybody that's here and that's a ministry leader.

This story originally aired during the 2016 Leaders’ Summit in Louisville, KY.

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